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7 great winter swimming spots you should try in Scandinavia

Snow covered landscape, ice cold water, saunas and hot coffee in a thermos. The winter swimming traditions have deep roots across the nordic cultures, and with science backing the benefits of this, it’s not surprising that cold dips have gained massive popularity. In this article, we have selected 7 of the best places to visit for a cold dip in Scandinavia this winter.

Cold dip

Scandinavians love spending time in nature, and ocean swims and quiet forest lakes are no exceptions – even in winter. Well-being, slow living and being in nature are all values that we connect with when we submerge ourselves in the ice cold water – values that have ties to both mental and physical health and well-being. Lately, there has been a spike in people seeking out ice bathing, combined with the heat of the sauna, which has been defined as the Thermalist Cure by the Danish cold and heat scientist Susanna Søberg, Ph.D.

She has done research on the health benefits of cold and heat exposure, which has the potential to improve and prolong our lives. If you are visiting Scandinavia and are interested in winter swimming, there are endless possibilities regardless of which of the countries you visit, each with its own set of traditions. In this article we have selected a handful of locations across both Denmark, Norway and Sweden to give you an unforgettable experience in nature with your loved ones.

1. Kroken ~ Norway

If you are travelling to Sjusjøen, Lillehammer or Hafjell and the surrounding mountain areas this winter, Kroken is a wonderful place for an ice cold dip in beautiful surroundings. Kroken is located by Mesnadammen, in a mountain river that doesn’t freeze over in the winter and is therefore ideal for excited winter bathers looking for a beautiful experience in nature.

If you want to add a warming sauna to your adventure, there is one located on site called Kroken Sauna that you can rent for the occasion. This spot is also right next to gorgeous cross country skiing opportunities, so bring your skis and have a refreshing dip after.

Find cabins close to this winter swimming spot

2. Kallbadhuset Varberg ~ Sweden

The cold bath tradition in Sweden is called ‘Kallbad’ and has deep roots in Swedish culture. You’ll find bath houses scattered along the coast line and Kallbadhuset Varberg is a cherished gem on the West Coast that can be traced all the way back to the 1820s. Enjoy a cold dip on its own or complete the sensory experience with a hot sauna and refreshments at the restaurant to warm up.

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Social swimming

3. Hullehavn ~ Denmark

The island of Bornholm has received the nickname ‘the sunshine island’, but the stunning landscape and untouched nature is just as enchanting in the winter months. And if you are visiting Bornholm in the winter, winter swimming should most definitely be on your to-do list. Because the island is a prime destination in the summer, the island is full of gorgeous bathing spots that are just as incredible in the winter. In Hullehavn you’ll find soft rock landscape shaped by the crashing waves, ladders getting you safely into the water and natural pools in the rock formations.

You can also visit Hasle Havnebad if you want your winter swimming experience to include a lovely warm sauna.

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4. Ribersborg Kallbadhus ~ Sweden

Winter swimming can be done in forest lakes, the open sea or in establishments like Ribersborg Kallbadhus in Malmö, which offers a more luxurious spa experience. Established in 1898, this is one of the oldest bath houses you can still visit in its original form today. Here, you can enjoy ice cold dips contrasted by hot saunas and warm water tubs, as well as relaxing massages.

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Robes

5. Fussinge Sø ~ Denmark

We often think of the ocean when we think of winter swimming, but lakes offer a beautiful, and often calmer winter experience despite they often even lower water temperatures. This spot, located in the North of Jutland, is a beloved favourite among both locals and visitors. At the lake, you’ll find a long bridge leading you onto the water, where you can leave your towel before immersing yourself in the cold water. This bathing bridge is particularly popular due to the stunning views in all weather conditions.

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6. Lofoten islands ~ Norway

Winter swimming has long traditions in Norwegian culture and the tall mountains and deep ocean enveloping the Lofoten islands in the north is a winter swimming backdrop you simply don’t want to miss. The North Sea is cold, but winter swimming is very popular and you will find enchanting little bathing spots scattered throughout the landscape, so just have a look around the area where you are staying or ask the locals where they go to swim.

Find your dream cabin in Lofoten

7. Almind Sø ~ Denmark

The bathing bridge at Almind Sø is a true architectural gem and a popular spot for winter bathers. And for good reasons. Stunning views, beautiful spacious bathing bridges that offer privacy even at more crowded times and gorgeous surroundings. This location offers so much more than just the perfect conditions for a cold plunge, it also gives you an unforgettable experience if architecture and aesthetics is something you value.

Winter swimming

Wondering how to get started? Book a cabin with an ocean view and read these tips from experienced winter bathers on how to get the very best experience.

10 tips for winter swimming

  • Go with a friend! Not only is it more fun, but you’ll also have someone to keep an eye on you in the water.
  • Check the conditions in advance and make sure the water is clean and that there are no strong currents. Don’t forget to familiarise yourself with how you are going to get out of the water before you go in.
  • Prepare your towel and clothes for when you get out of the water, this makes getting dressed, and warm, both faster and easier. Hot tip: bring a hot water bottle to warm your toes and fingers if you don’t have a sauna available.
  • Go slow when you enter the water to allow your body to adjust to the temperature change. Jumping in might feel like a shock to the body, potentially causing hyperventilation, which should be avoided.
  • Try to relax your body and control your breathing. This is easier said than done, but deep breaths help and the exhilaration and enjoyment of the cold you feel when you get your breath under control is incredible.
  • Start with shorter dips and build with confidence – 3 short dips is better than 1 that leaves you cold to the bone. The water often feels less cold when you go in for a second or third dip.
  • Stay close to the stairs, even if you are an experienced winter bather. Currents might be stronger than they look, so stay close in case you need to get out of the water.
  • Wear swim shoes if you can, they prevent you from slipping and leave your feet feeling a little bit less cold.
  • Bring warm clothes and a warming beverage. There's nothing quite like a warm cup of coffee and a croissant wrapped in a warm wool blanket in the winter sun after a cold dip.
  • If you have underlying health conditions, such as concerns related to your lungs, heart, blood pressure or epilepsy, please consult your doctor before going for a dip in the winter.
Guro Sofie Ulsaker Nordahl
Written by Guro Sofie Ulsaker NordahlFebruary 2024
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