Lofoten’s most important fishing port
Farthest out on the islets towards the Vestfjorden, and closest to the most important fishing grounds, lies Henningsvær. The picturesque harbour, protected by a breakwater, forms the very heart of the community, with the little wooden houses clustered tightly around. On the fringe of the village stand the distinctive fish racks for drying cod. An elegant bridge connects Henningsvær with the rest of the Lofoten Islands.
Mount Vågakallen, at 942 metres (3,090 ft), towers right above the harbour in Henningsvær. On clear days you can see the whole of this dramatic Lofoten mountain chain, right out to the islands of Mosken and Værøy. And on the mainland-facing side you can see the peaks stretching from Hamarøy and Steigen to well south of Bodø. Henningsvær is a magnificent “mini-atlas” for the whole of Northern Norway.
A picturesque milieu like that of the Lofoten Islands is naturally a magnet that few artists can resist. There are artists’ studios everywhere, with many of the finest works displayed in the Galleri Lofotens Hus in Henningsvær. The Lofoten fisheries, the Lofoten fishermen, the Lofoten mountains, interpreted naturalistically or non-figuratively: the source of inspiration is unmistakeable.
Arts and crafts
Many arts and craftspeople have also found their way to Henningsvær. On the Engelskmannsbrygga pier there are glassblowing studios where you can watch hand-blown glass being made, and there are also several pottery workshops. At the Henningsvær Lysstøperi candle workshop, you can make your own Christmas candles. You can even get an original sign made just for you by the sign-maker.
Haddock is the name of the colourful and fun woollen hats designed in Henningsvær. They look equally good on the ski slopes as on relaxed promenades around town. Warm socks, hats and mittens are knitted locally during the dark winter evenings, in continuance of the old craft traditions. Sjyvotta, sea mittens, have one thumb on each side, so they can be turned around.
Caviar and cod liver oil
A jar of genuine Lofoten caviar should be in your suitcase to take home. Try the delicious local Lofotpostei fish pâté, a more homemade version of the famous Svolværpostei fish pâté. Producing cod liver oil from the liver of skrei (spawning cod) is a Lofoten tradition that goes way back, and at the Full Steam factory you can watch it being made. Sample some in a shot glass ‒ most people are surprised at how good it tastes!
Not everything is made locally. Gift articles, decorative artefacts and Christmas decorations from all over the world have found their way to the Lofoten Islands. Much of what you will find has, however, been specially imported and you won’t find it in any chain store.
Every weekend through the pre-Christmas period you can take part in an outdoor family quiz trail organised by the local company Førjulseventyret, It is free of charge and fun for everyone! You can make your own Christmas gifts in the little workshops, or enjoy a Christmas concert, flea market, causerie… there’s always something happening in Henningsvær.
Coffee break and Lofoten cod
No-one comes to the Lofoten Islands without being offered large quantities of coffee, and, of course, the last thing one should do is take fish to Lofoten; they have more than enough themselves. At the Kafé Lysstøperiet you can enjoy an espresso and Danish pastry, while Klatrekafeen has an atmosphere of off-piste and mountain climbing as the backdrop to burgers and beer. Lofotmat is more interested in fine local food traditions, with fish soup and whale steak on the menu. Fiskekrogen and Den Blå Fisk prepare freshly caught fish straight from the Vestfjorden, but with a little international twist.
Henningsvær is incredibly beautiful, whether the rooftops, quays and fish racks are covered in soft, powdery snow, or mild weather sends the snow sliding off the roofs and turns the streets into skating rinks. Go down to the breakwater and take in the entire harbour in the shelter of Mount Vågakallen, and explore the little streets among the brightly-painted shops and houses. Don’t forget, though, that the days are short, so be sure to get out and enjoy the lightest time of the day around noon and then the magical blue light a little later in the afternoon.
Local transport in blue
Henningsvær’s shopping trolleys are of the local kind; the villagers have quite simply taken a number of sparks (kick-sleds) and painted them blue. So feel free to borrow a spark and scoot off on a tour around Henningsvær. Since the Gulf Stream often brings mild weather to Henningsvær in winter, the spark are equipped with little wheels.de liver your Christmas presents by spark – or take your sweetheart for a ride!
More pre-Christmas info
The programme of pre-Christmas activities, Førjulseventyret in Henningsvær, is on in November and December, and is a fine example of local people working together being the ‘root of all good’. All the activity centres are open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11am to 6pm, while on Saturdays and Sundays they are open from 11am to 4pm.
Read more about Lofoten on our website, or on the content-rich website of the Lofoten tourism office, Destination Lofoten.