If you're looking for a sailing adventure, Norway is the perfect destination. With its pristine coastline and sheltered bays, there are plenty of places to explore by boat. But before you set sail, there are a few things you need to know.
In this article, we'll give you an overview of sailing in Norway, including the best time of year to go sailing, where to sail, and who to sail with. So if you're ready for an unforgettable sailing experience, read on!
Why go sailing along the coast of Norway?
Norway is renowned for its beautiful coastline, natural beauty and sailing is the best way to see it. There are plenty of sheltered bays and islands to explore, and the scenery is simply stunning. The west coast of Norway stretches more than 1,600 kilometres from north to south, so you can access backcountry hikes, ski touring routes, ideal fishing spots, and secluded beaches effortlessly. Norway is also surrounded by about 150,000 islands, including Jan Mayen in Greenland and the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
Sailing provides access to remote places, small fishing villages and desolate islands that ensure you are off the main tourist track. With access to remote places, comes an increased chance for wildlife sightings and/or northern lights. Cruising Norway's coastline is really hard to describe but many say it's unlike anything they've ever seen before.
When to go sailing in Norway
There are two main sailing seasons in Norway. The best time to go sailing depends on what you're looking for.
Summer - May to September
The weather is more stable, there are good winds and temperatures are mild, making for pleasant sailing conditions. You can kayak, SUP and have bonfires on the beaches. You can hike, birdwatch, fish for cod and enjoy the waterfalls in the fjords. If you want to avoid the crowds, late August and early September are ideal.
Winter - December to April
If you're looking for an adventure, sailing in winter can be a great experience. There are few crowds and you'll have the coastline almost to yourself. Winter sailing means northern lights, orca and humpback whales, ski touring or snowshoeing, cozy blankets and evenings sitting in the deck-top hot tub (yes, that is a thing)!
Read more about Weather in Norway
Now that you know when to go sailing, let's talk about where.
Where is the best coastal sailing in Norway?
There are many great sailing areas in Norway, but some stand out more than others. Here are a few of our favourites:
Sail in the Oslo Fjord: The Oslo Fjord is one of the most popular sailing areas in Norway. As the largest city, it is easy to arrive and depart from Oslo as well as rent and provision a boat. The sailing is easy and there are plenty of places to stop for a swim or a bite to eat.
Sailing Bergen: Bergen is an ideal place to start a sailing trip. Just a few miles from Bergen there is Hardangerfjord, a fjord 179km long offering picturesque fishing villages, beautiful islets, lush mountains and meandering hiking trails to explore. North of Bergen, it’s worth sailing in the longest natural fjord on the planet, Sognefjord.
The Norwegian Fjords: Western Norway is full of fjords and they are world-famous for a reason. With their dramatic cliff faces and sheltered waters, they make for perfect sailing conditions. And with over 1,000 fjords to choose from, you're sure to find one that's perfect for you.
The Lofoten Islands: These islands are known for their stunning landscapes, with towering mountains and pristine beaches. sailing here is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Vesterålen Islands: These islands offer a more rugged sailing experience, with a rocky coastline and small fishing villages. But the rewards are worth it, as you'll be rewarded with stunning scenery and a taste of true Norwegian culture.
Tromsø Sailing: With a very sheltered harbor it is an ideal place to stop for a few days or to begin and end your sailing adventure. With access to many fjords, excellent skiable terrain and productive fishing grounds, Tromsø is the main hub in northern Norway.
Sail Svalbard: Svalbard is a group of islands in the Barents Sea, home to glaciers, polar bears and reindeer. Sailing here is an adventure unlike any other.
Now that you know where to sail, let's talk about how to do it.
How to sail in Norway
There are many things you need to know before sailing in Norway depending on the type of sailing you wish to do.
On Your Own
If you're an experienced sailor, you can consider a bareboat charter, a crewed rental or bring your own boat. If you're renting, we recommend using a reputable company such as World Sea Explorers or Yachtico.
Once you have your boat, you'll need to get a sailing permit. You can do this easily online through the Norwegian Maritime Authority. A crewed charter would likely have this included.
Finally, make sure you're familiar with the sailing conditions in Norway. The weather can be changeable, so it's important to be cautious when sailing in a new area. The many islands and islets, fjords and mountains create winds and currents you may not be familiar with. We recommend a crewed charter or sailing trip for your first time sailing in Norway.
Check out this cruiser's Wiki for details about charts, weather, immigration, berthings, and more.
Go with a Group
If you're not an experienced sailor, or if you want to explore Norway with a group, we recommend booking a sailing trip. There are many options available, from day trips to week-long adventures.
Top Sailing Trips
Arctic Circle Summer Sailing | 4 Days | Bodø - Svolvær
Sailing Lofoten Islands | 6 Days | Svolvær -Svolvær
Trollfjord Cruise in Lofoten | ½ Day | Svolvær -Svolvær
Tromsø Highlights Tour | 6 Days or 2 Days | Tromsø - Tromsø
Back Country Skiing in the Lyngen Alps | 8 Days | Tromsø - Tromsø
Luxury Northern Lights & Hot Tub Cruise | 4 Hours | Tromsø - Tromsø
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about sailing in Norway. Now, all that's left to do is book your trip and start planning your adventure.