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Secret Scandinavia: the best yacht charter hotspots for 2022

By Nina Done   Last Updated: 11 January 2022

The land of the Vikings is renowned for its spectacular cruising grounds, dramatic scenery and world-class cuisine, not to mention the awe-inspiring spectacle of the northern lights. For luxury yacht vacations, Scandinavia offers a culturally rich alternative to the usual Mediterranean destinations and should be on everyone’s yacht charter bucket list for 2022.

Comprising Norway, Sweden and Denmark, Scandinavia is a region commonly linked with rugged fishing villages and ancient tales of trolls and faeries, but for sheer raw beauty, impressive wildlife and idyllic charm, this north European destination is simply unbeatable. 

From the breathtaking Norwegian fjords to the cultural delights of Copenhagen, here are our top picks of the best Scandinavian yacht charter hotspots for 2022.

Norway

Famous for its labyrinthine fjords and majestic snow-capped peaks, as well as charming colourful villages and rich cultural history, Norway is arguably one of the loveliest yacht charter destinations on the planet.

A beautiful fjord in Norway

For the perfect place to kick start your Scandinavian adventure, head to Norway's bustling cosmopolitan capital of Oslo, where you’ll find a vast array of museums, high-end restaurants and vibrant night scene.

Skyline of cosmopolitan capital of Norway
Impressive royal palace in Oslo, Norway

Cultural highlights include:

  • Frogner Park – a popular recreational area that includes the Vigeland Sculpture Park showcasing Gustav Vigeland's life's work, comprising over 200 granite, bronze and wrought iron sculptures 
  • Opera House – resembling an iceberg, this cultural landmark is located on the edge of Oslo’s harbour, and is also home to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet 
  • Viking Ship Museum – a cultural journey that displays astonishing finds from four different Viking burial sites from around the Oslo fjord

After you've had your fill of the Norweigan capital, head northwest towards the idyllic marina in Stavanger which can accommodate yachts up to 60m/197ft LOA. The marina is conveniently situated close to the town’s hub, renowned for its colourful wooden houses and plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants, providing the perfect opportunity to dine ashore and sample some of the country’s finest seafood cuisine.

For gourmet dining at its best, Michelin-starred RE-NAA offers its patrons a unique tasting journey across 20 servings, while Michelin-starred Sabi Omakase is the perfect choice for sushi lovers and one that you’ll need to make reservations for.

Michelin-starred restaurant Re-Naa in Stavanger, Norway
Stavanger Domkirke, Norway's oldest cathedral in Stavanger

Stavagner also boasts Norway's oldest cathedral, Stavanger Domkirke – located in the centre of the city.

This charming town is the ideal jumping off point to a number of celebrated destinations, including the Lysefjord - one of the most popular fjords in Norway and home to the vertiginous Pulpit Rock or ‘Preikestolen’. Here visitors can attempt the steep 4-hour climb to its mountain plateau, where astonishingly beautiful views over the fjord make you feel as if you're on top of the world.

For those keen to experience the ways of the ancient nordic farmers, head to the reconstructed Viking settlement at Avaldsnes, located just south of Haugesund for insight into how Norway’s ancestors lived. 

The famous Pulpit Rock in Norway
Viking settlement house in Avaldsnes, NorwayLiving Viking settlement at Avaldsnes in Norway

Another good place to start your charter is further north in the quaint town of Bergen, gateway to many of Norway’s most famous fjords, including the Sognefjord – Norway’s longest and deepest fjord – and Hardangerfjord, where you’ll find the famous mountain plateau Trolltunga.

Colourful houses of Bergen in Norway

Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, with a homely village-feel characterised by cobblestone streets and colourful pointed roofs that are nestled among the steep mountains that surround the town.

It is also an eminently walkable city with most attractions, including numerous bars and restaurants, just a short stroll from the wharf. 

Ulriken cable car in Bergen, Norway
The colorful houses of Bergen lit up at night along the waterfront

Cultural highlights include:

  • Fløibanen funicular – a train ride to the top of Mount Fløyen with spectacular views
  • Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf – an iconic Unesco World Heritage site with colourful old wooden buildings that line Vågen harbour, where you’ll also find galleries, restaurants and shops
  • Edvard Grieg villa - once home to Norway’s most famous composer, it now hosts an exhibition centre and concert hall
  • Flåm Line – voted one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys, with round trips between Oslo and Bergen

A short cruise away is Norheimsund where you'll see the breathtaking Steinsdalsfossen waterfall as it cascades down the mountain. Kalrassen is another popular waterfall that can be found through the scenic passage of Lofthus via the beautiful Fykesund.

Beautiful Lofthus fjord in Norway
Mighty Dronningstien waterfall in the high mountains between Kinsarvik and Lofthus, Norway

Lofthus is also where you'll find Hotel Ullensvang, which offers a private dining experience in its vaulted wine crypt, as well as heated indoor and outdoor pools for those who wish to take a postprandial dip.

Of course, if it's the northern lights you are after then set your course northwards. On the way, be sure to stop off at the picturesque coastal town of Molde in the Frænfjorden region, which dates back to the Middle Ages. We recommend dining at the highly popular waterfront restaurant Glass, where you’ll find mouthwatering dishes inspired by the Italian Riviera.

Storseisundet Bridge, Atlantic Ocean Road Norway
Picturesque marina in Molde, Norway

It's worth noting that Molde's pretty marina can accommodate vessels up to a maximum length 60m/197ft. 

While you're in the vicinity, don’t miss a trip to the Troll Church or "Trollkirka" in Elnesvågen – a magical marble and limestone underground cave with rivers and a beautiful waterfall against a backdrop of majestic mountains.

Elnesvågen underground caves near Bergen in Norway

Of course, a trip to Norway wouldn’t be complete without heading to the country’s northern peninsula and the Arctic capital of Tromsø, renowned for experiencing the shape-shifting spectacle of the northern lights in all it’s multi-colored glory against the night sky. 

Cultural highlights include:

  • Cable car up Mount Storsteinen - for panoramic views of the city (if you’re feeling energetic you can take the 1,200 steps up the sherpa path!)
  • Karasjok and Alta – experience the indiginous Sami culture 
  • Varanger peninsula – a bird watcher’s paradise
  • Kirkenes – renowned for king crab fishing and dog sledding, where you also can spend a night at an ice hotel 

This area is also ideal for whale watching and epic nature adventures, with excellent conditions for ski touring and hiking in winter.

Mesmerising Northern lights in Tromso, Norway
Colorful pink entrance made of ice at the Snow Hotel, Kirkenes, NorwayA traditional dressed Sami woman holding a reindeer, Tromso in Norway

In the areas surrounding Tromsø, several islands are well-worth exploring, including Sommarøy, Lofoten and Nordland – characterised by granite pinnacles that protrude from the sea, as well as for stunning fjords, quaint fishing villages and pristine beaches. 

Sweden

Famed for its vast archipelagos – where the island count sits comfortably in the tens of thousands – scenic anchorages and active outdoor lifestyle, this nordic country bordered by Finland to the east and Norway and Denmark to the west, is the perfect Scandinavian getaway for yacht charters.

Sun rise over a lake in Sweden

For west coast yacht charters incorporating Denmark, the cosmopolitan city of Gothenburg (Göteborg) is the perfect place to commence your Scandinavian charter, where the vibrancy of a city contrasts beautifully with an idyllic seaside charm.

Gothenburg offers a fantastic array of cultural activities, boutiques and shoppings malls, as well as myriad excellent dining options and lively bars.

Take a stroll through the cobbled boulevards and along the canals, where you can sample local craft beers, or enjoy a cultural visit to one of the many world-class museums, covering subjects such as fine art, natural history and maritime culture.

Cultural highlights include:

  • Risåsberget hill - a steep climb to the Skansen Kronan fortification is well-worth it for the sweeping vistas alone
  • Cruise the beautiful Bohuslän archipelago – made up of over 8,000 islands, islets and skerries 
  • Natur - a popular organic restaurant renowned for its seasonal produce and ingredients

Gothenburg is a popular base port for Scandinavian yacht charters, as it is only a short hop across the water to Denmark and approximately half a day's cruise to Norway's southern border.

For yacht itineraries incorporating the beautiful coastline of Sweden, head south where you’ll find the Skåne Province, often referred to as the Swedish Riviera, incorporating glorious medieval towns, diverse coastline and numerous pale sand and pebble beaches, not to mention plenty of beautiful anchorages. 

Medieval fortress in Old Town, Malmo in Sweden
A lifeguard hut on Sweden's popular Falsterbo beach on the Swedish Riviera

Along the coast around to the southeast lies the Eriksberg Nature Reserve, a stone’s throw from Karlskrona, where the summer wildlife population is in abundance and can be spotted roaming among the high grasses, including red deer, wild boar and bison. 

Across the water, you’ll find the medieval city of Visby on the island of Gotland - Sweden’s answer to the Hamptons. This idyllic outpost was founded in 1203, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and major JetSet summer vacation resort, offering an array of medieval architecture, vibrant bars and dining options, as well as beautiful beaches and spectacular scenery.

Glorious medieval town of Visby on the island of Gotland, Sweden

There is plenty going on during the summer months, including the highly popular Medieval Week and the famous Stockholm Week festival with theatre, live music, crafts and much more.

To the north, lies the vast Stockholm Archipelago which boasts the impressive accolade of being the largest archipelago in the world with a whopping 24,000 islands and islets peppering the seascape around Stockholm County, which has provided inspiration for poets and creative artists for centuries.

The beautiful islands of Stockholm archipelgo

As you would expect, this area offers an abundance of tranquil cruising, where the silence is only broken by the occasional cry of a seabird or splash from one of the region’s resident seals.

Stately pine and birch forests grow in abundance among the larger islands, where you’ll likely catch glimpses of magnificent holiday homes and idyllic wooden cabin retreats.

Secret Scandinavia: the best yacht charter hotspots for 2022 photo 21
Mansion on Skargard in the archipelago of Stockholm, Sweden

From here, make a beeline for Stockholm, Sweden’s capital and largest city, set on its own archipelago of 14 islands, offering a cultural explosion of museums, galleries and sculptures.

This metropolitan hub is also renowned as a foodie heaven with some of the world's best restaurants, including an impressive selection of Michelin-starred eateries to choose from. 

Stockholm old town (Gamla Stan) cityscape from City Hall top, Sweden

Cultural highlights include:

  • Vasa museum - the famous final resting place of the 15th century warship Vasa  
  • Blue Hall - located in Stockholm’s City Hall famous for hosting the Nobel Prize festivities
  • Thielska Galleriet - An art museum featuring an extensive collection including some of the finest paintings of the celebrated Swedish artist Edvard Munch 
  • Fotografiska - A photography museum set in a large brick warehouse, which follows the same cultural theme as its global counterparts
  • Drottningholm Palace – a UNESCO World Heritage site, this royal castle was built in the 1600s and is now the permanent home to the King and Queen of Sweden and open to the public year round
  • Frantzén – located in a three-storey 19th-century townhouse in the Norrmalm district, this three-starred Michelin restaurant offers a 10-course ‘experience’ in the finest of Nordic cuisine with subtle Asian notes
Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm, Sweden

The Swedish capital offers plenty of pretty anchorages to choose from, as well as a number of marinas to stop at providing easy access to explore this magnificent city.

Denmark

This laid-back destination offers everything you could possibly want on a luxury yacht vacation, and for a relatively small country it packs a pretty mighty punch; with over 7,000 miles of diverse coastline, idyllic islands, charming multi-coloured villages and world-class gourmet cuisine. And that's not all, it also boasts beautiful national parks, countless medieval castles and no less than seven UNESCO World Heritage sites for a cultural experience nonpareil.

A beautiful day overlooking the city of Copenhagen in Denmark

We recommend starting your journey on the Island of Zealand. Adjacent to Sweden and Norway, this historic Danish riviera is home to its lively capital of Copenhagen – arguably one of the best yacht charter bases in Scandinavia – offering a hip, relaxed vibe combined with extraordinary beauty and a deeply rich cultural history. 

The capital is in peak Hygge season in winter, where you’ll find an array of welcoming cosy eateries and cafes to stop at as you wander the glorious winding cobbled streets and marvel at their gingerbread-style houses that perfectly evoke a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.

In summer, enjoy alfresco living at its best in one of their many bars, or simply take a stroll through the Botanical Garden set in the heart of the city.

The beautiful coloured buildings along the famous Nyehaven Wharf in Copenhagen, Denmark

There are numerous things to see and do in this culturally cool and stylish city, which also offers world-beating cuisine – with no less than 17 Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from – a vibrant festival scene and general laid-back approach to life. 

Cultural highlights include:

  • Nyhavn waterfront - picturesque 17th century wharf with tall, brightly colored townhouses as well as bars, cafes and restaurants for gorgeous alfresco socialising
  • Tivoli Gardens - an amusement park that offers everything from hair-raising rides to unique architecture, historic buildings, and lush gardens
  • Little Mermaid - inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous tale, this statue of a mermaid sitting on a rock is probably one of the most iconic images of Copenhagen
  • Sankt Peder's – Copenhagen’s oldest bakery in the Latin Quarter, renowned for their sticky cinnamon rolls 

After you’ve had your fill of the Danish capital, we recommend a trip south to the beautiful Møns Klint – a stretch of coastline over 7 kilometers long characterised by clear caribbean-blue waters and 70 million-year-old chalk cliffs that rise nearly 130 meters above sea level.

Beautiful sea view from the cliff at Mons Klint, Denmark

This area is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and Scandinavia’s first Dark Sky Park where you can witness the majestic night sky in all its star-studded glory.

Afterwards, head north towards the peninsular town of Helsingør, where you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kronborg Castle. This is arguably one of Northern Europe’s finest Renaissance castles, which also happens to be world-famous as Hamlet’s castle in Shakespeare’s eponymous play. 

World-famous Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, Denmark
World-famous Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, Denmark

If historic architecture is your thing, we recommend cruising down the Roskilde Fjord, past Frederikssund, which leads to another UNESCO site in the shape of the beautiful Roskilde Cathedral, featuring a glorious blue-domed ceiling and veritable trove of medieval frescos.

While you’re here, don’t miss a chance to visit the Viking ship museum, which offers a unique synergy between its exhibition of ancient ships and Viking curios with an interactive element providing an exhilarating immersive experience into the culture of seafaring and boatbuilding in ancient and medieval times.

Viking ships inside the Viking Ship Museum of Roskilde, Denmark

Across the water on Denmark's mainland territory lies the charming harbour town of Aarhus where you’ll find an array of fabulous museums, astonishing architecture, cafés and boutique shopping, not to mention gorgeous pine forests and white sandy beaches.

ARoS Art Museum in Aarhus, Denmark with unique rainbow panorama at the top
Aarhus town, Denmark at sunset
Historical town of Aarhus in Denmark

Cultural highlights include:

  • Den Gamle By – Aarhus’s old town museum is a unique interactive attraction where visitors can quite literally walk through time. It was recently awarded the maximum three stars in the Michelin Travel Guide 
  • Møllestien lane – an idyllic cobbled street with picturesque wooden houses in all the colors of the rainbow
  • ARoS Art Museum – one of the largest museums in Northern Europe, which also offers visitors a unique rainbow-coloured circular viewing platform at the top
  • Concert Hall Aarhus - the largest in Scandinavia, hosting a wide variety of artistic activities, and also home to the Danish National Opera

Aarhus has also been named the third most sustainable city in the world, and, as you might imagine, there are numerous cycling trails and green open spaces allowing you to explore the town from a different perspective.

For something truly unique, cruise to North Jutland, Denmark’s northernmost point – just across the water from Gothenburg. Here in this wild and remote outpost visitors can experience the desert-like dunes of Råbjerg Mile, the largest shifting sand dune in Northern Europe, with areas rising almost 40 m above sea level. 

A woman walks bare foot along the shifting sand dunes of Rabjerg Mile in North Jutland, Denmark
Sunset on Rabjerg Mile in Denmark's North Jutland coast

Renowned for its white sand beaches and vast forests, North Jutland is also home to an array of imposing lighthouses, national parks and magnificent nature, and the perfect way to round off your Scandinavian adventure.

Secret Scandinavia: the best yacht charter hotspots for 2022 photo 29

Need more information?

To find out more about chartering in the region, check out our in-depth Norway yacht charter guide for more information.

If you’d like to learn more about chartering a luxury yacht around Scandinavia, please contact your yacht charter broker. Alternatively, view and compare the entire fleet of yachts available for charter.

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