Northern Europe

Speaking of international yachting, Northern Europe is not the first destination you will think of. Despite of having a large sailing community itself, Northern Europe is not a very popular destination. This has several reasons. To some degree, this is because the countries of the former Soviet Union were opened for international cruisers less than a generation ago. It simply takes a long time to build up a reputation in international sailing.

A lighthouse by the coast of IcelandOn the other hand, the little attention this region receives is due to the short season. Sailors will find the sea in Northern Europe surprisingly cold well into April. The main season starts in late May, when the weather situation is the most stable, and continues until September. Later than that, it is not only the cold winds but also the few hours of daylight that far North that make sailing a rather unpleasant experience.

Nevertheless, it would be a shame if you refrained from going up there. Among the many great things you would miss are the uprising (or rather returning) cities of the Baltic countries and other parts of the Hanseatic League. Many towns are just gaining confidence these days and are still unspoiled and inviting. Facilities and ports are generally of high quality and make the area very accessible.

Chilly, tame and not very cheap - but great service

Most people, especially younger ones, speak excellent English and the Norse countries are virtually bilingual. This allows you immediate connections with local traditions and culture in Scandinavia. The time around the midnight sun is especially rewarding and best enjoyed in one of the many Norwegian fjords.

A boat in Stockholm, SwedenFurther west, in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany, you will find very distinct sailing traditions. After all, this is where yachting in the sense of “pleasuresailing” got started (for more information on this, see our History of Sailing). It’s these countries that also allow quite a high degree of inland sailing; canals and rivers are navigable in Germany, most of Scandinavia, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In terms of drawbacks beyond the short season, keep in mind that the countries with the best facilities are also quite expensive. The living standard in the coastal regions of Western Europe is very high and so are the costs for visitors. Furthermore, you won’t find a great deal of adventures in Northern Europe. Cruises in this part of the World are more comfortable than hardly anywhere else – but don’t expect wilderness on your trip.

Destination Guide by Country

Belgium - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - Germany - Latvia - Lithuania - Netherlands - Norway - Poland - Russia - Sweden - Austria

Further Reading

Back to "vacations"

Sailing in Germany

Washington Yacht Club on Sailing in the Baltic

The Open Directory Project with a list of boat rentals in Europe

Wikipedia on the Hanseatic League

Other Regions

Mediterranean and Black Sea Region - North America: From Maine to California - Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico - South and Central America - Southeast Asia and East Asia - Australia and Pacific Ocean Islands - Western Europe and North Atlantic - Northern Europe: Of Fjords and Jaghds - West Africa, Antarctica, South Atlantic - Indian Ocean and Red Sea