Scandinavia and Nordic Countries guide
With seemingly never ending Nordic days in summer and boundless Arctic winter nights mean year round this area of Europe remains enchanting. 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, 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.
Scott Dunn’s Classic Itineraries
At Scott Dunn we always tailor make our itineraries but have crafted a number of Scandinavia and Nordic country journeys for inspiration:
Spend a long weekend in Iceland on a tip of the iceberg trip from Reykjavik the south of this remarkable island. For those wanting a Wilderness Adventure, continue from the capital to the remote Snaefellsnes Peninsula and explore the western fjords by boat in search of whales (February – April) and watch the sun set over glaciers, remote lava fields and fjords.
Twin Helsinki and Finnish Lapland and explore the quirky capital ahead of an activity-filled stay at Beana Laponia, a wilderness hideaway in Rovaniemi that translates to “Dog Lapland” due to its focus on husky sledding.
Journey past the Harbours, Lakes and Mountains of Western Norway, beginning in Historic Bergen and driving through the lakes and mountains of Aurlandsfjord. We suggest a stay at the idyllic 29/2 Aurland close to the famous Flam Railway and the family-run Walaker Hotel in the heart of the magnificent Sognefjord. Alternatively, hike in the north western fjords, exploring Ålesund and the Sunnmøre Alps before retiring to accommodation bursting with rustic Norwegian charm, fireplaces, sheepskin blankets and ample landscape views.
To experience snowy Sweden in style we recommend staying in the unforgettable Ice Hotel (completely made of snow and ice) before spending some time in elegant Stockholm at one of the city’s stylish boutique residences such as The Lydmar Hotel or homely Ett Hem. For a more authentic Swedish Lapland trip our Winter Wonderland itinerary is sure to impress. Look up to the skies for the Aurora Borealis from either your hot tub at Bjorkliden Solhyllan Cabins or one of the brilliantly unique tree houses at the Treehotel, enveloped in northern forest.