If you’re a kayaking enthusiast, it’s time to consider a paddling tour to Northern Europe for your next big adventure. With expansive coastal access to the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and countless smaller waterways, you’ll have unprecedented access to day jaunts and multi-day excursions alike.
Whether you prefer a quiet paddle or a trip through the rapids, an exotic winter wonderland or a relaxing island getaway, you’ll find it all in these European countries. Anglers will be impressed by the depth and diversity of fishing available in this part of the world. Here are our picks for the most incredible kayaking destinations in Northern Europe.
1. Svalbard, Norway
It’s easy to see why the writers of Adventure Junkies listed a trip to these remote fjords on their kayaking bucket list. The otherworldly, iceberg-littered landscape offers rare opportunities to spot wildlife such as polar bears and walruses in their natural habitat.
Follow the sea route taken by the original Arctic explorers and view the region’s breathtaking mountains. Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions offers day trips starting at $120 that include kayak rental, clothing rental, transportation to and from the launch site, a safety-trained guide, and a traditional Norwegian meal and snack.
Those who want to spend a few days can opt for excursions of up to seven days with camping included. This area is free to enter and is managed by Norway’s Ministry of Trade, Industries, and Fisheries.
2. Lake Saimaa, Finland
This enormous system is the fourth largest body of water in all of Europe, offering bountiful opportunity to explore its pristine lakes and rivers. In fact, it’s sometimes called the Paradise of Paddlers by natives. That’s not to say it’s overcrowded, though; this is an ideal location if you want to feel like you’re truly at the edge of the world. Wilderness camping on one of the many islands of the Lake Saimaa system is a must.
Spring is the ideal time to visit if you want a chance to view the area’s native wildlife up close. WildCanoe in eastern Finland serves the area with kayak tours and rentals and can provide information as to the best routes in this vast system, including suitable itineraries for half-day, day, and longer trips. There’s no charge to enter the lake itself.
3. Bohuslän, Sweden
If you want to try out sea kayaking, head to this coastal region of Sweden with more than 8,000 wild, natural islands to explore. Bohuslän boasts unbeatably picturesque scenery, clean water and air, charming fishing villages to explore. It’s also calm enough to be an appropriate and enjoyable destination for kids and adults, novices and pros alike.
The gateway to this area is Gothenberg, which offers easy access to both the rocky coastline and Halland beaches. Visitors can enter this area free of charge; kayak rentals are available from several locations convenient to Bohuslän, including Skärgårdsidyllen Kayak & Outdoor and Kayak Bohuslän.
4. Baltic Sea, Estonia
This stretch of northern European islands is a paradise for bird-watchers who love to look for new species while paddling. The Estonian islands are home to more than 50 million different types of migratory birds who spend part of the year near the Baltic Sea.
Rough Guides recommends explore this area through a guided tour endorsed by the Estonian Ecotourism Association. Visitors can paddle from island to island as well as hike the landscape on foot to get a true view of these incredible avian varieties. History buffs will certainly prefer the latter method of exploration, which provides access to ruins of farmhouses and Soviet watchtowers. There’s no charge beyond kayak rental to paddle on the Baltic Sea.
Bio of guest writer:
Mark is one of the Kayak Guru crew. The site is aimed mainly at kayakers, but also dabbles in stand up paddling, fishing and a little camping. Visit kayakguru.com to learn the ropes, or improve your paddling and angling skills.
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Would love to hear your favorite places in Europe as a comment! 🙂