Planning trips to Scandinavia is absolutely one of my most favorite things to do…EVER!
Between the insanely nice people, the charming cities, the exquisite natural landscapes, the delicious food, and the fact that there is like no crime, I always wonder why I come back to the United States at all (even their customs officers are super nice and crack jokes).
Then I Remember:
Oh yeah, I have a job and without it there is no way that I could afford the rather steep prices found throughout much of Scandinavia (Thanks taxes. Way to mess it up for everyone).
But to Really Enjoy Scandinavia:
You kind of sort of have to get away from the crowds and off the beaten path since Scandinavia is most revered for its extraordinarily beautiful, natural landscape, like the insane beauty that you’ll find in the Lofoten Islands in winter.
No one wants to get into a street brawl as they desperately search for the Northern Lights or as they try and nab an iconic shot of some hella awesome fjords.
But what do I know about travel in Scandinavia?
Not so much since I’m a New Yorker. Therefore, I ‘ve asked some of my favorite blogging buddies to give me some of their favorite and totally secret Scandinavia travel destinations (and the Netherlands too).
So check them out and only tell me what you think if you like them (kidding, sort of).
1. Christiana, Copenhagen, Denmark
One of the many things I did while in Copenhagen was visit the infamous Christiania. Also known as Freetown Christiania, it is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares.
But It Gets Better!
It is a green and car-free zone that was created by a group of hippies who occupied some abandoned military barracks on the site and developed their own set of social rules, completely independent of the Danish government.
So What Should You Expect?.
It is an eclectic mix of art galleries, homemade residential houses, music establishments, workshops, organic cafes and rugged natural landscapes. It is also home to Pusher Street, where ironically enough, illegal hash deals take place.
I meandered through the streets and sat down for a Fair Trade coffee and spent the afternoon watching a diverse array of people go by. So glad I got to see it and experience Copenhagen in a whole new light! Truly one of the great things to do in Scandinavia!
By: Gabrielle Grow of Boarding Call Blog (Check her out on Instagram)
When you think of castles in Europe, the Netherlands probably isn’t the first country that comes to mind.
But it should be!
Kasteel de Haar is a fairly modern castle that was heavily used during the 20th century when Hollywood stars and royals would escape the stresses of the outside world in one of the castle’s 200 rooms.
The castle itself dates back to 1381, but fell into disrepair and was renovated in 1892 by Baron Etienne van Zuylen and his wife Baroness Helene de Rothschild.
At the time of its completion:
Kasteel de Haar was the most opulent castle in the Netherlands; more luxurious and modern than even the royal palaces of the time.
This castle can easily be reached using public transportation, making Kasteel de Haar the perfect day trip from Amsterdam. Plus,
If you go:
Consider visiting nearby Utrecht as well – a charming city that feels a bit like a miniature version of Amsterdam.
3. The West Fjords of Iceland
By: Greta Omoboni of Greta’s Travels (Check her out on Facebook)
Well, the Westfjords are Iceland’s most rural and least visited region, making it a must-visit destination for any and all nature lovers.
Planning a Visit?
By: Penny Fernandes of Globetrove (Check her out on Facebook)
When I think about Europe my mind wanders to Kinderdijk in the Netherlands, a quaint little spot in the Dutch countryside. It was the first spot that I visited in Europe and it continues to be one of my favorites.
Kinderdijk is a historic windmill complex that drained excess water from the surrounding fields so that farmers grow their crops.
This important job has been taken over by other machines, but these windmills still stand as a proud relic from the past that has even been designated a UNESCO Heritage site.
But It’s Not All About the History:
The entire landscape is dotted with luscious green meadows, winding canals, charming, windmills and stunning flowers that make Kinderdijk one of the best places to visit in Europe.
For the Perfect Day Out:
Pack a picnic lunch, head out to Kinderdijk, spread out a blanket, and enjoy a view of the peacefully picturesque windmills of the Dutch countryside. Also, take some time to climb the windmill museums and see how the Dutch farmers of the past really lived.
5. Rauma, Finland
Truth Be Told:
Almost all of Southwestern Finland is a hidden gem of Scandinavia that must be added to your Scandinavian tour itinerary immediately,
Rauma, in particular, is a special place that you should be at the top of your bucket list.
Located less than 100 km North of the old Finnish capital of Turku, Rauma makes the perfect day trip destination.
Rauma embodies the quiet charm, down-to-earth food, and exquisite natural landscape that everyone loves in Finland.
But It Gers Better!
Rauma’s beautiful wooden houses. are the stuff that Instagram dreams are made of, Even more importantly though, these buildings are also a protected, UNESCO World Heritage Site since they are of tremendous historical significance to the area.
Wait, There’s More!
Rauma is also known for its production of gorgeous lace; lace that draws thousands of visitors to the famous Rauma lace festival each year.
While at the Festival:
Be sure to experience the Black Lace Night where museums and shops stay open late while citizens roam the streets in black lace dresses. Truly one of the top 10 things to do in Scandinavia.
6. Ribe, Denmark
Ribe is a charming Scandinavian town, where every Danish person’s grandma lives, in which you can quietly escape the chaos of bigger and busier cities like Copenhagen, Denmark.
Every Danish person I talked to while traveling through Denmark said, “Oh, my grandma lives there!”
As soon as you set foot in this historic place, you’ll be low-key looking for a Danish grandma to adopt, so you’ll have an excuse to visit again and again.
Now Believe it or Not:
Ribe is the oldest town in Denmark. Here, you’ll find yourself wandering amidst charming cobblestone streets that are lined with a series of homes that date all the way back to 1500.
Not everything is ancient though.
You’ll begin to detect a hint of modern flare hidden amongst the town’s ancient charms.
Modernity sneaks its way into town through artisanal chocolate shops as well as a bright new Danish design aesthetic that is seamlessly woven into the town’s iconic infrastructure.
Ribe truly is one of the most amazing cities to visit in Scandinavia.
7. Hovedøya, Norway
8. Stockholm Metro Art, Sweden
By: Christine Emhardt of And the Story Goes (Check her out on Instagram)
Stockholm, Sweden has many great art museums that you can add to your Stockholm, Sweden bucket list. But, the best place to see local artists display their best work is in the underground metro.
And this Art is Everywhere!
Found throughout 90+ underground stations, a diverse array of art pieces are on display from over 150 artists; Some pieces are small, but some pieces cover the metro from floor to ceiling with beautiful murals, three-dimensional objects, and sculptures.
Just Remember That:
Seeing all of these art pieces can take the better half of a day since there are over 110 kilometers of tracks in Stockholm. Plus, some stations get very crowded during commuter times, making it difficult to see many of the art installations.
If you’re visiting Stockholm between June and August, you can opt for a Summer Art Walk lead by SL (Stockholm’s Public Transport); the tour is free so the only thing you need is a valid fare ticket.
Be Aware That:
The walk is only offered during select days and times and showcases so check the tour schedule and find a time that works for you.
Wanna Tour the Metro By Yourself?
Then be sure to explore some of the most popular stations in Stockholm: Centralen, Akalla, and Vreten (on the blue line); Stadion and Universitetet (on the red line), and Hotorget and Thorlidsplan (on the green line).
9. Geirangerfjord, Norway
By: Greta Omoboni of Greta’s Travels
The Geirangerfjord is one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway.
This 15km long fjord in the Sunnmøre region in Norway is protected as a designated, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And You Can Easily See Why:
With its towering cliffs, lush vegetation, countless waterfalls and snow-capped peaks, it’s truly an astonishing and totally unique natural landscape.
Just hop on a cruise to Geirangerfjord; a truly amazing experience as you sail along, surrounded by the exquisite cliffs and waterfalls of the majestic fjords.
At the end of the fjord:
There is a small town called Geiranger, from which you can catch a bus that will take you all around the fjord so that you can enjoy some of the stunning views from above.
While Geirangerfjord is a popular attraction because of its shape and location, it is still not nearly as busy as many other parts of Scandinavia (also check out these Norway travel tips before you visit).
10. Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Tucked away, above the Arctic Circle in Sweden, is the teen,y tiny town of Jukkasjärvi (say that ten times fast).
But Why Would You Ever Want to Travel Here and Freeze Your Butt Off?
Well, beneath the vibrant glow of the Northern Lights and hidden among the snowy, reindeer dotted landscape, lies the largest ice hotel in the entire world.
With over 65 rooms to choose from, the ICEHOTEL of Sweden looks like something plucked right out of Disney’s Frozen, minus the talking snowman (Come on Elsa, you ready to Let it Go yet?).
Within this Hotel:
Each room is meticulously, hand-carved out of ice, to create an exquisite set of ice sculptures that are unique to every room and that captures the true natural beauty and artistry of this magical place (we had jelly fish floating through my room and it was really cool).
But it Gets Better!
This hotel even has a fully functional ice bar where drinks are served in glasses that are made entirely of ice.
Feel free to grab a drink, relax, and look out over the majestic, frozen river where sled dogs impatiently wait to take you, across the ice, on the ride of your life.
This post about amazing trips to all the countries in Scandinavia may not tickle your fancy, but it’s got me reevaluating all my future travel plans.
I had no idea that some of these places even existed let alone that I should be expertly touring Scandinavia by checking out all these secret places in Scandinavia, and beyond.
So Don’t Be Like Me.
Learn from my insane level of ignorance and start touring Scandinavia like a boss.