The Lofoten Islands are associated with some of the world’s best scenery. And, more often than not, images of beautiful, overwater fisherman cabins (rorbuer) come to mind.
This post details the best rorbuer in Lofoten and why you should definitely stay in one during your trip to the Lofoten Islands.
Before my first travels to the Lofoten Islands, I had always imagined staying in a rorbuer when there.
I had stayed in plenty of Norwegian cabins throughout my years living in Norway, but nothing was the same as one of these picturesque beauties.
Fortunately, my first trip to Lofoten included a stay in a rorbuer. And my trips since have also included them.
If you’re looking for a unique place to stay in the Lofoten Islands, I highly encourage booking one for your trip, even if for just a few days!
In this post...
What is a Rorbu?
Rorbuer (plural in Norwegian for ‘rorbu’) are fisherman cabins on stilts that are ever-present in Nordland, Norway.
However, they have become associated with the Lofoten Islands more than anywhere else in Nordland throughout the years.
These famous Lofoten cabins date back to 1120, when King Øyvind ordered them built for the fishermen in the Lofoten Islands. The earliest traces go back to Kabelvåg, a small town near Svolvær.
While they date back to the 1100s, there is evidence that similar structures were built for fishermen in ancient times, around 900 AD.
In translation, rorbuer comes from two words put together. ‘Ror’ or ‘ro’ means ‘row’ in Norwegian and ‘bu’ was thought to mean the equivalent to ‘bo’ in Norwegian today… which means ‘to live’.
As indicated prior, the -er just makes ‘rorbu’ plural to mean more than one.
The rorbuer in Lofoten are often painted red which is fairly typical of houses in Norway, especially in the north, as it was the cheapest paint color.
However, you will find rorbuer in a variety of colors these days, but most still tend to be painted red or yellow. The Lofoten rorbuer today have been transformed into accommodation for tourists passing through.
You will find everything from basic to high-end accommodation in the rorbuer complexes in the Lofoten Islands.
Why You Should Stay in a Rorbu on Your Trip
To be honest, I think it is one of the coolest accommodation experiences I have ever had when traveling.
I have stayed in a lot of unique places, but many of those places didn’t have such a significant history that was so crucial to the region. Rorbuer are a piece of Lofoten’s past… and present.
Staying in a rorbuer in the Lofoten Islands will give you a chance to connect with that history comfortably. They are also always located by the sea, so you will likely have an epic view.
Another plus to staying in a rorbu is that they are usually in complexes. There may be a restaurant, bar, shops, and other amenities on-site.
It was kind of like staying at a resort but with more anonymity and a much prettier location!
Rorbuer are not that expensive to stay in, either. Depending on the season, they range from $100/night to $500/night. Naturally, this depends on the type you stay in and the number of people traveling with you.
The rorbuer I have stayed in could have all fit around 6 people, easily. There were multiple rooms, beds, and couches. They are a very family-friendly style of accommodation, to say the least.
Lofoten Rorbuer in This Guide (at a Glance)
There are many rorbuer throughout the islands but the most popular ones, and the ones I chose for this guide, are as follows:
- Nusfjord Arctic Resort (Nusfjord)
- Eliassen Rorbuer (Hamnøy)
- Sakrisøy Rorbuer (Sakrisøy)
- Reine Rorbuer by Classic Hotels Norway (Reine)
- Svinøya Rorbuer (Svolvær)
We also really liked the one in Å, but didn’t get to a chance to visit or stay there, so we have left it off of this guide until we do!
Best Norwegian Rorbuer in the Lofoten Islands
Here are our top five picks of Norwegian rorbuer in the Lofoten Islands.
There are several smaller complexes that you may stumble across when there, but I have visited most of these or stayed in them and they were wonderful places and I can recommend them all!
Please also refer to our map at the bottom to see where each is located.
It takes quite some time to travel the Lofoten Islands from north to south and you want to ensure that you plan your trip the best way possible and pick the right place to stay.
1. Nusfjord Arctic Resort (Nusfjord)
The small village of Nusfjord is home to one of the Lofoten Islands’ most stunning rorbuer complex called Nusfjord Arctic Resort.
Sitting on a small cove right beside the sea, the intimate cabins provide the perfect resting place for those looking to explore these scenic Arctic islands.
There are 20 cabins available in various sizes and spread across three different areas of Nusfjord (the harbor, bay, and village).
The exterior of the cabins retains their charming historical charm while the interior of the cabins have been renovated to meet the requirements of modern living that perfectly intertwines with the history of these Nusfjord rorbuer.
Each cabin comes with a living area where you can chill out in the evenings on comfy sofas. Alternatively, in some of the properties, you will have your own terrace.
The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, offering an amazing night’s sleep before another day of exploring the dramatic landscapes of the Lofoten Islands.
The bathrooms are finished to a high standard and utilize water from a fresh Norwegian spring. Wifi is available throughout the cabin.
There are no large kitchen facilities in the cabins, although there is a small worktop where you can make tea and coffee.
Each morning, you can enjoy an inclusive breakfast at Restaurant Karoline at the Nusfjord Arctic Resort. The restaurant also opens in the evening and serves up delectable local dishes. I had a really tasty cod and veggie dish there one evening.
There is also a nice cafe and bar at Nusfjord. If you seem to tire of stockfish, the bar has pretty good pizza!
Nusfjord Arctic Resort also offers various other activities to help you make the most of your time in the Arctic. Included in the rate of the room is access to the Northern Spa.
There are also northern lights tours and skiing excursions available to book directly from the front desk in winter.
During the summer further activities are available such as hiking and surfing courses.
2. Eliassen Rorbuer (Hamnøy)
In the darling fishing village of Hamnøy, you will find Eliassen Rorbuer, a complex that covers the northern tip of the village and extends out into the sea.
The scenery around the rorbuer is some of the most dramatic in the Lofoten Islands as the land rises sharply out of the water. During winter, the white snow contrasts with the black volcanic rock.
The cozy little red cabins provide a nice pop of color against the arctic landscapes. The Hamnøy rorbuer are a mix of historic cabins alongside recently built ones (the new ones retain that old charm though- don’t worry!).
They come in various sizes and the majority sit right atop the water or close to it. You know those famous photos of Lofoten that you see?
These are pretty much the red buildings in that photo. So, yeah… they’re pretty.
Each of the cabins in Hamnøy comes with a spacious living room and a small kitchen where you can cook up some delicious meals using local produce or store-bought food to make snacks and sandwiches for your lunch.
There are several options for bedroom styles suiting various group types, with double rooms and rooms with bunk beds available.
Many of the cabins include an outdoor terrace where you can look out over the sea with a drink in hand, giving you the chance to simply admire the incredible beauty in front of you.
On-site, you will find a restaurant that serves up traditional Arctic fare with a slight Mediterranean flair. At the reception, you can also book various Arctic adventures that differ per season.
During the dark Lofoten winters, you can hunt for the northern lights at night or even go snowshoeing in the surrounding areas.
During the summer months, you can enjoy hiking tours such as stand-up paddle boarding and various other adventures while experiencing the long daylight.
3. Sakrisøy Rorbuer (Sakisrøy)
The small village of Sakrisøy is home to an awesome family-run, rorbuer complex of the same name, which contains a mixture of restored 18th-century fishing cabins along with some newer ones built in the same style.
Sakrisøy Rorbuer has a great range of accommodation, including rooms for the more budget-orientated traveler. Sitting next to the crystal blue waters, the cabins shun the more traditional red paintwork and offer a more yellow finish adding a unique charm to them.
The interior of the cabins is cozy and warm and plays on the history of the buildings, albeit with all the modern conveniences required by today’s society.
All of the cabins come with a functional kitchen where you can cook up dishes using fresh Arctic ingredients.
Close to the cabins, you will find a great fishmonger where you can pick up an array of local delicacies harvested from the nutrient-rich Arctic waters.
The size of the cabins varies depending on size, although all have free wifi and free parking on site.
In the center of Sakrisøy, you will find the rorbuer’s restaurant- Underhuset, which is only open during the summer. Focusing on traditional Nordic dishes, the restaurant curates seasonal menus to highlight the best produce from the region.
During the summer months, Underhuset is also open for breakfast. It is also possible to organize a range of fun activities to make the most of your Arctic adventure at Sakrisøy Rorbuer.
4. Reine Rorbuer (Reine)
Reine Rorbuer by Classic Norway Hotels is a beautiful complex of 29 cabins that offer some of the most amazing views in the Lofoten Islands.
Nestled between the open ocean and the rugged mountains that dominate the islands, you will feel like you are at the end of the earth.
The deep red cabins perch on their stilts peacefully above the often rough waters below and retain their incredible history despite now being home to more modern fittings.
Reine Rorbuer are comfortable and cozy, with various sizes available from 1 room little cabins perfect for solo travelers or couples to larger, three-bedroom cabins perfect for big groups or families.
The interior of the cabins retains a rustic feel and the ornaments and fittings have a more antique feel to them.
However, the apartments still all have the modern amenities that people are used to, with most cabins also having a fully equipped kitchen. Wifi is available throughout the whole complex for free.
On-site, there is a restaurant for those looking to try the local cuisine.
Gammelbau Restaurant looks to serve the best of Lofoten’s produce and seasonal variances.
The dishes are made with traditional ingredients and incorporate international nuances.
It is also possible to arrange amazing seasonal activities, such as northern lights hunting, kayaking, and snorkeling/scuba diving.
A popular option is to head out fishing and take the catch home to cook in the kitchen of your rorbu.
5. Svinøya Rorbuer (Svolvær)
In the quaint arctic town of Svolvær, you will find Svinøya Rorbuer.
Located on its own little island, the rorbuer complex contains 59 different accommodation options, from traditional rorbu to stunning, overwater cabins.
The Lofoten cabins come in different sizes and can accommodate different group sizes with the manor house housing 17 different rooms for larger groups and other cabins can house up to eight people.
The rorbuer have all been renovated and fitted with modern comforts, although they have managed to retain their historical feel with the wooden interiors of the cabins transporting you back in time to when fishermen utilized the cabins.
Each of the rorbuer comes equipped with modern amenities, such as wifi and a fully functional kitchen where you can cook delicious meals or prepare your sandwiches for lunch.
In the evenings, you can relax with cable TV or chill outside of your cabin and look out over the sea or up to the opposing mountains that jut out of the water.
The bedrooms are comfortable and cozy, with large Scandinavian-style beds. Some rooms are fancier than others but they all offer a good night’s sleep.
This is the perfect place to stay in the Lofoten Islands if you’re engaging in some of the best activities in the area. It is also within walking distance of the famous Lofoten sea eagle safari through Trollfjorden.
Staying in a Rorbuer in the Lofoten Islands: FAQ + Map
Map of Rorbuer in Lofoten (in this Guide)
What to Expect on Your Stay
Rorbuer have a range of levels of luxury and comfort. You can find ones that offer basic accommodation needs and some even offer dormitory-style rooms.
They tend to be modest on the outside and cozy and beautiful on the inside (some are modern, some are rustic).
If you’re looking for a mid-range to high-end rorbu, you will likely find a room (or multiple), a living room space, a kitchen, a bathroom (maybe two), and possibly more.
Some of the rorbuer do have multiple floors in them. If you have limited mobility, be sure to contact reception before booking to ensure that they have one that can accommodate you.
While the 2-floor one I stayed in had the rooms and a toilet on the first floor, the kitchen space and living room area were all on the second floor.
The rorbuer are often in resort-like complexes. This means that there may be restaurants, cafes, bars, souvenir shops, and ways to book tours all within the complex. How koselig is that?
Getting to the Rorbuer
The best way to reach any of the rorbuer on this list is with a rental car. Public transportation in the Lofoten Islands is quite inadequate because there are not too many people living there and they all have personal vehicles.
However, some rorbuer are easier to reach than others if you choose to go there by public transportation (or hitchhiking!). Svinøya Rorbuer, for example, is extremely easy to reach. Public buses go there and Svolvær has one of the two airports in the Lofoten Islands.
Nusfjord Arctic Resort, on the other hand, is extremely difficult to reach without a personal vehicle.
But, it makes it all the more worthwhile if you venture out there. It was spectacular. You can refer to our map at the end of this guide to see where each rorbuer complex is located.
There are many reasons to book a rorbuer in Lofoten for your trip to the islands. I hope that these five rorbuer in the Lofoten Islands are on your list of ones to potentially book! If you have additional questions, please reach out!
More Lofoten Islands Travel Guides
- Best things to do in Henningsvaer
- Lofoten Islands in the winter
- What to know before visiting Lofoten
- Trollfjord sea eagle safari
- Best things to do in Svolvaer
- Horseback riding in Gimsoy
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.