Hiking in Lofoten: the Iconic Kvalvika Beach and Ryten

Hiking in Lofoten: the Iconic Kvalvika Beach and Ryten

Walking slowly on the warm white sand, listening to the rhytmic sound of the waves crashing to the beach, and watching the spectacular sunset in fifty shades of red – that is the magic of Kvalvika.

I walked on the spectacular Kvalvika beach in Lofoten islands already fifteen years ago on my diving and hiking trip to Norway. Back then the day-hike was quiet, and the beach was empty (in the middle of July!), with just the ice-cold emerald green water roaring on the white sand between massive vertical cliffs rising straight from the ocean.

Today it’s one of the most popular hiking and camping destinations in Lofoten. On warm summer nights, the beach is crowded with tents and sleeping bags. In July 2020, I pitched my tent there too to gaze at the golden orange and red sunset once again. The beach had lost its isolated wilderness beach status, but the views were still epic.

If you are looking for a peaceful destination, I recommend taking the incredible quiet Horseid Beach hike!

The trail to Kvalvika Beach

There are three alternative trails to reach Kvalvika, longer trails on the north side and on the south side, and the shortest and easiest main trail that goes between Torsfjordtinden and Molstinden. For hiking the main trail drive the E10 to Fredvang. From Fredvangskrysset P-area cross the beautiful bridges and turn left. Drive the road Fv808 until reaching the Kvalvika Beach trail head.

There is a free but small parking area on the left, and it is probably full. Unless very lucky, you need to stalk people coming back from the beach, spot the car that is soon leaving an empty hole, and make grandiose gestures that it will be yours. Alternatively, try another parking area (follow any signs of parking info starting already by the Fredvang bridges). Parking on the side of the road may result in fine.

On the back of the parking area there is also a pier for taking a refreshing swim. On the other side of the road next to the parking area there are a few stone steps and wooden planks that go across the small forestry area. Spot the Kvalvika sign, and head up to the hill. The first part of the trail is easy walking, not much elevation gain, and there’s a good path. After half an hour or so you already reach the highest point of the trail and get the first glimpses of the scenic views between two mountains. The trail gets a bit more difficult, steep and rocky, which means some scrambling all the way descending down to the beach. There are several smaller paths going downwards, I chose one of the paths on the right side. The total hiking time is approximately one hour.

Camping by the Kvalvika beach

On the back of the wide sand strip there is a flat grass turf with several small pathways meandering between the tent spots. If you want a straight sea view from your tent, arrive early and pitch right on the edge of the turf. If you leave a two meters grass strip between your tent and the sunset, someone will squeeze their tipi there. Alternatively, if you are certain it’s not going to rain, you can just throw your sleeping bag to the ground without any mosquito nets or rain covers. The ground is soft and even.

There are probably several campfires on the beach and sounds of a guitar or banjo in the air. You can set up your own fire using the driftwood or ask if you can join a ready-made fire. I sat on the ground in front of my tent with my stove and had Vegetarian Tikka Masala trekking meal as a late midnight dinner, some kind of ‘couscous’ that I flushed down with a pint of beer.
It’s not a long walk for carrying extra water, but there’s a fresh stream coming down from the mountains next to the trail to Ryten on the right side of the beach.
There are nowadays also great toilet facilities: behind that big stone on the back of the beach (just follow the flies!).

Although the days in Lofoten were ‘top and shorts’ hot, evenings got quite chilly. I had a cotton knit and light merino wool pants, and long wool socks (that I have knit myself :D). After midnight, I also needed a light down coat.

Walking slowly on the warm white sand, listening to the rhytmic sound of the waves crashing to the beach, and watching the spectacular sunset in fifty shades of red – that is the magic of Kvalvika. I slept like a baby, and despite of the festival(ish) spirit, I felt nothing but inner peace and happiness.

Ryten hike

Maybe it was the long hours of hiking (I had hiked the long Munkebu trail before coming to Kvalvika), or maybe it was the cool ocean breeze, I had the laziest morning ever. I had planned to hike up to Ryten in the morning, but I had forgotten to bring a smaller day backpack to carry water, snacks and camera. I decided to go anyway, carrying my DSLR hanging from its strap and my iPhone in my hand (what’s the thing with women’s shorts having no big pockets?).

The trail starts from the right side of the beach near the water stream. The path is very steep and there’s also some scrambling up and down the large boulder hill. First, there are rocks and some stair-like stones with dust and gravel, until the trail turns muddy and wet. This part of the trail is the most challenging, as there are loose rocks and dirt. Having a heavy backpack could make it even a bit strenuous. Great morning exercise for the legs!

After a while, the trail reaches a saddle between mountains, and there’s a beautiful blue lake. Using the long wooden planks makes walking easier on the boggy plateau. Then you just turn left and up you go anytime you wish. There is probably one main trail coming from the right side but the mountain is full of smaller trails – as well as people heading to Ryten. A lot more people coming from the other direction compared to Kvalvika.

Morning was turning to afternoon, and it was getting really warm. I was thirsty. I hiked to the first peak (South-East from the summit on the map) and sat down for a moment. The views were astonishing: the white sands, the turquoise water, and the dramatic mountains from the bird’s perspective. I took pictures and greeted a Finnish family who were having a picnic nearby.

Although the last part of the trail is easy walking, I decided it was not worth going any further. The summit was already extremely crowded and more people coming all the time, and I didn’t have either water or a tripod to take the ‘I was here’ pics. There’s a special spot at the summit of Ryten for taking pictures where you appear to hang dangerously from a cliff (there’s plenty of solid ground under that particular cliff). Well, I probably wouldn’t have taken that picture anyway.

As always, it was much faster to get down. I ran the runnable parts (with clumsy hiking boots) and drank water from the stream as soon as I reached the saddle’s end. On my way down I saw more and more people coming up, also a few people scrambling the slope with big backpacks continuing their journey from Kvalvika to Ryten and forward.

Swimming crossed my mind, but I just washed my feet on the beach walking in the water. Something that always amazes me in Norway: everything looks and feels like the warmest summer day ever, but when you go into the water, it’s like sticking your bones into ice. I really should consider getting back to ice swimming to build my stamina!

Late afternoon it was time to pack again and hike the trail back to the parking area in beautiful sunshine. If I’ll ever return to Kvalvika, I think I’ll do a winter road trip. To search for the out-of-this-world magic and solitude I experienced long time ago.


Some links:

Visit Norway

Kvalvika Beach and Ryten hike info

  • Destination: Lofoten islands, Fredvang Moskenesøy, Norway
  • Distance: 2 km (elevation gain 200+ m), Kvalvika-Ryten 2,5 km (elevation gain 543 m)
  • Difficulty: easy, Kvalvika-Ryten moderate 
  • When to go: from June to August for a summer hike, accessible any time of the year
  • Duration: a daytrip 2-3 hours (just Kvalvika), 4-6 hours (Ryten through Kvalvika), or overnight camping by the beach

Equipment for overnight Kvalvika Beach hike

Good shoes: hiking boots, trail running shoes, even sneakers 
Sunglasses (apply sunscreen before you go)
Windproof and water-resistant outerwear (jacket)
Change clothes (light down coat, set of long underwear, merino wool shirt, warm socks, swimwear & towel etc.)
Tent (not necessary if the weather is great)
Sleeping bag and pad
Stove and gas & matches or lighter (campfires all around too)
Backpack for carrying stuff
Food & drinks (water from the stream)

Norway Lofoten Kvalvika Beach Ryten Hiking Camping Backpacking Mountains Summer


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