With over 1000Nm of unbelievably stunning coastline, Norway is one of our best adventure sailing destinations with so much to offer for both the Salty seadog and the first time sailor.
Steep green fjords and Arctic tundra make for stunning landscapes, but it’s also the clarity of light and the feeling of freedom at sea that makes revisiting this unique country a fresh experience every time.
Skipper Nikki shares her love for sailing in Norway with some of her best coastal towns to visit.
Lysefjord and Pulpit rock
Traditional white wooden houses line the streets of Stavanger where the narrow and majestic Lysefjord begins. The sheer silvery rockface rises from the mysterious deep blue and it is Pulpit rock that has made this fjord so famous. Looking up, rising high above us from the deck, you can just make out the figures of brave souls standing perilously on the high rock taking in the majestic view. Such is the vastness of the landscape here, it makes this one of my favourite places to sail in all of Norway.
Bryggen is one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the world. It is everything you imagine Scandinavia to be with painted pine-log houses fronting onto the sea against a pine forest backdrop. Streets twist between old merchant houses reformed into cosy candlelit cafes drawing you in with smells of rich coffee mingled with scents of pine resin.
It is nearly essential to arrive into Bergen by sea as maritime skill and tradition run thick through the veins of many who live here. 200 years ago, so important was the trade and shipbuilding to the town, they named a type of vessel, Hardangar Jakt after the strong and seaworthy cargo vessels that traded from here throughout Europe.
Sailing in from the coast, the sprinkling of rocky islets topped off with tiny red and white painted cabins, transforms into a wide-open bay surrounded by this idyllic town. Bergen is the perfect stop off after a good day of sailing so do take time to explore for yourself this charming place. The outdoor market in the summer has everything from fresh berries to locally caught fish and wonderful cheeses. Make sure you try the Fiskebolle soup, a fine traditional hearty soup made from local cod and potato.
Above the arctic circle lies a real gem that is definitely on my bucket list to explore. Lofoten is a chain of islands lying close to the coastline of Norway offering some of the best sailing holidays in Norway. Our expedition vessel Narwhal will be visiting here this summer.
These islands are so fairytale-like, you somehow expect trolls and goblins to inhabit this place. Realistically, the islands are home long lines of fishing families, working a trade that has sustained the islands for centuries due to the rich waters. Throughout Europe and Africa, Stockfisk, a dry, salted cod, became an important staple diet and Lofoten’s position in the cod trade rose to create charming villages and harbours.
With such a dramatic landscape from uninhabited islands to sheer cliffs to mountains, you can’t help but be excited. Wildlife is in abundance here with moose, otter, whales and eagles very much part of the landscape so take the time to explore every hidden part.
For me, one of my favourite pastimes while sailing in Norway is fishing for cod during the warm summer nights when the sun never sets but perches elegantly on the horizon. What better way to end a day of sailing than to hop into the dinghy with a line and hook. No phones, no noise just drifting on the tide, soaking up the peace and wondering at this incredible landscape, you nearly have to pinch yourself to see if it is real!
Norway mixes traditional recipes focused on utilising local ingredients. The land is rich in wild food and the locals are certainly resourceful with their gathering. Berries and wild mushrooms grow abundantly in the early autumn and small coastal farms produce wonderful cheeses and flavoursome lamb. The seas are rich in wonderful fish and shellfish with fresh produce available to buy in all the coastal towns. My top foodie things to try are Brunost, a rich, slightly sweet soft cheese; Fiskebolle Soup, a creamy fish soup with white fish balls; and of course as in all of Scandanavia everyone must try Herring with Schnapps.