Explore the best of Scandinavia

by Elizabeth Jones
Stripes Europe

What countries truly qualify as being a part of Scandinavia? While many reputable sources claim Denmark, Norway and Sweden make up the region, other sources of the same credibility claim those three plus Finland and Iceland are also included. For the perfectionists out there that need to know the answer — unfortunately, the short answer is that there truly is no answer. Despite the undecided definition, you can still explore the best of the most common concept of Scandinavia — Denmark, Norway and Sweden!

DENMARK

Copenhagen
Denmark’s capital is known for its abundance of shopping and dining opportunities. The Strøget, located in the historic district, is Europe’s longest pedestrian-only shopping zone. Here you’ll find your favorite top-of-the-line and budget-friendly brands scattered through the 1.1 kilometer-long shopping area, making it a true fashion lover’s paradise. Compared to the other Scandinavian capitals, Copenhagen is home to the most Michelin-starred restaurants with exactly 15 dispersed across the city. Copenhagen’s compelling culinary scene is one it takes great pride in by featuring a variety of high-profile restaurants, kitchens that cook with organic ingredients (most of which are grown in-house) and hole-in-the-wall restaurants owned by some of the world’s best sous chefs. A trip to Copenhagen wouldn’t be complete without strolling along the iconic Nyhavn waterfront filled with colorful houses, bars and restaurants. More than just a buzzing entertainment district, Nyhavn provides the perfect photo opportunity for all Instagram-loving tourists.

Tivoli Gardens
Pay a visit to the world’s second oldest amusement park which was originally opened in 1834 and has transformed into a top tourist destination. With over 27 rides, 300 concerts a year and a wide array of global delicacies, a trip to Tivoli Gardens offers nothing short of a good time.

NORWAY

Oslo
Home to a vast amount of landmarks, museums and outdoor treasures, the capital of Norway is filled with plenty of sightseeing opportunities. View the inside of the Royal Palace, the 19th-century residence of Norway’s King and Queen, with a guided tour. Be sure to uncover Norway’s Viking history at the Oslo Viking Ship Museum filled with well-preserved wooden Viking ships dating back as far as the 9th century.

For the outdoor enthusiasts, the city holds plenty of rustic parks, the magnificent Oslofjord’s waterways and islands which can be found a short distance from the city center, as well as the ski slopes and forests of Nordmarka.

Fjords
Noted as the symbol of Norway, over 1,000 fjords can be found throughout the country. Shaped by massive glaciers from many ice ages, fjords resemble a half-oval, underwater valley boasting dramatic, picturesque scenery. The most popular destinations include the Lysefjord area, Hardangerfjord region, Aurlandsfjord, Nærøyfjord, Sognefjord area, Geirangerfjord area, Hjørundfjord, Romsdalsfjord and the Trollfjord. Many tourists kayak, hike or take a cruise to reach these breathtaking beauties. The Norwegian fjords are truly a stunning sight to behold.

Lofoten Islands
Sprinkled across the Norwegian Sea and high above the Arctic Circle are the glorious Lofoten Islands. Tremendous landscapes and spectacular characteristics can be found throughout this archipelago to include magnificent mountain peaks, arctic fjords and sheltered bays. Connected by bridges and tunnels, the primary islands of Austvågøy, Vestvågøy, Flakstadøy and Moskenesøy, are separated from the mainland of Vestfjorden. Other than their beauty, the islands are famously known for their small fishing villages that offer visitors the chance to stay in a Rorbu, also known as an old fisherman's cabin. Be sure to indulge in stockfish — a traditional cuisine made from spawning cod.

SWEDEN

Stockholm
Made up of 14 islands connected by many bridges, exploring the capital of Sweden is rather easy. A top spot to visit is the strikingly romantic neighborhood of Stockholm’s old town, Gamla Stan, which lures tourists with its vibrant atmosphere of well-kept 17th-century buildings housing shops and restaurants. If you have a love for interior design, up-and-coming fashion trends, attention-grabbing product packaging and bold prints — Stockholm is a dream come true. See these items displayed across the city’s stores, coffee shops, restaurants and museums which will have you leaving Stockholm inspired and a bit more trendy.

Abisko
Battle the frigid winter nights to experience the item on everyone’s bucket list — witnessing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Typically from October to March, find the beautiful colors of green, red and purple dance across the sky. Abisko National Park is noted for being the best place to see nature’s most fascinating light show due to the area’s promising clear skies, regardless of the weather in surrounding places.

From captivating cityscapes to magical outdoor escapades and rich history to discover to innovative lifestyles, exploring the best of Scandinavia will be an adventure of a lifetime.

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