Scandinavia has a reputation of being expensive, cold, and not-so-friendly people. Quite the opposite in some respects. They have a lively night scene, beautiful scenery, and most Danes or Swedes in major cities speak great English! It is easier to communicate with people than Quebec, where if you stop on the sidewalk for directions the person may not know English. Or other parts of Europe where English is not dominant. Keep reading for some of the top reasons why you should visit Scandinavia!
1. Short Distances
You can see a wide variety of cities on a small travel budget. Cities like Copenhagen, Denmark or Oslo, Norway are so small that you can walk around the city centre in a few days. There is an overnight cruise ship from Copenhagen to Oslo that can be 40 euros a trip. A “2-bed inside cabin with lower beds” round trip for two people can be 178 euros for two people. And they include cabins with 3 or 4 people to minimize your cost.
Flying between CPH and Stockholm can be 60 euros per round trip ! As well as flying between major Scandinavian cities, plus Helsinki.
The costs of inner city transportation can be expensive, but plan ahead and get a city card. Or stay central so you can walk everywhere! And try to take buses from the airport to your location, as they can be 50% cheaper than trains.
2. Danish Hygge
This Danish word translates to “coziness”, and is the motto of the Dane lifestyle. This is an atmosphere and experience, that many restaurants and café’s offer. It is common inside places to have candles, nice scents, and wood surfaces. Most outdoor bars in Nyhavn offer blankets, emphasizing this hygge. They enjoy warm drinks and classic meals, and of course Danish beer !
The architecture of Denmark is simple, and spaces are small. It is a reflection of the Dane’s themselves, that like the hygge lifestyle and are comfortable with what they have. This is a contrast to North American housing or architecture: where grand and bigger is better !
Stockholm, Sweden has similar architecture style as as Copenhagen, Denmark. Their restaurants and café’s are a lot more sleek and modern feeling. If you visit both places, although the outdoor cities are similar; you will notice a difference in culture through decoration.
3. Experience Nordic cuisine !
Some of the best restaurants in the world are located in Denmark, including Noma. The trend in Scandanavian haute-couture cuisine is traditional dishes making use of ingredients benefiting from the local region’s forest, and being organic. You can go to restaurants not as expensive as Noma for a several course experience you will not forget.
If you are not an adventurous foodie, there is always Smorrebrod you can have in Copenhagen. This is an open-faced sandwich filled with luscious toppings that Denmark is known for.
4. Plays, theatres, and ballets are 40% off for anyone under 26.
No matter which ticket or seat, if you are under 26, you are eligible for a huge discount on your ticket. Secondly, most major theatres or playhouses offer this deal in Stockholm and Copenhagen. This is better than any student discount offered, and I know there is no discount for Broadway in New York or the National Ballet in Toronto.
5. Nature of Norway and Finland
The Cliffs of Møn in Denmark was formed during the last Ice Age- the southernmost point of the country. Stand on history and enjoy the breathtaking view !
Meanwhile, In Norway the Hardanger Fjord is a nature park with glaciers and grand waterfall. The most famous “must-see” is Trolltunga, that takes about 8 hours to get there with hiking.
6. Shopping !
Scandanavian design emphasizes clean lines, quality of material, and minimalism. It is home to Acne, Fillipa K, Tiger of Sweden, and much more ! For men, Eton shirts are about 40% cheaper there than North America; where they are sold at Harry Rosen. If you visit Finland which is close by, they like bright colors and bold patterns. A popular Finnish brand is Merrimeiko. Secondly, within the city you will notice people always wear Trench coats and jackets. There is a wide variety of jackets from Scandinavian brands you may be able to get for cheap, that you cannot find in North America. There is a ton of supply, but I assume the demand is not as high as how many jackets can one have?
Major department stores have a Tourist Discount, such as Magazin in Copenhagen. They offer an immediate 10% off for tourists on the spot. In addition, as a tourist visiting any European country you are eligible to get VAT (Sales Tax) refunded; which is about 13% of the total price. Just remember to ask for “Tax-Free”!
7. Distortion in June
Plenty of festivals that are free to attend such as Stockholm Jazz Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Food fairs- and Distortion which is a 3 day street festival in Copenhagen. The Dane’s look forward to this all year around ! There is live music, a big crowd, and drinking on the streets is socially acceptable (unlike Stockholm or Sweden).
8. Midsummer Night
The Scandinavians like to enjoy nature and celebrate outside. Each country celebrates Mid-Summer night differently, either camping, getting very drunk, and generally having an all-nighter. On Midsummer, there is no darkness. In Finland, tables are decorated with flowers and in Sweden people dance all night. If you happen to miss Midsummer weekend, there are plenty of festivals over the summer such as Pride, Jazz Festivals, music events, and food fairs in each major city respectively.