Guide to ice swimming

Ice water swimming is a great activity if you seek adrenaline and fun.

Winter swimming (Isbading in Norwegian) supposedly has several positive effect on your physical and mental health:

- it improves circulation.

- exposing yourself to cold weather (or water) regularly, will help you build a better immune response towards the cold.

- it is great for your mental health. You truly disconnect from everything else when jumping into the freezing water.

To have a great experience it is important to breathe slowly and be fully aware of your breath. Because of this, many people experience ice swimming as a type of meditation.

The best part is that you are going outdoors and spending time in nature - taking full advantage of what winter has to offer!


     isbading på voss  isbading på voss  to damer i badstu på voss
Photo: Karoline Fosse


Rules to remember when going out on frozen lakes/rivers/water:

Make sure that your surroundings are safe. 

If you step on the ice, is it thick enough? 

If you are swimming in a river, are there currents that can pull you under the ice? 

Don’t go alone. You could get a cramp and an extra hand never hurt.

ALWAYS check the circumstances and think twice about what can happen.


to damer isbader i vangsvatnet, på voss

Equipment and tips for ice swimming! 

Bring an axe
You might have to break through thicker layers of ice. 

Wear wool from head to toe.
You will have a better experience if you avoid freezing before going swimming. Wear a thin, soft wool layer as your base layer, a thicker wool layer on top of that, and your winter jacket and pants (look up the 3-layer principle).

Change at home
If you know you are going swimming, put on your swimsuit at home before getting dressed. That way you don’t have to spend time freezing while changing before jumping in. If you have to get changed outdoors, stand on your wool socks while undressing.

Wool socks
Many people prefer to swim in wool socks, especially if there is an uneven seafloor with rocks etc. It is a lot more painful to step barefooted on a rock when your feet are as cold as ice.

Keep your head warm
If you take a dip without going under with your head, it could help to wear a beanie. It sounds odd, but a warm head and dry hair actually helps, especially if it is windy

If you decide to dip under with your head you should dry your head off first and put a beanie on quick. You then avoid your hair freezing to ice in the cold temperatures. 

Dry off quickly
When you are back on land - dry off quickly and put on your layers of wool and outerwear right away.

Check the weather report
Go swimming on windless days. The wind makes it way colder to get out of the water. 

That’s all - now all that is left is having the guts to do it!

isbading på voss  isbading på voss  mann spiser is under vann om vinteren
Photo: @wariacki_mors (Instagram)

Good places to go ice swimming in Voss

Lake Vangsvatnet
The best place for beginners to start is lake Vangsvatnet in the city center. You will find lots of places to walk out. There is a beach all around the bay by the city. A comfortable way of getting into ice water swimming. 

Lake Lønavatnet
Another beautiful lake for a dip. The view of mount Lønahorgi is stunning, but you will have to look around to find a good place to enter the water/ice. 

Mjølfjell Mountain
If you drive to Mjølfjell, you may find some natural pools to swim in. Be extra careful when swimming in rivers. You must be aware of currents and ice underwater.

Lake Oppheimsvatnet
A lake with several sites to go ice swimming. On the north-east side of there is a lovely beach. The lake is a few hundred meters above sea level and is very likely to be covered in thick ice.

Lake Demmo
Demmo at Flatlandsmoen is a smaller lake with several good swimming spots. Go explore!

Lake Granvinsvatnet.
If not frozen this is a beautiful lake surrounded by tall mountains all around. Park somewhere along the road and jump in. The seabed is full of pebbles - socks or shoes are recommended.

Granvin Fjord
If you want to swim in the fjords you can drive to Granvin. There is a white sand beach at Fjordparken in Granvin town center. The fjord is seawater that rarely freezes, so you don’t even need a backup ax! 

bade i isen på voss  mann bruker en pustemetode for å holde ut lengre i isvann  mann isbader på voss
Photo: Martin Kristensen


Do you want to make the experience even better?

At Scandic Voss, Voss Hostel and Elva Hotel they have saunas for guests and for rent. Why not start your day with a cold bath and sauna, before breakfast?

badstu på scandic voss  to damer på frokost på scandic voss etter isbading i vangsvatnet
Photo: Karoline Fosse