Going to the Lofoten Islands in Norway has been at the top of my list ever since I moved to Europe two years ago. Originally, I wanted to go to see the Northern Lights – but then I saw photos of those dramatic fjord landscapes and knew I couldn’t go up there during the constant darkness that is winter. I needed sunlight – preferably 24/7 sunshine that the Arctic Circle is blessed with during the summer months.
We bought flights as soon as they were cheap and immediately started planning. And after dozens of miles of training (who knew backpacking-backpacks were so heavy), months of endless research on the Lofoten Islands, and far too many trips to Decathlon (the Costco of sporting goods), we were ready for our backpacking trip.
We chose two hikes that we absolutely had to do – Reinebringen and Hermannsdalstinden – and decided we would wing it the rest of our time in the Lofoten Islands.
To Get Here
We flew into Oslo and took two trains to get to Bodø: Oslo – Trondheim (7 hours) and then Trondheim – Bodø (9.5 hours). Our second leg was an overnight train that gave us the best view of an insanely beautiful midnight sun. Once we arrived in Bodø, we walked 10 minutes to the ferry terminal and took a 3-ish hour ferry to Moskenes (one of the main access points to the Lofoten Archipelago). (Numbers in red bold [#] reference the numbers on the map below!)
Book train tickets on the NSB site. The earlier you book, the cheaper. Tickets are available up to three months in advance. For the ferry, you can only buy tickets the day of unless you’re bringing a car. Ferry times change depending on the time of year – check here for timetables. We read that you should go early to ensure a spot (they start boarding/selling tickets about 45 min before) but we arrived 5 minutes before (going Moskenes – Bodø) and there was still plenty of room during July, which is peak season.
*Zoom in on the northern-most pins on the Google Map above
This hike isn’t even close to being the tallest in the Lofoten Islands, but it’s definitely one of the most iconic. At 448 meters (1470 feet), Reinebringen is a short and steep hike to an amazing view overlooking the fairy-tale-town of Reine (pronounced “Ray-nah”).
Our ferry arrived in the Lofoten Islands around 230pm. Our plan was to walk to Reine, which was 5 kilometers away. Instead, we hitchhiked after about 1.5km because the 35 pounds I was carrying on my back was already exhausting me. We walked around a bit and checked out the perfectly quaint buildings and dried fish hanging along the shores. Then, we set up camp in a grassy area right next to the Reinebringen starting point.
Getting to the Trail
The starting point of Reinebringen is a little bit hidden – it’s right at the beginning of the Ramsvik tunnel (Ramsvikstunnelen) going from the Moskenes ferry terminal to Reine (see map below or Google Map above). There is a walking path right to the east of the tunnel where there are some grassy patches to camp on.
Thanks to the all-day sunlight this far north, we started our hike in the early evening without having to rush. We made our way up the mountain, climbing up and around giant boulders. Reinebringen is incredibly steep and often muddy (especially if it’s rained recently!), so even though it’s a relatively short distance, it takes a bit of time to get to the top (it took us a little over an hour). The entire ascent, you can look down at the E10 highway as it gets smaller and smaller.
Much of the hike involves a fair bit of climbing, so proper hiking shoes with good grips are necessary. The path isn’t super clear, so just follow the way that looks the most path-like. Try to avoid creating new paths, though! Once you get to the top, you’re welcomed with an epic view of Reine.
I had seen photos of this place so many times that seeing it in real life was so surreal. I thought that the photos were somewhat skewed to make everything taller, but it really is just that steep. The mountains jut straight out of the ocean and form these amazingly jagged peaks. You can see all of Reine and its perfect little monopoly houses surrounded by sparkling blue and green water.
We happened to go on a perfectly sunny day, which is rare for the Lofoten Islands.
Once you reach the top, you can hike left or right to other scenic viewpoints.
Note that this trail is technically closed. Because of its popularity, the “trail” has been worn down so much to where it’s not super safe. They started work on a new trail and there are places to donate on the island. Make sure to bring plenty of water – even though it’s short, it’s challenging. If you’re camping at the top, there’s no water source. Wear layers because the weather is unpredictable (and tends to be rainy pretty much year round).