Sea kayaking in Sweden’s miracle lake Vänern (+ 1 brilliant way to do it)

Man kayaking on lake and cloudy sky

Imagine kayaking in a vast inland sea, passing near sandy beaches and exploring isolated islands rich on wildlife in total peace. Around you see only blue sky that meets crystal clear water so clean that you can practically reach from your kayak and drink it. This is how sea kayaking in lake Vänern, Sweden looks like!

Woman in red kayak in still waters

There are so many destinations for paddling in Sweden, raging from Bohuslän archipelago in south-west to the High Coast in north-east. But today we will tell you about one of our favorites – lake Vänern. It offers pristine landscape, less crowds and practically endless different possibilities to plan your kayak trip. Maybe you don’t know much about Sweden’s largest lake. This summary may help:

General facts about lake Vänern

Area: 5 655 km2
Number of islands: around 22 000
Coastline: 4 800 km
Average dept: 27 m
Water transparency: 4 – 6 m

Map of Sweden with 3 big cities and lake Vänern highlighted

What makes Vänern an amazing destination for kayaking?

 Sights and landscape

While paddling in Vänern you will see very diverse landscape. Covering such huge area Vänern’s coast line can offer anything from lush green forests and rocky islands without any sign of civilization, to vast fields with planted crops and typical Swedish red houses. But almost everywhere you go you can enjoy ocean-like sights, crystal clear water and typical Swedish nature.

It really is impossible to represent with words how beautiful Vänern is. So to truly feel its unique atmosphere, take a look at this amazing video from Facing Waves paddlesports TV-series:

Nature and wildlife

Not surprisingly, the Vänern is amazingly rich on animal and plant species. There are 35 natural reserves, 27 Natura 2000 sites and 1 National park in the area. In the lake itself you can find 36 out of 53 fresh later fish species in Sweden. Near its coastline you can see beavers, muskrats, polecats, deer and (of course) the iconic Swedish moose. Last but not least, Vänern is a paradise for birds, some of which you can spot while kayaking. Sea eagles, ospreys, cormorants, arctic terns and even black-throated divers are just few of the bird found in some of the 791 bird habitats around the lake.

White tailed sea eagle above lake
White-tailed sea eagle - the largest bird of prey in Sweden with a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters. Source: sverigesnatur.org

Curious facts about lake Vänern

1. – In Vänern area there are at least 171 species that are nationally red-listed as vulnerable (VU), endangered (EN) or critically endangered (CR), making it a perfect choice for wildlife safaris and bird watching.

2. – Vänern north coast is one of the sunniest places in Sweden. With 1801 sun hours yearly Karlstad, which has chosen “sun” as official municipality’s symbol, receives more sunshine yearly than Paris (1662), London (1633), Berlin (1625), Amsterdam (1662) and Copenhagen (1539)

3. – Great idea for kayaking destination is the so called Animal Island (Djurö) – one of the most isolated places in Vänern reachable by private or rental boats. The last year-round resident of the island left the island in 1969 and today it is a national park. As you can see there are plenty of small islands in the area, making it perfect for kayaking.

1 brilliant way to do sea kayaking in Vänern

In the video of Facing Waves you saw how guided kayak tour feels like. But there is also one other way of exploring Vänern that can make your vacation even more exciting and memorable –  an organized 3 to 5 days Sailing & Kayaking adventure.

Basically you become part of the bot crew for several days, you sail to nice spots in Vänern, take out the kayaks from the boat and paddle in peaceful hard to reach spots. Plus you get to socialize with the rest of the crew – all outdoor enthusiasts (just like you 😉 ) and then spend the night in the comfort of your own cabin. Since the trip lasts several days you get to see a lot of the diverse landscape in Vänern, including the isolated island Drujö we mentioned earlier.

This spring we met the people from a local company that organizes such trip – Vänern Outdoor – and plan to do it as team building (just a fancy word for having a good time together) for Nordic Adventours. If so, later this year you may expect another article about kayaking in Vänern with pictures and tips from our experience.

If you liked this article and don’t want to miss the one about our own kayaking trip to Vänern – sign-up by using the form below!

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Are you an active outdoorsy person who loves Scandinavia? Sign up for more great content and unique benefits from us!

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A former stock broker on the financial markets, Yordan managed to escape his suffocating “big city life” and moved to Sweden in 2016 to start a more peaceful chapter of his being – one in which nature and outdoor activities play a crucial role. Exploring the beauty of the Scandinavia’s outdoors is his true passion.

Winter camping? We asked real pros how to do it! (+ exclusive video)

Small tent on a snowy mountain under stars

Who doesn’t love the silent beauty of a pristine winter landscape? And what better way to enjoy it than spending a whole day outdoors, sleep in tent under the magical Northern Lights and later salute the morning sun. Welcome to winter camping!

Yellow tent under the Northern Lights during night

There is only one issue. Winter tent camping is no joke – cold temperatures, special equipment, survival skills… So how can we change from reading and dreaming about it to actually going out and doing it ourselves? There is no better way to ask the people who actually do it. That is why we contacted “High Coast Hike Bros”.

Rikard and Oskar from High Coast Hiking Bros

Rikard and Oskar are two outdoor enthusiasts who live near Umeå, North Sweden and made tons of outdoor trips together. Nobody knows better how to prepare for winter camping than people who have done it numerous times 640 km north of Stockholm. We turned to them also because of their simple and honest approach in what they do. “We like to think we’re pretty ordinary guys” is what they said, but during our talk together we heard lots of super-valuable practical advices that ordinary guys would definitely not had had. Here is what Rikard and Oskar had to say:

– First of all, why should people go for winter tent camping in the first place?

The main reason would be that it’s incredibly fun! You get relieved of the regular day routine in a way that’s almost indescribable. None of those ordinary things really matter when you’re in a sleeping bag trying to get the heat up or trying to start a fire with freezing hands.

– How should you prepare for winter camping if you haven’t done much camping before?

You have to really read about it and of course get to know your equipment in a way that you feel comfortable operating it even when it’s pouring down rain or if it’s pitch black outside. You would also need to have a good understanding about the weather. It Northern Sweden it can change from rain to snow or sun to clouds in less than five minutes.

Man walking in snow and dragging quipment for winter camping

– How to make sure you enjoy the cold winter nights outside?

You have to keep your energy up by eating and drinking a lot. This will hopefully help you get a good night’s sleep. During winter time, the body uses a whole lot of energy just trying to stay warm, so make sure that when you are getting in to the sleeping bag at night, have an energy filled snack before trying to sleep, this will help you through a long, cold night. Besides that, you would need some good pieces of equipment. Especially when it comes to sleeping, and to be sure to keep these dry even in wet snow or pouring rain. So make sure you have a decent sleeping bag and at least two/three sleeping mats (in the winter).

What is the best place in Sweden to try winter tent camping? (beautiful nature + decent transport + no crowds + safety)?

If you really want a little bit of everything we would recommend the High Coast area (North-East coast of Sweden). It has the views, the nature, great possibilities of transport and it’s not too crowded. Other than these things, you have a pretty good mobile phone reception in most parts of the area, which really is a difference between the coast and the mountains in the north western Sweden. It is a great place for both beginners and the more experienced!

This is how the High Coast looks like in Winter!

– What would be the single most important advice you can give to beginner campers?

You have to eat and drink way more than you could ever dream of if you are doing demanding activities outside, especially in the winter time. When we’re not filming we’re boiling water from snow to make sure we stay hydrated. There is a chance that you forget about these things as a beginner, and you will (!) start feeling sick and get a nasty headache. Dehydration can ruin any trip.

2 man drinking water from bottlees in winter

Bonus material for our readers

Reading about winter camping is one thing, but thanks to the High Coast Hike Bros we can actually show you how it looks and feels like to do it. Recently Rikard and Oskar started filming some of their trips. This is their latest video. Check it out to have a taste of that amazing outdoors experience in a down-to-earth fashion: no fancy effects or posing. See it as it is!

The High Coast Hike Bros promised that more videos are about to come, so consider subscribing to their YouTube channel to make sure you won’t miss out.

I hope you like our story and again – special thanks to our friends at High Coast Hike Bros for their tips and all the nice photos/videos they provided.

Note from the author

After working on that article and thanks to Rikard and Oskar’s videos I can’t wait to try winter tent camping myself. However, for my first attempt I still prefer to be accompanied by somebody who already has camped many times. And since I am lucky enough to work at Nordic Adventures I easily checked for some local guided tours. Sadly, due to its challenging nature winter tent camping is not among the most popular activities out there. However, there is one company that really grabbed my attention – Johannisholm Adventure in Dalarna, Mid Sweden.

They offer exactly what I am looking for – guided winter camping in a tent on affordable price ( only 550 kr actually) with some useful equipment included: reindeer skin, sleeping bag, mats, use of wood stove. Feel free to check it if interested.

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Are you an active outdoorsy person who loves Scandinavia? Sign up for more great content and unique benefits from us!

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A former stock broker on the financial markets, Yordan managed to escape his suffocating “big city life” and moved to Sweden in 2016 to start a more peaceful chapter of his being – one in which nature and outdoor activities play a crucial role. Exploring the beauty of the Scandinavia’s outdoors is his true passion.