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Hiking with a dog in the Lofoten Islands

All you need to know before leaving…

What hike would suit my dog?

hiking dog norwayThe nature of the terrain itself is difficult in the Lofotens (large screes, boulders, high steps to climb), and makes some of the hikes presented on this website simply not suitable for dogs, despite their training or abilities.
Once you're well advanced on a hike, it’s a bit late to discover that the terrain is too tough for your dog. It is also difficult to know if a dog is really tired or if it is in pain. Courageous and faithful by nature, a dog might push itself to follow you with a "smile", just to make you happy. In order to find out if the slopes are not too steep, or if the distances are not too long for your companion, it is very important to take some time to look at the maps before leaving for a hike.

In order to help you choose the right hikes, we have set up a small symbol* on the day-walk sheets. When you see this symbol, it means that you can bring a sporty and healthy dog along. Note that doing the whole trek "The Great Crossing of the Lofoten Islands" is not suitable for dogs.

* soon online

A lightweight dog (small to medium) will do better in difficult terrain

If your dog is athletic and used to rough terrain, the Lofotens can be a nice playground for it. Some hikes however, will be more like a challenging climbing route, as your dog doesn't have your leg length or a pair of arms to lift itself up in the tricky spots. A small-sized dog (or a medium dog, like a border collie for instance) will be rather an advantage here. They are generally more agile, and as you will probably need to give a helping hand from time to time (carrying your dog), it will be easier for you if it is not too heavy.

Exclude long hikes with a fragile dog or puppy

As always, watch out for dogs with weak joints (e.g. hip problems). Do not embark on a too long or too technically demanding hike (with many screes to cross...). Also, if you have a young puppy, it is not advisable to bring him hiking in a mountainous terrain because it could have adverse repercussions on his growth. If you want to bring your puppy anyway, you'll need a backpack to carry him.

Diseases or other dangersrandonner chien lofoten

There is no particular disease to be worried about in the Lofotens.
There is no rabies in Norway and almost no ticks, except in the vicinity of sheep pastures, and generally they do not carry any diseases. So just inspect your dog after each hike where you've come across cattle (do not forget a tick twister/removal tool!). The granitic rocks are very abrasive in the long term for the digital pads of the paw (they must be inspected regularly). The water is very acidic in peat bogs and humid soils, and can therefore cause irritation between the dog's pads in the long run. Check this too, especially if your dog starts to bite the underside of its paws ... sometimes until they are bleeding!

> You will find tick removal tools in any local pharmacy (“flåttfjerner” in Norwegian).

Bathing and drinking water

Your companion will be extremely happy in the Lofotens if he loves water and is not chilly, as the sea is ubiquitous. On a hot summer day he will certainly jump into a refreshing lake to cool down. On most hikes, your dog will find lots of freshwater points that are clean enough to drink (streams, lakes), so it is not necessary to load your backpack with tons of water (check on the map if there are accessible water points on the route before leaving for a hike).

> Local supermarkets sell 33 cl bottles with a built-in drinking-trough for dogs; it's very convenient and doesn’t take much space in a backpack. You can refill the bottle during the walk.

Local laws and restrictions

Dogs must be on leash from April 1st to August 20th inclusive. This is indicated by the Norwegian law (“Lov om hundehold”), which is meant to protect farm animals and wildlife. Whatever the time of year, it is essential that your dog stay on a leash wherever there are livestock (sheep, cows...) and in areas where birds nest on the ground, especially during egg-laying (spring). If you forget this, don't worry; Norwegians will not hesitate to call you to order. However, far from homes and livestock, it is not uncommon to meet locals strolling with their unleashed dog. If your dog does not have a strong hunting instinct, it is common sense that matters. When you decide to let your dog walk free (I repeat, away from houses and sheep!), he must remain under your absolute control and come back to you at first call. This is to be taken very seriously, as there are cases in Norway every year of dogs shot by the authorities, or by the farmers themselves, following an "attack" or suspicion of attack on sheep (or similar behavior from dogs). Some local farmers will not hesitate to threaten you physically if your dog is not on a leash when you cross a pasture area (this really happened!). Another obligation: you must - of course - pick up dog leavings, and even if it is in the middle of the wilderness (yes, that’s true). There again, locals will not fail to remind you if you "forget" to do so.

How to cross the Norwegian border with a dog

Before crossing the border (a few weeks before your trip), check that all documents are in order (European pet passport, chip, vaccines, compulsory deworming treatment against echinococcosis, etc.). Whether you arrive by plane or car, you have the obligation to declare your pet to customs when entering the country. They will check the passport and check if your dog's got the compulsory deworming treatment before entering the Norwegian territory (and that this has been done within the legal deadlines).

> To learn more about pet entry requirements, please visit the following page:

Taking the ferry with your dog?

For ferry crossings between Bodø and Moskenes (3 hrs 20 min), your dog will have to wait in the car (note that the car deck is not accessible during the crossing). If you are travelling on foot, your four-legged friend will have to stay in a special compartment at the bottom of the boat - near the engines - where it is very noisy (this means in fact: very SCARY for most dogs). There you will find some stainless-steel cages and water. You'll be able to visit your dog during the crossing at least once, on request, or you can stay at its side. Bring a blanket for the cage!


Most accommodation accepts dogs, but you should check this beforehand and you'll usually have to pay an extra cleaning fee.

Vets in Lofotens

In case of minor or major concern, know that there is a veterinary center in Leknes ( +47 76 08 29 99) and another in Svolvær (http: // +47 76 07 16 17).

Travelers’ feedback

Health rules in public areas (cafes, restaurants, shops, etc.) are as strict as they can get towards dogs (except for guide dogs and police dogs) and the fear of allergies - however rare they may be - is close to hysteria in my view.
Unlike many European countries, you will not be able to bring your dog with you while shopping (it's forbidden, and not only in food stores!). You will not be able to drink a coffee inside either. Your four-legged friend will be confined to stay in the car or tied to a pole in the street when you've got things to do in town.
Note that it is also complicated to take the bus with a dog, even if some drivers kindly accept it (on request of course, and if there are no passengers opposed to it).
Although there is a growing craze for dogs in the bigger Norwegian cities (one can even speak of a real trend), they are relatively rare in the Lofoten Islands. Because there are not many of them, and even if they are generally obedient, they are rarely socialized and will often be afraid of your own companion, to which they will respond with surprising aggressiveness. Moreover, fearing drama in the case of a "dog encounter", the locals will keep their fuming and barking hounds on a short leash and may easily make a detour of 50 m or more just to avoid you.
Finally and without wanting to generalize, negative reactions towards you and your dog might surprise you (suspicious looks, sometimes even disgusted looks), especially if you come from the Netherlands, the US, Germany, Belgium or the United Kingdom - where dogs are respected, and have their place next to humans, whether it is in town or elsewhere. This will hopefully change in the future, but slowly, because animal welfare is not a great concern yet and the Norwegian law does still not recognize the sentient nature of animals.

 Hike dog Lofoten

Text and photos by Magdalena (H.-L.)

How to get around on the Lofoten Islands ?


Buses are high quality but not very frequent (on average 2 each day in both directions) and relatively expensive*. Including stops and changes of bus it takes half a day to travel the 150 km between Svolvaer and A i Lofoten** .

To find out the times.

*Example: 158Nok/person from Moskenes to Svolvaer, count 3hrs to 3:30hrs travel time (depending on connections in Leknes).
**to find out how to read the time tables, please refer to the timetables in : "How to get to the Lofoten Islands"


Undoubtedly the most practical if you want to be independent. If you don’t have your own car you can hire one when you get there. In the high season (July and early August) it is, however, sometimes difficult to find rental vehicles available. The local Exploranor agency can provide hire cars and book your accommodation using the liberty forms.


To reach the end of the Reine fjord in order to explore the beach in Bunnes or hike to the Horseidet beach or Selfjorden you need to take this small boat from the centre of Reine. There are lots of people in summer, however, and you must get to the landing dock at least 30-45 minutes ahead of time. The boat leaves as soon as it is full (it doesn’t always wait until the scheduled time and may depend on the mood of the captain, which varies depending on the cycle of the moon :-)). Prices available here.

Winter (901) 01.09.14 until 15.06.15 (week 36 to 24 next year)
Departure from Reine







Every day *)

From Reine














From Kjerkfjorden







From Vindstad







Towards Reine







*) Sunday, departure every other week (weeks of an even number: 34-36 etc.)

Times (901) from 16.06.14 to 22.06.14 and from 18.08.14 to 31.08.14 (week 25, 34 and 35)
Departure from Reine

  Mon. Wed./Sat. and Sun.
Tue.-Thu. Fri. Fri. Every day *)
From Reine 07.00 11.00 10.00 08.00 21.30 15.00
      Rostad - - - - - -
From Kjerkfjorden 07.15 11.15 10.15 08.15 - 15.15
From Vindstad 07.25 11.25 10.25 08.25 - 15.25
Towards Reine
    08.00 12.00 11.00 09.00 22.30 16.00

    *) Sunday, departure every other week (weeks of an even number: 34-36 etc.)

    Times (901) from 23.06.14 to 17.08.14 (from week 26 to 33)
    From Reine

      Mon. and Fri.
    From Mon. to Fri.
    Sat. and Sun.
    Fri. Every day
    From Reine 08.00 10.00 11.00 21.30 15.00
    From Vindstad 08.15 10.15 11.15 - 15.30
    From Kjerkfjorden 08.25 10.20 11.20 - 15.20
          Rostad - - - - -
    Towards Reine
      09.00 11.00 12.00 22.30 16.00

      How to get to the Lofoten Islands ?

      Here is an overview of how to get to and from the Lofoten Islands. This paragraph contains direct links to the official sites of transport companies. To help you read the timetables, please refer to the box below (How to read timetables in Norway).


      By plane

      1) Flight Paris (or other city)-Oslo: with SAS or Norwegian (low-cost Norwegian airline)
      2) Flight Oslo-Bodø: with SAS or Norwegian (low-cost Norwegian airline).

      N.B. If you choose Norwegian, make sure you will not have to spend the night in Oslo (airport) because there might be no connections between Paris (or an other city)-Oslo and Oslo-Bodø flights in the same day with this company (you will have to allow for a night in a hotel as well). Check carefully before booking.

      Read more …How to get to the Lofoten Islands ?

      What you need to take with you

      Always remember this Norwegian proverb “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. Unlike the inhabitants of the islands you will only be here for a short time. You won’t have time to wait for ideal rainfall, wind and temperature conditions before you leave your tent or Rorbu, so make sure you are properly equipped when you leave.

      Equipment for all seasons:

      Vital equipment

      Fleece jacket
      Wind/waterproof jacket (rain capes are impractical due to the terrain)
      Warm underwear  – Long-sleeved T-shirt + long-johns  (ideally merino wool)
      Hiking socks (warm)
      Woollen hat
      Hiking trousers
      Woollen jumper
      Quick-dry underwear (not cotton while hiking)
      Walking shoes (waterproof if possible)

      The rest

      Handheld GPS
      Water bottle or thermos flask
      Walking poles (even if you are not used to using them, the terrain here is perfect for Nordic walking)
      Bathing suit (you never know)
      Quick-drying towel
      Small first-aid kit (everything is available here but more expensive than in France)
      Mobile phone
      Plus everything you usually take with you…

      Mosquitos: unlike the north of the Norwegian mainland, there are few mosquitos or stinging insects in the Lofoten Islands. Although, the last  years we have notice some midges and other mosquitos in the evening in july and august.


      Winter equipment

      Vital equipment

      In addition to the all season equipment you should take:
      A pair of snow shoes (if you want to leave the road)
      A warm quilted jacket
      A pair of under-gloves + a pair of warm gloves
      A cagoule
      Woollen underwear, socks and hat.
      A head lamp
      A pair of warm walking shoes suitable for your snow shoe fastenings.

      The rest

      Handheld GPS
      Thermos flask
      Walking poles
      Bathing suit (for the sauna, or the bravest of you!)
      Quick-dry towel
      Small first-aid kit (everything is available here but more expensive than in France)
      Mobile phone
      Plus everything you usually take with you…

      NB : Make the most of your rucksack to ensure you don’t overfill it. Remember you will find everything when you get there (in case you’ve forgotten anything) but that it’s more expensive than in France. Lastly, do not underestimate the cold that may come in any season at this latitude. My personal experience is that wool (particularly merino) is the best material ever invented in terms of warmth and comfort.



      Where to go shopping?

      Because restaurants in Norway are expensive you will probably want to prepare your own meals. That’s no problem in the Lofoten Islands as whatever your accommodation you will find food stores in most villages.

      Here are a few ideas:
      •  food stores
      •  shops selling hiking equipment
      •  a few useful addresses
      •  places where you can have a drink or something to eat without ruining yourself

      shops lofoten

      N.B. the opening times are given as an indication only (they are correct as of 2014).
      See the short English/Norwegian food glossary


      Food stores:

      This tiny village has a “Coop Marked” food store.

      Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 3pm.


      Food stores:
      Given that this is the capital of the Lofoten Islands there are many supermarkets. The “Kiwi” shop is just before you enter the town from the south, next to one of the town’s petrol stations on the E10 road. The other supermarkets are in the town centre, including the very large “Coop Mega” in the Amphi shopping mall. The Vinmonopol State shop, which is the only store authorised to sell spirits over 5° (food stores only sell low-alcohol beer) is in the same mall. There is also a pharmacy. The prices of the same product vary enormously from one supermarket to another so if you are not in a hurry and find that certain products are really too expensive, check out the other shops because all three main supermarkets are located in the same square (Coop Mega, Rimi and Rema 1000). On the whole Rema 1000 is the cheapest in the town.

      Opening hours:
      Kiwi: Monday to Saturday 7am to 11pm and Sunday 10am to 9pm.
      Coop mega: Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm and Saturday 9am to 8pm.
      Vinmonopol: Monday to Wednesday 10am to 4:30pm, Thursday/Friday 10am to 6pm, and Saturday 10am to 3pm.
      Rema 1000: Monday to Saturday 7am to 11pm.

      Sports shop
      Skandinavisk, the shop with the best range of hiking, climbing and kayak equipment in the town (unfortunately everything is on the expensive side).

      Opening hours:
      Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm, Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturday 10am to 3pm.

      Cafés & Restaurants :
      Bacalao, if you fancy a drink or a bite to eat we recommend this café (both friendly and classy) on the port. They serve very good coffee and excellent hot chocolate with whipped cream (the best in the archipelago). You will also find hot dishes and snacks (soup, bacalao (dried salt cod), burgers, potatoes stuffed with shrimps, etc.).

      Read more …Where to go shopping?