A group of five countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, located in Northern Europe forms the Scandinavia, a historic and cultural region. Known for its stylish cities, untouched forests, wilderness scattered all across the region, thrilling festivals and enchanting northern lights, the itinerary of Scandinavian region is all spiced up with various flavours that will leave you wanting for more.
Northern Lights. Adorned with natural beauty. Fresh air and less population. Relaxed lifestyle. Beautiful architecture. Great sporting and adventure opportunities.
Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland together form the Scandinavian countries each one offering a different flavour to its visitors. Where Denmark is the smallest country of the group with some of the best beaches of Northern Europe, grand royal palaces and a distinct Viking heritage, Sweden is the largest of the group offering plenty of gorgeous lakes, independent minded people and social reform especially in women’s rights. Norway often referred to as “The land of Vikings and Midnight Sun” is famous for its wooden churches, rich culture, sheer mountains and deep fjords. Finland comprising of plethora of islands and lakes is one of the most remote areas of the region waiting to be explored. Lastly, Iceland packed with remarkable panoramic vistas including glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, and volcanoes.
Accommodation in Scandinavia countries can get an expensive affair at times, especially Denmark, if not planned your visit well in advance. There are mainly three largest popular hotel chains that run in the region (except in Iceland) namely Scandic, Radisson Blu, and, Nordic Choice. Other big players such as Hilton, Accor are also found in big cities but at small level. For other options, Allemansr?tten, or "Every Man's Right" in English is an underpinning of society, that guarantees people throughout Scandinavia (with an exception of thickly populated Denmark) the right to stay or camp on any uncultivated land for one to two nights provided norms are respected, one stay out of sight of any residents and leave no traces while leaving. It is a perfect way to explore outdoors and make your trip affordable. There is also a well-developed network of hostels in the Scandinavia namely Vandrerhjem/Vandrarhem, which literally means “wanderers’ home”, or "hikers' home". Apart from some strict guidelines to follow, the number of such facility s around 800 that can be found almost anywhere. These national organisations go by different names, in different countries such as Danhostel in Denmark, STF or SVIF in Sweden, Norske Vandrerhjem in Norway, SRM in Finland and finally Farfuglar in Iceland.
Scandinavia is a group of countries with plethora of customs and rituals unique for each member country that are age old and yet binds them together. People of this region are usually happy people with great interest in sports and known for their open-minded nature. Art and music is yet another aspect that culturally links the five countries. Each of these countries have their own official language with Danish and Finnish being the official language of Denmark and Finland respectively whereas Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish being the official language of Iceland, Norway, and Sweden respectively. However, English is widely spoken and understood in all the countries, especially around most tourist spots. Although currently Christianity is the dominant religion in Scandinavian countries, but many people still practice Norse paganism. Other than that, owing to myriad of migrants, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism are also widely followed.
The cuisines throughout the Scandinavian countries have a similar touch to it, although the signature dishes differ for each country. However, beef, pork and chicken are the common ingredients for many everyday dishes in all the countries with seafood being the prominent part of menus in almost all the restaurants. Potatoes are the main staple and are served in many forms from simply boiled to mashed potatoes, in form of salad and more. Spices are cautiously induced in dishes whereas fresh herbs are used to enhance the flavour in food. Some of the common famous delicacies through the region are Herring, especially pickled, Meatballs, served with potatoes, berries and creamy sauce, Salmon, especially smoked or salt-cured (gravlax), Sm?rg?sbord, a popular lunch option with bread, herring, smoked fish, cold cuts and more. A variety of breads is available here with dark, heavy rye bread being the speciality along with world-renowned Scandinavian pastries often referred to as "danish".
Many camping cards are available that allows the visitors to camp in the Scandinavian region at discounted rates including Camping Key Europe, Camping Card International, European Youth Card, and Hostelling International. For winter visit, carry along waterproof boots and jacket, woollen hat, gloves and muffler along with thermal undergarments. Carry a strong insect repellent for summer season, especially while travelling to Finland and Iceland. Take along eye mask for long days and never setting sun, swimwear, a tent and sleeping bag for hiking and a towel and sleep sheet is planning a stay at hostel. Beware of hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure to cover yourself properly during snowfall.
The nightlife in Scandinavia is full of life, dynamic with energy, glamour and buzz with an excursion to the hub of clubs and party hot spots. However, make note that this kind of pulsating night scene is restricted to the main cities such as Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and Gothenburg etc. These cities are known for their wide range of bars, pubs, clubs and discotheques along with plenty of dance clubs and lounges. Other than this, there are live bands performing popular international numbers, many theatres and cinema halls suiting to the taste of everyone. However, be ready to empty your pockets, as these nightclubs, bars and pubs are expensive deals in the region.
Each member country of Scandinavia has a something unique to offer while shopping. Scandinavian clogs are quite well known and are available in various shapes, sizes and materials from soft rubber to traditional wooden. Dansko is one of its popular brands founded in Denmark. Next, check out the very popular Norwegian sweaters that are cozy, warm and great quality again available in many style and sizes. Angel chimes, a Dala Horse (A Swedish handicraft), pipes and snu and various types of arts. For some of the finest brands in Helsinki, take a stroll along the Esplanadi Boulevard and the Design District for young Finnish designers. Illums Bolighus and Designer Zoo are worth checking out in Denmark, Norway Designs and GlasMaganiset department store at Oslo while visit Svenskt Tenn and DesignTorget Stockholm.
All Scandinavian countries are all about celebrating art, music, culture and so are their festivals. Each country is known for its vibrant and colourful festive celebrations making it a memorable experience especially for its visitors. Roskilde Festival and Distortion are famous festivals of Denmark, Bergenfest and Pstereo of Norway, Bravalla and Way Out West of Sweden, Tuska Open Air and Provinssi of Finland and Secret Solstice and Iceland Airwaves are the popular festivals of Iceland.
Scandinavia offers vary high standards of health care and hygiene where the risk of facing health problem is very low. Doctors and medical-clinic staff speak fluent English. Tap water is the safe to consume and there are no endemic diseases. No Specific vaccination is required for visitors to Scandinavia.
Social customs hold great value in Scandinavia and are followed quite seriously. A tourist to the region is also expected to follow the same. Although people of these countries in general are friendly in nature but appreciate their personal space. They believe in egalitarian and take any kind of discrimination as disrespectful. Thus, staring at woman is considered offensive while pulling out a chair for a woman is gallant. Handshake is common practice of greeting someone meeting or first time. Casual way of dressing is common, although people in the region are mostly smartly dresses and appear to be elegant and well groomed. Formal attire is expected while going to some fine dine venue. Tipping in Scandinavia is not expected but in order to show gratitude to the staff for good service, a 5-10% of bill is the perfect amount or even round off the bill to nearest even amount.