Scandinavia is a rather large region, covering Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. That’s quite a bit of ground to cover, and we highly recommend either planning your trip thoroughly or devoting a lot of time to your vacation here. Some people may feel that there isn’t much difference in the different areas that comprise Scandinavia, but there’s actually quite a bit of diversity to be found.
Planning Your Trip
When planning for your trip to Scandinavia, we recommend that you decide what you’d like to focus on when there: are you after the cultural aspect of the trip, focusing more on food, architecture, and shopping; or are you more interested in the outdoor aspect which includes treks, snowmobile tours, kayaking, and camping?
Given how much there is to see of either, trying to do everything that the region has to offer in one go is a daunting task. Focusing on one aspect at a time (although splashing in some of the other activities is fine, of course) will really let you maximize your stay in this beautiful Northern European region.
What To Eat
Generally, when we think of Scandinavian cuisine the first things that probably come to mind are herring and meatballs. If you aren’t crazy about those, no need to worry. Scandinavia offers quite a few options in the culinary arena.
Flaeskesteg, a traditional Danish pork roast is served with heavy gravy and caramelized potatoes. Further north, sausages made of deer, elk, or even bear can be found. Meatballs are, of course, found everywhere across Scandinavia, but keep in mind that each region has their own way of preparing them! Don’t expect the meatballs you had in Sweden to be the same as the ones you’re served in Norway!
For the dessert lovers, Kanelbullar is a cinnamon bun popular around the region, but especially in Sweden. These buns aren’t just a breakfast buns either! Expect to see locals enjoying them any time of the day, usually with fresh-brewed coffee. Kladdkaka, a sticky chocolate cake, is popular as well.
And of course, we would be remiss not to mention the infamous lutfisk: codfish preserved in lye and usually eaten around Christmas. There are other variations, such as hakarl, which is fermented shark, but lutfisk remains one of the most infamous internationally.
As we mentioned earlier, the activities can be divided between cultural and outdoor activities. While the outdoor activities offered here may not seem so different from what we have available back home in the US, it is worth noting that those outdoor activities are significantly different here. Nothing in the US quite matches the vistas and skies offered by Scandinavian park grounds and campsites, some of which are found above the Arctic Circle.
Trust us, the sky you see when camping at night above the Arctic Circle is something you’ll never forget!
Cultural tours reflect the incredible diversity in Nordic culture. Ranging from the comforting, rustic feel of Finland, the parade of festivals that Norway seems to celebrate year round, to the stylishly modern architecture of Sweden, there’s something in the cultural tours for everybody.
And for the Disney fans out there who love Frozen, let’s not forget that the story it was based on did originate in Scandinavia! So take those qualms you have about visiting and… let it go!