SeilNorges Ski & Sail-guide
Here you get SeilNorges guide to the best Ski & Sail locations in Northern Norway. The Norwegian coastline is long and full of adventure; and if you include the fjords and all the islands, it is 100.000 kilometers long, as far as 2,5 times around the earth!
Written by Emil, Günder and expedition leader, together with Håvard Utheim, founder of Nanook Travel.
When we started SeilNorge back in 2009, we had to choose to sail in some areas over others, and from Helgeland where our adventure started, we decided to sail north. We wanted to find the most distinct places, the rawest nature, local customs and traditions, funny dialects, seafood that cannot be found anywhere else, the best partners and guides, and people we can call our friends, who share our values and appreciate our way of sailing and doing business. And we found it!
On the way north
Our adventure started in Helgeland, and from there we sailed further north to explore region by region. We have now had Ski & Sail trips in all the most relevant areas: Helgeland, Steigen, Lofoten, Vesterålen, Troms, Finnmark and Svalbard.
What is the best place to go Skiing & Sailing in Norway?
An impossible question! But here you get the answer!
The most island-rich part of the Norwegian coast, a sheltered archipelago that is ideal for sailing, kayaking and island hopping in summer, but with high mountains and deep fjords that are perfect for Ski & Sail in winter and spring.
The area stretches from Brønnøysund in the south, and up to Støtt (almost up to Bodø) in the north on the other side of the “moral circle”.
A trip up or down this coastline in search of snow and mountains could be the best decision you’ll ever make. If you sail north you will have majestic mountains on your starboard side and thousands of protective islands on your port side. There are many natural harbours, small towns and places where you can camp, but that’s not necessarily where the snow is.
Helgeland is less visited for Ski & Sail as the distances are longer and the snow and weather conditions are less stable than in Lofoten and Lyngen. When it comes to snow conditions, the northern area is more stable than the southern, this is because the Svartisen glacier helps to stabilize the area with lower temperatures and more snow in a large surrounding area. But if you have time to wait for the good white days – and really like to explore, then Helgeland is perfect!
Benefits Ski & Sail in Helgeland
- Exciting sailing in a very island-rich archipelago and some distance between the ski mountains
- Characteristic and beautiful nature
- Much more to see and do than just go skiing
- Great variety when it comes to the type of trips and level of difficulty
- The opportunity to go skiing on an isolated island with steep mountains!
- Very few people – we are mostly alone on the trip
- Good communication with public ferries and fast boats, as well as Hurtigruten
Disadvantages Ski & Sail Helgeland
- Less stable weather and snow conditions (except around the Svartisen glacier and the Glomfjord area in the north)
- Some summit tours offer a longer approach and the peaks are not very high, so not for the impatient alpinist. Some trips are more alpine ski trips than up-and-down ski trips.
- Difficult to find guides with experience in the area (low level of knowledge due to few visitors)
- Not for those who want to sail less and ski more
Travel tips for Helgeland
- Make a one-way trip from one place to another, which will give you more time.
- Take the Hurtigruten north from Trondheim to Brønnøysund, and sail from there.
- Take a train or fly to Bodø and sail south from there.
BEIARN, SALTEN & BODØ
The fjords south and north of Bodø are definitely not the most famous ski areas in Norway, but their popularity is increasing as many locals have started to discover the many possibilities here and share tips.
However, this area cannot be called one, as the differences are large and the variations significant. The small fjord system Beiarn, which is on the list of many Norwegian ski enthusiasts due to its remote location, has a different atmosphere and nature than Lofoten and the longer fjords north of Bodø. In terms of weather, the area is relatively coastal, which means more changeable weather and milder temperatures. This also affects the snow. But as everywhere, the further inland you go, the more stable both the climate and the snow. At Ski & Sail, our main experience from Beiarn is that we don’t get there due to completely covered ice on the fjord.
Benefits Ski & Sail in Beiarn, Salten and Bodø
- Beautiful nature
- Easy travel and logistics
- Proximity to Bodø for urban activities and a safe harbor in rough weather
- Few other boats and few people out in the mountains
- Good variety for Ski & Sail activities
- Possibility of fun logistics and planning, due to the many fjords
Disadvantages Ski & Sail in Beiarn, Salten and Bodø
- The area is largely coastal – exposed to wind and weather
- Not so many high peaks available, without a long approach
Travel tips for Beiarn, Salten and Bodø
- Bodø is the northernmost stop for the Norwegian railway, an environmentally friendly way to travel (but the locomotives still run on diesel…)
- The flights are frequent and affordable
- From Bodø there are many boats with daily departures to the islands, to Lofoten and south to Helgeland. You can also take a cheap state-supported helicopter flight to Værøy, an island out in the Vestfjord well worth a visit (also the home of our skipper Jim-Børre Andreassen:))
Since our first Ski & Sail trip in Lofoten and Vesterålen many years ago, we have had a close and personal relationship with the fjords, the mountains and the skiing here. Although the mountains are not as high as in Lyngen, they rise straight out of the sea and provide the opportunity for pre-ski reconnaissance from the waterline. And as we say; “we see it – we ski it”!
Those who have been around the continental Alps say that Lofoten is like the Alps, but even more beautiful as it is surrounded by the blue sea. Because you have the sea around you and often rough weather conditions, it can be difficult to find the best and most stable snow. When you search, look for the areas where the high mountains create more stable weather, colder temperatures and drier snow.
Every winter the Atlantic cod (Skrei) move from the Barents Sea into the fjords of Lofoten, and for thousands of years winter fishing in Lofoten has brought together fishermen and boats from far and wide. This also contributes to the experience in Lofoten at this time of year.
Benefits Ski & Sail in Lofoten
- Beautiful and characteristic nature
- High peaks (up to 1146 meters)
- Lots to do other than skiing; surfing, climbing, fishing, and more, as well as many good restaurants, hotels, galleries and museums
- Good opportunities for creative logistics and planning, – because of the many fjords
- Short distance between the good places to go skiing
Disadvantages Ski & Sail in Lofoten
- A little more logistics to get to Lofoten, as well as slightly more expensive plane tickets
- Lots of people in the mountains on good days, but with a sailboat you get to places with fewer people!
- Not much sailing, mostly skiing. Good for the skiing enthusiasts who are more keen on skiing than sailing
Travel tips for Lofoten
- Take the train to Bodø, then ferry to Lofoten
- Take the train from Stockholm to Narvik, and bus the last 4 hours to Svolvær, capital of Lofoten
- Fly to Svolvær or Leknes
- Fly to Bodø and then take the express boat or Hurtigruten over to Lofoten
- Fly to Harstad Airport, Evenes, and take the bus from there, the flights here are more frequent and cheaper.
- From Sør-Lofoten there are ferries to Bodø, Værøy and Røst, archipelagos that are well worth a visit on the way home, if you have time.
TROMSØ & THE ISLANDS AROUND & THE LYNG ALPS
The Tromsø region is large and rich in both mountains and snow. The islands are many and the possibilities are endless. Most famous are Lyngsalpene, a short day trip by sailing boat north-east from Tromsø.
During the last 20 years, Lyngen has become one of the most famous and legendary ski destinations in Europe. Some peaks can get crowded on good days, but this area has so many mountains and opportunities, you’re sure to find places to be on your own. And with a sailboat we find our own mountains that we have all to ourselves!
The Lyng Alps have higher mountains, up to 1833 meters, and are further north, so although the weather can change quickly here too, the cold temperatures provide fairly stable snow conditions. In snowy years, large avalanches can occur, even in spring, so if you are not very experienced, you should use a local guide if you want to go and ski steeply.
Benefits Ski & Sail in Tromsø, the surrounding islands and Lyngen
- Beautiful and characteristic nature
- Higher peaks and a lot of possibilities
- Good opportunities for creative logistics and planning, due to the many fjords
- Short distances between the good places to go skiing
- Direct flights to Tromsø which provide an easy travel route
- Longer days as we are further north and closer to the midnight sun (from mid-April)
Disadvantages Ski & Sail in Tromsø, the surrounding islands and Lyngen
- Lots of people in the popular area on good days. With a sailboat, we avoid this!
- Not so many alternative things to do in the immediate vicinity (like in Lofoten)
- Far to travel and not possible to travel to Tromsø by train
Travel tips for Tromsø, the surrounding islands and Lyngen
- It is easy to travel to Tromsø by plane
- The coastal ferry Hurtigruten stops in Tromsø
- You can take a bus from Oslo, but this is quite a long journey over a few days
- Train to Bodø, then Hurtigruten or bus to Tromsø
FINNMARK AND ØKSFJORD PENINSULA
Finnmark is our northernmost region with many possibilities and places to go skiing, especially when you sail your own boat.
Our experience is limited to the area between Lyngen and Alta, but this small area will give you skiing and hiking opportunities for weeks.
The area is more remote than both Lofoten and Lyngen, and also less known; a great combination for skiing more or less alone.
Finnmark is even further east and thus the area is less exposed to moist southerly winds and precipitation. This results in a more stable climate, colder temperatures and drier snow. This is also due to the dry, cold winds that come from the east from the plain, not far away.
Benefits Ski & Sail in Finnmark and the Øksfjord peninsula
- Beautiful and characteristic nature
- Higher peaks, many and good skiing opportunities
- Good opportunities for creative logistics and planning – because of the many fjords
- Often a real sailing trip between the good places to go skiing, where we are often alone
- Longer days as we are further north and closer to the midnight sun!
- Further north = longer season
Disadvantages Ski & Sail in Finnmark and the Øksfjord peninsula
- Not so many alternative things to do in the immediate vicinity (like in Lofoten).
Travel tips for Finnmark and the Øksfjord peninsula
- It is easy to travel to Alta by plane, which is probably the fastest option, as the drive from Oslo takes two days
- Spend a few days in Kautokeino (2 hours drive from Alta), race with reindeer or go on a snowmobile tour.
Svalbard lies between 74 and 81 degrees, close to the pack ice and the North Pole, and is probably one of the most exotic ski destinations available, only accessible by plane and boat.
Due to the light, temperatures and sea ice, the Ski & Sail season in Svalbard does not start until early May. The weather is the x-factor on a Ski & Sail trip in Svalbard. If there is wind, it can be very windy, and you must be aware that sailing here in early summer is not for everyone, and certainly not for beginners.
The polar bear could be right behind you! Our ski guides are also your polar bear guard on the trip. Svalbard is different and exotic. Svalbard is wilderness!
Advantages Ski & Sail in Svalbard
- Exotic and wild
- Remote, offline and unique
- There are direct flights to Longyearbyen from Oslo, an easy journey
- Long days with midnight sun
Disadvantages Skiing & Sailing in Svalbard
- Exposed to bad weather
- High air conditioning bill on the flight
Travel tips for Svalbard
- It is easy to travel to Longyearbyen by plane, which is probably your only option
- Spend a few extra days in Longyearbyen so you can meet the locals at the pub, or take a snowmobile excursion
The enlightened reader will see that there are certain areas of the coast not mentioned here – yes, some secrets we will keep to ourselves!
Have a good trip!