For those looking towards the future and an alternative summer cruising ground for 2021, then it's hard to beat the western coast of Norway. The following is just a snapshot of a feature I wrote for Northrop & Johnson's Navigator, highlighting Stavanger and Bergen, the most popular places to begin and end any yacht charter.
The fjords of southwest Norway are what draw most charterers to explore these majestic cruising grounds. The narrow inlets of sea, bounded by craggy walls of rock, are nature at its best. Springtime sees the snow retreat to the mountaintops, leaving a landscape scattered with waterfalls and streams that flow to reach the magnificent fjords. It may not be the place to head to spend your days sunbathing on deck, but really the only place to be is on deck as nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the passing scenery. The scale and the glittering fjords, with their subtle shifts in rock colour, and the staggering white distances of mountain heights will make you and your guests stand on impulse as though giving an involuntary ovation.
From the Lofoten Islands in the north, to the southern fjords, the land of the midnight sun makes for a dramatic and awe-inspiring backdrop for any yacht charter. The most popular itinerary for any cruise in Norway begins in Bergen. Spend a day ashore exploring the city before a cruise around the fjords, including the famed Hadangerfjord and Sognefjord. From the fjords, cruise south to Stavanger, or north to the Lofoten Islands. Part of the Arctic Circle, the approach to the islands offers views over the towering peaks of the Lofoten Wall – a 200 mile range of mountains.
A former European capital of culture, Norway’s oil capital is at its best in the summer when the near continuous daylight illuminates the stunning twin harbour city. Colourful wooden buildings cradle the hills and line the quaysides amid modern interpretations of a seafaring past. Stavanger is the perfect place to spend a day exploring ashore before you begin or end a charter along the southwest coastline of Norway.
Serious about its heritage, Stavanger has several museums. A visit to the Norwegian Petroleum Museum may not sound exciting, but almost half a century ago Norway’s first oil field opened and subsequently the nation has become one of the richest in Europe. Walk around the magnificent Vagan Harbour (to the west of the city) and discover bronze sculptures by Antony Gormley.
Norway’s oldest church, Domkirken Cathedral dominates the city centre with its pair of grand towers. Following a tour of the cathedral (don’t miss the baroque pulpit), take a hike around the lake to Gamle Stavanger(Old Stavanger). The quaint cobblestone streets of the old town are lined with over 170 white clapboard houses from the late 18th century.
Built in 1850 as a watchtower to guard against fires in the city and aboard the ships in the harbour, the historical Valberg Towerprovides panoramic views over the city and waterfront.
For those with a penchant for music, Stavanger Concert Hallis a modern venue where highly celebrated classical concerts are performed throughout the year in a stunning setting by the waters’ edge.
Explore @ Lysefjord
From Stavanger head to Lysefjord, passing beneath one of the spectacular bridges created as a result of oil wealth. Cruise alongside Pulpit Rock, a wedge of rock nearly 2,000 feet above the water. A climb to the top rewards with the most breathtaking viewing platform in the world.
Shop @ Ovre Holmegate
The winding streets beneath Valberg Tower have a concentration of national and international boutiques, especially along Ovre Holmegate. Locally-made arts and crafts can be found throughout the cobblestone streets of Old Stavanger, while independent boutiques can be found amongst the lanes of Skagento the east side of the main harbour.
With the freshest fish on offer, sushi is a must. Omakase is billed as one of the finest sushi restaurants in Norway and serves traditionally prepared Japanese dishes. Timbuktu Sushi, by the waterside at Nedre Strandgate, offers sharing menus of butterfish, halibut and, for the meat eaters, duck and sirloin.
For a special occasion, Renaa was awarded a Michelin Star in 2016, (reputedly Norway’s first outside the capital). Chef Sven Erik Renaa creates dishes using the best of the region’s produce in one fixed price menu.
For a relatively small city, Stavanger punches above its weight with a wide range of bars and a vibrant nightlife. For an encyclopaedic menu of beers head to Cardinal in the old town, or, whisky lovers will find a varied menu at the Holmen Barin the Victoria Hotel.
The full article can be find over on YACHT-A-PORTER's DESTINATION pages.