There are so many unique things to do in Scandinavia, from natural wonders to stunning cities, there’s something for everyone. Here are just ten reasons to visit this amazing part of the world.
10) Go whale watching in Iceland
Iceland is one of the top places in the world to see whales. Over 20 species inhabit its waters ranging from minkes to humpbacks. There are plenty of whale watching tours available from Reykjavik. These tours allow you to venture out on a boat with a local expert and may include on board hot chocolate. Such tours tend to book up well in advance, so make sure to plan ahead.
9) Explore the wintry wonders of Lapland
Lapland is the famed home of Santa, situated in the north of the Scandinavian peninsula. With it’s snow coated landscapes and quaint villages, it’s the perfect place for a magical winter escape. You’ll find innovative glass igloos in Lapland that could be perfect for staying in and taking in the starry arctic sky. Activities in the region meanwhile include dog-sledding and tobogganing. It’s also one of the top places to spot reindeer in the wild. Lapland is way up there on the list of things to do in Scandinavia for any traveler.
8) Hike across Hardangervidda National Park
If you’re looking for a physical challenge accompanied by beautiful scenery, a hike through Hardangervidda National Park is a must. Containing epic valleys and incredible waterfalls, this park is one of Norway’s top attractions. One of the most popular hikes is the Monk Steps which takes you past various dramatic scenes of mountains and cliffs. If you’re daring enough, you can even try some wild camping, although there are plenty of hostels and guesthouses across the park for those that would prefer something a little more homely.
7) Watch Strokkur erupt
Strokkur is Iceland’s most famous geyser, erupting every 6 to 10 minutes with a height of 15 to 20 metres. It’s located in a geothermal area surrounded by a number of smaller geysers. Strokkur is a stone’s throw from Gullfoss – a large waterfall that’s also worth a visit. Iceland has a number of other geysers for those fascinated by these natural phenomena.
6) Carve up the ski slopes in Lillehammer
When it comes to Scandinavian ski resorts, nothing beats Lillehammer. The resort was used as a Winter Olympic venue in 1994, and has continued to develop its facilities to the highest standard since. There are now 32 slopes as well as 450km worth of cross country skiing tracks. On top of going skiing, you can hit the numerous bars, dine on hearty rustic food and even go ice-skating. Lillehammer isn’t cheap, but there are great last minute deals to be found late in the season (try looking in March for the best snow).
5) Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon
Another one of Iceland’s top attractions is the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal pool is like one giant natural hot bath and could be great for warming yourself up in the chilly Scandinavian climate. Sadly, the Blue Lagoon isn’t free to enter and you’ll need to book tickets in advance. There are geothermal pools and springs all across Scandinavia that could be an easier and cheaper option if you’re not fussed about solely doing the Blue Lagoon.
4) See the sights in Stockholm
Stockholm is one of the most charming cities in Europe. Whilst it may not have the iconic landmarks to match other European cities, it still has plenty of sights. Old Town Stockholm – known as Gamla Stan – is full of historic buildings of significance including Stockholm Cathedral and the Royal Palace. It’s also worth visiting the Vasa battleship, a mighty ship from the 1600s that struck an iceberg that is now housed in a museum. Even if you’re not interested in the history, Stockholm has some brilliant places to eat and drink (make sure to try the meatballs!) as well as some great shopping opportunities.
3) Tour the castles in Copenhagen
Denmark has no shortage of castles. Many of these are well-preserved and have a fantasy feel about them due to their turrets and spires. Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen is one of the most renowned castles that the country has to offer and happens to be the residence of the country’s royal prince and princess. Frederiksborg Palace is another stunning castle that’s well worth a visit, dating back to the 17th Century and sporting incredible renaissance architecture. Finally there’s the imposing Kronborg castle, which inspired the famous Shakespeare play Hamlet – this play is sometimes performed here and there are Christmas markets held here in winter.
2) Spot the Northern Lights
This mystical natural light show can be witnessed across much of north Scandinavia. Lapland in particular is a great place to see the lights due to the lack of light pollution. March often offers the highest chances of seeing the Northern lights, so you may want to book your trip then. Many tours of Lapland will take you to the best places to see the Northern Lights.
1) Catch the Midnight Sun in summer
If you leave it too late in the year to catch the Northern Lights, you can always experience the midnight sun in the summer. During the summer months, the sun sometimes never sets leading to an orange glowing sky at midnight. You can witness this across most of Scandinavia.