On a cape stretching out into the sea of Vestfjorden, lies the village Å, a fascinating and unique end-point on the southern tip of the Lofoten islands. This is where the road E10 (King Olav’s road) through Lofoten ends.
With only 123 inhabitants (2016), Å is the southernmost village in Lofoten. It is Northern Norway’s best-preserved traditional fishing village with roots dating back to the early 1800s. Walking among these old houses and fishermen’s cabins you get a sense of the life and hardship of the generations of fishermen that lived and worked here.
Here is Europe’s oldest fish oil factory (1850), once a very important industry in Northern Norway, a still-running bakery from 1844, old fishermen’s cabins (rorbuer), boat houses with traditional wooden fishing boats, and an authentic family home seemingly frozen in time.
Experience the daily life of a typical fishing family and see how the fishing industry and the way of living in Lofoten have changed over the last 250 years. 39 of the houses in Å are listed buildings, most of them constructed in the 1800s.
One of the factories that used to produce stockfish has been turned into the world’s only stockfish museum. At the museum, you can walk around the factory floor, learn how stockfish are made, and hear the history of how stockfish become a major export.
Å is surrounded by stunning nature, with fjords, islands, and mountains. The village took its name from the river Åelva that runs through the village (“river” in the Old Norse language, is “á”).
There are several places to stay in Å, mostly fishermen’s cabins/ rorbuer (which has been modernized and brought up to today’s standards), and there is one restaurant here – Brygga Restaurant which belongs to the Å Rorbuer Hotel. Å is only a 13-min drive from Reine village, so these two are perfect to combine.
In between Å and Reine, you find Sørvågen fishing village where you also find accommodation and a few restaurants (like Lofoten Rorbuhotell where we stayed, with its awesome Havet Restaurant).
You can drive from the starting point of Lofoten (Svolvær city) to the endpoint Å in 2,5 hours, that’s how small and compact the Lofoten archipelago is. We did the end-to-end road trip through the Lofoten Islands in 10 days (which you can read here).
A great starting point for planning your Lofoten adventure is our ultimate Lofoten Travel Guide.
Å Travel Guide – What To Do In Å
This Å travel guide gives you the best things to do and see in the small fishing village Å, as well as the best places to stay and eat. Å’s top attractions, sights, and activities are listed and highlighted on a map. So have a great time exploring A! ♥
Table of Contents:
A Brief History Of Å
Å has the perfect location for fishing in Vestfjorden (where the cod come to spawn every winter) and eas one of the biggest fishing villages in Lofoten from 1840 until 1960.
There were two ruling families in Å (so-called “væreiere” in Norwegian) – Ellingsen and Nilsen/ Hennum. This was a bit unheard of since there usually was only one chief family per fishing village.
But since Å had two rulers, the small village had two fishing docks, two fishing oil factories, two clusters of fishermen’s cabins, and two sets of fish flakes. And of course, two big and fine manor houses you can see here today, standing side by side. The Hennum manor house (called “Hennumgården” in Norwegian) was constructed in 1868 as it is of late-empire architecture style.
The tradesman Johan Ellingsen came to Å in 1842, married another tradesman’s daughter, and together their company became one of Lofoten’s most important and richest landowners. Today, the 6th generation Ellingsen lives in Å. The Ellingsen manor house was constructed in 1864, first in a late empire style. Later, the house was turned into a more Swiss-style architecture.
Sadly, neither the Ellingsen nor the Hennum manor houses are open to the public as they are privately owned.
In 1900, about 90 people called Å it’s home, and there were 33 buildings in the village. But during the cod fishing season (January – April), the number of people in Å exploded. Around 500 fishers and workers came here to find work, and they all needed a place to stay (in rorbuer) and food to eat, turning the village into a hectic place.
With its location at the southernmost tip of Lofoten, Å has perfect drying conditions for stockfish, and as many as 700 000 codfish were hung up on the fish flakes each season! That is a lot of fish and a lot of money! 🙂
Å was a thriving fishing village until the 1960s. Today, most of the fishing industry has moved to other areas of Lofoten.
If you want to experience a more active fishing village, you should head to the cozy and vibrant Henningsvær.
Things To Do In Å
The World’s Only Stockfish Museum & Fishing Village Museum
The map above: A travel guide to Å in Lofoten – Lofoten Stockfish Museum (A) & Norwegian Fishing Village Museum (B)
Å is a small and compact village, so everything is within a short walk of each other. The two main attractions in Å are the Stockfish Museum (A) and the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum (B), an open-air folk museum consisting of 7 old buildings.
There is a big parking lot at the end of E10 road; you see it once you drive through the Å tunnel. Park your car/ rental car here, and walk over to the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum (a 5-min walk) and the Stockfish Museum (a 10-min walk). You find a service house by the parking lot with toilets and a shop that sells souvenirs, clothes, and books. You can also buy tickets to the Fishing Village Museum at the service house.
A. Lofoten Stockfish Museum/ Tørrfiskmuseum
The world’s only Stockfish Museum is located in Å, on an old fishing pier. This is the perfect place to learn about how the Arctic cod (called “skrei” in Norwegian) becomes stockfish – Norway’s oldest and most lucrative exporting business that generates millions of Norwegian krone each year.
Here you can walk around on your own (you get a written guide that explains everything in the museum), or get a guided tour by the friendly host of the museum. The museum host showed us around the museum, and he told funny and interesting stories and explained everything that we saw.
Don’t expect this to be a typical polished museum with glass display cases. Instead, this is more like a well-preserved traditional stockfish production factory where you walk around, look at all the equipment, and learn about the stockfish process.
The museum is rough and rustic, and you can really smell the stockfish and picture how the men and women worked in this old factory back in the days. The Stockfish Museum, established in 1993, is located in an old wooden pier and consists of two floors.
Here you learn about the history and process of stockfish production; how the codfish gets sorted, categorized, and refined into the finest stockfish quality before being exported to the rest of the world.
Lofoten is the perfect place to dry codfish in the winter. From December/ January until April, the Arctic cod flocks to the sea area outside Lofoten to spawn. Thousands of fish get caught and hung up on wooden racks, where it hangs a couple of months to dry. The winter climate in Lofoten is just right for stockfish production as it is not too cold. The result is top-notch stockfish quality, the best in the world.
You also learn about the clipfish production process. Clipfish is basically codfish salted and put out to dry flat and not on wooden racks like the stockfish. The salted clipfish is mainly exported to Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, used in the dish Bacalao.
Make sure to see the documentary “En fjordfiskers hverdag” (which can be translated into “The daily life of a fisherman”), which is shown in the film room at the museum.
2nd Floor – Stockfish Attic
On the second floor of the Stockfish Museum lays the stockfish attic where the stockfish is stored and sorted after it has been harvested from the racks (“fiskehjell” in Norwegian) in May/ June.
In this part of the museum, you learn about the exporting business of stockfish production. The Lofoten stockfish primarily gets exported to Italy (where it is called “stoccafisso” in Italian) and Africa.
The stockfish get categorized based on their size and quality. The fish gets sorted into three main groups in the second sorting process: Prima, Sekunda, and Africa fish. The Prima is the best stockfish, where the codfish was being put out to dry immediately after it was fished, and it is dried under good conditions (not too cold temperatures, and no rain).
Fish that have turned bad (damaged by freezing during the winter, have got rotten, or are full of worms) get thrown, so only the best fish are left and sold to the Italian buyers.
The Italian stockfish buyers come to Lofoten to see and buy the stockfish in summer (July/ August), negotiates the prices. In some seasons, the quality is outstanding, or in some other seasons, the quality is lower due to bad weather conditions. This affects the prices.
The King Cod
Notice the stockfish called “King Cod” that hangs from the ceiling at the museum. This is a particular type of cod that has a specially high forehead.
In the old days, these types of cod were called “King Cod” and were used to predict the weather. A King Cod would typically hang down from the ceiling by a wool wire in all fishermen’s cabins (rorbuer) in Lofoten.
The air humidity would affect the wool wire and make the Kings Cod pint in different directions depending on the humidity degree. The fishermen could then predict the weather to some degree. It seems a bit random and hard to interpret 🙂
You might notice from the photos that the stockfish are headless, and you might wonder what are to be done with the fish heads? Well, everything on the codfish is used, also the fish heads. The heads are dried and get sold to Africa. In Africa, they get grounded into a fine powder used in soups and as food for chickens.
You can see how the cod heads are dried on Svinoya in Svolvær here.
The cod tongue is a delicacy in Norway, and cutting the cod tongues out is considered a job for the kids and youth in Lofoten (both girls and boys). The most eager and skilled tongue cutters can earn quite a bit of money each winter. Fried cod tongue is a delicacy in Northern Norway and a must-try.
- Opening Hours Stockfish Museum: Tuesday – Sunday: 11:00 am – 16:00/ 4 pm during summer
B. Norwegian Fishing Village Museum/ Norsk Fiskeværsmuseum
The main reason for visiting Å is its fantastically preserved Norwegian Fishing Village Museum. The museum is an open-air folk museum where you get to experience, participate, and walk around in a real fishing village dating back to the 1800s. How cool is that?!
Walking around the many wooden buildings, the lovely harbor area surrounded by fjords and mountains, I totally felt like time had stood still. It was like I could hear the fishing boats coming into the harbor with its load of fresh cod, the blacksmith hammering axes, knives, and lanterns, and the smell of freshly baked bread and cinnamon buns from the bakery.
The 7 Museum Buildings
The Norwegian Fishing Village Museum consists of 7 buildings you can enter, all constructed in the 1800s. In some of the buildings, you will meet museum guides telling stories about the building, what it was used for, and the people who lived there.
You buy tickets at the museum’s reception in the old shop (no. 1 on the map above). The museum is open the whole year-round and has guided tours every day during the summer season (June – August), which is included in the ticket price.
My two favorite houses are the bakery (as I love cinnamon buns 🙂 ) and the Fisherman’s House, where you basically walk into an authentic home and see how a fishing family and my ancestors lived back in the 1800s.
My grandmother is from the fishing village Stamsund in Lofoten and grew up in the Wulff manor house as her grandfather was the owner of the fishing village (the “væreier” in Norwegian). So it was great fun to get a feel of what kind of environment and village she grew up in. She has told me many stories from her childhood in Lofoten, which made it extra special and personal to see and experience an authentic Lofoten fishing village for myself.
1. The Old Shop/ Gammelbutikken
The old shop (called “Gammelbutikken” in Norwegian”) is the first house you meet when entering the Fishing Village Museum. The big old white wooden building, constructed in 1843, used to house a convenience store back in the old days. Now it serves as the reception and tourist shop of the museum.
Here you can buy tickets to the museum, as well as a wide range of locally produced souvenirs and gear, like fishing gear, clothes, books, candy, tea, and chocolate.
2. Post Office/ Postkontor
The old post office is in the same big white building as the Old Shop/ reception (although at the other end of the house with its own entrance). The room has been kept intact as it used to be back when it was a functioning post office. You can have a look at old typewriters, shelves with old postcards, letters, and packages, post stamps, old post office boxes, and old scales.
3. Fisherman’s House/ Husmannstua
The old yellow Fisherman’s House is the coziest buildings of the entire museum. When entering the tiny rooms, you really feel like you are visiting a family home. Everything is kept like it was when the house was in use. It looks like my grandma’s old house, so for me, it was such a nice house to visit. There was a museum guide inside the house when we visited, and she told interesting stories about the house, the family that used to live here, and their daily life.
4. Boat House/ Naust
The old Boat House down by the harbor is really big with two floors. When the boathouse is bigger than the regular houses, you know that fishing was the thing in Å. 🙂
Inside the boathouse, there are several old “Nordland’s” boats, as well as fishing nets and fishing gear. In the second-floor corner, you can sit down and watch a movie about fishing in Lofoten.
5. Fish Oil Factory/ Trandamperiet
Have you heard about “Tran” (which means cod liver oil)? It is highly popular in Norway as a dietary supplement containing vital omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
The production of cod liver oil was a big industry in Lofoten in the 1800s, and all fishing villages had cod liver oil factories. Cod liver oil was an important source of vitamin D in the old days for people living in Northern Norway (due to lack of sun during winter).
The Fish Oil Factory in Å produced cod liver oil for both eating and industrial purposes. Cod livers were placed in barrels to rot, and the oil was skimmed off after a certain time. The cod liver oil was dark brown and became popular as a medicine in the 1800s.
Truthfully, it tasted absolutely awful, and many got intestinal upset from drinking it. You can see barrels with this dark brown cod liver oil at the museum.
Later, in 1850, the pharmacist Peter Möller (1793-1869) invented a new oil-producing process, which did a lot for the popularity of the cod liver oil. Most oil factories in Norway quickly adopted his process, where the cod liver gets grounded with water and simmered until the oil rises to the top.
6. Blacksmith/ Smie
Å also had a blacksmith, and you can visit the small blacksmith cabin. Unfortunately, no blacksmith is working there anymore, but you can walk around and look at the blacksmith equipment and gear.
7. Å Bakery/ Bakeriet i Å
We enjoyed walking around at the folk museum, but the bakery was the highlight for us (since we love cinnamon buns). We actually drove there twice just to buy cinnamon rolls which are some of the best in Lofoten. 🙂
The Å bakery was established in 1844, and even today, the buns and bread are made in the wood-fired oven constructed in 1878. This gives the modern bakers some challenges as the oven has no steam, no light, and temperature control. But the baking result is fantastic, and the wood-fire gives the bread and pastries this extra flavor and crispness.
Although the Å bakery is mostly known for its cinnamon rolls (which costs 45 kr = US$ 5 per piece), they also make bread, baguette, and other pastries (like chocolate-walnut swirl). Their selection varies from day to day, so check the Å Bakery’s Facebook page for the latest update.
The paper bag that the cinnamon buns are wrapped in also contains the recipe. I have made them at home several times and they get (almost) as good as in the Å bakery. You should try to make them yourself, here is the cinnamon recipe from the Å bakery:
The baked goods are sold in the museum cafe (in the basement of the white Old Shop building, just next to the Post Office) in the summer season. There are tables both outside and inside the cafe. If you choose to sit outside, be aware of the seagulls, which are extremely eager to get a bite of your cinnamon bun. 🙂
The Å Bakery is open during summer (June – August) from 11:00 am – 17:00/ 5 pm.
- Norwegian Fishing Village Museum Opening Hours:
Winter (1. February – 13. June): Monday – Friday 11:00 am – 15:00/ 3 pm
Summer (14. June – 31. August): every day 11:00 am – 18:00
Autumn (1. September – 17. December): Monday – Friday 11:00 – 15:00/ 3 pm
End-December & January: Open by appointment, contact the museum at email@example.com
- Ticket prices: 100 kr = US$ 11 (adult), 70 kr = US$ 8 (children 6-17 years old & students), children below 6 years old go for free.
- Norwegian Fishing Village Museum’s Facebook Page
- Norwegian Fishing Village Museum’s Official Webpage
Where To Stay In Å
To fully explore the atmospheric fishing village Å, you should stay the night here. That way you get to enjoy the village in peace after the tour buses have left.
There are a few places to stay in Å, mostly fishermen’s cabins (rorbuer). They are all within easy walking distance to both the Å museum and the stockfish museum. Unfortunately, there is only one restaurant in Å – Å Rorbuer’s Brygga Restaurant, which serves local dishes (mostly fish and seafood).
The most central place to stay in Å is at Å Rorbuer, located right in the middle of the harbor and the village. The cozy and newly renovated cabins all have bedrooms (1-4 bedrooms), a private bathroom, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a seating area. The biggest rorbu can house up to eight people.
From your cabin, you have gorgeous views of the village, fjord, and mountains. Å rorbuer also has a restaurant, Brygga Restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You can also stay in hotel rooms in the same building as the Brygga Restaurant. The rooms are newly modernized and renovated, and all have a lovely ocean view. They have a shared bathroom.
Click here for the latest prices at Booking.com
The red cabins at Å-Hamna Rorbuer have a fantastic view of the historic fishing village Å, the fjord, and surrounding mountains. Here you can stay in comfortable cabins with your own private bathroom, a terrace, and a fully equipped kitchen. The cabins can house up to six people.
Unfortunately, the rorbu facilities do not have a restaurant, so bring your own breakfast (for instance, buy freshly baked bread and pastries at the close by Å Bakery), and there is no TV inside the cabins (but who needs a TV when you can look at that amazing view).
Click here for the latest prices at Booking.com
Just a 5-min drive (or 30-min walk) from Å, you will find the Lofoten Rorbuhotel with a fantastic restaurant with excellent food and an amazing view and design. Here you can stay in modern hotel rooms (like we did) or cozy cabins. All rooms and cabins have sea- and mountain views and private bathrooms.
We really loved our stay here, and it was very convenient as you can easily drive or walk to both Reine and Å from the hotel.
Click here for the latest prices at Booking.com
With large common seating areas and a well-equipped kitchen, the Salteriet Hostel is a nice and central place to stay in Å. You stay in cozy rooms with bunk- or normal beds and have shared bathrooms. Just next to the only restaurant in Å – Brygga Restaurant.
Click here for the latest prices at Booking.com
How To Get To Å
The best and most convenient and common way to get to Å is by car. You can rent a car in, for instance, Svolvær, Leknes, Bodø, Harstad, Narvik, or Tromsø, and drive to Lofoten and all the way out to the end at Å.
It takes about two hours to drive from the capital city of Lofoten, Svolvær, to Å (one way).
I highly recommend that you rent a car as there are not that many buses in Lofoten. That way, you get to go around Lofoten and see all those beautiful places and attractions.
By Ferry From Bodø To Moskenes/ Å
You can fly to Bodø (from, for instance, Oslo or Tromsø) and get to Lofoten by taking the ferry from Bodø city to Moskenes. Moskenes is only a 9-min drive from Å.
The ferry (Bodø – Moskenes) takes about 3-4 hours, and you can bring a car on board. During summer (high season), 3-4 ferry departs from Bodø to Moskenes each day, but there is only about 1 daily ferry in winter. Therefore, you should book the ferry in advance as the ferry is extremely popular and often gets full.
- Find the schedule for the ferry and book your ferry ticket in advance: torghatten-nord.no
There are a few buses that run to and from Å, but not that many:
- Bus no. 300: Narvik – Harstad/ Narvik Airport Evenes – Svolvær – Reine – Å (plus several places in between)
- Bus no. 18-742: Å – Reine – Leknes (plus several places in between). From Leknes, you can take the bus to Svolvær.
- Bus no. 18-772: A local bus that runs between Å – Sørvågen – Moskenes Ferry Terminal – Reine – Hamnøy
- Find the bus schedules here: ReisNordland.no
The closest airport to Å is Leknes Airport, about a 1-hour drive away (one way). You can get to Leknes Airport from Bodø Airport (a 25-min direct flight), operated by Widerøe Airline. There are several flights daily between Leknes and Bodø.
That’s it, our ultimate travel guide to Å (or A) in Lofoten. This guide shows you the best things to do in Å, and where to stay. I hope this Å guide can be of help to you when planning your trip.
A great place to start planning your road trip in the Lofoten Islands is our recommended Lofoten itinerary. Also, make sure to check out our ultimate Lofoten Guide which gives you everything you need to know to plan your Lofoten adventure.
⇒ Read next, our other articles about Lofoten:
- The Ultimate Road Trip Adventure To Lofoten Islands (Norway) – 10 Day Lofoten Itinerary
- The Ultimate Guide To Svolvær (The Capital Of Lofoten) – What To Do In Svolvaer
- DIY Walking Tour Of The Idyllic Svinøya Island (In Svolvær, Lofoten)
- Why You Should Do A Trollfjord Cruise (By Silent Electric Ship) When Visiting Lofoten
- Top 7 Things To Do In Kabelvåg (Lofoten) – Kabelvåg Travel Guide
- The Ultimate Guide To Henningsvær (Lofoten’s Hippest Village) – What To Do In Henningsvaer
- A Complete Guide To Lofotr (Lofoten’s Viking Museum) – Ready For The Vikings?
- The Ultimate Guide To Reine (Lofoten’s Most Scenic Village) – What To Do In Reine
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