Plenty of cities stake a claim to being the yachting or sailing capital of the world, from sunny Fort Lauderdale in Florida to sedate Annapolis in Maryland, while cities such as Monte Carlo, Empuriabrava, Singapore and Dubai all vouch for having some of the largest marinas and biggest yachting scenes on the planet. Yet perhaps the real yachting capital of the world is somewhere with rather cooler climes, where getting in your boat, dinghy, yacht or sailing ship and setting out across the waters is a part of everyday life. It happens to be Stockholm, the Swedish capital and arguably Scandinavia’s most stylish and slick city, that is the real yachting capital of the world, and here are a few reasons why.
Photo by Michael Caven on Flickr.com. Used under Creative Commons Licence.
One look at a map may tell you why yachting and boating are so popular in the Swedish capital, and that is because the municipal area is made up of around 24,000 islands and islets, collectively known in Swedish as the skärgård archipelago. Overall, around 30% of the city’s collective area is constituted by water, and many in the region dub Stockholm the Venice of the North. The centre of the city itself lies on 14 major islands, but it is to the smaller islands, many rocky outcrops barely big enough for a few visitors, that most people like to travel to, for a bit of peace and quiet, and utterly gorgeous natural surroundings. And nor is boating here merely a leisure activity, as many boat-owners in this salubrious and well-heeled city use their boats to commute on a daily basis. And even if commuters do not have access to their own boat, tens of thousands of people travel to and from work each day on the regular Waxholmsbolaget ferries that ply the waters of the city, while travel to cities as far away as Helsinki and Turku can be undertaken on larger, overnight ferries.
A Culture Boat Ownership
Scandinavia leads the world in the amount of boats owned per capita, and Sweden comes top of the global rankings, with one in seven people owning their own boat. And whether they have a small rowing vessel moored to their own private yet modest jetty, or a more lavish and expensive super-yacht permanently berthed near the city centre, Swedes just love their boats. Go out on a sunny weekend and the waterways surrounding Stockholm will be full with people setting sail and enjoying the weather out in their boats. And even those who do not own a private vessel can easily and inexpensively hire a yacht charter to take them out for the day, or even longer, a favourite past-time for urbane Stockholm residents seeking to get away from the busy city.
Stockholm is one of the most fashion conscious cities in the world, and any visitor here is likely to be stunned at the sheer sophistication and élan of the locals, who all seem well groomed, well dressed and well spoken. And so going out on hired boat charters on the weekend seems like a natural extension of this style conscious attitude, knowing that setting sail on a stream-lined, vintage yacht or sailing boat is one of the most stylish ways to enjoy yourself.
Marinas and Boat Builders
Stockholm, and indeed Scandinavia as a whole, benefits from ample marina space, so you will never have to struggle when searching for a place to berth for the night. And, with so many people interested in sailing, there are a huge amount of boat builders in the region, set up to meet demand, many of whom are known to produce the finest and most elegant yachts on the market.
John is a travel writer who has penned articles on subjects such as locating the best boat charters in Hong Kong and where to go for the most stunning scenery in Britain.