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Best of the Nordics – 15 things to experience

Welcome to the enchanting world of the Nordic countries, a region synonymous with breathtaking landscapes, unique natural wonders and a simple but rich way of enjoying life. From the majestic fjords of Norway and scenic views of Iceland to the vibrant cities of Sweden, Denmark and Finland, these best bits and pieces of the Nordic countries guide you to find the peace of mind and happiness you’ve been longing for.

If you make your way up to the Nordic countries, there are some must-do things to experience. Take your pick of these 15 unique options – or experience them all.

Natural phenomena, national parks and refreshing dips in Finland

1. Sleep under the magical Northern Lights or the midnight sun

The land of thousands of lakes and the home of Finnair offers you a chance to see some natural wonders unlike any other. The four seasons are all unique in their own way, perhaps the most sought-after natural phenomena being the Northern Lights that are visible in Northern Finland from September till April. Spend your night in a glass igloo or tent under the starry sky to enjoy them to the fullest. Equally unique is the Lappish midnight sun during the summer months – did you know that between 23 May and 20 July, the sun doesn’t set at all in Ivalo?

2. Be astonished by the beauty of nature in one of the national parks

Wherever you go in Finland, you’ll be surrounded by nature and national parks. In total, there are 41 national parks that let you connect with nature unlike anywhere else. Hike, bike, paddle, ski or fish, and remember to pause to embrace the silence. Take a few-hour day trip or stay in nature for days. Feel free to pick berries and mushrooms – and always remember to collect your trash.

3. Try the Finnish way of relaxing in the steam of a sauna in Helsinki

An essential part of Finnish culture is sauna, total number of which is the largest in the world in relation to the number of inhabitants of the country. The seaside capital Helsinki offers you several great options to try out the Finnish way to unwind. For instance, in the unique sauna restaurant Löyly, you get to try a few different saunas with a guaranteed refreshing dip in the Baltic Sea. Top your experience by ordering a steaming bowl of Finnish salmon soup.

Majestic fjords and mountains combined with cultural experiences in Norway

4. Let the mountain views take your breath away

Unlike the flat landscape of most of Finland, the scenery in Norway is filled with hills and mountains throughout the country. Perhaps some of the most captivating views you can find in Northern Norway, where the fairytale-like Lofoten Islands await. Drive through the precious small fishing towns, search for the best views by climbing up the mountains, go horseback riding at midnight and admire the bright turquoise waters.

5. Glide through the majestic Norwegian fjords

Along with the breathtaking mountain views, Norway offers over 1,000 picturesque fjords to visit. You can find some of the world’s longest, narrowest, deepest and most stunning fjords in Norway – two of them, the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord, are also represented on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Pick your favourite fjord and experience its mystique and beauty by taking a fjord cruise through it.

6. Go on an urban adventure in Oslo with outdoor art and walks in the city

Norway is best seen by exploring its nature, so why not continue the same theme in its capital, Oslo? Visit more than 200 captivating human statues of Vigeland Sculpture Park or see the internationally renowned artists’ work in Ekebergparken Sculpture Park, both being free to enter 24/7. Discover the charm of well-preserved wooden houses from the late 1700s and the 1800s on Damstredet and Telthusbakken, or hunt for Oslo’s colourful street art. There are many fun and free things to discover.

Scenic waterways, royal castles and mouth-watering cinnamon buns in Sweden

7. Paddle your way through a scenic waterway

The multiple lakes, archipelagos, rivers and waterways make Sweden a great destination to discover by canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddling. Enjoy the vibrant nature, charming fishing villages and the unique waterways, and remember to pause to take in the views and snap a picture or two! If you’re not afraid of the cooler weathers, you can even enjoy the scenic waters all year round. The more adventurous ones looking for an adrenaline rush should try whitewater rafting.

8. Find your inner royalty in one of the many Swedish castles

Sweden boasts an array of architectural wonders including castles, palaces and manors. Around 160 of the Swedish castles are well preserved, and you can discover their medieval charm both in the vibrant cities or deep in the countryside. Sweden’s monarchy is one of the oldest ones in the world, and it has existed already for over a thousand years. Travel in time and learn about the unique stories of each castle that have had part in shaping what Sweden is today.

9. Treat yourself with cinnamon buns and coffee in Stockholm’s many cafes

Did you know that there is a special verb, fika, describing the socialising that happens over the combination of coffee and cinnamon buns or cakes? Cinnamon buns, or kanelbullar, are an important part of the Swedish culture, and in fact, according to Visit Sweden, the average Swede eats cakes and pastry equivalent to 316 cinnamon buns per year. Thus, you can definitely find some great ones in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.

Danish design and discovering the secret of hygge in Denmark

10. Discover the essence of hygge

Soft blankets, the calming light of a candle, local mulled wine gløgg, all things Christmas, long picnics in the park or riding a bike in the sunset. The whole world may have heard about hygge, a word describing the Danish soul. Simply explained, it can mean enjoying the good things in life with good people in a cosy environment. However, if you still want to understand the essence of hygge better, why not join a Hygge & Happiness Tour with a local guide.

11. Fall in love with Danish design

Simple, functional and beautiful Danish design is world-famous and will help you contribute to hygge in your very own home. Often prioritising sustainability and environmental consciousness and reflecting a holistic approach to creating products that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly, Danish design pieces will be timeless souvenirs to bring home. Alternatively, you can feed your design appetite in Copenhagen’s design museum.

12. Hunt for the best smørrebrød in Copenhagen

A trip to Denmark is not complete without a truly Danish culinary experience: smørrebrød – an open-faced sandwich that can have almost any toppings you can possibly imagine. Some of the most popular options include pickled herring with shrimps and homemade mayonnaise, beef tartare with freshly shredded horseradish and warm liver paté with cucumber salad, pickled beetroot and bacon. You can find countless delicious bread places in Copenhagen.

Steaming hot springs, horseback riding and multiple festivals in Iceland

13. Unwind at the geothermal spas and hot springs around the country

One of the must-do things in Iceland is bathing in a natural hot spring, there are over 40 of them to choose from. Although not all are suitable for swimming, and you’ll want to pick a calm pool with the perfect temperature. Besides the calming and relaxing effect, they come with other health benefits, such as improving blood circulation, helping with eczema and relieving joint pain. Make sure to visit the gorgeous, world-famous Blue Lagoon with healing silica mud.

14. See the rugged landscape and nature by horseback riding

If you want to tour the impressively beautiful nature in an unforgettable way, try horseback riding! Riding the Icelandic horses is a popular and fun way to experience Iceland for all ages. From a 30-minute ride up to 8 days, you can see black sand beaches, hidden waterfalls, colourful volcanos and lava fields, the scenic and rugged coast, bubbly mud pools, hot springs and much more – scenery that is guaranteed to seem out of this world.

15. Attend one of the many events held in Reykjavik each year

The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, hosts multiple interesting events and festivals throughout the year. For instance, the popular Reykjavik Culture Night, Menningarnótt, takes place at the end of August, bringing together museums, theatres, shops and gardens that host musical performances, exhibitions and other fun. One day before the culture night, you can put on your sportswear and challenge yourself in the Reykjavik Marathon. The Reykjavik Arts Festival is hosted in June, while Reykjavik Pride takes place in August.

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