The first association we get when someone says Scandinavia or Northern Europe in general is coldness. However, this historical and cultural region which consists of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark has so much more to be famous for. We will provide you a short list of absolutely must-see places if you ever decide to make a tour de North. Take some time and check out what’s so special about these cities!
1) Stockholm, Sweden
The capital of Sweden combines rich historical background with modern attractions. Not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this beautiful city, the Royal Palace Drottningholm (the residence of the royals) and the magical Skogskyrkogården (Woodland Cemetery), attract millions of tourists each year. Cobbled streets, picturesque bridges over the city’s canals, fantastic architecture and much more are the reason to visit this place. Don’t forget about the Old Town with museums, boutiques and, of course, the traditional food.
2) Rovaniemi, Finland
If you dream of a winter wonderland, then the region of Lapland is as close as it gets to making your dreams come true. If you add to that the birthplace of Santa Claus, what else do you need? This is the northest part of Finland and a perfect place to see Aurora Borealis, which can be seen 200 nights per year. Do not think that it’s less magical in summer! For three months the region is bathed by a 24-hour sunlight that provokes the phenomenon called the Midnight sun, which calls for many out-door activities, festivals, cultural events, etc.
3) Roskilde, Denmark
Being the Danish capital for centuries, Roskilde is a city with rich historical background dating to the Viking age when a royal palace and a cathedral were built there by the founder of Denmark, Harald Bluetooth. The city is also famous for its Viking Ship Museum which is a home of 5 well-preserved Viking ships, unearthed from the Roskilde Fjords around the city. The city also houses Denmark’s biggest party and northern Europe’s biggest music festival, attracting more than 50,000 campers every summer.
4) Andøya, Norway
Most of you have probably already heard of Andøya Space Center on Norway’s northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago inside the Arctic Circle. This is not ideal place only for space lovers, but for nature enthusiasts as well. Andøya is Norway’s leading spot for whale and wildlife watching for which it has earned the name ‘Whale Kingdom of the North’, overrun by tourists both in summer and in winter season. If you decide to go, you can enjoy deep-sea fishing, husky sleigh rides, stave hot pools, bike tours, too, or see the Museum of Nostalgia, how Alveland soap is made and much more.
5) Helsinki, Finland
Finnish capital and country’s largest city Helsinki is a perfect destination to visit at any time of the year. Most of the city sits on a peninsula facing the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is a city to explore on foot or on a bike. If you happen to be there, do not miss out on Mannerheimintie (Mannerheim Street) which expands from the Central Railway Station and where you can see the statue of Marshal Mannerheim, the most important man in Finnish history. You can see the Kiasma Museum as well, the Parliament building and much more. Linnanmäki Amusement Park is a great place to go if you’re looking for a bit of fun and relaxation after sightseeing.
6) Reykjavik, Iceland
Apart from being number one in the number of cultural institutions, Iceland’s capital city has developed a high-quality tourism offering wide range of volcano tours and diving in the waters of Silfra. You can also experience the worldwide famous salmon and wild trout fishing, whale and puffin watching, sea angling, northern lights cruises and the ferry to Viðey Island. Mount Esja is a popular destination for one day trippers, as well as a golden-sanded geothermal beach at Nauthólsvík in Reykjavík. Icelandic cuisine is a must-try when in Reykjavik, so keep in mind not to forget the fabulous Icelandic beer, hot dog, coffee and pizza.
7) Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
A tiny Swedish village locally known as Jukkas, 17km north of Kiruna in the region of Lappland. This place is known in the world as the location of Icehotel, by far the world’s largest igloo, built every year all over again in October next to the Torneälven River that lasts until the temperatures rise significantly above zero in May and then melts back to the river. The all inclusive package per night costs 220€ for 2 persons. After spending the night at Icehotel, don’t hesitate to visit the nearby city of Kiruna and see Kiruna Kyrka, one of the most beautiful buildings in Sweden, Ateljé Nord with handicraft masterpieces and collections, and if you’re there in January, Snöfestivalen, which is all about snow sculpting.
8) Bergen, Norway
According to many, Bergen is Norway’s most beautiful city. Country’s second largest place is also a gateway to majestic fjords. Called ‘the city between seven mountains’, Bergen is today a European City of Culture and an important centre for the shipping and oil industries, aquaculture and higher education. The old wharf of Bergen, Bryggen, serves as a reminder of city’s important role in Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to the 16th century. Its renewal maintained the traditional style following old patterns and methods. The Hanseatic merchants in the Bryggen area are now included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
9) Copenhagen, Denmark
By far the largest city in the country, Copenhagen is also claimed to be Scandinavia’s most relaxing city. A friendly street-life and a unique café culture wrapped in beautiful design of the city will make you want to never leave again. The colorful shore-side homes of Nyhavn give the city a nautical vibe, very present in the cuisine as well. Wander through the city and see the beauty of Tivoli Gardens, the city’s most popular attraction dating from 1843, especially magical in Christmas time, Christianborg Palace, the Danish seat of government, many museums and galleries or spend your leisure time in Strøget, a shopping area with all kinds of boutiques, shops, bars and restaurants.
10) Gothenburg, Sweden
Although not so famous as Stockholm or Malmö, Gothenburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the country and a popular tourist destination. Make sure to go to Liseberg, Scandinavia’s largest amusement park with all kinds of attractions, which opens its Christmas market for winter holidays. The Gothenburg Museum of Art is also worth visiting if you’re an art lover who wishes to see one of the finest collections in Northern Europe. Few other interesting places to go to are Feskekôrka, a fish market hall in the shape of a church, Garden Society of Gothenburg, one of Europe’s best preserved 19th century parks and Gothenburg archipelago within one hour drive from the city.