Trails of Västmanland

Experiencing Lake Mälaren by kayak — many possibilities

Kayaking is a deluxe experience for enjoying nature. For those who choose to explore Lake Mälaren (sometimes also called “Lake Malar'' in English) by kayak, good exercise and beautiful beaches await, as well as beautiful views and uninhabited islands. Fancy a challenge? Come along as we head to Västerås with kayak expert Per Fredin to his favourite island!

The paddle cuts through the lukewarm water as the kayak glides towards Norrskär island. It is almost windless, quiet, and very peaceful when we disembark onto the small island. Equal parts adventure and relaxation await, with sun-warmed rocks, beautiful oaks, and the ground covered in that all-time favourite flower of the early summer: the lily of the valley.

Kayaking to Norrskär is one of Fredin's favourite trips on Lake Mälaren. From Björnögården on Björnön island, he paddles through the Hässlösund inlet south to Fröholmen's lighthouse, before crossing the fairway towards Norrskär island, which sits just off Ridön island's northeastern corner. In the end, both wind and waves can be challenging. The Norrskär kayak tour is not for beginners and best suited for experienced kayakers — ones who will find a trip with a lot of fun paddling and a beautiful end destination.

“Kayaking opens up so many possibilities on Lake Mälaren! You don't have to travel far to be in the middle of nature. Pack a tent, a sleeping bag, and some food to spend the night on Norrskär or any other of the amazing islands on Mälaren,” says Fredin.

A form of exercise and an outdoor adventure in one

When it comes to kayaking, and not least of all kayaking in Lake Mälaren, Fredin is a real expert. He was born into the sport: the whole family paddled, he trained and competed since childhood (even on weekdays), and the family spent holidays on kayaking trips. Nowadays, Fredin's competitive career is behind him. Yet, through the Aktivt Uteliv (Active Outdoor Life) outdoor centre, kayaking has become his job. And his love of it as a form of exercise and for experiencing the outdoors has definitely remained over the years.

“One of the charms of kayaking is that it’s such a smooth way to get around,” Fredin explains. “And water is both fascinating and calming. Plus, the possibilities are almost endless when you kayak, you can kayak in streams or rivers, on small or large lakes. And explore places like Lake Mälaren, for example, there are lots of islands to discover.”

Both courses and guided tours

For a few years now, Per and Aktivt Uteliv have been based at Björnögården, in the middle of one of Västerås' most beloved outdoor areas. There’s a great amount of interest in kayaking, both from locals and tourists that come to take courses, rent, or buy equipment. This year Aktivt Uteliv is investing heavily in guided kayak tours on Lake Mälaren. There will be both day and overnight tours, including in collaboration with the aquatic event company Sjöevent, which has cabins on beautiful Aggarön island. For those who have never tried kayaking before, Per recommends starting with a short basic course.

“That way, you avoid classic beginner mistakes, such as errors getting in and out of the kayak. Once you feel safe getting in and out, the islands of Lake Mälaren become much more accessible. This summer, I hope that even more people will take the chance to discover how fantastic Lake Mälaren is!

Kayaking on Lake Mälaren – three tips

Per Fredin likes to kayak to Norrskär, but it’s a trip that requires a lot of experience. Here are three other trips of varying degrees of difficulty that you can take. All the tours depart from Björnögården, where you can also rent a kayak.

Trip #1 Gäddeholm island

An easy trip that doesn’t require any prior kayaking experience. It’s 9 km of paddling in the calm and wind-protected Häsmu slösund inlet. At Gäddeholm, you can disembark at both the jetty and on the sandy beach. There are toilet facilities and a barbecue area on the island.

Trip #2 Östra Holmen island

This tour is 4-5 km long with a medium-easy level of difficulty. There are plenty of nice spots to land and disembark on different parts of Östra Holmen island. The rocks on the north side of the island are a favourite for many. The island has a swimming area, as well as a summer café and toilet facilities. Keep in mind that you will have to paddle across the Västeråsfjärden bay to get there, which will expose you to both wind and boat wakes. If conditions are windy, the difficulty level of the trip rises significantly.Trip #3 Björnö island loop

This 11 km long trip of medium difficulty requires some experience. Björnö island loop is a classic, where you get to experience both the Hässlösund inlet and Västeråsfjärden bay. There are plenty of nice landing spots all around the island, but a stop on the neighbouring uninhabited island of Stora Skärplingen is also recommended. Keep in mind that the outside of Björnö island loop is exposed to both wind and waves, which can increase the degree of difficulty.

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