The Best Beaches of Lofoten – That You Can Drive To
White sand and turquoise blue water. Small waves of turquoise blue water wash gently across the white sand while mountain peaks rise into the blue sky above. Typically the words arctic and beach are not usually mentioned together in the same sentence, however, on the Lofoten islands there are perhaps some of the most spectacular beaches you will ever see.
The water might be a bit on the cold side, though the local kids don’t seem to mind, but you’ll soon find the dramatic settings of most of the beaches more than make up for this. And on a summer evening as the sun hangs above the sea in the north, there is not much better than a barefoot stroll through the waves or a nice driftwood-fire to bring in the new day.
The following is an overview of some of my favorite beaches on Lofoten. It’s is not a fully comprehensive list, but it is a good start for any visit to the islands. I will be writing from the perspective of a photographer, so some beaches that might get high remarks in the travel guidebooks don’t measure up all that well for photography. And as with any ‘top’ list, a lot of it depends on my experiences at any given time.
[Note: This article is about the best beaches on Lofoten in which it is possible to drive to. For the article about Lofoten’s real best beaches, where you’ll need to do some hiking. – CLICK HERE – ]
Unstad Beach – Vestvågøy
21km east from Leknes.
Unstad is one of Lofoten’s most popular beaches, especially with its growth as a surfing destination in recent years. Many big name photographers have come here to photograph the wave action over the last couple years. The beach itself has a nice sandy middle section, though there are often issues with seaweed, while the sides of the beach consist of scenic boulders fading into the water.
Photographically, the beach is best shot from the right side, looking across to the mountain peaks rising from the left. As a northern lights destination, Unstad is not always the best, as the beach is relatively closed in, though the aurora do occasionally appear in the right part of the sky.
There is parking on the left or right side of the beach and then a 1 minute walk. I usually find myself on the left side and shooting towards the southwest.
Uttakleiv Beach – Vestvågøy
12km north from Leknes.
Uttakleiv is the most photographed beach on Lofoten. The scenic rocky shoreline on the left side of the beach provides near limitless photographic possibilities, while the sandy middle section allows for even more areas to explore. In winter, you will likely be bumping elbows with other photographers, while in summer it is a popular camping and midnight sun destination, with campfires spread across the beach.
With the horizon open to the north, Uttakleiv is a good location for northern lights, especially if combined with Haukland and Vik, just down the road, should the lights change locations in the sky.
The parking is on the left side of the beach, a short drive past the village. This is also a popular place for camping on the grassy dunes behind the beach.
Haukland Beach – Vestvågøy
10km north from Leknes
Haukland is one of Lofoten’s most famous beaches. The white sand and crystal blue waters make Haukland a popular summer destination among tourists, many even brave enough to go for an afternoon swim! In winter, this beach can have a sublime beauty, and makes for one of the best sunrise or sunset locations on Lofoten. Though popular among tour groups, and you will likely find Haukland filled with tripods and covered in footprints.
After a fresh overnight snowfall, I would make Haukland your first priority to try and photograph it in a pristine state
Just before entering the tunnel to Utakleiv is a parking area on the left. No camping is allowed here.
Vik Beach – Vestvågøy
10km north from Leknes
Vik is a neighbouring beach to Haukland. A scenic, long curving stretch of white sand, this beach would be much more scenic if it didn’t have the road running immediately beside it. I don’t often find myself stopping here during summer, though during winter, especially after a fresh snowfall, it can be a good location to escape the crowds.
Vik is more open to the north than Haukland, often making it a good location to photograph northern lights during winter, or at least provide a slightly different view point as the lights move towards the north.
Parking is available on the left and right sides of the beach in the small pullouts.
Storsandnes Beach – Flakstadøy
13km west from Leknes
The secret is now out about Storsandnes, a quiet little beach on the east side of Flakstadøy. It used to be that I would rarely see another photographer here, but in recent years it seems people are heading here more and more to escape the relative crowds at Uttakleiv and Haukland.
Depending on the tides, Storsandnes can provide a good variety of shots, especially in the twilight of winter. Facing to the north, it is a good location for northern lights, though there are no immediate peaks in the background, making it more of a seascape type shot.
Parking is available in the pullout just past the beach (try to avoid parking at the passing area next to the beach).
Myrland Beach – Flakstadøy
15km west from Leknes
Myrland is another one of Lofoten’s hidden gems, though it has been growing in popularity in recent years, especially among winter photography tours. The draw of this small, sandy beach is the assortment of large boulders perfectly placed in the tide line. Though facing north into the open ocean, there is not much of a mountain backdrop to this location.
In big winter storms from the north, the crashing waves here can almost be unreal as they pound the coastline. Though the aftermath can leave the beach devoid of sand for some weeks.
Small pullout for parking.
Skagsanden Beach – Flakstadøy
27km west from Leknes
Skagsanden is one of Lofoten’s most photographed beaches, especially as a location for northern lights in winter. Located along the E10 a few kilometers east from Ramberg, this flat, sandy beach often provides scenic reflections of the surrounding mountain terrain. Additionally, the sides of the beach provide rocky outcroppings for a variety of photographic opportunities, depending on the tide and waves.
I generally don’t go to Skagsanden as a destination, but find it to be a good stopping point between other locations if the light is right. If you are staying in Reine during winter, then this will be your nearest beach for northern lights with minimal light pollution.
Skagsanden is 3km east from Ramberg, just before the turnoff to Flakstad. There is a large parking area that you can’t miss.
Gimsøy Beaches – Gimsøy
50km east from Leknes, 40km west from Svolvær.
Rather than a single beach, the north side of Gimsøy offers a series of small, but scenic little beaches. Due to the white sand, on a calm summer day the water here can be an absolutely brilliant color and you could be easily fooled into thinking you’re someplace a bit more tropical; until you dare to go for a swim!.
Drive to the north side of Gimsøya. Most of the beaches are right along the side of the road and you can’t really miss them. For most of the beaches there is not really a proper parking place, you just have to find the entrance to a field and try to park on the edge of it while not blocking the way, especially in late summer when the farmer will be cutting the grass. It’s generally not ever crowded here, even on nice days.
Ramberg Beach – Vestvågøy
30km west from Leknes
Situated right along the E10, Ramberg is Flakstadøy’s biggest beach. A large crescent of white sand just to the east of the village, the beach is one of Lofoten’s most popular areas. Though unfortunately for photography, the nearby buildings spoil the best photographic compositions, the setting is still stunningly scenic, and makes an enjoyable location for a midnight sun walk.
You will no doubt pass this beach multiple times on any Lofoten trip. Though not a photographic priority, it is always worth a stop if the light is right.
Parking is in the obvious parking area on the right side of the beach. It can also be accessed from Ramberg Camping.
Eggum – Vestvågøy
24km east from Leknes
Eggum is perhaps most popular as a midnight sun watching destination and in the height of summer, dozens of campers will line the coastline. While there is a series of small, white sandy beaches running the length of the village, Eggum is better known for the rocky coastline past the village, where a small visitor center (summer only) and the old WW2 radar tower are located.
Parking available at the end of the road past the village.
Yttersand Beach – Moskenesøy
39km west from Leknes
Yttersand, located on the northern tip of Moskenesøy is a narrow strip of sand at high tide and a large, flat rippled-sand beach at low tide. Facing almost directly north with a low ridge to the west, there are no mountains in the immediate background, with only the distant peaks of Flakstadøy if looking across the beach to the right. Mostly only reached by gentle waves, not much drama usually occurs here. The beach does have a tendency to collect seaweed, often leaving it with a cluttered appearance, except at low tide.
This beach is generally worth a visit at some point, but I wouldn’t make it a priority for a sunrise or sunset shoot. That being said, the beach and surroundings are quite scenic when viewed from above, making the hike up Røren/Ytresandheia a worthy objective.
Parking is available in the parking area at the end of the road.
Rørvika Beach – Austvågøy
16km west from Svolvær
Rørvika is a popular summer location for the locals. At high tide, the water will be almost to the rocks, but at low tide there is a nice stretch of white sand. A scenic little river runs to the beach and is a popular photo subject, especially so in winter.