Scandinavia has risen from the ranks to become a popular holiday destination, and it’s not surprising when you consider the variety on offer. This northern region has it all, from natural wonders like the Aurora Borealis to the rugged mountains that surround Norwegian fjords. That’s before even mentioning the charm of quaint Finnish towns.
We’ve put together a little guide to Scandinavia, covering activities for all ages and interests. So whether you love nature or are interested in urban adventures, there’s a Scandinavian cruise out there for you.
The cities in Scandinavia are diverse, with plenty of exciting sightseeing opportunities to keep you busy. Step inside magnificent cathedrals like Nidarosdomen, enjoy a spot of retail therapy on Copenhagen’s Strogen Street – which contains the world’s longest pedestrian network of shopping squares and streets – or admire the Little Mermaid statue and get back to nature in parks and gardens like Oslo’s Frogner Park. From Norway’s first capital, Trondheim, to trendsetting Helsinki, there are endless city ports for you to take in and enjoy on your Scandinavian cruise.
If you’re interested in visiting some cultural hotspots, Stockholm’s got you covered. Starting with the Vasa Museum, this top sightseeing locale contains a ship preserved since the 17th century and an interactive Museum of Science and Technology, where children can become inventors for the day. Meanwhile there are zoos, architectural wonders and theme parks across Scandinavia too, providing hours of entertainment for the whole family.
Cruising in Scandinavia has always been about one thing – the scenery. You’ll be hard pressed to find any place as majestic as these northern cities and landscapes. Magnificent fjords complement islands, mountains, beautiful natural waterways and lush parks to create a setting that is both remarkable and unique. Visit the pleasant coastal town of Tromso, where you can climb the towering peak of Mount Storsteinen for amazing views across the surrounding landscape, or experience the impressive Sautso-Alta Canyon near Alta.
The town of Alta also boasts the world’s first Northern Lights Observatory, and if you’re lucky you’ll see its colourful display as it dances across the dark sky on a crisp night. Marella Cruises runs a bespoke ‘Seeking the Northern Lights’ expedition for keen explorers onboard Marella Discovery. The vessel sets sea from Southampton and heads to Scandinavian waters, stopping at some fabulous Northern Light destinations like Norway’s bustling cities Bergen and Flam.
Food and drink
When we think of our favourite types of cuisine, Scandinavian food may not come straight to the forefront of our minds. But these hearty northern dishes are quickly rising in popularity, and for very good reason. Norwegian meatballs and herring are probably the best known dishes, but they’re certainly not the only options. Try salted cod or raw salmon cured with salt, sugar and dill, gamey meats like venison and wild boar and local cheeses such as Jarlsberg. Cinnamon buns are also served up in cafes around Scandinavia for a sweet treat to accompany a hot drink. The Swedish people take their breaks for coffee and cake pretty seriously – a tradition known as ‘fika’.
There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a cruise line for voyages to Scandinavia. Plenty of well-known liners run expeditions to the north, often taking in other destinations nearby including Russia, Germany, the Baltics and even the Arctic. If you’re looking to book your next holiday on the seas then check out some of our top Scandinavian cruises and see if there are any that float your boat.
Top Scandinavian cruise ports
Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital city and beating heart, mostly because it’s one of the few places in the country that’s habitable. The city is a collection of quaint houses with multi-coloured rooftops at the base of a winter wonderland – out here, glaciers and snow-capped mountains rise in the distance, while thermal springs and black sand beaches steeped in folklore aren’t far off. Reykjavik is also known as a top place to catch the Northern Lights, so dog-sledding trips and nighttime expeditions are big cruise excursions here.
In our opinion, Flam is essentially the unofficial fjord capital of the world, wedged between giant rock faces in southwestern Norway. It’s a teeny tiny village that screams charm, cut with sparkling rivers and greener than green valleys. The cruise excursions in this part of the world are all about the great outdoors, boasting adventures that range from hiking up the fjords to taking the traditional wooden railway through the beautiful nearby landscape.
Another Scandinavian capital, Stockholm is a cosmopolitan city that charms with a hint of the past. Cobbled lanes make way for 13th-century cathedrals and the royal palace, not to mention art galleries and history museums. There’s no limit to cruise excursions in this vibrant port – trips to the Vasa Museum, exploring the city’s Viking history or strolling through the Old Town are all on the agenda. Whatever you choose to do, you can expect a heavy dose of culture to go along with it.
If you’re looking for the full picture of Finland wrapped into one convenient package, you’ve found it in Helsinki. This beautiful seaside city is edged by islands and covered in green parks, plus art and history museums, historic squares and even the odd amusement park. Visiting this city, you’ll encounter Medieval structures, palaces and the famous Church in the Rock, which is exactly what it sounds like. The beauty of Helsinki is that it has an undeniable small town vibe, so you can easily tackle a number of sites on a single tour while in port.
Oslo is another one of those Scandinavian cities that, while big, feels much more compact than it actually is. Here you can slot in a number of sites in one go. Renowned for its green parks, gardens and art museums, Oslo is a place of elegance and tranquillity, though the city’s Viking Museum certainly livens things up. When heading in this direction on a cruise ship, expect to hit sites like museums uncovering the history behind Finland’s famous explorers, the Museum of Contemporary Art and classic ice bars that are every bit as unique – and chilly – as they sound.
Are you eager to book your next Scandinavian cruise? Give our cruise experts a call to find out more, or check out some of the Scandinavian cruise deals here.
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