Our Guide to Nordic Countries
Looking for a family adventure with forays through Nordic cuisine, great winter activities, beautiful natural landscapes and wildlife in Scandinavia, or a romantic retreat? Then this 'best for' guide is for you.
In winter, regions contend for the best place to see the Aurora Borealis and in northern Sweden, Finland and Norway, snow blanketed landscapes wait to be explored by husky or reindeer with local Sami people (see our Lapland guide).
For those wanting an active break in this incredible outdoor playground there are infinite options all year. But before considering a wilderness adventure, a great starting place is to explore the cities of Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen or Reykjavik. Here you can appreciate Nordic cuisine and culture, its fascinating heritage including tales of Viking forefathers, seafarers, harbours and distinct Scandi design. Continue from Stockholm to the archipelago and explore thousands of islands rich in wildlife and from Copenhagen to the Danish countryside peppered with grand houses and cosy cottages.
Few leave these countries without feeling awestruck and after witnessing Iceland’s towering waterfalls, thermal springs, glaciers and unbelievable landscapes; it's no wonder so many return. You don’t need to be a geologist to appreciate that this is a magical island bursting with energy and unbelievable natural panoramas. Similarly, Norway’s many epic coastal fjords and its largely uninhabitable backdrop is popular among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, met by beauty around every hair pin bend.
At Scott Dunn we'll create an itinerary that will and really give you a feel for Nordic culture in comfort. Our specialists will weave stylish accommodation with unforgettable experiences such as snowmobiling across the frozen landscape of Finnish Lapland as the Northern Lights dance in the sky, meeting local reindeer or hiking up an Icelandic glacier.
How do you get to Scandinavia?
There are several flights into the main international airports of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland from all over the world. Travelling within countries is dependent on preference and time constraints, domestic flights are available between main areas of interest but often the best way to travel is by private air conditioned vehicle which is a fantastic way to see the variety of landscapes en-route.
When is the best time to visit?
The Nordic countries are year-round destinations that give you entirely different experience with each season. Therefore, choosing when to visit is dependent on what you want from your trip. Across much of Scandinavia the high season is considered to be between June and August when temperatures are at their warmest and summer concerts and festivals are held. For Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden a trip for many is epitomised by the chance to witness the ethereal Northern Lights which take place from early Autumn to Spring (see our Northern Lights guide for more information). During this time there are, of course, long nights, but the promise of ice rinks, Christmas lights, northern sleigh rides and cosy fireside evenings. Conversely, lengthy summer days and midnight sun across many Nordic countries makes late May to August a fantastic time to see, literally, as much as possible during your stay.
Trips for Families
There’s plenty to do for all ages across Scandinavia and the Nordic countries with perhaps the most obvious and enchanting being a visit to Lapland. Enjoy a magical trip to see Father Christmas in Finnish Lapland, stay in a luxury wooden chalet and meet local huskies and reindeer. During warmer months Sweden is the perfect destination for a wild family adventure. Our foraging and fun itinerary features rustic log cabins, berry picking, wildlife spotting.
Nature and wildlife
The natural landscape of Scandinavia is undoubtedly one of the best Europe has to offer. In Norway, the Lofoten Islands, situated above the Arctic Circle, boast soaring rocky peaks latticed with walking trails with spectacular views across to the mainland. Explore hidden bays and islets by kayak or embark on a fast paced RIB tour or sea safari through the archipelago and spectacular Trollfjorden where you may spot sea eagles, seals and whales. In Sweden, Stockholm’s own archipelago comprises around 300,000 islands where days can be filled with sailing, surfing, horse riding, cycling, diving, and exploring islands that are protected nature reserves. For a novel base amongst the islands and waterways we recommend Island Lodge an exclusive tented camp that overlooks the archipelago from an idyllic private island location.
Scandinavia and the Nordic countries are effortlessly romantic destinations chock full of secluded retreats in picture perfect destinations such as the Norwegian fjords, snowy Finnish Lapland, and Sweden’s forests and archipelago. A Scott Dunn favourite in Norway is the remote and family-run home from home 29/2 Aurland. After an authentic Norwegian welcome, you’ll hike through stunning scenery, savouring the views and enjoying an al fresco picnic in a traditional Laavu tent. Dreamy evenings are spent snuggled in deep armchairs with cosy woollen throws by a log burning stove.
Meanwhile, Beana Laponia in the heart of Finnish Lapland provides an adults only boutique retreat from which to explore this wintery wonderland and the wealth of activities on its doorstep. With a focus on husky sledding, authentic Lappish days during winter end with a sauna and delicious local meal. The Treehotel in the wild forests of Northern Sweden is a perfect year-round option for design lovers. This eco-conscious hotel comprises ‘tree house rooms’ ranging from The Mirror Cube (with a completely reflective exterior) to The Birdnest with its retractable staircase. In winter, the Treehotel combines perfectly a stay at the Ice Hotel in Swedish Lapland, and Stockholm in summer.