You might not have considered going to Norway for a surfing trip but once you read this, it might just shoot to the top of your list. Norway’s coastline is an incredible 100,915 km long and with so much shoreline, there have got to be some great surfing spots right? Right!
Since Norway stretches up into the Arctic Circle, you’re not going to go surfing in your board shorts. Wetsuits in summer and even dry suits in winter can be a must in order to survive the chilly ocean. But, it’s not quite as cold as you might think which we’ll discuss further in a bit.
The joy of surfing in Norway is the lack of crowds and the incredible backdrops. Imagine sitting in the line-up and looking back to shore to see huge snowcapped mountains falling into the sea – pretty spectacular. There are over 5o different surf spots in Norway so we won’t have time to discuss them all so here is the best surfing in Norway.
The first thing to do when planning a surf trip to Norway is to pick the right time to go to match your skills and the level of cold you can handle. Norway’s west coast picks up pretty much any swell that comes out of the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic Ocean, so it’s pretty consistent all year round, but the size differs quite a bit.
The nicest time of year to go surfing in Norway is during the summer between May and August. If you’re far north, the sun never sets, and you can surf way into the night if you like. It’s also the ideal time for beginners and surfers of all levels as the swell on average ranges between 4-5ft and the swell consistency is around 50% so you spend at least half your time surfing plus the ocean is a balmy 12°C – 15°C.
If you’re looking for some bigger swell but still want to avoid the cold conditions and shorter days of winter, September-October is a great time to be surfing in Norway. The average swell is solid at 7ft, with a 65% consistency and the water temperature is around 13°C.
For those of you who want to go surfing in the snow be prepared for a 10ft swell with an 80% consistency and an ocean temperature of 2°C depending on where you surf. The outside air temperature is around 1°C – 2°C so getting out of the surf is quite a chilly experience. You will need a dry suit to surf from November to April.
The Lofoten Islands are home to the best surfing in Norway by a long way, in fact, the Lofoten Islands are known for some of the best cold-water surfing on the planet.
The Lofoten islands sit off the west coast of Norway and above the Arctic Circle. You’d probably expect the ocean off the Lofotens to be freezing cold but it’s actually quite warm. The warm currents of the gulf stream go right past the islands and ensure the water stays a balmy 4.5°C and above during winter, while in summer it goes up to 15°C.
There are a total of 4 surf spots on the Lofoten islands when you search on MagicSeaweed and the most famous of them all is Unstad Beach. The beach is protected by a huge headland that runs straight out to the north which protects the break from heavy north winds during winter.
The headland also provides a wonderful right-hand break that holds a swell of up to 12ft. The beach is sandy, the seas are crystal clear, and when you surf at Unstad Beach all you can see from the ocean is amazing mountains falling into the sea.
There are two places to stay and rent surf gear from at Unstad Beach, Arctic Surf and Lofoten Surf Senter. Both of these establishments offer excellent accommodation and they have all gear from wetsuits to boards and dry suits. You can also organize lessons to learn how to surf and private sessions to improve your surfing too.
While the Lofoten islands provide the best surfing in Norway you do need the wind and swell to line up. The area does suffer from big storms that can last a whole and destroy the surf for a week or two at a time, so bear that in mind before you book.
You might say that Jæren is the surf capital of Norway and this is thanks to its easily accessible location. It sits on the southwestern tip of Norway at the begging of the Fjordland. The surf breaks all line up south of Stavanger and you’ll find a break to match every ability.
There are some lovely beach breaks that are great for beginners and some very mechanical point breaks that provide predictable but fast waves for intermediate and advanced surfers.
There are 10 different waves to choose from when you look on MagicSeaweed but there are far more surf breaks than that in the area. Running south from Stavanger is a coastline covered in white sand beaches, points, and rocks and when the swell comes in, all the surf breaks light up.
The main issue with surfing around Jæren is the wind. It usually comes from the wrong direction and blows out any surf that is around, but as soon as it dies or goes offshore, the waves become pretty damn amazing. S o good in fact, that Jæren hosted the Europen Championships of Surfing in both 2017 and 2018.
The area seems to get the best swell and the best wind conditions coming together in October and February. Surfing in October will be far warmer and more comfortable but probably a lot busier. If you’re new to surfing, the summer months of June-August will have you riding a longboard on gentle waves.
There are hundreds of places to stay while you’re in the Jæren area. Airbnbs, hostels, hotels, and of course, you’re allowed to camp anywhere you like thanks to Norway’s access rule for wild camping.
There is just one surf school in the area, which is surprising given the popularity of Jæren being the surf capital of Norway. It’s called Surf School Norway and you’ll find it in the town of Varhaug. You rent wetsuits, drysuits, board and book groups, or private lessons. It’s also a great place to go and get a reading on what swells light up which breaks the best so you don’t waste too much time checking them all in the morning.
If you’re looking for a bit of surf that is way off the beaten track, then a visit to the Stad Peninsula will be right up your alley. It’s the spot all the surfers in Olso drive to for the weekend to get their fix away from the city.
The Stad peninsula sits just to the south of the fjord town of Ålesund and is the most western part of mainland Norway. This means the area picks up swell from pretty much every direction including northwest, west, and southwest.
There are two main surf beaches in the area, Ervikstranda, and Hoddevik. Ervikstranda picks up more swell and it’s stunningly beautiful. The white sand and crystal clear waters make you think it belongs in Tahiti and not in Norway.
Around 30 minutes from Ervikstranda is Hoddevik, another stunning white sand beach break that picks up less swell than Ervikstranda but it has everything surfing in Norway can offer. The beach at Hoddevik is surrounded by 300-meter tall mountains that fall straight into the sea, I don’t think there could be a more beautiful backdrop to a surf spot.
To get to the out-of-the-way surf spots of Ervikstranda and Hoddevik you will need your own car as getting there by public transport is almost impossible. There is a surf rental store in Alesund that will provide you with the right surfboards and wetsuits depending on the season. You can also book lessons at the surf rental shop and if you’re staying in Alesund they will give you a ride to the surf breaks.
One of the best things about surfing at Hoddevik is driving down the Hoddevik valley. All you can see are Fjords, lakes, mountains, and farms and it’s absolutely beautiful. This area truly is a remote surfers paradise.
If you’re heading up to the Lofoten Islands then you’re likely to be going through a town called Bodo, as it’s one of the only ferry points that will take you to the Lofotens. While Bodo is not known for its surfing, so much so that there isn’t a surf rental or surf shop anywhere in the city but there are a few hidden little beach breaks that are worth going to have a look at when you venture through Bodo.
A few minute’s drive north of the city will have you sitting between stunning mountains and a crystal clear sea. There is a beach called Lop which is perfectly positioned to pick up any westerly or south-westerly swell. The beach is covered in white sand, the water clear as day and the setting is pretty out of this world.
To the south of Bodo is a break called Seines and this is not for beginners. Seines is a rocky point break that can hold quite a large swell which then leads to a sandy beach where the waves are a bit more mellow for less able surfers. It doesn’t pick upswell very often as there are quite a lot of islands off the coast that protect it, but when it gets a nice south-westerly swell, then the right-hand break starts to fire up.
There is nowhere to hire surfboards or wetsuits around Bodo so you’ll have to bring your own if you want to surf in the area. The city of Bodo is super cool to visit too as are the stunning mountains and beaches around it, so you won’t be disappointed if you stop there for a day or two either side of catching the ferry to the Lofoten islands.
If you thought the Lofoten Islands surf breaks were as far north as you might be able to surf in Norway, you’re very wrong. There are 4 surf breaks way way way up north right in the middle of the Arctic circle and on the northernmost tip of Norway.
All these surf breaks are in the Varangerhalvøya National Park a place full of grass-covered mountains, bogs, reindeer, arctic foxes, incredible birdlife, and 4 waves that only some real dedicated surfers would ever go to.
Sjkallev, Persfjord, Porsangvika, and Berlevag Sandfjorden all pick up swell directly from the Arctic ocean and it runs pretty consistently all year round. The main issue with the waves is their consistency as the area, as you can imagine, also gets some pretty intense onshore winds a lot of the time.
But, when the strong northerly winds give the area a break, the waves become fantastic and this is pretty much no one else riding them. Because these waves are so far north, surfing them between November and February isn’t really possible as the sun doesn’t rise there during winter. Also, you would probably have to wade your way through some thick ice to get out the back.
This means the summer is the best time to be surfing in Varangerhalvøya National Park. You’ll have the benefit of 24-hour daylight most of the time and it’s highly likely you’ll get some swell too, just pray the wind backs off.
There are plenty of places to stay in the area plus you can always camp too. There is a surf school & rental shop in Vadso called Finnmark that will give you all the gear, advice, and lessons you need to surf in the Arctic on probably some of the northernmost waves in the world.
Surfing in Norway only started in the 1990s when wetsuit technology got good enough to be able to keep people warm in the frosty water off Norway. Today, the is quite a cool little community of surfers in Norway and you’re likely to bump into them along the way. They are chilled, welcoming, and easy-going, unlike in some other parts of the world.
To surf properly in Norway, you’re going to need to have a car at your disposal but if you’re just looking to learn and have some fun, then staying at a surf camp in the Lofoten islands is a great option.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!