Welcome to the unofficial capital of Lofoten! Svolvær is a town in the Lofoten Archipelago in northern Norway. It lies on the island of Austvågøya and is a part of Vågan Municipality in Nordland County and has around 4.700 inhabitants. This is the gateway to the archipelago that has become famous due to its many amazing sceneries. The town is along the shores of Vestfjorden, a large stretch of water between Lofoten and mainland Norway. In the background, it has several high mountains that protect the town from the harsh winds of the Atlantic Ocean. Do remember that Svolvær is north of the Arctic Circle.
A Short History of Svolvær
The first known written record of Svolvær dates back to 1567. The small settlement at the time is believed to have been focused on fishing, something that has continued up to this day. The settlement was in the much older town of Vågar, which location was in the vicinity of what is today Kabelvåg.
Svolvær was granted its town charters in 1918. The new town did at the same time become the seat of a new municipality and by doing so also left Vågan Municipality. Svolvær Municipality survived until 1964 when it was merged with Gimsøy and Vågan and the new municipality of Vågan was established. No longer being the seat of a municipality meant that Svolvær lost its status as a town. It would take until 1996 and the change in the Norwegian legislation for Svolvær to be re-granted its town status.
It is especially Atlantic cod that has been the staple food and the main export of Svolvær during its long history. This has more recently been complemented by fish farming of salmon. Other large employers are the construction company Secora and the power company Lofotkraft. Tourism has also grown and become one of the most important revenues for the town. It is estimated that around 200.000 tourists visit the town in a year.
Things to Do and See
There are many places in Lofoten with amazing views and plenty of sights, but few can offer the same accessibility as Svolvær. Here you have the mountains to explore, the sea to navigate and the town to enjoy.
Blåtinden (621 m)
Blåtinden is one of the peaks watching out over Svolvær. This is the highest of the mountains and has a height of 621 meters. It is a possible, but quite challenging hike (or climb) to get to its summit. The summit will, when the weather allows, offer an amazing out over large parts of Lofoten. There are two paths to choose between. One leads up from the Lofoten Feriesenter towards Blåtinden and Tuva and then there is another leading up from the Fløya Trail Head.
Djevelporten, “the Devil’s Gate”, is a famous rock formation along the hiking route to Fløya. It is a boulder stuck between two mountain walls, creating a dramatic photo effect when visitors stand on the rock.
Fiskerkona, or the “Fisherman’s Wife”, is a sculpture at the entry point towards the harbor of Svolvær. There is a nearby breakwater pier that offers a good viewpoint. The sculpture is 4.5 meters high and is made of bronze. The Fisherman’s Wife greets the fishermen as they return home. The sculpture was completed in 1999 and has become a popular photo spot.
Fløya (590 m)
Fløya is one of the mountains over Svolvær and its reaches 590 meters in height. The hike towards the summit takes you past Djevelporten. The summit is marked by a cairn, but it requires a climb to reach. Many are satisfied with the view from the ridge.
Lofoten War Memorial Museum
Lofoten War Memorial Museum has exhibitions with a focus on events that took place in Lofoten during the Second World War. It is a part of Museum Nord and was opened in 1996.
Kongstind Alpinsenter is the local alpine ski center. There are two lifts taking skiers to the five prepared slopes and three off-piste slopes.
Svolvær Church is a concrete church that was built in 1934 and has space for around 400 seated visitors. It is the main church for the Svolvær Parish and a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway.
The seaside promenade in Svolvær offers both a great view of the smaller islands of the town and somewhere to explore what more the town has to offer. The promenade has some of the town’s restaurants and provides easy access to the main square and the harbor.
Svolværgeita is a sharp rock tower at the foot of Fløya. It does have a viewpoint, but it is only available for experienced climbers.
Tuva (477 m)
Tuva is another one of the mountains looking out over the town. It has an elevation of 477 meters and the trail starts close to the Lofoten Feriesenter. The path from this side is quite eroded and challenging if not experienced, but it does offer a great view even before reaching the summit.
How to Get to Svolvær
Flights: Svolvær Airport (SVJ) is 6 kilometers from the town and offers a few domestic routes.
Car: The town is along road E10 between Narvik and Å.
Ferry: There are ferries between Svolvær and Skutvik on the mainland. These ferries also make a call on the island of Skrova.
The driving distance from 5 major Norwegian cities, according to Google Maps:
Oslo – 1365 kilometers (20 h 2 min) Bergen – 1501 kilometers (23 h 12 min) Trondheim – 878 kilometers (13 h 44 min) Narvik – 220 kilometers (3 h 8 min) Kirkenes - 1034 kilometers (13 h 41 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Norway by visiting our page Exploring Norway