Nice Nordic Destinations You Really Need To Visit

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The Nordic nations are famed in a lot of fields, from affordable furniture design to being amazing at Eurovision… But did you know how much these northern countries also excel as holiday destinations? Whether you’d like a Danish city break visiting hygge-infused coffee shops, plan to visit the still waters of the Norwegian fjords or want to see the skies dancing with the jewel-hued northern lights, these 10 enticing Nordic destinations will offer that, and so much more.

1. Bergen, Norway

There are many reasons to visit Bergen in Norway. The country’s second city is surrounded by beauty, be it the hills behind or majestic fjords that form the coast. The area of Bryggen is where many of the city’s attractions are centred. This is where the very first buildings of Bergen began, and today it’s akin to a living museum, with colourful wooden buildings and narrow alleys set beside the water. Unsurprisingly it’s made UNESCO’s World Heritage List. And you simply have to get out of town for a day gliding on the serene waters admiring the fjords’ glaciers, mountains and tumbling waterfalls.

2. Stockholm, Sweden

Sweden’s capital is a mix of contemporary design and fairytale architecture, all spread across a succession of 14 islands. The Old Town, Gamla Stan, is all cobbled streets and terracotta-hued medieval buildings. It’s also where you’ll find the impressive 600-roomed Royal Palace. The city’s surrounding waters lend a sense of tranquillity, which you can explore further by taking a ferry to the more remote islands of the archipelago. Or make the most of Stockholm’s world-class museums, covering everything from modern art to ABBA.

3. Rovaniemi, Finland

If you want to visit the real Lapland, Rovaniemi is the place to do it. This remote Finnish city is just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle, leaving you with endless winter wonderland activities. You could try husky sledding, stay in a snow hotel, or watch out for the flickering northern lights, with many hotels constructing special viewing areas. Or… you could pay a visit to Santa. That’s right, he lives just a few miles out of town at the Santa Claus Village. There’s an exhibition on Christmas Traditions around the world, and you can get the elves to take a picture of you with Santa when you meet.

4. Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is another popular winter destination where you might get lucky with a glimpse of the shimmering northern lights. When you’re not tracking them in the long evenings, base yourself in Reykjavik, the world’s most northern capital city. Here you can explore Iceland’s notoriously quirky culture; there will be exhibitions by innovative artists, performances by creative musicians, and you can ask locals about the Huldufolk, or “hidden people” which apparently 60% of Icelander’s believe in. Don’t miss a visit to a geo-thermally heated pool while you’re there. The Blue Lagoon is the most famous, and conveniently located on the way to the airport.

5. Billund, Denmark

If you’re a Lego fan, this town in the middle of Denmark is notable for being the home of the beloved brick. The Lego head office is based here, but the bigger attraction, especially for families, is the original Legoland theme park. This 45-acre park draws in millions of visitors with its rollercoasters based on popular Lego series, pirate boats and Atlantis aquarium. Plus, there is of course a Miniland; recreations of famous landmarks including Mount Rushmore and the Athens Acropolis, made out of millions of Lego bricks. The park is generally open from April to November.
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6. Oslo, Norway

As a city break destination, Oslo flies somewhat under the radar, especially when compared to its Nordic neighbours’ capitals. But there’s no reason why that needs to be the case. As one of Europe’s fastest growing cities there’s a vibrancy to Oslo, backed up by innovative fusion cooking and bold architecture. If you visit in the summer you can visit surrounding forests and sculpture parks, but any season is suited for trips to the Holmenkollen Ski Museum or drinking an akevitt (a spice and herb flavoured spirit) in one of Oslo’s trendy bars.

7. Gothenburg, Sweden

Sweden’s second city is a great place to explore the Swedish tradition of fika – a Swedish term for a coffee break. This pretty port city abounds in cosy coffee shops where you can indulge in a warming drink and a cinnamon bun. In between you can stroll the city’s canals, window shop at the indie stores in the Haga neighbourhood and ride the trams about town. As Sweden’s biggest western port there’s plenty of nautical attractions to see here, from waterfront tours to the still-floating warships at the Maritime Adventure Centre.

8. Copenhagen, Denmark

If you really want to understand this hygge concept you’ve been reading about, where better than on an autumnal break to Copenhagen? Whether you’re strolling the colourful streets of Nyhavn harbour, or sipping a gløgg (mulled wine) amid the twinkling lights of Tivoli Gardens, the Danish capital has plenty of places to help you in savouring simple pleasures. Copenhagen is also known as one of the world’s most liveable cities, and for its world-class restaurants. So there’s a lot of less-simple pleasures to look forward to too.

9. Faroe Islands

If you want to explore somewhere completely different, how about the Faroe Islands? This often-overlooked island group is set between Iceland, Scotland and Norway, but is a territory of Denmark. The islanders have a culture of their own that encompasses proud local traditions, a history dating back to the Viking age and a strong fishing industry. The islands are a nature-lover’s dream, with unspoiled mountainous landscapes and fjords populated with puffins and the occasional grass-roofed cabin.

10. Helsinki, Finland

As the Nordics move into Eastern Europe, Helsinki manages to capture a bit of both. The Finnish capital is built upon a collection of islands, but the wide roads and grand buildings are modelled after the streets of St Petersburg. Later additions to the city celebrate Finnish design and innovative architecture, with today’s Helsinki carrying a youthful buzz of brunch spots, coffee shops and nightclubs. Don’t forget to fit in a sauna while you’re there. It’s a Finnish institution.