Travel: The Good Family Hotel Guide - 6. Vandrerhjem Youth Hostel, Lofoten Islands, Norway

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Much-loved for 25 years, its worldwide fans now bring their own families on pilgrimages to this friendly cluster of old ochre fishermen's cottages that ramble round wooden jetties cluttered with anchors, rods and fish drying on racks.

Accommodation

Large simple family suites have their own kitchen and bathroom (allow pounds 20 a night per unit), but you must book ahead. Washing machines and tumble dryers are also provided.

Activities

Rowing boats and fishing rods come free; mountain bikes can be hired for around pounds 7 a day to explore some of the island's superb silver sand beaches - apart from one quiet main road, traffic is minimal. The best beaches are at Visken (there's also a glass blowing centre), Ramberg, Utakleiv and Eggum.

Though the Lofotens are way above the Arctic Circle, thanks to the Gulf Stream the waters are warm enough to swim in during the summer; and the owner takes night-fishing trips, birdwatching expeditions and hikes into the mountains.

Refuelling

Catch your own fish like everyone else and cook it over the woodburning stove. Parents in need of alcohol should take it with them to Norway - prices are prohibitive.

Out and about

Glorious rugged scenery for adventurous, outdoor-loving families to explore, with riding, watersports and canoeing. Find out if you have Viking ancestry at the Viking Museum at Borg, where the Chieftain's Hall (now reconstructed) is believed to be the world's largest.

You'll soon find that the Vikings have had a bad press - they were quite a civilised people with advanced methods of farming, fishing, weaving and jewellery-making. And learn to love cod-liver oil at the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum at a (pronounced O).

Children will love whale- watching safaris which take place from late May to mid-September - conducted by fishermen who spend their winters catching cod.

Address

Stamsund Vandrerhjem, Lofoten, Norway (00 47 7608 9334). The hostel is closed mid-October to mid-December. For information on how to get there, contact the Norwegian Tourist Office (0171-839 6255) October to mid-December.

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