Here you will find information about driving in Lofoten during the time there might be snow and ice on the roads.
Driving on the small roads of Lofoten can for many people be a scary experience, especially if you are from a warmer climate and haven't driven on snow/ice before. It is important to be careful and to keep a speed where you feel comfortable and safe! But please be polite and considerate towards other drivers. Remember that there are people living and working in Lofoten, the locals have a lot of experience driving on these roads and can normally keep a higher speed than the average tourist. If you notice you have cars behind you, please look for the next safe place to stop and let the other drivers pass!
If you are an unexperienced winter driver we recommend to plan your trip in a way to avoid long and unnecessary driving. When you book your flight make sure you fly to the airport closest to your final destination, for our guests this means Leknes or Bodø. From Leknes it will take you around one hour to arrive to 'Reinefjorden Sjøhus', from Bodø you take the ferry to Moskenes and drive approximately 20 minutes from Moskenes to us.
When you rent a car we recommend you to make sure it is equipped with studded tires. The winter tires without studs work good on snow, but here in Lofoten we often get ice on the roads and for ice you need studs!
So when does winter start in Lofoten? This can vary a lot from year to year. When the temperature starts to drop in October you can start having some ice on the roads in the mornings. If you are unexperienced driving on icy roads, days like this can be good to have a long breakfast and wait for the sun to rise and for the road to be used by other drivers before you start driving. When the real snow falls the road maintenance crew will do their best to keep the roads clear, in case of heavy snowfall they will prioritize E10 before they plow the smaller roads. The road maintenance crew will also spread gravel on the roads when icy, this will help you to get a better grip. After the first snowfall the snow can come and go until around the end of April.
Even though Lofoten is above the arctic circle it is actually not that cold in the winter (by Norwegian standards). Due to Lofotens location the climate is relatively mild, this means that rain can fall even during the winter. Rain on cold roads is not a good combination! If you get this weather, try to make other plans and stay off the road if possible.
When the roads start to freeze it is important to remember a few things; (This is just a few recommendations from us)
Avoid sudden stops, abrupt downward gear shifts and quick direction changes. Break gently to avoid skidding or sliding. If the wheels lock up, ease off the break.
If you break on snow/ice it will take longer for the car to stop, plan your driving and start breaking earlier than you normally would.
Keep a much longer distance to the car in front of you than you would on dry roads.
Parts of the road that stay all day in the shade can be icy even if the rest of the road is ice free.
The bridges freeze easier than a normal road.
When the road is covered in snow/ice it sometimes happens that it becomes extra icy in places where alot of cars break, for example at intersections. Plan your driving!
Drive extra slow in sharp turns to avoid sliding.
Stay on the part of the road that has been plowed. Never put your tires on the other side of the orange 'snow poles', they mark the end of the road.
In case of strong winds and snow, keep in mind that there might be snow drifts on the road.
Wet ice is the worst conditions to drive in, you can easily get stuck in premade tracks which is difficult to get out of. Do not take any risks.
Try to not stop on a hill, you might not be able to continue up the hill after stopping. Sometimes it will be nessecary but if you can avoid it choose a flat place to stop your car.
Before driving into a parking or stopping next to the road, check if it will be possible to get back to the road again! Do you need to drive up an icy slope? Maybe choose another location.
If there is to much snow or ice wait until the road crew has plowed and/or gravel before driving. Safety first!
We hope this information will be helpful! With the right preparation, you can travel safely even when the weather turns on you. For more information about driving in snow you can for example press here.
We recommend everyone traveling to Lofoten in winter to plan one day at home after your trip, before you get back to your everyday life. This way you have the option to be more flexible if the weather is too bad to travel the day of your departure. During strong winds bridges, ferries and planes can be closed/cancelled.