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Monday
Sep072015

Discover Scandinavia

Often considered the most expensive corner of the world (with good reason), Scandinavia is home to some of the best luxury travel spots there are. But whether you’re on a shoestring or you’re breaking the bank, there’s plenty to discover in this Nordic wonderland.

Denmark

Encompassing the multi-coloured waterways of Copenhagen and the home of infamous storyteller Hans Christian Anderson, Denmark is a country that values simplicity and beauty. It’s a fairytale land with a seamless blend of old and new - Renaissance castles sit upon glass lakes and minimalist architecture peppers the capital city. There’s always something to get up to in Denmark, regardless of your budget.

flickr | Casper Moller

On a Shoestring: When the Nordic sun is shining, there is no better way to experience a bit of wonder in the bustling capital of Copenhagen than with a stroll through the Tivoli Gardens. A world-famous amusement park and pleasure garden, the Gardens have a wealth of activities for even the budget traveller to enjoy – simply spending a day walking through is enough to capture the imagination with its interesting architecture. If you’re willing to spend a bit of money, take a spin on a couple of the rides or grab a bite to eat.

If you want to see some of Denmark’s history, it’s well worth spending £7 to see one of the finest Renaissance palaces in Europe: the Frederiksborg Palace. Home to an incredible collection of portraits and sculptures as well as beautiful baroque gardens, this fairytale palace is a must-see for anyone curious about Denmark’s past.

flickr | cyclonebill

If Money is no Object: If you are one of the fortunate ones, Denmark is a playground of activities, from canal tours in the capital to the Denmark Design Museum. Take a trip to Denmark’s oldest town – Ribe. A 9th century settlement with cobblestone streets and hundreds of years of history to soak up, it’s worth the cross-country trip from the capital city.

If you plan to stay slap bang in the heart of Denmark, hit up some of the finest eateries in the world, including the famous Noma restaurant, where only Scandinavian-sourced produce is used so you are certain to get an authentic taste… in a 20-course meal! Be prepared though, as tables at this world-class dining destination are booked months in advance.

Norway

A stark contrast to Denmark’s rolling hills and serene lakes, Norway is a land of mountains, glaciers and deep fjords, natural attractions which deserve just as much attention as the wealth of museums and historical architecture. The capital city of Oslo sits on the south coast with stretches of green spaces and some of the best museums you will find in Scandinavia.

flickr | Moyan Brenn

On a Shoestring: A must see museum in Oslo is the Viking Ship Museum, which will set you back just under £7 for an adult ticket and just under £4 for a student. It’s an otherworldly experience that will walk you through a history that we often associate with stories and tall tales. Alternatively, check out one of Oslo’s many free museums, such as the National Gallery, the National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Architecture. If you’re around in December, exploring one of the annual Christmas markets is a great way to mingle with the locals and get in the holiday mood.

To experience some of the wonders of natural beauty in central Norway, a hiking (or cycling) trip through the mountains is the way to go – it won’t cost a thing and the views and landscapes will be incomparable.

flickr | George Rex

If Money is no Object: If you’re willing to spend the money, the way to have a good time in Norway is to traverse the length of the country. A coastal ferry trip, such as the Hurtigruten ferry, is one of the best, most diverse ways to see Norway. On this five day route between Bergen and Kirkenes, you will dip in to coastal fjords, dock at isolated villages inaccessible by public transport, and cross in to the Arctic Circle. While you’re up there, try tackling dog sledding in to the far north and get lost in the vast wilderness – spend the night up there and you may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

If cities are more your thing, hit up the various attractions in Oslo, and catch a performance at the Oslo Opera House, a stunning venue which opened in 2008 that can rival Sydney’s famous waterfront destination.

Sweden

A land of coastal cities and vast forest, Sweden is home to a laid back people who value form and function in their design and prefer to be outdoors than cooped up. In the north, the indigenous Sami culture prevails, where the traditionally nomadic lifestyle is built around reindeer herding and craftwork. Channel your inner child and travel to Lappland or stick to the capital city of Stockholm – whatever you do though, enjoy the fresh air and you’ll be living like the Swedish.

flickr | melenamaOn a Shoestring: Luckily for those travelling on a budget, Sweden is a country where the best experiences really lie in the natural landscape. Hiking, camping, cycling and foraging are the best ways to see what this beautiful country has to offer and live like a local, and they hardly cost a thing. You’re likely to come across ancient rune stones and Viking burial mounds along the way too, so you can take a tour straight through Nordic history as you go.

flickr | Olof Senestam

If Money is no Object: For a more luxury outdoor option, you could try skiing in Are or Idre and get some stunning views in the process. If city living is more your thing, though, hang out in Stockholm where there are museums aplenty, such as the Vasamuseet and the world’s first open-air museum, the Skansen. If you’re a fan of 70s pop music, the ABBA Museum is the place to be for a nostalgia trip.

For a touch of elegance, visit the Drottningholm Palace, home of the Swedish royal family, or get the ultimate view of the city at the Skyview in the Ericsson Globe.

Whether you are working with a student’s budget or you’re planning on taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip, Scandinavia has so much to offer from natural wonders to sleek cities to fascinating history. There truly is something for everyone, so get planning for your voyage in to the Nordic corner of the world.

By Eman Bhatti - Online Journalism Intern

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