Europe is home to several of the world’s best sailing destinations and sailing itineraries. From the French Riviera to island hopping between the Greek islands, there is no shortage of sailing opportunities. But let’s not overlook Northern Europe and the Scandinavian countries!
These countries are famous for their Nordic welfare and for being some of the happiest countries in the world. But with thousands of miles of coastline, stunning fjords, and hundreds of islands, the Nordic countries host some of the most unique sailing adventures in the world. Let’s explore the best sailing trips the Nordic countries have to offer!
What are the Nordic countries?
The Nordic countries, often referred to using the term Scandinavia, consist of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark as well as the autonomous territories of Greenland, Faroe Islands, and Åland Islands. There are several Scandinavian languages, such as Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. But these countries are probably best known for their high quality of life.
Something that is lesser known about the Nordic region but equally magnificent is the beauty and diversity of its nature. From steep snowcapped mountains, bright blue waters filling deep fjords, or icy Arctic tundras, the natural beauty of the Scandinavian countries is limitless.
Why take a sailing trip in the Nordic countries?
With endless coastlines, one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Nordic countries is on a boat! No matter if you are seeking a sun-filled summertime escape or a unique, icy winter expedition, anything is possible while sailing in this region.
On board a private vessel, you can discover all the natural wonders of the Scandinavian countries. Experience the Finnish archipelago in the summer sun, witness the Northern Lights on your boat’s deck while off the coast of Sweden, or take in the views of active volcanoes in Iceland. Sailing is also a part of the region’s culture and history and can be a great opportunity to learn more about it.
Norway is the westernmost country in the Scandinavian Peninsula. With nearly half of the country in the Arctic Circle, the sailing opportunities in Norway are diverse and unique. Southern Norway has the most popular sailing destinations, such as the Oslo Fjord, which extends over 60 miles. You’ll be spoiled for choice of sailing destinations, with over 200,000 islands and over 1,000 fjords.
Bergen, the second largest city in the country, is a great place to sail to. It is surrounded by mountains and is your gateway to exploring Norway’s fjords. From here you can access Sognefjord, the longest and deepest fjord in Norway and the second largest in the world.
For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, you can set sail in Northern Norway. Here the Norwegian coast becomes icy and snowy, which presents great skiing opportunities. If you’re lucky, you might spot polar bears, arctic foxes, narwhals, and orcas!
Just west of Norway lies Sweden, which is well-known for its lakes and forests. In fact, half of Sweden is covered in forests. But with 2,000 miles of coastline, over 22,000 lakes, and over 200,000 islands, there are plenty of sailing opportunities in Sweden.
One of the best destinations to begin your sailing vacation is in the Stockholm archipelago. The archipelago has over 30,000 islands and islets, which means you could spend the entirety of your vacation here.
Beyond the archipelago, you can explore the West Coast of Sweden in the North Sea, the East Coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, or the various lakes and canals throughout the country.
Just between southern Sweden and Finland, you can find the Åland Islands. These islands can be visited from either country; however, there is plenty to do and see here to make it a complete trip.
If you are seeking a sunny summer getaway, this is the Scandinavian sailing destination for you! The Åland Islands are known to be the sunniest place in the Nordic region. The best time to visit is between the months of May to September.
One of the most popular locations on these islands is Marienhamn. This lively town is home to nearly half of the Åland Islands’ residents. You can enjoy the wooden houses, museums, restaurants, and cafes before setting sail to explore the surrounding islands and cities.
With nearly 20,000 miles of coastline, there are endless options for a unique sailing vacation in Finland. Finland is best known for saunas, the northern lights, and reindeer spottings (it is often said that Santa lives here). Many boat rentals offer a sauna on board so you can take in the beautiful natural sights from the warmth of a sauna on your private boat!
Finland has one of the largest archipelagos in the world, the Turku archipelago, with over 20,000 islands. You can sail from island to island as you enjoy saunas, traditional Finnish cuisine, and long daylight hours in the summer.
Attached to continental Europe, Denmark is the southernmost Nordic country. Situated in the Baltic Sea, Denmark offers some of the most picturesque sailing opportunities.
Start your sailing trip in the capital city of Copenhagen, where you can admire the famous Little Mermaid statue on board your boat. Other must-see locations include Gråsten with its stunning palace and the island of Bornholm with its sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.
Iceland is a small island country located northwest of Europe. This is a popular destination for those seeking nature and the northern lights. It is known for its blue lagoon, active volcanoes, glaciers, and waterfalls.
Most sailors choose to sail off the west side of the island, where the seas are calmer. This is also where the capital city, Reykjavík, is located. There are several sailing opportunities, such as exploring the coastal cities, islands, fjords, and glaciers. For the more adventurous, it is also possible to make the journey to Greenland, the Faroe Islands, or even Denmark.
The Faroe Islands is a group of 18 islands in the middle of Iceland and Norway. The remoteness and isolation of these islands make them feel like a world of their own. In fact, the sheep population outnumbers the human population! As you set sail around these islands, you will be astonished by their natural beauty and ruggedness.
These islands are almost more beautiful when viewed from onboard a boat. They are well-known for their blunt bird cliffs, which are best seen from the water. The weather can create harsh conditions for sailing, so it is best to visit during the summer.
Greenland is an icy tundra filled with glaciers, which probably does not put it on the top of most people’s minds for a sailing vacation. However, taking a sailing trip to Greenland is one of the best ways to discover its landscape. Sailing is a large part of the culture and one of the main ways of transportation in the summer for locals.
With a boat rental, take a tour of the towering icebergs, deep fjords, and islands that surround Greenland. You must sail to see the Scoresby Sund, the largest fjord in the world. You can also experience the midnight sun as two-thirds of the country is in the Arctic Circle.
Set sail in the Nordic countries
One of the best ways to discover the diverse landscapes that make up the Nordic countries is by sailing. Rent a boat and set sail to some of the world’s most beautiful sailing destinations!