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They look like sheer walls of mountains rising dramatically from the sea. Venture closer to the Lofoten Islands, though, and you will find sandy coves, spectacular moors, and lonesome marshes. Simple wooden buildings, often painted deep rust red, lie scattered amid the green.

The Lofoten Islands lie north of the Arctic Circle, but their climate is surprisingly mild. They have been inhabited for 6,000 years, although the fishing village of Henningsvaer, the largest community in the Lofotens, has a population of only 500. It was not connected to the other islands by bridges until the early 1980s.

Alongside its fishing interests, this is an artistic community, with art displays and a glassblowing studio. Killer-whale safaris depart from here in winter—the whales follow migrating herring up the Tysfjord and Vestfjord—and there are trips to spot sea eagles in the summer months. Some of these birds have wingspans of 6.5 feet (2 m). Rast and Vaeroy have eider ducks, puffins, and majestic white-tailed and sea eagles. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can hike, bike, climb, and kayak in the summer months ana enjoy the midnight sun. From mid-February to April, the Lofoten Islands buzz with life as fishermen rrom across Norway’s coast stream nere tor the cod that swim in tneir millions to spawning grounds nearby.

To really experience a new way of life, try staying in a fisherman’s cabin, or rorbu, many of which have been converted to provide accommodation ranging from rustic to luxury. Some wharf buildings , or sjohus, have also been converted into guesthouses.