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The tip of a kayak and steep mountains in the midnight sun in Lofoten, Northern Norway
Kayaking on Kjerkfjorden in Lofoten.
Photo: Irene Brit Tjelflaat / Visitnorway.com
The tip of a kayak and steep mountains in the midnight sun in Lofoten, Northern Norway
Kayaking on Kjerkfjorden in Lofoten.
Photo: Irene Brit Tjelflaat / Visitnorway.com
Find your perfect paddle point

Kayaking and canoeing

If you want to get up close and personal with the stunning Norwegian fjord and coastal landscape, kayaks or canoes are ideal options. Buckle up for a paddling adventure – here are some of the hotspots.

See the majestic landscape slide by in slow motion. Listen to the smooth trickling of water and take in the feeling of being at one with nature.

Ocean, fjords, lakes, and rivers. Framed in by a fairy-tale landscape. Norway is a true haven for canoeing and kayaking. You can paddle on a forest lake, glacial lake, or in one of the main cities. Or how about paddling under the midnight sun in summer or under the northern lights in winter?

Over the last few years, paddling has become a popular outdoor activity in Norway, and you can rent canoes and kayaks all over the country. Whether you are an experienced paddler or want to learn how to manoeuvre the kayak for the first time, there are numerous courses and guided tours available.

For safety reasons, most Norwegian kayak rental operators require that you have a "wet card" certification (våttkort) to hire a kayak. If you don't have one, why not set aside some time on your holiday to attend a course? It's both a fun and social experience!

So, where should you go? You can be sure that you are never far away from a paddling point in Norway. Still, your skills and level of thrill-seeking should be taken into consideration when you start planning your canoe or kayaking adventure.

Below the slideshow, you can read about some of the places that are worth checking out.

Safety on the water

When paddling in a new area, check with local guides regarding currents, shoreline conditions, and weather patterns. Wear life jackets and think safety at all times.

Beware of cold waters that can cause hypothermia, especially in Northern Norway, and off-shore winds that make it difficult to return to land. Stay close to shore and never do open ocean crossings unless you’re trained for it.

Make sure you are rested and sober. Always bring sunglasses, sunscreen, extra clothes in a waterproof bag and plenty of water.

Popular places to canoe and kayak in Norway

Local knowledge about the waters, currents, and weather conditions are vital for safety, so we highly recommend that you always join a guided tour or team up with a professional guide. No matter where you choose to go, make sure you bring your (waterproof) camera!

Southern Norway

Southern Norway is what all paddlers dream of. Small cosy towns dotted along the coast, charming harbours, fishing villages, and a beautiful archipelago with thousands of islands and skerries. Kristiansand is the region's main city, while other popular kayaking destinations include Arendal, Grimstad, Lillesand, and Lindesnes and Mandal.

Find kayak and canoe offers in Kristiansand, Arendal, Grimstad, and Lindesnes and Mandal.

A family kayaking through a strait in the archipelago of Risør, Southern Norway
Kayaking in Southern Norway.
Photo: Terje Rakke / Nordic Life AS / Visitnorway.com

Fjord Norway

Joining a guided kayak tour is perhaps the best way to explore and learn about the famous Norwegian fjords. The options are plentiful, for beginners and experienced paddlers alike. Just imagine paddling on a deep glittering fjord, like the Sognefjord, Hardangerfjord or the UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, surrounded by majestic mountains. In the fjords of Northwest, you can also paddle from island to island or follow a fjord to the open sea. In Fjord Norway, there are also several glacial lakes you can paddle on, but for safety reasons, you must always go with a guide. Jostedalen, home to the famous Nigardsbreen glacier, is an ideal starting point for a glacier adventure.

Find kayak offers in Sognefjord, Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord, and Northwest.

Northern Norway

Exploring Northern Norway's old fishing villages, remote islands, rugged coastline, staggering peaks, and picture-perfect beaches from the water is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The whole coast of Northern Norway is packed with superb paddling destinations, including picturesque places like Lofoten, Vesterålen, and Senja. Due to cold waters and occasionally rough conditions, you should always go with a professional guide.

Find kayak and canoe offers in Lofoten and Vesterålen.

A family with a kayak in Lofoten, Northern Norway
Kayaking in Lofoten.
Photo: Visitnorway.com

The Helgeland coast

Situated just south of the Arctic circle, the Helgeland coast is highly regarded as one of the country's best and most scenic areas for sea kayaking. Here, you can find your very own beach, stay in a traditional rorbu (fishermen's cabin), and experience the local culinary traditions as part of your paddling tour. Along the coast, there are plenty of charming islands to explore, such as Dønna, Træna, and the UNESCO-protected islands of Vega.

Find kayak offers in Helgeland.

Three kayakers paddling around Rødøy in Helgeland, Northern Norway
Kayaking at Rødøy in Helgeland.
Photo: Terje Rakke / Nordic Life / Helgeland Reiseliv / Visithelgeland.com/roedoey

Canoeing and kayaking on canals

Paddling on canals is a fascinating experience. Enjoy the beautiful landscape and stunning locks from your canoe and kayak. The Halden Canal and the Telemark Canal in Eastern Norway are popular destinations for such paddling. In Telemark, you can easily combine paddling on the canal with a boat trip since the canal boats allow you to bring your canoe or kayak onboard.

Find kayak and canoe offers in Telemark.

A man paddling in a kayak on the Telemark canal in Eastern Norway
Kayaking on the Telemark canal.
Photo: Visit Telemark

City kayaking

Skip the sightseeing bus and join a guided kayak tour instead! Several of Norway's main cities, such as Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, and the Art Nouveau town of Ålesund, are home to local tour companies that rent out kayaks and offer guided tours for beginners as well as experienced paddlers. The urban Oslofjord and the nearby maritime national park of Færder in Vestfold are other kayaking gems, packed with numerous beautiful islands, both large and small.

Find kayak and canoe offers in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, and Ålesund.

Two people in kayaks in Ålesund, Fjord Norway
City kayaking in Ålesund.
Photo: Fred Jonny Hammerø / Møre og Romsdal fylke

Whitewater kayaking

Up for a challenge? For the adrenalin seekers, few places have more to offer than Voss, known as the Norwegian adventure capital. The rivers here are like natural amusement parks, with several canyons, rapids, twists and turns. Local tour companies provide safe access to the river's many thrills. Other sought-after destinations for whitewater kayaking include the Sjoa river that flows between two national parks Jotunheimen and Rondane, and the Driva river in Trøndelag.

Four people whitewater kayaking at the Ekstremsportsveko in Voss, Fjord Norway
Whitewater kayaking in Voss.
Photo: Asgeir Helgestad / Artic Light AS / Visitnorway.com

Inland canoeing and kayaking

You can also rent canoes and kayaks for paddle adventures on the many Norwegian inland lakes and rivers, and feel the soothing calmness of the forest. The Østerdalen valley, Finnskogen, and Femund Engerdal in the county of Hedmark, as well as Telemark and Trøndelag, are ideal places. Spend the night at a local hotel where you can enjoy high-quality food based on seasonal ingredients, or bring a tent and a camping stove to cook, and perhaps a fishing rod to fetch the main ingredients. Or how about waking up with the birds in a treetop cabin?

Find kayak and canoe offers in the Østerdalen valley, Hedmark, and Telemark.

Two people paddling on Lake Femunden in Eastern Norway
Kayaking in Femund Engerdal.
Photo: Øyvind Vold / Johnsgård Turistsenter

Safety on the water

When paddling in a new area, check with local guides regarding currents, shoreline conditions, and weather patterns. Wear life jackets and think safety at all times.

Beware of cold waters that can cause hypothermia, especially in Northern Norway, and off-shore winds that make it difficult to return to land. Stay close to shore and never do open ocean crossings unless you’re trained for it.

Make sure you are rested and sober. Always bring sunglasses, sunscreen, extra clothes in a waterproof bag and plenty of water.

The paddling code

1. Choose a boat that suits your skills as well as the trip.

2. Make sure your equipment is in order.

3. Dress according to the water temperature. Bring extra clothes, just in case you need to change.

4. Wear an approved life jacket. Choose one that is designed for paddling and kayaking for the best comfort and range of arm and upper body motion.

5. Don’t overvalue your skills. Practice self-rescue techniques so you know what to do if you capsize.

6. If you capsize, don’t leave your boat or your oar.

7. Respect the weather and check the weather conditions before you go kayaking or canoeing.

8. Keep a safe distance to other boats and make sure others can see you.

9. Learn first aid treatments so you can help in an emergency.

10. Respect mother nature and be considerate. Don’t leave your rubbish behind.

Get inspired

Take advantage of top offers

See our selection of trusted companies that work hard to make you happy all through your trip.

Plan your paddle adventure

Filter your search and check out the canoe and kayak rentals, guided tours and other offers below.

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