Originally posted: 20 April 2016 | Updated on 18 September 2019 by Darcy Alexander
Scandinavia has long captivated people around the world. This historically significant and culturally rich region perched atop Northern Europe, with tales of Norsemen and Vikings has long incentivised travellers to explore the beautiful views, endless fjords and charming canals and harbours.Today the region combines staggering natural beauty with world-leading economies, industries and living standards.
Although in the English-speaking world, Scandinavia is traditionally restricted to the three kingdoms of Sweden, Norway and Denmark; Finland and Iceland are often unofficially included. The awe-inspiring Norwegian Fjords and charming cities have made Scandinavia a hugely popular holiday destination with keen explorers and purveyors of beauty.
Countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland
Number of Port Cities: 90
Busiest Port: Copenhagen – 840,000 Passengers/Year
Popular Ports: Copenhagen, Bergen, Oslo, Stockholm, Hammerfest, Molde, Torshavn, Helsinki, Reykjavik, Gothenborg
Regular Visitors: Queen Mary 2, P&O Britannia, Regal Princess, MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Eclipse, Norwegian Star, Queen Elizabeth, MS Rotterdam
Must Visit Cities
Iceland is a young and wild island nation, built up of volcanoes, lava fields, hot springs and miles of glaciers, and the capital city, Reykjavik, is a rare habitable respite. The charming little city is made up of colourful town houses, ultra-exclusive boutiques and wonderful restaurants. And the natural treasures, the Gullfoss and the Blue Lagoon, are located close by, giving visitors a true taste of wild Iceland.
The Danish capital, Copenhagen, offers much more than traditional Scandinavian architecture and hospitality, it is also the home of the world’s quickest growing culinary phenomenon – Nordic cooking. Largely inspired by Noma, which is routinely ranked as the world’s greatest restaurant, Copenhagen is now a gourmand’s paradise, with exquisite eateries seemingly on every corner.
Closing in on its 100th anniversary, the Norwegian capital, Oslo, is regularly voted as one of the planet’s most liveable and beautiful cities. Notable for its abundance of green spaces and museums, Oslo is a wonderful mix of natural beauty and reflections of the region’s history.
Of all Europe’s capitals, Helsinki will not be the first that springs to mind when considering city break — but the Finnish capital is a picture-perfect example of life in the northern stretches of Europe. The 200-year-old city centre is constructed around neoclassical architecture designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, the famed German architect, providing a perfectly balanced and uniform aesthetic.
Nowhere embodies the beautiful spirit of the Norwegian Fjords better than the quaint waterside village of Flåm. The clean plunging waters, snow-topped mountains and charming houses which sprout at random from the landscape make Flåm a truly charming proposition.
Iceland’s Holuhraun Lava Field looks like the set from a disaster movie, with flowing lava darting in every direction. Since the region’s volcanic eruptions in 2014 and 2015, the fields have truly come to life, having sat dormant for more than 200 years. Just don’t get too close.
Combining the entertainment, arts and culture of a large city with the scale of a sleepy village, the Swedish destination of Kalmar provides a wonderful setting for a family retreat. Rent a bicycle to explore outside the city limits and you’ll soon stumble across beaches, forests and rolling meadows.
Situated in the middle of three sprawling lakes, the small Danish town of Sorø provides the perfect location for a little Scandinavian rest and relaxation. Despite the small size of the town, Sorø packs in plenty of history – with a number of old Danish kings, and bishop Absalon, the founder of Copenhagen, all buried in the old cemetery.