With the rising popularity of explorer yachts, owners and charterers are venturing further north than ever before. Equipped with an ice-classed hull, superyachts can cut through cool waters to discover the craggy coasts from Scandinavia to the British Isles, destinations which are home to rugged scenery, abundant marine life and the mystical Northern Lights. These cold-cruising locations are still less developed than traditional yachting hubs, but numerous projects are now underway to meet burgeoning demand.
Closest to the Arctic Circle near Sweden’s capital, the first phase of a new 70-berth marina in Värmdö on the Baltic was completed in 2020. Stavsnäs Vinterhamn Marina serves as the gateway to the Stockholm archipelago and boasts an advanced 70-metre floating wave attenuator to protect yachts from rough seas. An additional 130 berths will be added this year.
Another Scandinavian project is the expansion of Kolding Marina City in Denmark, situated centrally between the brisk waters of the Baltic and North seas. Work is currently underway to increase capacity to 1,000 berths, which will make it the second-largest marina in the land of hygge hotels and fairy-tale castles.
In the UK, the western coast of Scotland is attracting an increasing number of superyachts to its wind-whipped coastlines. The area has plenty to offer, from striking mountainous scenery, eerie crumbling castles and ethereal lochs to Michelin-starred restaurants, cosy country estate stays and stellar golf courses. The region is also dotted with marinas that have welcomed an impressive fleet. James Watt Dock Marina is the favoured stop-off, with 170 berths for yachts over 100 metres.
Scotland’s east coast is beginning to catch up too, with the new Edinburgh Marina currently being developed on the site of the historic harbour dating back to 1836. The complex will have 370 berths for boats up to 45 metres as well as waterside residences and a Hyatt Regency Hotel and Spa.
Moving south, there are a growing number of yachting hubs in the UK along the English Channel. The unsuspecting Georgian seaside town of Lymington in Hampshire was in fact an early advocate for welcoming superyachts to the UK, being home to one of the country’s oldest marinas. Opened by the Admiral of the Fleet, The First Earl Mountbatten of Burma in 1968, the Berthon Lymington Marina has extensive facilities, refit services and 300 deep-water berths for yachts up to 45 metres.
Closer to the sailing hubs of the West Country, there’s a smaller development underway at Noss on the River Dart for yachts up to 21 metres, but larger vessels can drop anchor in the River Dart and seek shelter with the Dartmouth Port Authority based at Dart Harbour.
Finally, Portugal – which serves as the last stop in Northern Europe before a transatlantic crossing – has invested significantly in developing the country’s superyacht facilities. Since 2017, work has been underway to expand Marina de Albufeira to include 475 moorings, new hotels and residences, while over the border in Gibraltar, construction is nearing completion on the Ocean Village and Marina Bay complexes, which offer restaurants, hotels, a sailing school and 250 berths for yachts up to 100 metres.