When it comes to seeking out the coolest destinations of offer, Scandinavia is hard to beat. From its majestic fjords to its uber-chic cities, and from its lively festivals to the mesmerizing dance of its aurora borealis, this breathtakingly beautiful region that encompasses Norway, Sweden and Denmark is a magnet for wilderness-loving glacier-hikers and minimalism-obsessed urbanites alike. Here are seven great reasons why you should be planning a trip to Scandinavia right now…
You’re looking for vibrant capital cities with incredible modern architecture, internationally-acclaimed restaurants, chilled-out locals and a healthy focus on green-living? Scandinavia is full of them. Marvel at the sleek modernity of the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet or the exhibits at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo; wander around the cobbled streets of Old Town or sing your way around the Abba Museum in Stockholm; or explore the art galleries of the colorful Meat Packing District or stroll past the charming Little Mermaid statue at Langelinje Pier in Copenhagen… Scandinavia’s cities have it all.
Tours, museums, villages… Viking heritage is everywhere you look in Norway. Make your way to Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum to see two of the world’s best-preserved wooden Viking longships, which date from the 9th century. Or pay a visit to the stone monuments at Naustdal, Eid at Nordfjord. These stone monuments are associated with the story of King Vemund of the Fjords and his army of 90 men who Ragnvald Earl of Møre trapped and killed in a fire in 870 AD. Or visit the Gudvangen Viking town near Njardarheimr, which is home to 400 modern-day Vikings.
Prepare to be amazed in Norway, because this scenic Scandinavian gem has the highest concentration of fjords in the world. One of Mother Nature’s most sublime tricks, these fjords were formed when the glaciers retreated and seawater flooded the valleys. You’ll want to visit more than one, because they are all so different, so a self-drive tour is a great way to explore them. The mighty Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord are showcased on the UNESCO World Heritage list, while Sognefjord—the longest and deepest fjord in the world—and Hardangerfjord are known for their fragrant cherry and apple trees.
Summer is hands-down the best time to visit Scandinavia. Consider, for example, the fact that in Oslo the sun rises at 4am and sets at around 11pm in the middle of June, and you’ll understand why summer days at these latitudes are filled with hiking, biking, boating, festivals and long, lively evenings on the beer terrace.
I promise you, it’s not all about fish! Sweden is busy launching the truly fascinating ‘Edible Country’ project. This 100-million-acre-DIY gourmet restaurant has a menu created from ingredients found in Swedish nature—and is free of charge! Co-created by Swedish Michelin-starred chefs Titti Qvarnström, Niklas Ekstedt, Jacob Holmström and Anton Bjuhr, Edible Country consists of a nine-course menu that visitors can prepare and cook themselves in the wild. Seven handmade wooden tables have been placed across the country with ready-to-use kitchen kits and cooking tools. The tables are bookable between May and September at visitsweden.com/ediblecountry.
In Denmark ‘New Nordic Cuisine’—a sustainable slow-food movement—is taking centre stage. New Nordic Cuisine is all about foraging for local ingredients and getting back to the real roots of Danish cooking—sometimes as far back as Viking times. You’ll find delicacies like Nordic langoustine, wild salmon, seaweed, foraged berries and musk ox on the menu at New Nordic Cuisine eateries like Malling & Schmidt in Aarhus.
While in Norway, the country’s chefs are also fast gaining a fine reputation worldwide, having scored several wins at the Bocuse d’Or cooking competition. And in 2016, Oslo’s stylish Maaemo became the first Norwegian restaurant to get three out of three possible stars in the Michelin guide.
In Norway, the Northern Lights belt hits the north of the country above the Lofoten Islands and follows the coast all the way up to the North Cape. This makes Norway one of the best places on Earth to let these mesmerizing multicolor lights seduce you.
In Sweden the Northern Lights appear around the beginning of September in and around Kiruna and can be seen all over Swedish Lapland until the end of March. However, for the very best chance of seeing the lights, you should make the trip to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park. There are no guarantees, but Abisko is known for its clear skies, so there’s a decent chance you may spot them.
Forget Disneyland: Scandinavia is one of the happiest places on Earth. The UN’s annual World Happiness Report routinely places Denmark, Norway and Sweden among the top 10 happiest nations. Why? Well, let’s consider some of the facts… Offices rarely stay open after 5pm, paid vacations include a minimum of 25 days each year (and it’s frowned upon if you don’t take it!), education is free, there’s a literacy rate of 99 percent and daycare for the kids doesn’t cost a dime. Wow. No wonder they’re so happy…
Do you dream of meeting modern day Vikings in Norway? Of sampling New Nordic cuisine in Denmark? Of gazing up at the Northern Lights in Sweden? Yes? Then come with us to Scandinavia. Not only will you have the experience of a lifetime, but you will have a sophisticated itinerary that has been lovingly-created by Indus’ Scandinavia experts. To find out more about our tours to Scandinavia, please feel free to contact us at any time.
About the Writer: Vickie Sam Paget
Vickie is a freelance writer and editor based in Vancouver, BC. When she’s not creating dynamic travel or tech content, globetrotting or gazing at the North Shore Mountains, you can usually find her curled up with a good book or sipping a pint of the good stuff in her local Irish bar.