The Scandinavian countries are home to some of the finest outdoor pursuits on Earth. The region’s outdoors and wilderness beckon many travelers and sports enthusiasts every year and, while there is never a shortage of things to do in Denmark, Norway, Sweden (the three countries that makeup Scandinavia), it can be hard to know where to start when choosing from such a vast range of activities. This guide is to help you get started with your outdoor pursuits in Scandinavia. Here’s your guide to outdoor sports in Scandinavia.
This guide will focus on major sports that are available throughout the region, like hiking, biking and some winter sports. You can find more information about each sport under its own heading at the end of the guide.
While each country has its own unique culture and language, they are all relatively small in terms of area, meaning that it often makes sense to start your research for where to go with one particular Scandinavian country in mind. For many outdoor pursuits, though, you can do most activities just about anywhere in Scandinavia.
The weather in the region can be a challenge for outdoor sports, but all Scandinavians are used to it. In warmer months, you will generally need lots of sunscreen and insect repellent. In the colder seasons, bring warm clothing, sturdy footwear and rain gear. If you plan well in advance, you might even want to try some of the winter sports that are on offer in Scandinavia.
Sailing in Denmark
One of the top priorities for most travellers coming to Copenhagen is finding somewhere close by to rent a boat and explore the city’s surrounding canals. There are many rental companies dotted around the harbour front in the Nyhavn district, and most of these will rent you a traditional wooden ’17-footer’ style boat for an hour or two at a time (Rates start from about 500 Danish kroner.
Biking in Sweden
Sweden’s extensive network of walking and cycling paths makes it one of the best countries to explore by bike or on foot. You can hire bikes for anywhere between a couple of hours and several days; check out the rates at your accommodation, but expect to pay around 200 kroner (approx. AU$40) for a day’s hire. Read more
Kayaking in Norway
The fjords and lakes of Western Norway offer some of the most challenging and breathtaking kayaking routes on Earth. The Nidelva river is particularly popular, where you can paddle your way along past waterfalls, through narrow channels and into the heart of Norway’s fourth-largest city, Trondheim.
Campervan Hire in Denmark
If you really want to explore the country and see its quiet corners and picturesque towns at your own pace, then campervan hire is one of the best ways to do it. There are many campervan companies dotted along the Danish coastline, so it’s easy enough to pick one up in Copenhagen or another major city and head out into nature at your leisure.
Kitesurfing in Denmark
The shores of Greenland, Norway’s Lofoten Islands and the west coast of Sweden are some of the top spots in all of Scandinavia to learn to kitesurf.
Mountain Biking in Norway
There is more than 1,000km worth of mountain bike trails throughout Norway that offers both scenic beauty and endless excitement. The country is also home to the world-famous Laerdal Global Routes, a 450km touring route through some of Norway’s most peaceful and spectacular scenery. Read more.
Scuba Diving in Denmark
The waters surrounding Denmark’s coastline are so clear that you can often see for up to 13m under the surface. There are plenty of diving centres dotted around the country that will teach you how to explore this underwater world.
Sailing in Sweden
You can find boat rental companies all over Sweden, with most located close to the ferry ports of the southern and western coasts (e.g. Gothenburg, Trelleborg, Karlskrona). If you want to explore some of the country’s beautiful natural harbours, then this is one of the best ways to do it. Read more.
Snowboarding in Norway
There are several ski resorts throughout northern Norway, but Norefjell Ski Resort near Lillehammer offers an incredibly scenic setting against the deep blue waters of the fjords.
Surfing in Norway
There are plenty of surf schools throughout Norway that will teach you everything you need to know about conquering the waves. Some are even located close to incredibly picturesque beaches, such as Røstvik, where you can take a breather from surfing and admire the picturesque views of mountains and fishing boats. Read more.
Swimming in Denmark
You can swim throughout Denmark – even in the sea – thanks to the water being so clean that it’s safe for swimming year-round. The clear, fresh waters are made up of melted glacial ice from Scandinavia’s countless glaciers, giving them their sparkling blue hue. Read more.
Snowmobiling in Norway
You can hire a snowmobile for short periods of time from countless rental companies dotted throughout southern Norway, either at one of the larger resorts or amidst some truly spectacular scenery. If you want to explore beyond the resort lifts, then this is one of the best ways to do it.
Waterskiing in Norway
This is a favourite activity for most Scandinavians, whether it’s just for fun or to show off their impressive skills to friends and family. You can find waterski centers all over southern Norway, including locations in Oslo, Kristiansand and Bergen.
White Water Rafting in Norway
The glaciers of Norway are not only responsible for giving the country its stunning green landscapes but also the many raging rivers that flow down from them. You can experience this wild environment first-hand by taking part in one of Scandinavia’s many white-water rafting trips. Read more.
Your Guide to Outdoor Sports in Scandinavia is compiled by Casey Harward. Casey is an editor at Researchprospect and essay writing website. She manages a team of writers and editors, creates academic courses and provides thesis consultations.
Feature image (on top): Hiking at Higravtindan, Lofoten northern Norway Photo by Kristin Folsland Olsen / visitnorway.com