Go boating in the Nordics

What country has the most islands in the world & what could possibly be the best place for unique boating?

Embarking on a nautical journey through the Nordic countries, especially Sweden, offers an unparalleled experience of exploring pristine natural beauty, historical sites, and vibrant local cultures. Whether you’re gliding through the waters with sails unfurled or powering through the waves on a motorboat, the Nordic region welcomes you with open arms and breathtaking vistas. This guide aims to equip you with some practical tips, tricks and suggestions on making the most of your Nordic adventure, with a special focus on the enchanting waters of Sweden.

Preparing for Your Journey

Weather Wisdom:

The Nordic climate is known for its unpredictability. Regularly check local weather forecasts and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly. The right preparation ensures you enjoy smooth sailing, regardless of the weather’s whims. Very much in general June, July and August are the best months for your visit. And swimming in the Nordic Sea is better (not so cold) the closer to September you are. However, wind and depth have a big impact on water temperature. Anchoring on the “right side” of an island can mean up to +/- 10 degrees Celsius difference in water temp.

As boat owner visiting the Nordics – you probably have your favorite apps, but just in case here are few:


Navigate with Knowledge:

With more islands than any other country in the world Sweden creates the perfect boating space for any type of boat. And as it also makes it a true joy for active boating as you need to navigate. Fortunately, today we all can enjoy the GPS naval apps and modern plotters. Just quick note on this as the coastline in general and the archipelagos in particular are generally quite shallow, hence many areas and between the islands are marked with the 3-meter symbol. Remember that it is 0-3 meter, so be very careful when navigating in these areas.

Again – most boaters have their favorite apps, here is one local for the Nordics:

https://www.skippo.se/ . The app is available for IPhone and Android, and it integrates AIS traffic, auto routing, harbors with guides, places to fuel, showing latest prices for petrol and diesel and much more. Good news that it costs less then 20$ for a full year.


Right of Public Access or “Allemansrätten” (in Swedish)

This is a truly unique law applied in whole of Sweden. In short it means that you can access almost any land or island in Sweden – the short version is “Don’t disturb – Don’t destroy”.

Here are few basic rules, please read this folder for more information.

  • Do not moor your boat or go ashore by a dwelling or where there is no admittance, such as a sanctuary for protection of birds and seals or military area.
  • It is okay to moor a boat temporarily at someone else’s jetty if it does not interfere with the owner. But not if it adjoins the grounds of a house, of course. It is preferable to contact the landowner.
  • Special rules, such as speed limits and no admittance, may exist.
  • Remember that motorboat operators need to be more considerate than quieter boaters.
  • If you’re traveling with animals like dogs – read the linked folder.

In practical terms you can sail and doc almost all of the +267 000 islands around Sweden and the majority of them are uninhabited, so add an extra week to your trip😊 .

Certificates to operate a boat:

The requirements for operating a pleasure craft to 15 meters in the Nordic countries can vary based on the specific country as each has its own regulations regarding boating licenses, age limits, and safety training. Here’s a general overview for some of the Nordic countries:

Sweden, Boating License: Not required for private boats shorter than 12 meters and with a width of up to 4 meters. Age Limit: There’s no legal age limit for operating a small boat, but to obtain a specific certificate like the ”Förarintyg” (boat licence exam) for recreational boating, one must be at least 12 years old (with parental consent up to 18 years).

Norway, Boating License: Required for anyone born after 1980 who will be operating boats longer than 8 meters or with more than 25 horsepower. The relevant certificate is the ”Båtførerprøven” (Boating License Exam). Age Limit: The minimum age to take the ”Båtførerprøven” is 14 years, but the license only becomes valid from the age of 16.

Denmark, Boating License: Required for operating recreational boats longer than 15 meters. For boats up to 15 meters, a ”Duelighedsbevis” (Certificate of Proficiency) is often required, especially for boats with a larger sail area or motor power. Age Limit: To obtain the ”Duelighedsbevis”, you must be at least 16 years old.

Finland, Boating License: Not mandatory for boats under 20 meters. However, a ”Coastal Navigation Certificate” is recommended for boats longer than 24 meters or when navigating in coastal waters. Age Limit: There are no specific age requirements for operating small boats, but certain courses and certificates may have age limits.

These regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional local rules and regulations to consider. It’s always best to check the most current information from the relevant maritime authority or boating organization in the country where you plan to operate a boat.

Other laws that is good to know is alcohol limits when piloting a boat. Piloting is the actual person who is at the moment at the helm when the boat is moving.

  • Sweden: 0,2 promille
  • Finland: 1.0 promille
  • Norway: 0,8 promille
  • Danmark: 0,5 promille

Note that these are the general levels for small boats up to 15 meters. Please check what is relevant for your specific boat.

Safety First

Safety cannot be overstressed. Ensure your boat is equipped with essential safety gear, including life jackets for all aboard, flares, and a VHF radio. Preparation is the key to a safe and enjoyable trip.

All Nordic countries have the European standard emergency number – 112. If there is risk for personal safety – always call 112 for help or make a distress call on VHF channel 16.

Sea Assistans – help when there is no risk for personal safety

If there is no risk for personal safety, for example you hit a underwater rock, run out of fuel, need a spare part transported out to you, the simplest is to have a membership in “Sea Assistans” or Sjöassistans. It cost from 60€/years membership and gives you direct help from more than 600 local assistant boats across the coast of Sweden and the major lakes.. Read more and sign up here>>

Eco-friendly Exploration

The Nordic countries are renowned for their commitment to environmental preservation. Practice eco-friendly boating by anchoring responsibly, managing waste effectively, and respecting wildlife and natural habitats.

Sweden’s Nautical Wonders

Stockholm Archipelago: A labyrinth of about 30,000 islands awaits you, offering endless exploration opportunities.

Visit Stockholm Archipelago site – a good place to start>>

Gothenburg Archipelago and the west coast : Experience the charm of the less crowded west coast, where fishing villages and natural landscapes blend seamlessly. Here is good plays to start exploring>>

Gotland and Visby: Step back in time in Visby, a medieval town on Gotland island, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The unique combination of history, beaches, and natural formations makes Gotland a must-visit destination. Check out the harbors and landmarks of Gotland>> 

The High Coast (Höga Kusten): For those drawn to the northern lights and dramatic landscapes, the High Coast offers an adventure into Sweden’s rugged beauty. It’s a perfect spot for those who love hiking and nature. Situated further north up on the east cost of Sweden it takes a bit longer to reach – but it’s really beautiful ones you get there>>

The above are just some of the thousands of different adventures and beautiful places you can and should visit on your tour in the Nordic waters. Here are some useful links:

Boating in Finland>>

Boating in Norway>>

Immersing in Nordic Culture

Celebrate Midsummer: If your visit coincides with late June, don’t miss the chance to partake in the Midsummer celebrations. Experience traditional dances, food and the joyous spirit of one of Sweden’s most beloved holidays. Midsummer occurs on the longest day of the year, hence the sun will never set😊 .

Marina Amenities: Nordic marinas are well-equipped to provide boaters with the comforts of home. From electricity and water to saunas and laundry facilities, you’ll find marinas an integral part of your Nordic sailing experience.

Charting Your Nordic Adventure

As you set sail for the Nordic seas, let Sweden’s shores be a guide to a journey filled with discovery, adventure, and the serene beauty of the North. From the bustling archipelagos to tranquil inland lakes, and from historic towns to vibrant cultural festivals, Sweden offers a diverse palette of experiences that cater to every sailor’s dream. Equip yourself with these tips and embrace the spirit of exploration that defines the Nordic sailing experience. Happy boating and see you this summer!

PS – if you have any questions – please just give us a call on +46 8 506 622 00 and we will try to help you.

The Nordics – world champions in number of islands 🙂

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