Værøy, Lofoten Travel Guide: The Idyllic Lofoten Island

Værøy is a small island just south of the Lofoten archipelago, known for having an amazing mountain ridge with spectacular views, as well as white sand beaches in multiple locations.

Many consider Værøy to be a “mini Lofoten” with some of the best things form Lofoten all located on this small island, no matter if you’re after spending a night in a rorbu cabin, hiking to get an incredible view of the ocean, go bird watching, go on a whale safari, or just spend the day at a beach.

We’re going to take a close look at traveling to Værøy in this article, including what to do at Værøy, where to spend the night, where to eat, and how to get to the island in the first place.


Værøy facts and tips

Værøy is by any measure a classic Lofoten island, with its mountains, sand beaches and the traditional fishing village called Sørland.

There’s only 679 inhabitants living at Værøy, but it’s a popular tourist attraction, so it can get very crowded with tourists in the summer season. Most people live in Sørland, with a few scattered farms and houses on the rest of the island.

There’s only a few hotels with a handful of rooms each at Værøy, and only a single grocery store (Coop Prix) in addition to a kiosk that sell souvenirs and regular kiosk items.

Since the island has increased in popularity, a few bars and restaurants have popped up, so there are a few options if you want to eat out on Værøy if you arrive in the main summer season.

Sørland is the only real village on Værøy. Photo by ZorroIII / CC BY-SA 3.0.
Sørland is the only real village on Værøy. Photo by ZorroIII / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Værøy is most known for being the home to breeding colonies of many different sea birds, including the famous puffin. It’s a great place to go on a puffin safari, but there’s also sea eagles, auks, guillemots, kittiwakes, cormorants, arctic terns, eider petrels and gulls at the bird mountains.

Puffins. Photo published with permission.

There aren’t all that many man-made tourist attractions at Værøy, so it’s primarily a great tourist destination for anyone looking for amazing natural attractions.

It’s a hiker’s paradise with mountain ridges spanning over most of the island, providing you with some of the most spectacular views in all of Lofoten! There are plenty of awesome places to pitch a tent to go wild camping.

Værøy has not traditionally been a popular tourist destination in Lofoten, but it became super popular after the ferry from Bodø to Lofoten became free if you stopped at either Værøy or Røst. The island is now becoming increasingly popular for day tourists who are spending a few hours or a full day on Værøy before going on to the rest of Lofoten.

Værøy with Måstadfjell in the background.
Værøy with Måstadfjell.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Værøy is known to have fast changing weather. It might be nice and sunny one minute, and a cold breeze with a full cloud cover just 10 minutes later.

Your view might quickly change from the photo above to the photo below in just a matter of 30 minutes!

Cloudy view at Værøy

What to do at Værøy

So what exactly can you do at Værøy if you’re spending a day there? There’s surprisingly many things to do, especially if you are a nature lover that want to go on incredible hikes and witness some of Norway’s most unique and incredible nature.

1) Swim at the incredible beaches on Værøy

Like the rest of Lofoten, the insane sand beaches are among the most popular attractions at Værøy. There’s several sand beaches on the small island, and they’re usually far less crowded than the most popular Lofoten beaches. Despite this, they’re just as beautiful and incredible, so I really recommend going for a swim!

The most popular beach on Værøy is called Breivika, and it’s located just a short hike north of Sørland. Another option is the beach Punn Sanden beach, while is absolutely incredible, but much further away from the village.

Sand beach at Værøy. Photo by Kent Wang / CC BY-SA 2.0.
Sand beach at Værøy. Photo by Kent Wang / CC BY-SA 2.0.

2) Hike the mountain ridge

One of the cool things about Værøy is that the mountain ridge spans most of the island, so it’s possible to hike on top of pretty much the entire island!

This is a great experience if you’re in for a bit of a physical challenge, but the reward is well worth the sweat! You will find some of the most spectacular views in all of Norway from the ridge, including a view towards the Lofoten mountains just north of Værøy.

Værøy mountain ridge.
Værøy mountain ridge.

3) Go bird watching

Værøy is home to several breeding colonies of sea birds, and the island is a true bird watcher’s paradise. Just bring your camera or binoculars, and head for the bird mountains to see a truly spectacular show!

The breeding colonies are at the bird mountains between April and August, with the highest density and most species in June and July each year.

Razorbill. Photo by Chme82 / CC BY-SA 4.0.

4) Spend the day at a whale safari

The ocean outside Lofoten is popular with several different whale species, including both orcas and humpback whales, and it’s truly time well-spent to go out to sea on a whale safari.

The main whale safari season in Lofoten is between October and February, but it’s also possible to get lucky and see whales in the summer months.

A humpback whale in Norway
A humpback whale in Norway. Photo published with permission.

5) Check out the stockfish racks

Værøy has a great climate for drying stockfish, and you will see plenty of stockfish racks on the island in the summer months. It’s a pretty cool sight to see thousands of fish set up to dry in the midnight sun!

You will definitely see lots of stockfish racks no matter if you want to or not when visiting Værøy, and they are found pretty much on most flat surfaces close to the village.

Stockfish racks in Norway.

6) Hike to Håheia

Håheia is one of the most famous hikes on Værøy, and has an amazing view down towards Sørland village below. The hike is roughly 5 kilometers each way, with an ascension of 440 meters, so you’ve got to be somewhat fit to complete the hike.

The great thing about the hike is that it begins in the village, so it’s very easy to get to the hike. There’s even signs towards the hike from Sørland’s city center!

Please keep in mind that there are some parts of the hike where there’s steep cliffs, so take care of the children if you bring any with you.

7) Go ocean kayaking

Værøy is a great place to rent an ocean kayak, and this really allows you to experience the entire island in a brand new way. Since Værøy is somewhat small, you’re able to kayak around the entire island to get a good feel for it.

I really recommend to rent an ocean kayak if you’re coming to Værøy, because it’s a lot of fun! Just make sure that it’s not too windy on the day you want to go kayaking, and you’re in for a great time.

8) Rent a bike!

Værøy is amazing for biking, and there’s surprisingly lots of roads on the island. Some of these are closed for cars, and there’s generally little traffic, so biking is a great way to quickly get to and from where you want to go.

You can bring your own bike on the ferry from Bodø or rent a bike in Sørlandet.

9) Attend the Midnight Sun Festival at Værøy

Værøy is known for hosting the Midnight Sun Festival, a music festival with electronic music. The festival takes place under the midnight sun each summer, and is a somewhat small and niche festival. It’s a unique festival that might tickle your interests if you enjoy electronic music.

You can read more about the Midnight Sun Festival at their Facebook page here.

Midnight Sun Festival at Værøy. Photo by 	Kent Wang / CC BY-SA 2.0.
Midnight Sun Festival at Værøy. Photo by Kent Wang / CC BY-SA 2.0.

How to get to Værøy

It’s surprisingly easy to get to Værøy considering how small the island is, and there’s a ferry between Bodø and Lofoten that has a stop at Værøy.

This means that you can take the ferry from Bodø directly to Værøy and stay there. The best part is that the ferry is government founded, so it’s completely free for passengers (even with cars and RVs!).

So just get on the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes, then jump off at Værøy. When you’re starting to be ready to leave of Værøy, just get on the same ferry to get to Moskenes in Lofoten to continue your adventure!

Lofoten express ferry between Bodø and Mosknes
Lofoten express ferry between Bodø and Mosknes stop at Værøy. Photo by rheins / CC BY 3.0.

There is a helicopter landing pad on Værøy, so some rich tourists prefer to arrive by helicopter, but this is obviously a costly affair. Helicopter rides are available from Bodø.

How to get around on Værøy

There are some roads on Værøy, particularly in the area close to Sørland, so you can use a car or other type of vehicle to get around some parts of the island. This is a great option if you’re coming to Værøy with a car on the ferry, but large parts of the island has no current car roads.

You will need to either rent a bike or go hiking to get to the most beautiful places on Værøy. The island is perfect for hikers, so the best way to get around on Værøy (outside of Sørland) is to hike.

There are plenty of path and trails all over the island to take you where you want to go, and there’s definitely no reason to bring a car if you just want to explore Værøy.

How long to stay at Værøy

Værøy is a rather small island, and you can experience most of what it has to offer in a short amount of time. Some tourists are spending between 6 and 12 hours there as a layover to get the free ferry to Moskenes, while others prefer to spend a night at the island.

It’s rare for people to long to spend more than a single night at Værøy, and most people take the ferry over to Røst or to Moskenes after a day on Værøy.

A tent on Kvalvika beach near Moskenes in Lofoten
A tent on Kvalvika beach near Moskenes in Lofoten, just a short ferry ride from Værøy. Photo published with permission.

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