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Canoeing and kayaking

Paddle power on deep blue seas
Cruise ships are fun, but if you really want to get up close and personal with the still and deep Norwegian fjords or the wilder coastline, kayaks or canoes are more intimate options.
Two people paddling next to a fishing boat in Reinefjorden in Lofoten
Kayaking in Lofoten.
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com

The Helgeland coast in the north­west of Norway is highly regarded as one of the country’s best areas for sea kayaking.

The narrow fjords, majestic mountains and a variety of islands provide a really special setting. Here you can find your very own beach, stay in a traditional rorbu (fishermen’s cottage) and experience the local culinary traditions as part of your paddling tour.

Similarly, you can pull your kayak up to shore along the mountainous archipelago of Lofoten, and go climbing and mountaineering before heading back out on the clear blue seas.

If you are rather new to paddling or you prefer quieter waters, you may want to consider the fjords in the west of Norway, for example the UNESCO-­listed Nærøyfjord. The waters are least cold and the sun is at its most warming in July and August, with late sunsets and mild summer nights.

Many Norwegians use their canoes on the many inland lakes and rivers, typically bringing a tent and a camping stove to cook (and perhaps a fishing rod to fetch the main ingredients). Allemansretten, the 1957 Norwegian open air act, states that everyone in Norway has a right of access to the unfenced countryside. In other words, you can camp pretty much anywhere you like in the wilderness for 48 hours, and the surroundings.

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    Top 10 places to go kayaking in Norway

    Olympic gold medallist Eirik Verås Larsen ranks the ten best places to go kayaking.

  1. 1. Vestfjorden

  2. Close to Oslo, and it is amazing what wildlife and nature experiences await you just around the corner from the city.

  3. 2. Sandefjord and Tønsberg

  4. With a kayak you can weave your way through the shallow waters between islands and islets, and explore the areas in and around Sandefjord and Tønsberg on your own.

  5. 3. Arendal to Tønsberg

  6. It is a long trip from Arendal to Tønsberg, but you can camp almost anywhere along the route, catch your own fish to eat, and enjoy life and nature.

  7. 4. Hidra

  8. A region known as Norway’s riviera, where you can paddle around the entire island and take in its idyllic settlements along the edge.

  9. 5. Flekkefjord

  10. The small town is sheltered from the wind by the tall mountains on all sides, and you can kayak the fjord right through Flekkefjord.

  11. 6. Skipnes in Vesterålen

  12. Lodge in an old fisherman’s cabin and take your time in the unique coastal landscape of Vesterålen.

  13. 7. The Helgeland coast

  14. A kayaker’s paradise with new discoveries around every island and islet.

  15. 8. Sotra and Øygarden

  16. A dramatic and picturesque landscape located west of Bergen, forming the last land barrier between mainland Norway and the North Sea.

  17. 9. Finnøy

  18. An easily accessible area between Haugesund and Stavanger, known for its opportunities for birdwatching – as long as you enjoy the view from the distance, and are careful not to disturb the birds.

  19. 10. The Vega islands

  20. A fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, consisting of dozens of islands, that is near enough to the Helgeland Coast that they can be combined into a longer trip.

    Read more about the kayaking destinations

Travellers’ own pictures

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There's no need to wait until you get here to start planning your trip. Filter your search and check out the canoe and kayak rentals, guided tours and other offers below.

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