The Municipality of Vestvågøy is the largest municipality in Lofoten. It covers the island of Vestvågøy itself, as well as small islands and islets surrounding it.
Fishing and fish processing is dominant here, but agriculture is also important. Vestvågøy is the most prominent fishery municipality in the county, and among the most prominent in the entire country. The main catch is the Lofoten seasonal fishery, but fishing in more remote waters is also important. The municipality has 19 fish processing plants in total, most of them in Ballstad, Stamsund and Mortsund. Most of these are conventional plants, where the fish is hung to dry and salted, and many of the plants are only operational during the Lofoten season. This has led to considerable fluctuations in employment. Ballstad and Stamsund have large and modern filleting plants with cold storage, and most of the fish landed here comes from trawlers. The municipality also has several plants for cooking cod liver oil, and the oil is refined and bottled at Leknes. Outside of this, there is very little industry in Vestvågøy.
The municipality has great agricultural potential, and it is the foremost agricultural municipality in Lofoten. Animal husbandry is prominent, and most of the farmland is used to grow grass for animal feed. Dairy production is significant, and the pastures are good for grazing, which has led many farmers to raise goats and sheep. The goat farming is concentrated to the municipality's eastern and northern areas. Vestvågøy is the most prominent goat-farming municipality in the county, and among the most prominent in the entire country.
Vestvågøy has a rich history, with many cultural heritage sites dating back to the Iron Age and Mesolithic era. At Leknes, there are remains of a large building, which was occupied at around 100-200 AD. At Holsøya, south of Leknes, archeologists have discovered 60 Iron Age burial sites of varying types and sizes, many of them with associated standing stones. At Holsneset, nearby, the remains of Northern Norway's biggest boat house from the Viking era can be seen, 44 metres long. One of the region's largest burial cairns is located east of Ramsvik. It is approx. 20 metres in diameter, dating back to approx. 100 AD. One of the largest Iron Age ruins in Northern Norway can be found at Moland, north of Valberg, consisting of the remains of six buildings and two boathouses, as well as approx. 30 burial cairns.
There are several other ancient monuments in the area, including at Bøstad in Borge, Offersøy, Liland, Nykmark, Malnes etc. Hol Church is situated near Fygle. The church is a timber-framed cross-shaped church from 1806, and right next to it is the Vestvågøy Museum. Fisherman's cabin accommodation is available in several villages. The Stamsund International Theatre Festival is held here every year, and Nordland Visual Theatre is a key actor in performance art in the region.
Lofotr, the Viking Museum at Borg, is Vestvågøy's contribution to the "Footprints in the North" project. On the site of a chieftain's seat from the Iron Age, an imposing longhouse has been reconstructed. The site also includes boathouses, longships, a cultural heritage park and various activities.
Area (km2): 422
Administrative centre: Leknes
Key industries: Fishing, fish processing and service