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Scandinavia & Baltic - Sailing Norway, Finland & Sweden

If you combine the sailing grounds of Norway with Sweden and Finland you have one of the most complex, convoluted coastlines in the world with a myriad of offshore islands. Classic Sailing have offered occasional voyages to the Western Fjords of Norway and the Southern coasts of Norway, Sweden for many years, and tall ships races frequently visit Scandinavian Ports as far east as Finland. We also now have visiting ships heading further North into the Arctic Circle to the Lofoten Islands, Bear Island and Svalbard (see our Arctic pages)

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Why we love this sailing ground

World Famous for Fjords

The fjords of Western Norway have been rated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and by National Geographic as one of the World's Greatest Destinations. 

Despite being carved from very ancient rocks the fjords themselves are very young; created by massive glaciers during a succession of forty ice ages over the last 2.5 million years. Seals and porpoises swim the fjords, while eagles soar through the skies above. Fish abound in the clear water.

The fjords are famous also for their lush flora and fascinating cultural landscapes. The land along the fjords has been farmed for almost 3000 years and the only way to travel between villages and farmsteads was typical by boat. Even now every small settlement seems to have a jetty to welcome small coastal traders or visiting tall ships. Waters are generally deep right up to vertical rock faces but there are more shallow anchoring options than you might think as glaciers deposit sediment too.

Whilst the fjords deep inland can be glassy calm, they are big enough to sail in if the breeze picks up and winds off the mountains can be quite strong.  The coastline is more exposed to good sailing winds and has plenty of broader sounds and impressive headlands to round. Thanks to the warming Gulf Stream, the Norwegian fjords enjoy a mild climate and you swim in them pleasantly in summer.

West Country Trading ketch in Norway, Lysefjord near Stavanger
West Country Trading Ketch in Norway, Lysefjord near Stavanger

Popular for Tall Ships Races

International Tall Ships Races in Europe frequently include Scandinavian ports. Part of the reason is the incredible mountain backdrops, deep water ports and pedestrian friendly waterfronts that ports like Stavanger or Bergen can create. Another motive which suits those of us that like to take sailing photos is a close proximity to some of the most beautiful tall ships in the world which always ensures a good turn out at events. Countries fringing the Baltic hang onto their nautical heritage and still believe in naval cadet training or youth sail training on large sailing ships. They have invested in new builds or restored many sail training ships. If you want an event full of towering masts and square riggers then it helps if the route is not far from the Baltic Ports of Russia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Sweden.

Up close with Russian four masted barque Sedov
Up close with Russian four masted barque Sedov

 Lofoten Islands & Northern Norway

Flights to Svalbard go from Trosmo. High up in the Arctic Circle there are many more reasons to visit here. Early summer the sun seldom sets but after August there is a hint of dark. Any later and you might see the Northern Lights...but the sense of wilderness, nature, fish rich seas and lonely fishermen's huts are what you expect, but the beaches are stunning too.

"You'll never forget your first approach to the Lofoten Islands. The islands spread their tall, craggy physique against the sky like some spiky sea dragon. The beauty of this place is simply staggering." Lonely Planet Guide

Lofoten Island beach. Sailing in Norway
Lofoten Island beach. Photo licence from Almany

The Baltic for Continental Summers

The further into the Baltic you go in summer, the hotter it gets. The Swedish Archipelago, the Aland Islands and Finland's lakes and forests beckon the sailing crazy Scandinavians. Summer outdoor living is part of the culture in Sweden, Norway and Finland and it is not because of their tough Viking ancestry. close to a continental climate, it is actually a lot hotter than the rest of Atlantic fringing Europe which has a more maritime climate (wetter!).

Affordable by Boat

Scandinavian food and drink has a reputation for being expensive, but on a sailing ship your accommodation, meals and travel along the coast are all included. All the vessels we currently work with that are sailing to Scandinavian ports are based in countries where alcohol is a lot cheaper, so they may arrive well stocked (depends a bit on custom regulations).

Wooden Houses and Wooden Boats

Swedish Smack Festivals, Risor Wooden Boat Festival, Folk Boat reunions, Viking longship museums and many surviving Baltic trading ships all add to the sense of history. Baltic timber has built many a wooden ship and trade by ship between nearby Sweden and Denmark and the numerous islands still has continues, even if it is now by small coaster. Several of the Classic sailing historic fleet would not have survived two world wars if they hadn't been kept for cargo voyages in the Baltic (Oosterschelde, Excelsior) and excellent boatyards at Marstrand and Svenborg still attract the best wooden shipwrights.

On the shores of Southern Norway are white towns of wooden buildings, and in Bergen and Stavanger the colourful waterfront warehouses are still wooden construction. 

"Isn't it good, Norwegian Wood" The Beatles


Swedish Archipelago. Photo by Pixabay
Swedish Archipelago. Photo by Pixabay
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