Getting There -- On the eastern coast of Austvågøy, Svolvær is the largest town on the archipelago's largest island. It lacks the charm of the island's other fishing communities, but nothing tops it as a refueling stop. The port is a bit dull, but its surroundings of craggy backdrops and sheltered bays form a dramatic Lofoten backdrop. From Bodø, drive east on Rte. 80 to Fauske. Take E6 north to Ulvsvåg and head southwest on Rte. 81 toward the town of Skutvik. From Skutvik, take the 2-hour ferry to Svolvær. For ferry information and reservations, contact Hurtigruten (tel. 81-00-30-30; www.hurtigruten.com for reservations and information). Passengers without cars pay NOK76 ($15/£7.50) adults, NOK38 ($7.60/£3.80) children, each way for passage to Svolvær from Skutvik. One-way transport of a car with its driver costs NOK262 ($52/£26).
You can fly to Svolvær on Widerøe Airline, which has seven flights a day from Bodø. For information, call tel. 75-51-35-00 in Bodø for reservations, or visit www.wideroe.no.
You can also travel the Lofotens by using a combination of rail, bus, and ferry. Many visitors take a train to Bodø and then transfer to a bus that crosses from Bodø to Svolvær on a ferry. Most bus departures from Bodø are timed to coincide with the arrival of trains from Oslo, Bergen, and other points. Buses also take passengers from elsewhere in Norway to Ulvsvåg, then on to Skutvik, where you can board a ferry to Svolvær. For information on train-bus-ferry connections, contact Destination Bodø Office (tel. 75-54-80-00).
A coastal steamer, departing from Bodø at 3pm daily, also calls at Stamsund and Svolvær.
Visitor Information -- Contact Destination Lofoten, Box 210, N-8301 Svolvær (tel. 76-06-98-00; www.lofoten.info), on the harborfront in a big red building right in the middle of the town square. It's open January 1 to May 21 Monday to Friday 9am to 3:30pm; May 22 to June 11 Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm; June 12 to June 24 Monday to Friday 9am to 7:30pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm, Sunday 4 to 7pm; June 25 to August 6 Monday to Friday 9am to 9:30pm, Saturday 9am to 8pm, Sunday 10am to 9:30pm; August 7 to August 27 Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm; August 28 to December 31 Monday to Friday 9am to 3:30pm.
Getting Around -- At the tourist office at Svolvær, you can pick up a free pamphlet, Lofoten Info-Guide, with information about all ferries and buses throughout the archipelago. All inhabited islands are linked by ferry, and buses service the four major islands, including Svolvær. Motorists can drive the E10 from Svolvær to the outer rim of Lofoten, a distance of 130km (81 miles). One of the great drives in the north of Norway, this route will give you a good overall look at the Lofotens.
Our preferred method of getting around the Lofotens is by bike. Cycles can be rented at most of the archipelago's little hotels.