With its many islands (nearly a quarter of a million in fact), holms and characteristic skerries, Norway’s total coastline stretches to more than 100,000 kilometres – the second longest in the world. Little surprise, then, that it provides one of the biggest sailing grounds for skippers and shipmates at every level of experience.
Wilderness – And Weather
This land of contrasts brims with abundant wildlife and wide-ranging weather systems.
In the Arctic North, the land of the midnight sun feels like the very edge of the world and offers a totally unique night-sailing experience. Our Arctic Sailing From Bodø to Tromsø explores the elemental arctic landscape by day and night, taking in whales, walruses, polar bears and vast icebergs and glaciers. This is the very wildest of Norway and often feels entirely uncharted. Southern Norway, by contrast, is lined with traditional waterside villages and charming seaside towns, greenery, white sandy beaches, sheltered coves and smooth sloping rocks.
The west coast enjoys a milder climate and the fjords remain virtually ice-free thanks to the North Atlantic Current. Where the Gulf Stream meets the colder Arctic waters, huge numbers of Cod are drawn to spawn each winter, fuelling the local economy and providing rich pickings for wildlife watchers.
Wherever you are in Norway, the clarity of light and infinite openness will define your voyage and you will come away sharing the same strong connection that the people of Norway have with their precious coastline.
The iconic Norwegian landscapes were carved from rock by glaciers dating all the way back to the Ice Age, forming the countless valleys, fjords and precarious skerries that protect the land from the ocean today. A true work of art by Mother Nature herself, undoubtedly – and perfection cannot be rushed.
With a surging appetite for such slow progress in modern tourism, travellers today are mindful of their journey as much as any destination. Towering cliffs reaching 1000 metres tall and fjords plunging to depths of 1300 metres provide welcome shelter from the elements if needed but also an unparalleled sense of perspective and privilege. The sheer magnitude of the fjords is dumb-founding and, feeling smaller than ever, puts us quite rightly in our place.
In Norway, time moves at its own pace and conservation is considered everyone’s responsibility. Locals seek to leave as small a footprint as possible; it certainly shows. The freshness of the fjords in their natural state is a tonic for any modern-day ill. There truly is no better way to see this fascinating coastline than under sail.
On Dry Land
The enchantment certainly doesn’t cease upon dropping anchor. Norway offers something for everyone, from hiking for all abilities, stand-up paddleboarding, summer skiing, glacier and rock climbing and fishing (of course!) – and no Norwegian fjord holiday is complete without diving in for a swim.
Cosmopolitan cities like Bergen and Stavanger are rich in cultural heritage, steeped in maritime history and offer fantastic food, galleries and folk music alongside natural attractions and scores of traditional wooden houses.
Historians will be spoilt for choice between Viking vestiges, Unesco World Heritage sites (including Bryggen in Bergen, Urnes Stave Church, the fjords of Nærøyfjord and Geirangerfjord) museums and old buildings. War scholars can even re-create the famous Shetland Bus route by Sailing The Shetland Bus Route From Norway To Scotland – not a challenge for the faint-hearted!
There is no doubting the universal appeal of Norwegian fjord holidays and as the world embraces sustainability and Scandinavian living more than ever, their popularity is sure to surge.
‘Friluftsliv’ is a local philosophy embodying the idea that returning to nature is akin to coming home. We can vouch for that: Your maiden voyage to the fjords will by no means be your last. Be prepared to leave part of your heart in fjordland – until next time.