Kayaking in Norway

Paddle on the flat, sweeping fjords or alongside creaking, towering glaciers in the surreal midnight sun.

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The word ‘fjord’ comes from the ancient Norse fjoror, which means ‘where one fares through.’

The narrow inlets of sea were carved out by 3-kilometre thick glacier tongues during ancient ice ages. The glacial sand deposits make them much shallower than the ocean and hence much quieter, with the surrounding mountains acting as a natural windbreak.

The result is a complex network of flat, silent stretches of pacified Atlantic ocean that attracts seals, dolphins, whales and, of course, kayakers. On top of the 1,190 fjords are 50,000 islands, stretching from balmy Oslo in the south up to Svalbard in the Arctic circle.

Have a look at our top picks of places to go kayaking in Norway.


The Geirangerfjord

Kayak on the world-famous UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord. The waterfalls known as ‘the Seven Sisters’, ‘the Suitor’ and ‘the Bridal Veil’ thunder down the towering cliffs on the shorebank. In the summer, they kick up a rainbow-laced mist, whereas during winter, the falls turn into frozen ice-structures that creep up to the snow plateaus on the mountain tops.

When kayaking in the Geirangerfjord, you’ll paddle past abandoned farms and venture right up to the waterfalls, before wild-camping on the fjord’s banks. There’s also an excellent range of hiking trails out of Geirangerfjord if you want to get a view of the fjord from the mountaintop.

The Lofoten Islands

Rising 1,000m out of the sea, this mountainous archipelago houses hidden inlets, white-sand beaches and sweeping rock faces that are best explored by water. The islands are also famous for their fish and orca populations, especially during winter.

In peak season, the main islands of Austvagoy, Vestvagoy, Flakstadoy and Moskenesoy can get busy, so it’s worth trying one of the smaller islands, such as Skrova, to beat the crowds.

The Lofoten Islands are very accessible, meaning they are a great choice for the first-timer kayaker in Norway. They are also home to some of the country’s finest scenery and wildlife.

Svalbard

Halfway between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard is about as remote as it gets. This is a wondrous archipelago of snowy peaks, untouched glaciers, the Northern Lights and is where polar bears outnumber people. In summer the midnight sun arrives, bringing with it long days that are perfect for paddling.

You can choose between shorter trips around Longyearbyen, the world’s most northerly town, or longer, overnight multi-day trips. Wearing a warm dry suit, you’ll feel the stillness of the Arctic wilderness as you navigate between the towering glaciers. When you go ashore, you can explore the abandoned settlement of Hiorthamn, or take a mountain hike whilst looking out for whales, reindeers and polar bears.

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