Nordic Beaches // The Viking Coast

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If you're planning your next beach holiday then heading towards the Arctic Circle has probably not crossed your mind. And why on earth would it?! I mean we are talking beaches here - sun, surf and sand... not penguins, polar bears and potential hypothermia!
Whilst it is true there may not be many palm fringed beaches in the extreme northern latitudes of Europe what you will find are some of the most spectacular and breath-taking beaches found anywhere on earth.

Made up of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden the beaches of the Nordic countries vary widely. From the other-worldly rock formations and glacially carved cliffs of Norway and Iceland to the miles of golden sand that make up Denmark's coast the old Viking lands are a place of beauty.

But there is more to do than just admire the scenery. Windsurfing has always been popular on the Scandinavian coast and now kite-surfing is booming. More surprising though is the growth of surfing in Norway and Iceland. There are plenty of good waves but it has to be said that even though the Gulf Stream keeps the water a little warmer, you'll need to pack more than your board shorts.

Even if the rest of the world has overlooked the many fine beaches of the far north of Europe this is to the advantage of the locals. Head north in the summer and you'll find plenty of activity on many of these lovely beaches And don't forget, the sun doesn't set if you go far enough.

  • Reynisfjara beach // Iceland

    Reynisfjara beach
    ©Felix Lipov

    Reynisfjara is one of Iceland's most iconic and spectacular beaches. Located around 2 hours from the capital Reykjavik, Reynisfjara is near the village Vik in Myrdalur on Iceland's South Coast. To the southern end of the beach is the 120 meter high promontory of Dyrhólaey, Iceland's most southerly point.

    This black sand beach is a geologist's wet dream with hosts of incredible rock formations and features. Rising up out of… read more »

  • Yyteri Beach // Finland

    Yyteri Beach

    Yyteri Beach is a magnificent 6-kilometre stretch of golden sands on Finland's west coast. It looks out over the chilly waters of the Gulf of Bothnia, which merges with the Baltic Sea at its southern end. Backed by extensive sand dunes, and woodland beyond, the beach at Yyteri has a wild feel.

    This beach resort is one of the most popular summer destinations with Nordic residents, thanks to its position… read more »

  • Haukland Beach // Norway

    Haukland Beach
    ©Michele Agostini

    The stunning and dramatic natural scenery of the Lofoten Islands is well known. A landscape of jagged, rocky mountains that drop precipitously into the clear blue waters of the Arctic Sea. And a coastline dotted with white-sand beaches that are amongst the most gorgeous on earth. Amongst such beauty it is impossible to pick a favourite, but Haukland beach comes close.

    Haukland has all these attributes and is set in a… read more »

  • Kvalvika // Norway

    ©Christopher Michel

    Situated in a remote bay on the north-west coast of Moskenesøy, the beach at Kvalvika is possibly the most dramatic in the Lofoten Islands, and that is saying something.

    Here the mountains meet the sea, and the goldens sands of the beach are flanked by precipitous, sheer rock faces, the most iconic of which is Ryten. This peak rises 550 metres, almost straight up from the beach and provides the… read more »

  • Hoddevik // Norway

    ©Frode Inge Helland / CC BY

    Set at the foot of a green valley between towering cliffs on the far western coast of Norway is Hoddevik. This little fishing outpost with its weatherboard huts sits in front of one of the regions finest beaches. With almost a mile of fine white sand and clear blue waters this is an idyllic spot to (literally!) chill out and relax.

    Hoddevik is widely considered to be Norway's best surfing… read more »

  • Henne Strand // Denmark

    Henne Strand

    Situated on the west coast of Denmark's Jutland peninsula is the infeasibly long sandy beach of Henne Strand.

    Despite being one of the most popular beaches on this stretch of North Sea coast it never gets crowded here. In fact, outside of sunny days in the summer holidays it is generally quiet allowing you to appreciate the vast open space here.

    The beach is backed by an extensive network… read more »

  • Vestrahorn Beach // Iceland

    Vestrahorn Beach
    ©Hansueli Krapf / CC BY

    Vestrahorn, on the Stokksnes peninsula is one of those extremes of natural beauty that make Iceland such a fascinating destination. A wide, flat plain of volcanic black sand, backed by the still waters of a lagoon, suddenly rises up to the phenomenal heights of a series of jagged peaks of snow-capped gabbro rock. This is a photographer's paradise and even if you are not familiar with the name you will… read more »

  • Breidavik Beach // Iceland

    Breidavik Beach
    ©Danilo Forcellini

    The pretty little settlement of Breiðavík is located just around the corner from Iceland's (and Europe's) most westerly point, Látrabjarg. Besides the weatherboard church and a clutch of houses there is one thing that draws people to Breidavik - the enormous stretch of white sand beach.

    Breidavik Beach is said by many to be the finest beach in Iceland and it's not difficult to see why. Breiðavík set on a… read more »

  • Bratten Strand // Denmark

    Bratten Strand
    ©Jørgen Larsen

    Located about 10 km north of the east coast town of Frederikshavn the beach at Bratten Strand feels a million miles from anywhere. This long sweeping stretch of fine white sand and sapphire sea seemingly stretches on of ever. But it doesn't as this is the far north of Denmark and before long you will run out of land where the two seas meet at Grenen.

    Much of the year… read more »

  • Nymindegab Strand // Denmark

    Nymindegab Strand
    ©Aleksandr Zykov

    Nestled on the west coast of Denmark, 500 m from the town of the same name, sits Nymindegab Strand, one of the most popular holiday getaways in the entire country. That's due in no small part to the fact that the area is home to some of the most stretches of North Sea coast.

    The beach is located at the southernmost point of Ringkøbing Fjord. Despite its name, the "fjord" isn't… read more »

  • Unstad // Norway

    ©Olivier Bruchez

    Although it may sound a little odd, Unstad is in fact the heart of the Norwegian surfing scene. Despite being well within the Arctic Circle this beach attracts surfers from around the world. Admittedly many come out of curiosity, but there can be good waves here and the scenery is absolutely stunning.

    It is said surfing at Unstad beach dates back to the 1960s when some globe-trotting Norwegians returned from Australia… read more »

  • Tisvildeleje Strand // Denmark

    Tisvildeleje Strand
    ©Hunter Desportes

    Tisvildeleje Beach is one of many beaches within striking distance of Copenhagen. Around 30 km north of the city the sandy shores here sit alongside the popular holiday village of Tisvilde. The area has long been a favorite of fishermen, and an active fishing scene remains a key part of the beach's culture today. Enjoy restaurants serving up the catch of the day or sit on the beach or in… read more »

  • Diamond Beach // Iceland

    Diamond Beach
    ©Giuseppe Milo / CC BY

    Diamond beach on the south coast is one of the most visited beaches in the whole of Iceland. About 6 hours from the capital Reykjavik this black sand beach sits at the mouth of the Jökulsárlón lagoon. Here huge chunks of ice gather from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier which in turn is fed by the largest icecap in Europe - the Vatnajökull.

    Whilst the Jökulsárlón lagoon is dominated by the… read more »

  • Sólheimasandur Beach // Iceland

    Sólheimasandur Beach
    ©Sigurdur Bjarnason / CC BY

    In geological terms, the black sand plains of Sólheimasandur are a baby. Formed centuries, rather than millions of years ago the bleak landscape here is the result of glacial action caused by an eruption of one of Iceland's largest and most active volcanoes - Katla.

    However, this uniquely Icelandic landscape is only the backdrop to Sólheimasandur beach's main attraction - the US Navy DC-3 plane wreck. Creating an evocative outline… read more »

  • Bellevue Strand // Denmark

    Bellevue Strand
    ©Guillaume Baviere

    Summer holidays are a big part of the way of life in Denmark – literally. Holiday time has been mandated by the Danish government since the 1930s, and since then Bellevue Strand has been one of the most popular beaches in the country. That is due in no small part to the fact it is located within a stone's throw of the capital, Copenhagen.

    Danish architect Arne Jacobsen was responsible for… read more »