The northern European Scandinavian region is home to some of Western Europe's most beautiful sights, from shimmering lakes to snow-dusted forests. Not to mention a much-sought after art and design scene and plenty of picturesque cities you just can't help loving.

From the fairytale palaces and islands of Stockholm to Norway's fjord-side city settings and the modern art museums and hygge-infused cafes of Copenhagen, there's plenty to enjoy cheap city breaks in Scandinavia.

Stroll around the galleries, food carts and design shops of Helsinki, chow down on some of the best seafood you've ever eaten in Gothenburg or treat your ears to an evening at the Malmo Opera. If there's one thing Scandinavia has in spades, it's culture, and you're going to wish it was your own by the end of it all.

When you're planning a trip, however, keep the weather in mind. Spring can be a nice time to visit, as weather will average around the low teens. Summer is popular when temperatures tend go as high as 21°C - and the daylight lasts until the small hours. Don't forget about wintry breaks. Not only is winter the cheapest time to travel, but places like Stockholm and Bergen do take on a certain frozen magic of their own. You might even sight the shimmering green northern lights if you're in Reykjavik - just wrap up warm.

Scandinavian Capitals

Norway's capital Oslo is surprisingly outdoorsy. For those who want a cosmopolitan city that's easily navigated by foot, a cheap city break in Oslo fits the bill. While it has things like the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park and the National Gallery, you can also hike, bike, sail, ski, ice skate and kayak all within the city limits.

Copenhagen is great for couples looking for a short break from every day life - whether just for a weekend break or a bit longer. Stroll around Tivoli Gardens, home to everything from rollercoasters to artificial waterfalls, while away the hours in the city's many art galleries and spend the evening in one of the city's many stylish, but affordable, restaurants.

Stockholm is all about art and design and nightlife (well, and the shopping). Art isn't centred around just galleries either - that ever-sought after Scandinavian minimalism design is all over Stockholm. For a glitzy night out, head to Stureplan for exclusive clubs and innovative cocktails. If you're looking for a more laidback vibe, cosy pubs and friendly bars can be found in Sodermalam.

Picturesque Cities

The views from Bergen begin before you even arrive ? the train ride from Oslo to Bergen is meant to be one of the top scenic train rides in the world. And once you've arrived, its view of the Byfjorden fjord and the wooden houses that line the waterfront make for an impossibly scenic photo.

Aarhus is the chief port of Denmark and there for those who love to be outdoors. A mixture of woodlands, beaches, lakes and picturesque historical buildings will keep you snapping pictures at every corner.

And let's not forget the natural beauty of winter wonderland destinations like Reykjavik and Rovaniemi, only a few miles outside the Arctic Circle in Finland.

Somewhere Different

There are plenty of quirky destinations you can explore on your cheap city breaks in Scandinavia.

Billund in Denmark is the site of the ever-popular Legoland theme park. Built back in 1964, it has attracted countless visitors - it's your Lego dreams come to life, and possibly not what you would associate with Scandinavian city trips.

Another great Scandinavian city trip for families is visiting Father Christmas in Lapland. You'll find him just outside Rovaniemi at the Santa Claus village - and you can also try outl dog sledding and snowmobiling in picturesque wintry settings.

Try visiting Gothenburg instead of Sweden's capital Stockholm. It's a city full of history, architecture, stunning scenery, from botanical gardens to nature reserves, and plenty of culture. Or try Malmo in Sweden. It's is home to some idyllic sandy beaches, and it's just a bridge away from Copenhagen - an easy choice for a multi-centre trip.

Spotting the northern lights is a unforgetable experience - and it's possible in many Scandinavian cities, although you'll want to leave city limits for the best view. The further north you can go the better - so fly into Reykjavik, Rovaniemi or Tromso. Or the city of Longyearbyen in Svalbard if you're really serious about it.