Norway's Most Beautiful Islands, Ranked

View of Kvalvika beach from the top of Ryten mountain
View of Kvalvika beach from the top of Ryten mountain | © Yuriy Garnaev / Unsplash
Photo of Danai Christopoulou
26 March 2018

Don’t get us wrong, the islands on the Mediterranean and the Caribbean can be breathtaking. But you know what else they can be? Well-known and crowded. Norway’s many islands, on the other hand, are still flying under the radar of most non-locals. We’ve shortlisted the ones most deserving of your attention.

9. Solund, Sogn og Fjordane

Welcome to Norway’s westernmost island! When in Solund you can visit the Utvær Lighthouse (that has been guiding ships along the coast for more than 100 years). It is Norway’s westernmost active fishing community at the edge of the open sea and Florø, Norway’s westernmost town.

In Norway's westernmost island, people speak Vestlandsk and write Nynorsk | © Solund Nyheter

8. Sandøya, Aust-Agder

Sandøya is one of Southern Norway’s many hidden gems. Located close to the picturesque town of Tvedestrand, Sandøya has about 200 residents in the winter – but it really blooms in the summer. Think beautiful bays for swimming, local crafts and food, all punctuated by the traditional white Norwegian houses of the South.

View towards Sandøya | L.C. Nøttaasen

7. Stangholmen, Risør

Stangholmen is part of the archipelago of Risør; Norway’s “wooden house town“. There are many bathing areas on the island, as well as a beautiful lighthouse, built in 1855, which also features a gourmet restaurant and a tavern with breathtaking views. Several concerts and festivals are taking place in the summertime.

Stangholmen | Courtesy of Visit Risør

6. Spitsbergen, Svalbard

The only permanently populated island of the Svalbard Archipelago – and still, when it comes to population, there are more polar bears than people. On magnificent Spitsbergen you’ll find Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost city, as well as the Russian mining community of Barentsburg, the research community of Ny-Ålesund, several icebergs, a frozen fjord, the Northern Lights and, did we mention the polar bears?

Approaching Spitsbergen, Svalbard | @ Christopher Michel / Flickr

5. Bragdøya, Kristiansand

Located just outside Kristiansand, the island of Bragdeøya will make you feel like you’re in Sicily, or some other Mediterranean coast: green, shallow water and verdant trees that reach all the way to the water. There are also hiking opportunities – and you can camp here.

Bragdøya, Kristiansand | Courtesy of Bragdøya kystlag

4. Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjordane

Surfing? In Norway? And yet, the island of Vågsøy in Western Norway is a surfer’s dream, with the village of Hoddevika having established a reputation as one of the more exotic surfing destinations in the whole world! Not into surfing? In Vågsøy you’ll also encounter the majestic rock formation of Kannesteinen, rising like a giant seat from the sea.

The striking Kannesteinen rock formation in Vågsøy island | © Bent Rønnekleiv, Sogn og Fjordane Fylkeskommune/Flickr

3. Vestvågøy, Lofoten

An oasis surrounded by mountains, Vestvågøy is the beating heart of the Lofoten archipelago. Here, not only can you find some of the best surfing beaches in Europe, you can also travel back in time while visiting the Lofotr Viking Museum.

Vestvågøy, Lofoten | © Frode Bjorshol/Flickr

2. Hidra, Vest-Agder

People have lived for thousands of years on Hidra – and we really can’t blame them. The island is simply idyllic: almost split in two by the Rasvåg fjord, Hidra offers spectacular ocean views, rich history and picturesque villages.

Hågåsen, Hidra | © Hanne Feyling, Visit Sørlandet/Flickr

1. Moskenesøya, Lofoten

You probably saw this coming. Moskenesøya is definitely the most beautiful island of the Lofoten archipelago, but also in Norway in general. The village of Reine, with the picturesque red houses and the towering mountain, is probably one of the most photographed places in the country. As for Kvalvika beach? It’s so breathtaking, it’s definitely worth the hike there. Next time you’re in the mood for island-hopping, you’ll know.

Reine, Moskenesøya, Lofoten | © David Wilkinson / Flickr

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