10 Weird Scandinavian Sports

weird sports

Scandinavia is known worldwide for its healthy lifestyle and love of the outdoors. Scandinavians are big sports fans, whether they watch sports on television or participate in them themselves. With some of the cleanest air and most beautiful landscapes in Europe, who could blame them? Visiting Scandinavia provides many opportunities to explore nature and take advantage of that fresh air. If you are heading to Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, or Finland — or even northern European countries like Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands —maybe you can try out one of these 10 weird Scandinavian sports!

Most Unusual sports in Denmark


Are you a fan of sports with a long history? If so, check out knattleikr, a 1,000-year-old Viking game. You’ll probably see some similarities between knattleikr and ice hockey or rugby. It was popular in Iceland, Norway, and Denmark from roughly the 10th to the 13th centuries.

There were many variations of the game. Sometimes, it was played on a field up to 400 yards long. Players used sticks to pass a ball around while they tried to score goals at each end of the court. Both teams had 15–30 players (depending on how large the field was), but there were no set positions like you might be familiar with in modern soccer or basketball games.

Wife Carrying

This sport involves carrying your wife across an obstacle course as fast as you can. The winner of this race is entitled to his wife’s weight in beer. If your wife weighs less than 49kgs, then she must wear a backpack weighing 3kgs.

There are different ways of carrying your wife, and the most preferred method is called the Estonian Style. That’s when the competitor carries his wife upside down on their back, with her legs wrapped around their neck and her arms clutching their waist. However, couples are also allowed to have their way of carrying. For example piggyback or fireman’s lift, as long as it doesn’t slow them down. The races usually last about 2 minutes, and there are numerous obstacles along the way, including water jumps, sandpits, and log jumps.

Synchronized Swimming

Synchronized swimming is a famous water sport that takes place in a pool. The sport involves a team of synchronized swimmers performing synchronized routines in the water to music. Routines are choreographed and synchronized, so the moves of the swimmers match the beat of the music.

There are also solo events and duets events (where two people perform together). Synchronized swimming is sometimes referred to as water ballet because of how graceful, and elegant it looks to spectators.

Most Unusual Sports in Norway

Norwegian Knattleikr

Now and then knattleikr is still being played at some festivals in Norway. So, here are a few more details. Before the days of basketball and baseball, there was Knattleikr. An ancient ball game played in Iceland and Norway during the medieval period, Knattleikr (pronounced “kah-tlake-er”) was a team sport, not unlike many of the sports we know today.

The game occurred on a field, with the two teams using a bat to hit a ball back and forth. The goal? Score more points than your opponent, win by reaching a set score, or be ahead when time runs out. Though its popularity is long gone, Knattleikr lives on in Norwegian folklore as one of the most popular sports in its history.


Biathlon is a sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Competitors race over a cross-country skiing course, pausing to shoot at targets along the way. The target is small, and 50 meters away, so this sport relies on precision and speed.

It originated in Norway in the 18th century as military training; some historians think it was based on an old Norwegian word for a military exercise. Although biathlon developed into a sport today, it is still used for military training in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. It became part of the Winter Olympics during the 1960s.


This sport is played by two teams of five players, who try to get a ball into the other team’s goal. The ball is kicked hard, so players need to wear protective equipment like helmets and shin guards to protect themselves from injury. The game is based on an old Viking sport called buhunding. It was first played in Norway around 1000 AD. But it didn’t become popular until the mid-1800s when it became part of a school curriculum for boys.

Mountain Racing

Norwegians love to stay fit, and they also love the mountains. This combination has resulted in the birth of a sport called mountain racing. Mountain racing involves running up mountains as fast as possible. Races are held all over the country. Some of the most popular include those in Lofoten in Northern Norway and on Mount Ulriken in Bergen.

There is something for everyone at these events, from those who want to try their first 10km race to experienced runners who want to test their limits by running up 2000m over 20km. The winners of these races usually finish in under 2 hours!

Most Unusual Sports in Sweden

Ski Joring

A sport of Swedish origin, skijoring is a combination of skiing and horseback riding. The person on the horse is called the jockey, while the skier is called the jor (Swedish for “pull”). Jors are pulled by either a horse or reindeer and may reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour. Skiing at that speed looks very fun, but also is incredibly dangerous! In addition to flying down snowy slopes at breakneck speeds, skiers must also dodge obstacles along the way. This activity could include jumps and obstacles like walls made from snow or ice. That said, it’s for these very reasons that many find this sport too extreme to be worth attempting.


Salibandy is a type of floorball invented in Finland in the 1920s. The sport became popular in Sweden, Finland, and Estonia during the 1970s, but it didn’t spread to other countries until much later. Nowadays, there are over 50 nations with their salibandy national teams. The game is fast-paced and very dynamic (it’s sometimes called “hockey lite” for this reason). It’s played on a field about 40 meters long by 20 meters wide, and each team has five players plus a goalie on the field at any given time.

Volleyball in the Snow

Weird Scandinavian Sports
Snow Volleyball

Following the same rules as regular volleyball, this game is played on a snow-covered court and ends when one team reaches 21 points. Played with bare hands, players must prevent the ball from touching the ground, within their half of the court. A volleyball net is in the center of a large rectangular area. The net is filled with snow.

The playing area is divided into two equal parts by a white line that extends to both sides of the court. Team members number six players per side and are in each half of the court behind their respective line. Each side’s captain stands near their team’s attacking net, at all times during gameplay.

Points are awarded when opponents fail to return or send over an opponent’s net. The same rules apply as in regular volleyball. No part of any player’s body may touch the white lines that separate each side’s playspace.


In conclusion, there are many forms of sporting activity in Scandinavia that are unusual and different from anything else across the world. Perhaps they will be as popular as some other sports in a few years? We can only wait and see.

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