Svolvær’s dramatic environs merit exploration, either by climbing one of the local peaks, or by taking a boat trip out to the surrounding fjordlands – though you’ll only really find the full range of excursions on offer in the summertime. Out of season, tours will go out once a week, at best.
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Boat trips to the Trollfjord
Every day throughout the summer boats leave from the quay alongside the Torget in Svolvær for the Trollfjord (2 times daily; return trip 3hr; 450kr; buy tickets on board; wlofoten-charterboat.no), an impossibly narrow, two-kilometre-long stretch of water that’s also on the Hurtigruten itinerary. The intrepid might also consider making the same excursion by speedboat (3 times daily; return trip 2hr; 650kr; wlofoten-explorer.no) – heavy jackets and goggles are included.
Ferries to Skrova
For the best and most scenic walks in the area, take a ferry to the pretty islet of Skrova, just offshore from Svolvær. Perfect for an afternoon seascape stroll, Skrova’s only settlement trails along a slender rocky spit, its harbour dominated by the country’s largest whaling station. The village is attached by a causeway to the main body of the island, which is dominated by the steep Mount Høgskrova (258m). Before you leave, pick up the makings of a picnic at one of the shops in Svolvær and prepare to enjoy it in splendid isolation. Ferries run from the quay in Svolvær (2–5 ferries daily; 30min; 38kr each way) to Skrova, while both the express boats from Svolvær to Bodø/Narvik, and the car ferry between Svolvær and Skutvik also call in there.
Svolvær boasts one of the archipelago’s most famous climbs, the haul up to the top of the Svolværgeita (the “Svolvær Goat”), a twin-pronged peak that rises high above the E10 to the northeast of town. The lower slopes of the mountain are hard enough, but the last 40m – up the horns of the “Goat” – require considerable expertise. Daring-daft mountaineers complete the thrill by jumping from one pinnacle to the other.
For the best introduction to the northern lights, take an excursion to the Lofoten Polarlyssenter (Polar Light Centre;
91 12 46 68,
polarlightcenter.com). This rural science centre is run by a friendly Dutch couple with a collection of astronomic instruments that determine exactly when the Aurora is about to strike. In addition to a lecture on the science of the lights – and how to photograph them – they also provide an SMS alert service, which sends out messages during your stay in Norway that advise when Aurora activity is getting stronger. Located in Laukvik, approximately 45 minutes by car from Svolvær; they can arrange transport if you do not have a car.