An area I long to visit and learn more about, Scandinavia offers diverse tourist attractions that range from unique architecture and design to the celebration of its natural beauty and spending time with the welcoming communities. From bustling metropolis and beautiful countryside, here are some recommendations that will help you interact with the locals and nature in ways that are new, but will feel completely natural to a humanity- and earth-loving mindset. Discover
Incredible Scandinavian Holiday Destinations.
Viewed from Norway, the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are among the most spectacular sights in the world. They’re reason enough to consider making a trip from sunny South Africa or anywhere else in the world all the way to Scandinavia, but there are plenty of other attractions to take in while there too.
Incredible Natural Wonders
The Aurora Borealis are not Scandinavia’s only example of how exquisite nature can be. Denmark’s Råbjerg Mile in Skagen is a breath-taking dune that was created during the great sand drift of the 16th century. The tracks it has left can be seen all the way back to the Stones of Raabjerg, and the dune continues to move at a rate of 15 meters a year.
If you’re more interested in ice than sand, check out the Nigardsbreen Ice Cave in the Jostedal Glacier National Park of Norway. Although it is attributed to global warming, the cathedral-like beauty of the cave is not to be missed. Or, if you really want to interact with the natural environment, head to the Samsø Labyrinten on the Danish island of Samsø. More challenging than any maze created by man, this natural labyrinth spans 15 acres of land. Don’t be too worried about getting lost; there are helpful guides positioned throughout just in case you lose your way.
A Successful Social Experiment
Copenhagen provides visitors with many cultural delights, but when you’re in Denmark, Christiania is also well worth a look. The unique community, born out of an affinity with collectivism, anarchism, the hippie movement and the squatter movement, has proven that communal ownership can be compatible with modern urban living. See how the real other half lives when you visit this fourth-largest Danish tourist attraction.
Human Constructions that Blend into Nature
Scandinavian design is famous around the world, and there are some incredible sights and places that showcase this. Stay in the art gallery and accommodation of the Ice Hotel in Sweden, or get an unparalleled view of the same country’s landscape in the Tree Hotel. The unique and amazingly executed rooms include the Mirror Cube, the UFO and the Dragonfly.
The Tubakuba in Norway, designed by Bergen School of Architecture students to encourage people to explore the amazing outdoors, has a tuba-like entrance made of bent timber scraps and a spectacular view from its perch on the edge of a cliff. Essentially a viewing spot, the minimalist cabin can also be rented each night, with families given preference. In addition to the pristine surroundings, the attitude of sharing the space is another Scandinavian phenomenon to enjoy.
For a really special treat, take the time to find and interact with all the Hidden Giants that artist Thomas Dambo has erected in the natural areas around Copenhagen. Dambo is known for using recycled and reclaimed materials in his work, and all 6 friendly creatures have been created using timber from felled trees and scrap wood from old buildings. Use the specially published treasure map to find every Giant, and get clues from a poem engraved on a nearby stone of each one. All the Hidden Giants also have an extra function that suits the area they are in and are named after one of the volunteers that helped to make them; Oscar Under the Bridge, for example, helps to hold up the Lille Vejlesø bridge.
Sweden’s Christmas Goat
If you plan your visit over the festive season, you’ll find plenty of yuletide traditions in any Scandinavian country. Learn a few life lessons from the Gävlebocken, a goat built of wood and straw in the town of Gävle. The tradition of building the goat has been going since 1966, but was inspired by folklore that dates back to ancient celebrations that celebrated the Norse god Thor.
In addition to appreciating old culture, the modern incarnation of the Gävlebocken will connect you to other modern traditions too. This giant goat has been burned to the ground many times by vandals, and it has become something of a tradition to see whether it will remain standing in the New Year. If you’re thinking that the Gävlebocken is a Swedish version of Guy Fawkes, you’re not alone, and the parallels between different cultures are as interesting to contemplate as ever.
On that note, if you do catch the flaming goat, spare a moment to compare it to the Burning Man festival of Nevada or South Africa’s own Afrika Burn, both destinations that are worth a visit too.