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The Incredible Coastlines and Culture of Scandinavia

This trio of nations boasts must-see sights you won’t find anywhere else!

Scandinavia is a pretty magical place—once you set your eyes on the rugged coastlines, waterfalls, glaciers, and towering mountains, you won’t be surprised by the myths and legends that have come from this enchanting land. It’s certainly a trip that deserves a spot on your bucket list

Here’s a look at the natural (and unnatural) wonders awaiting you in Scandinavia:  

Norway has more fjords than anywhere else on earth!

Fjords Galore

There are so many points of attraction throughout Scandinavia, but you have to start with the most incredible, must-see-to-believe land features: the fjords. These long narrow inlets stretch from the open sea to far inland, winding between towering cliffs for miles. Most fjords were made by glaciers over centuries.   

Norway has the most fjords of any nation in the world, and Njordfjord is one of the most beautiful. Along the 66-mile stretch, you can see waterfalls, glaciers, and snow-covered mountains in the distance—you might even see skiers any time of year! The fjord coastlines are dotted with little fishing towns and farms stretching into the valleys, so you can get a glimpse of largely unchanged rural life along the inlets.  

Further inland, the town of Olden sits at the end of Njordfjord and offers easy access to Jostedalbreen Glacier, the largest sheet of ice in Europe! On your way there, you’ll get panoramic views of lush landscapes cutting through the mountains from the ocean. You’ll fjord sure want to see it!

Vikings are some of Scandinavia’s most famous former inhabitants.

Viking Grounds, Famous Fairytales

Scandinavia is well-known for cultural legends and tales—some of which are world famous. Trolls, for instance, come from Norse mythology and these creatures pop up in stories all over the globe (have you seen Frozen?).    

The Thor movies also center on a character from Norse mythology, but there are other stories with more historical roots—Viking tales! The southern island of Gotland, Sweden may be your best bet; the town of Visby was a Viking settlement and is home to the best preserved medieval commercial center. You can also see ancient Viking watchtowers among stone houses at parts of the wall built in the 13th century. 

Copenhagen’s canals are great for sightseeing—and getting around!

Copenhagen, Denmark was also once a Viking village, but was rebuilt over time into its current state of incredible architecture and network of canals. Copenhagen is also the home of Scandinavia’s most famous storyteller—Hans Christian Anderson. Maybe you know “The Princess and the Pea” or “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and you’ve probably seen his masterpiece, “The Little Mermaid.” At the edge of the city, you can see a statue commemorating this “famous tail” by the water near Kastellet, a star-shaped military fortress. 

Copenhagen is also home to the world’s oldest monarchy and Denmark’s queen. So you definitely want to check out Amalienborg palace—built in 1760, it looks like it’s right out of a fairytale!

Helsinki’s futuristic architecture mixes with traditional styles throughout the city.

Contemporary Culture

There are plenty of present-day attractions in Scandinavia too. You’ll want to take pics of the colorful homes along the water in Bergen, Norway, see the rainbow skywalk at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum in Copenhagen with its 360-degree panoramic views, and stand in “The Black Diamond” of the Danish Royal Library. 

In Gothenburg, Sweden, you can visit Götaplatsen, a true cultural hub. This city square features a sculpture of Poseidon and is enclosed all around by the city’s concert hall, museum of art, theater, and public library—take your pick!

And Sweden’s neighbor, Finland, is definitely worth a stop. Helsinki, the capital, is bursting with world-renowned designs, the famous Museum of Contemporary Art, and large sculptures throughout the city—like the Sibelius Monument dedicated to a Finnish composer that’s made of 600 steel pipes forming large waves.