If you are like the majority of people in the western world, you probably spend your days sitting at a desk, or at least working indoors. After months and years of the same work, you may find yourself starving for an outdoor adventure. That’s where Europe comes in. When you think of Europe, what comes to mind? Enchanting medieval villages, Roman ruins, and olives and cheese accompanied by good wine? Or perhaps sunny summer days spent basking on Mediterranean beaches? Well there’s a whole other side to Europe, especially in Northern Europe, and that’s its wild side. If you don’t mind being a bit chilly and have a love of colder-weather vacations, this may be the place for your next holiday. You could spend a hundred lifetimes exploring the wilderness of Northern Europe and you’d never manage to see it all. So to narrow it down, here are some of the most spectacular places to visit during your wild Northern Europe adventures.
Sweden is home to charming towns, pine forests, crystalline lakes and a host of wildlife. Let’s have a look at some of the things you can’t miss on your visit to Sweden.
Northern lights: Plan a visit to the Aurora Sky Station in Sweden’s Abisko National Park, where you are in for a stellar treat. Northern Sweden’s cloud-free skies provide the perfect canvas for viewing the Northern Lights in all their glory.
Midnight Sun: The Midnight Sun in is a 24-hour period inside the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland when the sun never sets. Since you’re on vacation, put off sleeping as long as you can and let yourself be dazzled by the endless sunshine. You can play golf after midnight at Björkliden Arctic Golf Course, or clime Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain.
Hiking: Head to Kungsleden Trail, and hike part of the 400-kilometre route that goes from Hemavan to Abisko. This trail was founded during the latter half of the 19th century and can be enjoyed during any season, although if you go in the summer you can take advantage of the Midnight Sun and hike at night. This stunning hike offers breath-taking landscapes complete with whimsical meadows brimming with flowers, ominous gorges and crevasses, enchanting creeks and foreboding glaciers.
Wildlife: Sweden is home to a plethora of wildlife including reindeer and elk, brown bears, lynx, wolves and wolverines. You can do it solo (and with caution) or you can join a moose safari or a wolf-tracking tour and let the pros show you how it’s done.
If you want to be totally awed by spectacular landscapes, then Norway is the place for you. You will see dramatic fjords and cliffs creating a stark contrast next to tranquil waters. Wildlife abounds in this frozen paradise so there’s definitely something for the animal lovers.
Norway is home to some of the longest and deepest fjords in the world. Just in case you didn’t already know, a fjord is a deep and long sea inlet between high cliffs, formed by the submergence of a glaciated valley. With so many fjords to choose from, it can be overwhelming. Have a look at some of these highly recommended fjords:
- Sognafjord, Geirangerfjord, Hjørundfjord, and Romsdalsfjord in Møre og Romsdal
- Nærøyfjord, Sognafjord and Nordfjord in Sogn og Fjordane
- Hardangerfjord in Hordaland
- Lysefjord in Rogaland
- Keipen: The Keipen hiking trail is in the Geirangerfjord fjord. It can be accessed by the town of Geiringer. This trail boasts stunning views of waterfalls and high mountains. A round trip to the summit of Keipen and back is 8-10 hours, so bring plenty of food and water with you.
- Dovrefjell National Park: Start on the main trail just south of Kongsvold Fjestue and you might just get the treat of seeing musk oxen in their natural habitat.
- Polar bears: Head to Svalbard and go on an arctic safari to see the majestic polar bears.
- Walrus: Take a day trip to the Karl Prins Forlandet and Moffen Islands to see walruses basking in the sun on snowy beaches.
- Arctic Fox: You can see (or maybe not, due to its impressive camouflaging skills) the Arctic fox on the mainland and in Borgefjell and Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Parks.
- Moose and Reindeer: You may see domesticated reindeer walking along northern roads, or you can head to Svalbard to see them in the wild.
Denmark is brimming with natural landscapes that beg to be discovered and explored during your wildlife holidays. What’s more, due to the country’s petite size, you’ll be able to choose more than just one adventure for your trip. Denmark offers a wide range of outdoor activities, so let’s have a look at just a few.
Camp Adventure: Plan a daytrip to Camp Adventure, located in South Sealand. This is an interactive way to enjoy nature while getting a good shot of adrenaline. It is Denmark’s largest tree-top climbing park, consisting of 10 climbing courses that will take you through one of Denmark’s enchanting birch forests. There are child-friendly levels of the course, so you can still go with the whole family.
Sleep under the stars: Head to the islands of Møn and Nyord to enjoy the Dark Sky experience. During any season, adults and children alike can clearly see the Milky Way and shooting stars, and, further away, the Andromeda galaxy. If staying awake all night or sleeping on the ground aren’t your things, you can always book a room at one of the charming hotels and hostels around.
Black Sun: Bird, animal and nature lovers alike will unite in their delight for the Black Sun. The Black Sun phenomenon is when hundreds of thousands of starlings join together in the sky over Denmark’s marshland, swirling and diving and soaring to create mesmerising patterns in the sky, even coming in hoards so thick they manage to partially block out the sun.
Iceland is chock-full of unique natural attractions and landscapes, and it would be impossible to see them all during one trip, or even a lifetime. Here are some of the most highly-recommended things to do in Iceland. And remember, even though they come highly recommended, don’t worry, Iceland is not one of those places that becomes overcrowded with tourists.
Snæfellsjökull Glacier: This twin-peaked glacier sits atop a volcano and is surrounded by lava, making for a dramatic view. You can see this glacier during a day trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
The Blue Lagoon: Let your stress flow away and regenerate your soul with a trip to this geothermal spa. The milky-blue water is rich in minerals and healthy bacteria, providing a total healing experience for your mind, body and soul.
Whale watching: Did you know you can see over twenty species of whale, dolphin and porpoise in the waters off of Iceland’s coasts? If you are determined to see some of nature’s most awe-inspiring wildlife, you’ll want to head to the small northern town of Húsavík, sometimes called the ‘whale watching capital of Europe.’ Make sure to bring your binoculars, and If you’re lucky you might get the chance to see orcas, blue whales, fin whales and maybe even the odd narwhal.
So there you have it, a guide to just some of the many magical and wild places to visit in Northern Europe. Whether its staying up all night to enjoy the Midnight Sun in Sweden, hiking the various fjords in Norway, sleeping under the stars in Denmark or whale watching in Iceland, you will be sure to find the adventure that you need to reawaken your spirits and change your outlook on life. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and immerse yourself in the wildlife and natural spaces of Northern Europe.