Holiday Destinations Scandinavia - Norway,Denmark and SwedenBest places to visit in Scandinavian countries, including places to see in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
European Travel Advice for Scandanavia
Scandinavia consists of 3 separate countries, Sweden, Denmark, Norway although sometimes, Finland and Iceland are also considered, incorrectly, to be part of Scandinavia. Sweden is the most populated country of Scandinavia with around 9 million residents, followed by Denmark with around 5.5 million and Norway with around 4.5 million.
The capital cities of Scandinavia are Stockholm in Sweden, Copenhagen in Denmark and Oslo in Norway. All of which are wonderful travel destinations and are considered to be some of the best places to visit in Scandinavia
All of the Scandinavian countries have a lot to offer the European Traveller, so when is the best time to visit Scandinavia?
Generally it is considered to be during the late spring, summer or perhaps early autumn. Being so close to the Arctic circle means that the days draw in quite quickly in the winter with very few daylight hours available. That said there is something rather picture postcard about all the Scandinavian destinations during the snow covered winter months which will definitely have an appeal for many people. Remembering of course that city centres don’t keep their snowy scenes for very long, so think about country locations if this is what you are looking for.
Top Ten Places to Visit in Scandinavia
Stockholm in Sweden, is also the largest city in Sweden. It is built on a series of Islands where water is a big feature of its landscape. There is a mix of old and new in the architecture that ranges from medieval times to the contemporary designs of recent developments. Its most visited region is the Djurgarden Island which you can get to across the bridge at Djugardsbron, once across the bridge you can visit the park at Galarparken or go and see the historic wooden buildings at Djurgardsstaden. The Rosendal Palace and grounds are another must see location, as is the old town of Gamla Stan with cobble stoned narrow streets and lots of tourist attractions to offer, it also sits on a small island not too far from Djurgarden Island. As capital cities go Stockholm is quite compact so walking around the city is definitely an option, but there are the tram systems as well which are from the 1920’s and are a very nice way to travel around the city. Another option is to take one of the boat trips with a commentary on the sights and history of the city in several different languages. The old town of Gamla Stan is another lovely part of Stockholm and has cobble stoned narrow streets and lots of tourist attractions to offer.
Copenhagen in Denmark
Copenhagen in Denmark is a modern looking city with a large harbor that looks out over the water towards Sweden. Look out for the ‘Little Mermaid’ sculpture which is an image of the lead ballet dancer Ellen Price who performed the Little Mermaid at the Royal Theater. Not too far from the ‘Little Mermaid’ you can find the ‘Round Tower’ which was built in the 17th century to house a library, a church and an astronomical observatory, its a great place to get the best views of Copenhagen. Then for a bit of fun you can visit the ‘Tivoli Gardens’ and amusement park originally built in the 19th century and is now lit up at night to encourage evening visitors. Copenhagen presents a friendly cafe culture environment that fits in well with the modern Scandinavian lifestyle. Its not unlike the feeling you get when you visit Paris in France and has been referred to as the ‘Paris of the North’.
Oslo the capital of Norway
Oslo the capital of Norway and home to the Royal Palace, a great example of the freedom enjoyed by the Norwegian people. Open to the public with no fences and free access it is a palace that is more like a public park. Right on the tip of the Oslo Fjord the harbour is a main attraction of the city and a place where you can get a boat trip and visit some of the nearby islands. Alternatively you can stroll along the Aker Pier and enjoy some music from the street performers, take some seafood and perhaps a cold beer. Another popular destination is Frogner Park, full of sculptures, and where you can access the ski jump to afford some great views across the city.
Tromso in Norway
Tromso in Norway is the recommended place to visit for the Arctic circles phenomenon called the ‘Northern Lights’ or the ‘Aurora Borealis’. This is of course one of the reasons you might choose to visit Scandinavia in the winter, to give yourself the best chance of seeing the ‘Northern Lights’ . An affect created by electrons streaming towards Earth and colliding with air particles along its magnetic field. The result is an amazing natural light show. Winter is darker so provides a better chance of seeing the phenomena and the further North you are the longer the season will be.
Denmark offers mile after mile of sandy beaches all along its coastline and the nearest to the capital Copenhagen is ‘Amager Beach’. You may be surprised to hear that both Sweden and Norway also have their fair share of sandy beaches. Sweden’s beaches are located on the Southern and central coastlines one of the best known is Langholmsbadet beach near Stockholm another is Smedsuddsbadet Beach. For Norway head to Stavanger on Norways south coast where you can find Solastrand, Orrestranda and Godalen beaches to name just a few. The best time for a beach holiday in Scandinavia, as you would expect, is through the longer summer months from the end of June through to the end of August.
Skiing holidays are also an option for Scandinavia, I am sure you will have heard of Norway’s Lillehammer area which hosted the the winter olympics in 1994. Lillehammer is just one of 6 great ski resorts in Norway, the others are Hemsedal, Trysil, Jotunheimen, Geilo and another famous one Kvitfjell. Skiing is one of the best sports for enjoying a healthy outdoor activity sport with fabulous scenery and Norway offers some of the best scenery in the world, albeit the costs would probably not be for the faint hearted. For Sweden you could check out Branas but it is only a small family oriented resort so not really a destination for the serious skier, ‘Are’ is another option with more to offer all skiing levels and is one of the largest resorts in the North of Europe. You will struggle to find a resort in Denmark so basically you should really be looking to go to Norway or Sweden for the best choices.
Bergen in Norway is one of the prettiest locations you will find in Scandinavia. It has a gorgeous little harbour surrounded by timber clad buildings in a true Nordic style alongside the Hanseatic wharf in Bryggen a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also considered to be the gateway to the Fjords and is one of the best known medieval city settlements in Norway. You can take a short ride on the Floibanen Funnicular to the top of the mountain for fabulous views of the city, the mountains and the fjords. Bergen has a famous fish market tucked into the hillside in amongst the old wooden houses. Wandering through the narrow streets in this area is a delight. Bergen was the home of the famous composer Edvard Grieg and there is a museum dedicated to him located here. There is much to see and do in Bergen and if you only had one place in Scandinavia that you could visit, this would be the recommendation.
The Fjords of Scandanavia
The fjords of Scandinavian countries represent some of the most amazing scenery in the world, inky jet black water often as calm as a mill pond they create a perfect mirror that reflects the landscape around them.
The fjords of Norway are among the most spectacular. You can take a train journey out of Bergen to explore the fjords of Norway that include Naeroyfjord and Geirangerfjord both of which are so beautiful they have been listed as UNESCO world heritage sites
The Gota Canal
The Gota Canal in Sweden runs from Goteborg to Stockholm and has a similar appeal to the Canal Du Midi in France attracting around 2 million visitors each year participating in activities like kayaking or swimming. You can hire and take a boat down the canal or go on an organised canal cruise. There are many marinas along the length of the canal and you can get a Gota card that allows you to make use of their facilities.
Legoland, the original, is in Billund, Denmark. It is built entirely of lego blocks and has many models including scaled down versions of whole countries. This is a family venue where you can, if you like, keep track of your kids using the unique KidSpotter system where by sending them a message their location is displayed on your unit. This is a great idea that gives them some freedom while you enjoy the fun rides or visit a museum yourself.