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Norway has a beautiful geographical layout and while many may think of fjords or mountains at first, the stunning Norwegian islands that make up this country should definitely be equally well known. Famous for their beautiful natural terrain and strange weather, visiting at least some of the islands off the coast of Norway shouldn’t be missed.

The Norwegian islands to the north are cold and icy, while the islands in the south are warmer in the summer months. Two-thirds of Norway is mountainous, including its many islands. Mountains, hiking trails, beaches, and foggy weather make the Norwegian islands some of the most breathtaking places in the world.

There are thousands of beautiful islands off the coast of Norway and while you can’t be expected to visit them all, I have included a list of the most beautiful Norwegian Islands.

view from a Norwegian island

What are the islands off the coast of Norway?

1. Moskenesøya

Some of the most popular islands in Norway belong to the Loften archipelago. This region of Norwegian Islands is considered to be some of the most beautiful in the world, as well as in the country. Moskenesøya, also known as Moskenes, or Moskensoya, is one of the most popular in the archipelago.

Moskenesøya is a tourist hotspot and for good reason. The island is full of snowy mountains, which have created many beautiful fjords and hiking trails perfect for the adventurer. Due to its beautiful trails and lovely natural landscapes, guides and adventure companies have formed to ensure tourists can take in all that Moskenesøya has to offer.

view towards a Norwegian island
Reine village, Moskenesøya. Source: Clemensfranz (CC BY-SA 3.0)

This gorgeous island is elongated at an angle, from northeast to the southeast, with a notably uneven shoreline. The highest peak on this island is 3,376 ft (1029 meters).

In addition to hills and mountains, Moskenesøya has beautiful secluded beaches that can only be reached by long hikes – which, fortunately, Norwegians love to do (one of the Norwegian stereotypes that is definitely true).

Moskenesøya is home to many quaint fishing villages. One of the most popular villages in Moskenesøya is on the north side of the Island, known as Flakstad. Another popular and quaint fishing village in Moskenesøya is known as Reine on the southern part of the island. Reine and Flakstad are gold mines for photographers and artists alike due to their many traditional homes and sparse architecture.

Related: 9 Best Things to Do in Undredal, Norway (Ultimate Visit Guide)

2. Vestvågøya

Vestvågøya is another beautiful island belonging to the Lofoten archipelago. This beautiful island can be found in the center of Lofoten and is considered a municipality of Norway. Vestvågøya happens to be one of the most populated islands in Lofoten.

The island is surrounded by mountains. Similar to Moskenesøya, there are plenty of hiking trails to explore, as well as sandy beaches to enjoy. Vestvågøya is hiding many other treasures behind its mountainous walls.

view towards a Norwegian island
Ballstad town, Vestvågøya

One of Vestvågøya’s most popular attractions is the Viking Museum, which attracts tourists from all over the world. The Viking museum allows visitors to experience a culture that dates back to the middle ages.

Another one of Vestvågøya’s hidden treasures has now become a popular tourist spot. The world’s largest Chieftain’s house to ever be found is on the Island of Vestvågøya. This historical monument is a sight to behold.

Before the archipelago was named Lofoten, Vestvågøya was called Lofotr, which later became the name of the entire archipelago.

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3. Hidra

When you hear the word Hidra, the first thing that comes to mind may not be a Norwegian Island. Hydra is a Greek island and a serpent monster in Greek mythology. However, Hidra is also a beautiful island located in the southern region of Norway.

Hidra is a great place for tourists to explore. There is a large fishing and seafood market in Hidra, as well as many historic ruins to visit. It is easy to get to as it is only 7 minutes from the mainland.

view from one of the islands off the coast of Norway
Hidra island

When visiting Hydra, you will be mystified by its beautiful green mountains and gorgeous landscape. However, you will have to get through its granite terrain in order to reach its lush inland. The Island is separated by a man-made canal known as the Eie canal in order for small boats to be able to travel through the island.

If you do plan on visiting Hydra, be sure to take advantage of the many outdoor activities this island has to offer.

Hagasen is a cultural trail located on the island that is considered extremely easy to follow. Along this trail, you will find many old ruins from World War 2. Due to its rich history, you may very well hear and learn things you can’t learn elsewhere.

4. Vega

Another popular and breathtaking archipelago is the Vega Archipelago, also known as Vegaoyan. These islands are considered some of the most beautiful in the world (could be some great views for your traditional Norwegian wedding, no?). The municipality of Vega has an island (also) named Vega and it is the largest island in the archipelago.

 There are around 6,500 small islands that belong to this archipelago. Vega is home to some of the most populated villages in the entire country. Some villages of note are Hollund and Gladstad.

view from one of the islands off the coast of Norway
Town of Nes, Vega. Source: Dana Morris (CC BY-SA 3.0

When visiting the Vega Islands, many people enjoy kayaking and just relaxing on its many sandy beaches.

The Vega islands have a gorgeous landscape with mountains, trails, and many bodies of water for fishing and other activities. Vega is also known for its beautiful wildlife and bird watching activities (although don’t expect to find bald eagles in Norway).

5. Sommaroy

Sommaroy is yet another beautiful island with white sandy beaches. This small island is a fishing village that has been around for quite some time. There is a very small population of around 300 people.

view from one of the Norwegian islands
Fjord in Sommaroy

If you wish to visit Sommaroy, it is a good idea to rent a cabin to enjoy nature and see what the local life has to offer. You can also opt for a hotel if cabins aren’t your thing.

Did you know: Sommaroya is also known as the Great Summer Island due to its strange weather. In the winter, the island is covered in constant darkness. In the summer months, there is always daylight. This has led the residents of this island to declare themselves as the first time zone free island.

It’s a beautiful island perfect for summer activities and relaxing on the beach. There are plenty of seashells, fish, and small neighboring islands with a similar atmosphere to enjoy.

Sommaroya may seem like all fun in the sun, but it has many historical sites as well. Sommaroya is best known for its amazing sky and northern lights in the wintertime.

6. Vagsoy

When we think of Norway, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t surfing, beaches, and fun in the sun, yet the islands of Norway continue to surprise us. A village on this island, by the name of Hoddevika, has been dubbed one of the most exotic places to surf on earth.

Vagsoy also has a popular fishing community and a bustling seafood market. At one point in time, this island was the second largest fishing municipality in Norway. It also houses one of Norway’s newer fish processing plants.

view from one of the Norwegian islands

It is also home to a rock formation known as Kannestein or the Kanne Stone. This stone was formed by the constant abrasion of waves. It took thousands of years for this stone to become the amazing attraction it is. This beautiful landmark appears to defy gravity.

Vagsoy is one of the more populated islands in Norway. It is home to four lighthouses, of which three are open each day and are open to the public.

7. Solund

Solund is the westernmost municipality island in Norway. Solund has a beautiful landscape, surrounded by crystal clear waters and a ferry that connects to the mainland as well as other neighboring islands.

Here, you’ll find a famous lighthouse known as Utavaer that has been guiding ships for over a century. People are welcome to visit this landmark during visiting hours.

view from one of the Norwegian islands
Hardbakke, Solund. Source: Eeerlend (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Solund is also well known for its fishing spots and its access to the sea of Floro.

This island is also one of the least populated municipalities in Norway, with some of its villages having populations in the single digits.

8. Jomfruland

The name Jomfruland means “land of the Virgin”. This luscious island is full of plant life. One of Jomfurland’s main attractions is Jomfruland National Park.

Jomfruland National Park is unlike any other park in the world, including that the park is 98 percent sea. This is perfect for individuals who like outdoor activities (but don’t forget to dress warm with one of these Norwegian brands). Hiking, fishing, swimming, and forging are all popular activities in Jomfruland National Park.

house on a Norwegian island

The amount of water located in this national park is not the only unique thing about it. Jormfruland’s national park is also home to several rare species of plants and insects. When walking through this area, it is important everyone practices caution and is careful not to step on the rare plants and insects in the area.

Due to its plethora of plant life, the park is also home to many different animals, especially birds. There are plenty of great places for fishing, making Jormuland a great place for catching your own dinner.

There are plenty of ways you can interact with nature on this island. One of those ways is by attending an outdoor church. Jomfruland is easy to get to via water taxi from Kagero.

9. Spitsenbergen

Spitsenbergen is yet another famous Norwegian island that belongs to an archipelago. The archipelago is named Svalbard, and it is located north of the mainland. Spitsenbergen is also one of the least populated islands in Norway, and for good reason.

mountains on svalbard, one of the norwegian islands

This island belongs to the coldest regions in Norway. There are many wild animals that inhabit this inland. Its rugged weather and dangerous wildlife have kept this island free of significant human influence for quite some time.

Its lack of human interference has kept its natural landscape intact. Its beautiful icy land and open water make this island one of the most beautiful in all of Norway.

Keep in mind: While a stunning area of the world, it’s worth noting that there are actually more polar bears here than there are humans. Because of this, if you wish to roam freely in Spitsenbergen, you will need to do so with a guide and protection. Of course, you may also opt to enjoy nature indoors for safety.

10. Stangholmen

lighthouse on one of the islands of Norway
Source: Monagjester (CC BY-SA 3.0

This island is for those who enjoy nature but would like to go to festivals, concerts, and bars. Stanghomen has beautiful scenery as well as things and events to attend.

Stangholmen is home to a lighthouse with a restaurant and bar in it. This landmark was built in 1855 and is still standing today. There are also bathing areas in Stangholmen for visitors and locals to relax.

Stangholmen is in the archipelago of Risor and is part of Risor’s Wood House Towns. The architecture here is an artist’s dream. You may see many paintings resembling the landscape and architecture of this island due to its quaint and village-like houses.

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11. Senja

cliffs near ocean

Senja is the 2nd largest Norwegian island. There is plenty to do on this lush, mountainous island. This includes that there are hiking trails you can follow to enjoy the natural landscape and excellent fishing spots. It’s also a good spot to find yourself during blueberry season in Norway.

Senja has amazing wildlife (although keep an eye out for some of those snakes in Norway that you can find here), as well as fun activities. If you plan on visiting Senja, you may want to enjoy skiing on its tall mountain slopes. You may also choose to explore its many gorgeous stone beaches and coves.

How many islands are there in Norway?

Norway has approximately 55,000 islands, making it the third country in the world with the most islands. It comes after Sweden, with 221,800 islands, and Finland, with 188,000 islands. That said, most Norwegian islands are uninhabited by humans.

For example, Norway’s smallest municipality is Kvitsøy, which consists of just over 160 islands. However, only six are actually inhabited.

This makes for some fantastic untouched wilderness if you choose to hike or camp on many Norwegian islands that don’t see much human impact!

Camping tip: Did you know that, in Norway, you can sleep outdoors almost anywhere as long as you stay 150 meters (492 feet) from the nearest inhabited residence? This means that you can set up camp on any of the uninhabited Norwegian islands!

What is Norway’s smallest island?

Larsøya, or “Lars Island” in English, is a small Norwegian island which is only 400 meters (1,312 feet) long. It is located in the South Atlantic Ocean, close to Bouvetøyen (Bouvet Island), the most remote island in the world.

Unsurprisingly, Larsøya (as well as Bouvetøyen) are both uninhabited given their remote location (not far from Antarctica, actually, meaning very far from Norway) and the extreme weather that comes from being a rock in the middle of the ocean.

What’s the largest island in Norway?

The largest island in Norway is Spitsenbergen, which is 37,673 square kilometers (14,546 square miles) in size. It is located in and the only permanently inhabited island of the Svalbard archipelago, although there are more polar bears living there than humans.

If you want to see polar bears, Svalbard is the place to be. Just do some research before going so you’re aware of security precautions and the nature protections in place.