As the mercury in the thermometer begins to soar and the air gets hot and muggy, many of us are wishing to be somewhere a little cooler. Luckily, the temperature in the Nordic countries can remain mild, even in the stickiest summer months.
In these lands of surreal natural beauty you can marvel at many wonders, including the phenomenon of the midnight sun, breaching humpback whales and even the serene spectacle of the Northern Lights.
In destinations stretching from the rim of the Arctic Circle to the westernmost point of Iceland, lowcostholidays’ share their favourite Nordic spots to cool off this summer.
1) Funen, Denmark
The second largest island in Denmark, Funen is best known as the birthplace of the late Hans Christian Andersen. The writer, who penned tales such as The Snow Queen and the Little Mermaid, was doubtless inspired by the magical backdrop of endless woodland and fairy tale castles. Funen is also a paradise for cyclists, with countless paths and winding roads that cut through idyllic countryside.
2) Skagen, Denmark
The most northerly tip of Denmark is home to one of its most remarkable towns, Skagen. Here, you can witness the incredible sight of the Baltic and North Sea merging in splashes of colour. Cooled by the breeze of the sea, you can also enjoy a multitude of activities from horse riding and bird watching to hiking and angling.
3) Helsinki, Finland
The capital of Finland, also known as the ‘Daughter of the Baltic’, lies in the very south of the country and receives a cool average temperature of around 18°C in the summer. Helsinki is surrounded by 100km of coastline, 300 islands and a range of UNESCO World Heritage sites begging to be explored. If you are seeking peace and quiet, escape to the Nuuksio National Park. Located just outside Helsinki, you can revel in the cold water of the lakes and listen to the peaceful sound of the wind rushing through the trees.
4) Lapland, Finland
The iconic home of Santa Claus and his reindeer, this dream destination is the perfect spot for a balmy break. Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the region, and is the perfect way to view the vast forests and blissfully beautiful landscapes. If you decide to travel north of the region capital Rovaniemi during the early summer months, you may even experience the natural wonder of the midnight sun.
5) Reykjavik, Iceland
One of the planet’s most visually appealing countries, Iceland is every nature lover’s dream. The country’s capital, Reykjavik, is a great basecamp to discover the raw and volcanic terrain located just moments from the city. Indulge in the natural thermal pools in Krýsuvík, join a glacier walk leaving from the city or witness the magnificent spectacle of whales breaching from the ice cold water.
6) Höfn, Iceland
If you are seeking a chance to experience Iceland’s bounding nature in seclusion, Höfn is the perfect spot for you. Located on the east of the island, the town is an isolated wonderland. Ideally situated close to the Heiðmörk nature reserve, you can walk, mountain bike and ride Icelandic bred horses to your heart’s content.
7) Tromsø, Norway
Known as the capital of the Arctic, Tromsø is located in Norway’s icy northern region, but during the summer the temperature is a balmy average of 9-12°C. Packed with fascinating architecture, the city’s neo-classical buildings are simply stunning. The Arctic Cathedral with its striking features and glass mosaic is a must-visit and holds midnight sun concerts from early June to mid-August. For scenic views, take a few steps out of town to find majestic mountains and snow-capped fjords as far as the eye can see.
8) Ålesund, Norway
Surrounded by fjords and the rising peak of the Sunnmøre Alps, the city of Ålesund was unsurprisingly voted the most beautiful town in Norway. The Art Nouveau architecture creates a wonderful fairy tale feel to the area – and if you climb the 418 steps of Mount Aksla you are rewarded with a devastatingly beautiful panoramic view.
9) Kiruna, Sweden
This northernmost town in the country, Kiruna is part of a region known as the Swedish Lapland. The summers in this area are cool and crisp with an average low to high temperature of around 10-20°C. Here you can learn about the indigenous Sami people, climb Kebnekaise – the highest mountain in Sweden – or refresh yourself with an exhilarating white water rafting session. If you arrive at the beginning of September you may even have the chance to see the incandescent wonder that is the Northern Lights.
10) Borgholm, Sweden
This island off the east coast of Sweden is blessed with cool winds and warm, comfortable weather during the summer months. A visit to the summer home of the Swedish Royal Family, Solliden Palace, is essential for any visitor. Set in luxurious, lush green gardens, the palace makes the perfect picnic spot and even runs a guided tour. There are also 75 nature reserves spread across Öland, offering visitors a chance to get lost in the lush greenery.
With so much natural beauty at their doorstep, there’s little wonder why Nordic countries have been voted the happiest places to live in the world. This summer, discover for yourself the rich and diverse culture that exists in these Northern European towns and cities.
by Christopher A Sharpe – travel expert for lowcostholidays and editor of the travel blog, Make New Tracks.