Between two nations – A boater’s rendezvous with Helsingborg, Sweden

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes – ABR* – Imagine the gentle sway of your vessel as you prepare to cast off from the enchanting, historic town of Helsingor, Denmark. The sea unfurls before you, a shimmering path beckoning towards the vibrant shores of Helsingborg, Sweden. In our case, it was aboard a short yet delightful ferry ride. This journey is far from a mere day trip; it’s a voyage across the Oresund strait, a venture that weaves together the rich cultural tapestries of Denmark and Sweden, all seen through our eyes as pleasure boaters.

Should you find yourself in Copenhagen, Denmark, you’re merely a stone’s throw away from the inviting coastal cities of Sweden, nestled across the Oresund Strait that serves as the watery boundary between Denmark and Sweden. You’re presented with two splendid options for your day expedition in a pair of Sweden’s coastal gems.

The Oresund Bridge, connecting Denmark to the Swedish town of Malmo, as viewed from a plane taking off from Copenhagen Airport. Photo courtesy of Nick-D.

The first, Malmö, tends to be the go-to for most tourists. However, a second, equally intriguing choice awaits: Helsingborg. To reach either destination, all that’s required is a brief train journey from Copenhagen. In our adventure, we set our sights on Helsingborg.

Helsingor’s Embrace

The Danish town of Helsingor, with its cobblestone streets and the majestic Kronborg Castle standing guard, provides a picturesque backdrop for the beginning of our nautical journey. As you navigate away from the harbor, you can’t help but feel a connection to the mariners of old, who once sailed these waters in search of trade, exploration, and sometimes, adventure.

Crossing the Oresund

The passage across the Oresund is relatively short, but filled with the exhilaration of crossing an international border on water.

Large ferry boats frequently transport passengers and vehicles between Helsingor, Denmark, and Helsingborg, Sweden.

The sea here is a bridge between worlds, an ancient highway that has seen vessels ranging from Viking longships to modern yachts. As you make the crossing, you’ll notice the water here has its own unique character, sometimes calm, reflecting the sky above like a vast, unbroken mirror, and at times a bit more spirited, reminding you of the sea’s untamed nature.

A large regatta off the shores of Helsingor, Denmark, visible on the horizon from Helsingborg, Sweden.

Approaching the Swedish town of Helsingborg, the first sight that greets you is the Norra Hamnen (North Harbour), a marina that blends the city’s vibrant urban life with its nautical heritage. As you dock, the modern, sleek lines of the marina facilities contrast beautifully with the classic elegance of the boats moored alongside. Norra Hamnen is not just a place to tie up; it’s a gateway to Helsingborg’s heart, inviting sailors and visitors alike to explore what this Swedish gem has to offer.

Norra Hamnen City Marina of Helsingborg

Our inaugural port of call was, naturally, the Helsingborg Yacht Club. Nestled within the Norra Hamnen City Marina of Helsingborg, this spot is a haven for seafarers and maritime enthusiasts alike.

Marina Norra Hamnen on the west side of the inner city of Helsingborg offers a total of 312 berths and is suitable for boats of all sizes due to a water depth of 4 meters (13 feet).
The marina is located in an industrial harbor from 1891, next to the ferry terminal. At the end of the 1980s, half of the harbor basin was transformed into a marina, and the old warehouses and port facilities on the east quay were replaced by modern residential buildings in 1999.

As fate would have it, we stumbled upon a delightful encounter—Bo Burzesson, a retired policeman who has chosen to call the tranquil waters of the marina’s edge, where it kisses the Oresund Strait, his home. There he was, perched contentedly on his boat, soaking up the sun’s embrace, a picture of serene retirement bliss. It was a scene too inviting to pass by without a chat, and so, engage him I did.

With laughter ringing in the air and a sparkle of pride in his eyes, he revealed he was eighty-seven years young. I was taken aback, my jaw nearly hitting the deck. My skills at age-guessing might be mediocre at best, but this gentleman didn’t look a day over sixty. “It must be the magical Swedish waters,” I mused internally, “carrying centuries of history in its bosom, bestowing youthfulness upon those who sail its waves.”

He stands as a proud beacon among the three hundred members of the Helsingborg Yacht Club, this cheerful soul who calls his boat more than just a vessel—it’s his home. Alongside thirty other steadfast residents, he’s part of a unique maritime community where life is lived on the waves. For 25 years, he’s been a fixture of this floating neighborhood, fully embracing the joys of life on water.

Happiest man in town

His boat isn’t just a dwelling but a launchpad for adventures far beyond the marina’s confines. With a car parked nearby, he ventures out to shopping centers, exploring the scenic landscapes of Sweden and Denmark, proving that life on water doesn’t mean staying anchored to one spot.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I inquired about the darker months, those lengthy stretches when the sun seems a stranger. Unfazed, he assured me it was “no problem at all.” His happiness, he declared, wasn’t dependent on daylight but something that resonated deeper, “happy in his heart.” Then his question caught me off-guard, “Are you happy?” I affirmed, and with a wink and a wisdom-filled chuckle, he welcomed me, “welcome to Sweden.”

Not one to let age dictate the sails of his life, he’s already plotting a journey across the seas to Chicago. At ninety, he plans to visit his daughter, proving that for some, adventure isn’t just a part of life—it is life, regardless of the season or the years that pass.

Exploring Helsingborg’s Maritime Marvels

Helsingborg is a port city and one of Sweden’s oldest cities, with permanent settlement dating back to 1085. Once ashore, the maritime explorer will find Helsingborg a city that wears its history proudly, yet always seems to be looking forward. Strolling through the city, the layers of past and present blend seamlessly. From ancient fortifications to contemporary art installations, Helsingborg is a testament to the enduring spirit of its people and their connection to the sea.

Helsingborg Town Center. The Karnan in the background.

A visit to the historical spots is a must. The Karnan, a medieval tower that offers panoramic views of the city and the sea, serves as a reminder of Helsingborg’s strategic importance in centuries past.

The Karnan, a medieval tower that offers panoramic views of the city and the sea, serves as a reminder of Helsingborg’s strategic importance in centuries past.
A historical map of Helsingborg, showcasing the location of the Karnan, which still stands tall and prominent to this day. (See above photograph.)

The Dunkers Kulturhus, with its exhibitions on Swedish maritime history, provides a deeper understanding of the region’s nautical heritage.

Savoring Seaside Cuisine

No seafaring adventure would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine, and Helsingborg’s offerings will not disappoint. The city’s culinary scene is a reflection of its coastal location, with seafood taking center stage. Restaurants in Norra Hamnen serve dishes that are a testament to both tradition and innovation, using fresh, local ingredients to create flavors that are as complex and inviting as the sea itself.

A Return Journey Under Twilight Skies

As the day comes to a close, and you prepare to navigate back to Helsingor, Denmark, the setting sun casts a golden glow over the waters of the Oresund. This journey, a mere day’s excursion, feels like it has encompassed so much more. Our charming new friend and the sights, sounds, and tastes of Helsingborg linger in the mind, a reminder of the city’s unique charm and the timeless appeal of exploring new horizons by boat.

Well, that’s it for now. Stay well. I hope to say hello to you if you spot my boat, Life’s AOK, in one of the locations that I’m hoping to visit in 2024.

I bid you Fair Winds and Following Seas.

Cover photo: Helsingborg Yacht Club. Nestled within the Norra Hamnen City Marina of Helsingborg, Sweden

2 things I learned

  • One fascinating fact about Helsingborg, Sweden, is that it boasts one of the shortest ferry routes in Europe, connecting Sweden to Denmark across the Oresund Strait. The ferry trip from Helsingborg, Sweden to Helsingor, Denmark, is only about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) and can take as little as 20 minutes, making it a popular and scenic route for both locals and tourists. This proximity has fostered a unique cultural exchange between the two countries and has made Helsingborg a key point in the network of maritime connections in the Baltic region.
  • While you are in Helsingborg, a popular activity to do, especially in the summer, is to venture to the Swedish island of Ven. The history of Ven is quite fascinating: the island was a gift from Danish King Frederick II to the astronomer and nobleman Tycho Brahe, who then built a castle (Uraniborg) on the island, which was completed in 1580. To get there, just take the ferry from Landskrona, a short bus or train ride south from Helsingborg.

1 thing I recommend

  • Consider a quick trip from Copenhagen, Denmark to Helsingborg, Sweden. Helsingborg is worth visiting for a day trip or weekend. It’s a charming city with a rich history, beautiful architecture, and many popular attractions. Helsingborg is also known as “Gamla Staden” in Swedish, which means “Old Town.”

How easy?

Marina where you can stay overnight or longer

Norra Hamnen City Marina of Helsingborg

*ABR stands for our new series, “A Boater’s Rendezvous.” This series focuses on our voyages to far-flung locations that we wouldn’t dare go to with our boat. Being fair-weather boaters who must see land at all times, we don’t dare to go anywhere and everywhere with our boat, Life’s AOK. So we fly in, rent a boat (with or without a skipper), and enjoy the local waters and camaraderie.

Join us on our journey of discovery of other lands where we fly in and explore the joys of boating. We’re taking you with us, through our blog, “Trips of Discovery.” In this series, we’ll take you to some of the most historic and charming cities of the world and their waters suitable for pleasure boaters like ourselves. Who knows, you might even be inspired to plan your own adventure!

My wife and I hope you’ll be able to join us on the journey, either by boat or by a combination of flying and car. Don’t hesitate to reach out and share your own insights or experiences about the locations we visit. We’d love to hear from you and keep the conversation going! And if not, don’t worry, you can still follow along as armchair travelers! So sit back, relax, and let’s embark on our Trips of Discovery of other waters.

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