The summer months turn people’s thoughts to vacations and outdoor recreation – especially after the long winters in Scandinavia. Icelanders, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians and Finns, all make the most of warmer weather with their sights set on free-time for travel or enjoyment of the outdoors. Whole industries slow or even shut down for common holidays that allow most people the opportunity to vacation in the summer. Whether it be sightseeing, music festivals or retreating to a summer cabin, Scandinavians know how to have fun and renew themselves with rest and relaxation.
At Ingebretsen’s we greet many summer travelers as they come through our doors – both Americans who are revisiting Scandinavia through our gift shop and meat market and Scandinavians who are pleased to see their culture represented here in Minneapolis.
Here are a few highlights of the wonderful summer sights each country has to offer…
The Natural Beauty of Finland
Boating and cruises abound in the country of 10,000 lakes (there are actually many thousands more!). Luxurious passenger ferries may take you from Sweden to Finland, a very relaxing way to enter the country.
The capital, Helsinki, offers so many wonderful museums and even an interesting island called Suomenlinna
off the mainland from the city. Inland forests and lakes are wonderful for hunting and fishing trips.
Turku is located on the southwestern tip of the country and is also an excellent place to begin exploring Finland as it is the country’s oldest city and offers some of the most beautiful island sightseeing in Europe.
Galleries and museums also abound in Denmark with its capital of Copenhagen hosting first class exhibitions and shows. One of the best known landmarks of Copenhagen’s harbor is the statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid.
Tivoli amusement park is also a must-see—being Europe’s oldest park of its kind.
There aren’t the mountain landscapes as in the other Scandinavian countries but well-groomed farmland, rolling hills and sandy beaches describe Denmark. In the complex chain of islands, the major cities of Ålborg, Århus, and Odense, all offer cultural attractions, historical sightseeing and world renown hospitality.
Wild and Exotic Iceland
Experience Iceland’s lava fields, hot pools, geysers and glaciers. Take the Golden Circle Tour – easily accessible from Reykjavik. On this route, experience some of the island’s most famous attractions including Gullfoss, perhaps Iceland’s best-known natural wonder. For the more adventurous traveler, explore Iceland by horseback or airplane. Icelandic horses are the descendants of the horses brought to the island by the Vikings. Treks through a variety of terrain can be experienced.
Touring the island by airplane offers the tourist panoramic aerial views of some of Iceland’s most beautiful natural sights. Top off your stay with a visit to the Blue Lagoon, not a natural phenomenon but the run-off water (104°F) from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Relax and enjoy the mineral-rich blue waters said to offer healing qualities to eczema and psoriasis sufferers. Iceland’s rugged beauty shouldn’t be missed.
Explore the many popular natural attractions and historic sites. In Oslo, don’t miss Bygdøy with its many museums. Touring the fjord region is also a popular choice, especially Sognefjord. A trip on the Hurtigruta, the Norwegian coastal express, is an unforgettable trip. It makes 36 stops on its journey from Bergen to Kirkenes.
But to truly experience Norway, one should take the time to explore some of Norway’s other attractions. Do as many Europeans do—take a pilgrimage to North Cape, Europe’s northernmost corner, to experience the midnight sun. Or go on a bird safari or deep sea-rafting trip in Finnmark. Why not experience the “whale route”—the outer national coastal road through Lofoten, Vesterålen or Senja.
For a more relaxing travel pace, enjoy a seter visit or leisurely cruise the canals of picturesque Telemark.
Or do as the Norwegians do: rent a rustic cabin and commune with nature. Whatever your style of travel, Norway awaits you.
Sweden: A Country of Contrasts
In Sweden the modern cities contrast with the timber houses of her countryside. Twenty-four provinces offer an endless list of destinations. Explore Stockholm, said to be one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. Sail the archipelago or take a tour on a coal-fired steamboat through Skärgården’s more than 25,000 islands.
The glass region of Småland is also a popular attraction. The province of Dalarna is often referred to as the folklore district. Here one can visit the lakeside home of the well-known Swedish artist Carl Larsson. The district of Skåne offers beautiful beaches, castles and summer resorts. Or venture north to the wide-open spaces of Norrland and the land of the Sami people. The adventurous traveler can take a bike tour of Gottland with its sandy beaches and wild cliff formations. Golf enthusiasts might choose a round of golf by the light of the midnight sun in the far-northern town of Boden.
If rest and relaxation are your vacation goals, rent a cottage in the countryside, preferably by the water, and escape from the stress of everyday life. Sweden offers something for every one.
Helpful suggestions to enjoy your own Nordic Summer Style
Scandinavians continue to perfect the art of living well in the great outdoors.
Is there a better reason than warm weather to gather and enjoy a meal outdoors?