Norway’s Best Kayaking Destinations
1. Lofoten Islands West of Svolvær
Skill Level: Intermediate to expert
The Lofoten Islands are one of the more exposed areas to paddle in Norway. Swell, winds, currents, crossings, and fog are common here
Where to Stay: There are many accommodation options around the Lofoten Islands. Camping and BnB’s are all within a day’s kayak paddle from the previous camp spot or village.
Suggested Routes: Day trips are possible out of Kabelvåg and Henningsvær as well as Reine. Kabelvåg to Reine is a great 7-day camping or BnB trip or try a two-week trip circumnavigating the whole of the Lofoten archipelago.
The Lofoten Islands are a chain of mountainous islands and stunning fjords rising out of the Norwegian Sea off the northwestern coast of Norway. This region is full of natural beauty in the vicinity of the arctic circle and boasts evidence of the Vikings dating back over 1,000 years. The Lofotens are also a bit of an anomaly weather-wise, despite their northern latitude, they maintain a pleasantly warm temperature thanks to warm currents from the Gulf Stream.
Kayaking in these waters can be more of a challenge than in other areas, particularly on the exposed northern side of the islands. This area is exposed to the strong currents, winds, and ocean swells coming from the sea. Paddlers should be experienced enough to paddle for two hours in a variety of conditions and be always prepared for cold water.
The Lofoten Islands can be reached with a short flight from Oslo to Svolvær. From there, you can paddle to various fishing villages to stay in rorbuers (traditional fisherman’s cabins converted to B&Bs), find camping spots along the shoreline or even just do kayaking day trips. If you are more adventurous, you can circumnavigate the entire Lofotens in a two-week trip.
2. Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Where to Stay: Camping and Bed and Breakfast accommodations available in the towns of Gudvangen, Flåm or Undredal
Suggested Routes: Day trips can be made from Gudvangen, Flåm or Undredal, or try paddling from Undredal to Flåm
The calm and protected waters of Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord make for an ideal introduction to kayaking in Norway. The kayaking is easy, the views are spectacular, and there are a variety of villages from which you can launch. The fjords are 18 km and 29 km long respectively, which are some of the longest fjords in Norway. Take in the sights of majestic cliffs surrounding you on both sides, or take a break from kayaking to explore the scenic hiking trails and waterfalls along the way. It is easy to reach these fjords as well, just take a short flight (or 6-hour drive) from Oslo to Voss, then take a short one-hour drive to the villages of Gudvangen, Flåm, Undredal and Aurlandsvangen.
Sounds perfect, right? It is no wonder that UNESCO has designated this as a world heritage site. These fjords are best experienced from mid-May to mid-September, and it’s possible to kayak every day on these gentle waters.
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Where to Stay: Wilderness camping beaches along the way
Suggested Routes: Take the 4-day trip and paddle the length of the fjord
Lysefjord is a wondrous body of water to traverse. It is 42 km long and is surrounded by towering inhospitable cliffs for most of its length. At some points, the water is as deep as the mountains are tall, which is over 1000 m deep. Out of these epic cliffs, the prominent Preikestolen (or Pulpit Rock) stands out amongst the rest. To get to the plateau of this mountain takes a 2-3 hour hike up a rarely flat path that is not for the meek, but the view is well worth the effort and makes this one of the most visited destinations in Norway.
The waters of the Lysefjord are calm, but there are only two villages to access from, Forsand on the west end, and Lysebotn on the east. Paddling from one village to the next is a 4-day journey and camping is possible along the way. To access Lysefjord, take the quick 50-minute flight from Oslo to Stavanger, and then drive an hour to Oanes or Forsand.
Skill Level: Beginner to expert (route dependent)
Where to Stay: BnB in the numerous towns or camp on the beaches along the way.
Suggested Routes: Day trips from any of the towns on Sotra Island or circumnavigate Sotra for a week-long expert-only trip
Sotra is a large island in an archipelago along the southern coast of Norway and just west of the city of Bergen. With the larger population centres of the area come more amenities like cafes, bird sanctuaries, restaurants and a variety of Bed and Breakfast and cabin accommodations. The waters around Sotra offer a range of options, from calm protected waters available in day trips to rough exposed coastal waters on the western side. Day-trippers can hop from one village to the next, and the more adventurous and skilled kayakers will enjoy the challenge of the 7-day circumnavigation camping trip around the island.
Reaching Sotra is easy as it is a short 30-minute drive from Bergen (the second-largest city in Norway). Bergen is a quick and cheap flight from Oslo, or a scenic train ride if you are so inclined.
5. Seven Sisters, Geirangerfjord
Skill Level: Beginner to intermediate
Where to Stay: Make your base out of Geiranger, and camp on remote beaches along the way
Suggested Routes: Geiranger to Hellesylt, a 20km long trip that can be done in one day, or two with a scenic camp near the Seven Sisters falls
The Geirangerfjord is a 20 km-long branch off the Storfjorden (the Great Fjord) with the village of Hellesylt in the west and Geiranger in the east. Its waters are calm and protected and in the middle of its length lies the 1350 m tall Seven Sisters waterfall (a UNESCO heritage site). The trip from Geiranger to Hellesylt can be completed in a day, but if you don’t want to rush, why not find a scenic place to camp along the way? The towering mountain cliffs on either side make finding shore a little challenging at times, but there are some suitable locations. To reach Geiranger, you’ll need to take a one-hour flight from Oslo to Alesund, and then take a bus, car, or ferry ride to Geiranger. Along the trip, you will encounter car ferries servicing your route, and they will be converted to carbon-neutral ships by 2026.
6. Glacier Lake Sea Kayaking at Folgefonna
Skill Level: Beginner
Where to Stay: Town of Rosendal
Suggested Routes: Take a guided daytrip in the glacier-filled lake
Need a change from oceans and fjords? Try out kayaking in glacier-filled lakes around Folgefonna National Park. Folgefonna is an area containing three large plateau glaciers over an area of 207 sq km. Guided tours leave out of the town of Rosendal and take you to a lake 850 m above sea level where you will have the chance to dodge ice coming into the lake and touch the Folgefonna glacier. Watching the ice flow around you and seeing the vastness of the glaciers up close is an awe-inspiring adventure. It is a great experience for all skill levels, though be prepared to take a safety demonstration and don’t forget to bring a drysuit for the cold water. You can reach this destination with a short one-hour flight from Oslo to Bergen combined with a two-hour drive from Bergen to Rosendal. Alternatively, you can take the six-hour drive directly from Oslo. Rosendal offers plenty of cabin and Bed and Breakfast accommodations.
Skill Level: Intermediate to advanced
Where to Stay: Tromsø, Sommarøy, or camping on surrounding beaches
Suggested Routes: Take day trips out of Sommarøy, or more advanced paddlers can do up to 2-weeks starting and finishing in Tromsø, with Sommarøy as one of the stops along the way
Sommarøy is a fishing village located on an island just west of the city of Tromsø. The area is an exposed coastline, so the wind and waters are more intense and prone to changing conditions. Intermediate kayakers may enjoy day trips exploring the famed white-sand beaches along the coastline. More advanced-skilled kayakers will enjoy taking longer trips from Tromsø to Sommarøy and camping on the beaches along the way. Aside from the beautiful beaches, visitors can take in endless dramatic outer coast scenery, or explore small rocky islands and skerries in this region. Daytrip may be a misleading term in this part of the world as the sun does not set from May 18 until July 26, 69 days straight!
You can choose to either leave from Tromsø, which you can fly directly to from Oslo, or drive 30 minutes from Tromsø to Sommarøy. Sommarøy is a small fishing village founded in the 1800’s, but it is equipped for tourists for modest accommodations.
8. Lofoten Islands East of Svolvær
Skill Level: Beginner to advanced
Where to Stay: Svolvær or Austefjorden
Suggested Routes: Take a 3-day trip from Svolvær through Austefjorden and to Tengelfjorden
The Lofoten Islands are a beautiful area to explore during a kayaking trip. The eastern area around Svolvær has its unique advantages. Being on the protected side of the archipelago, the waters are calm enough for beginners, but advanced kayakers can find challenges on some of the more adventurous routes out of Svolvær. A suggested scenic adventure is a three-day trip that starts in Svolvær, where you paddle to Austefjorden and from there venture to Tengelfjorden and bask in the majesty of the towering peaks rising along the length of this long deep fjord. You can arrange for a pickup at the end of the fjord or make it a roundtrip over several more days.
You can reach Svolvær by flying direct from Oslo, and the town has a variety of accommodations and amenities available before you kick off your journey.
Expedition Engineering’s 8-day Lofoten Islands BnB kayaking trip runs June 30- July 7, 2022. Cost is €3950. Norway is open for travel for vaccinated travelers. Contact us at email@example.com or ph 1-250-266-2515 for more info.