Sweden is an ideal sailing destination for anyone looking to enjoy a beautiful pristine coastline with almost constant daylight in the summer and experience unique island life and culture amid the undisturbed northern landscapes, small towns and fishing villages of the country’s many archipelagos. With over 7,600 kilometres of coastline, many scenic inland lakes and tens of thousands of islands scattered around the coast, Sweden has enough sailing areas to fill a lifetime of exploration. The most popular destinations include the Stockholm archipelago on the east coast, the city of Gothenburg and the Bohuslän archipelago on the west coast, and the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.
The sailing season in Sweden lasts from June to September, when the weather is relatively warm and daylight hours are very long. Stockholm, for instance, gets temperatures around 17°C and about 18 hours of daylight in July, when the sun rises at 3:40am and sets at 10:02pm. The southern Baltic area has a slightly longer boating season and a particularly mild climate, but rain is not uncommon, even in the summer months.
In the peak season, night is replaced by twilight in large parts of Sweden, while the northern part of the country enjoys the midnight sun. The sun remains visible around the clock in good weather and gives photography enthusiasts a golden hour that in fact lasts for several hours.
The Stockholm archipelago, which consists of about 30,000 islands, islets and rocks, harbours countless uninhabited granite islets, as well as many islands with ancient villages and modern communities that blend into tranquil, rugged landscapes with rocky cliffs, undisturbed forests and sandy beaches. Once home only to fishermen and farmers, the islands are now a popular area among well-to-do Stockholmers, who have built more than 50,000 holiday homes in the area. The islands also have numerous hotels, traditional guesthouses, campsites, hostels and cottages where visitors can find refuge for the night while cruising the archipelago.
Each of the islands has a unique character and offers a wealth of activities, from hiking, cycling, kayaking, fishing and swimming to barbecuing at various camp sites or exploring the excellent local gastronomical offering. The picturesque islands of Grinda, Utö, Finnhamm and Sandhamm offer plenty of opportunities for adventure activities, as well as many restaurants serving delicious fresh seafood dishes.
Sailors planning a boating holiday in Sweden have several large areas to choose from: the east coast, Gotland, the Gulf of Bothnia, the south coast and the west coast. The main ports and anchorages include Arkösund, Kalmar, Stockholm, Västervik and Oxelösund on the east coast, Visby on the island of Gotland, Örnsköldsvik in the Gulf of Bothnia, Simrishamm and Getterön on the south coast, and Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Malmö and Marstrand on the west coast. Each of these destinations has plenty to offer, from stunning natural harbours and lakes to quiet fishing villages and vibrant, history-filled coastal cities.
The Gulf of Bothnia is home to the High Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its steep red granite hills, impossibly scenic landscapes stretching over 100 kilometres, and rocky islands protruding from the sea. The area can be explored on foot, on horseback, on a bicycle or in a kayak. Other activities include guided tours, wild bear or beaver safaris, and fishing.
The Baltic island of Gotland provides a unique insight into 13th century Viking culture with the World Heritage Site of Visby, a former Viking site with more than 200 dwellings and other historic structures from this period still standing. The site paints an almost complete picture of a living 13th century town. For more adventurous travellers, Gotland is also a popular wreck diving area, while the eastern coast of the island is known for its amazing beaches.
Further south, the island of Öland is perfect for exploring charming Swedish fishing villages, beautiful beaches and castle ruins. Solliden Palace, the summer residence of the Swedish royal family, is open to visitors in the summer, as is the World Heritage Site of Southern Öland, a unique, incredibly scenic agricultural landscape that testifies to the continuous human settlement in the area from prehistoric times to the present day.
Sweden’s west coast is the country’s warmest and sunniest region. Known for its excellent food, stunning archipelagos and wealth of history and culture, the area is immensely popular among tourists in the summer. Both cosmopolitan and laid back, the city of Gothenburg is famous for its traditional wooden buildings, cobbled streets, museums and breathtaking parks and gardens.
The Bohuslän archipelago, a group of red granite islands north of the city, is also well worth a visit. The islands are famous for their stark, dramatic natural beauty, fascinating history, impressive art, ancient rock carvings and an underwater national park. The archipelago has been ranked as the world’s seventh most beautiful natural wilderness area by CNN Travel. The few villages on the islands, such as Marstrand, Lysekil and Smögen, are tourist hotspots in the summer.