10 Reasons Why Visiting Scandinavia Is Worth The Money
Scandinavia is synonymous with a lot of things and unsullied snow, clean air, well-run social democracies, bucolic scenery and heaps of good looking people are just some of the many things that make Europe's Northern quarter a delight. But then again, such pleasantries come at a price.
According to statistics from Eurostat, as well as having some of the highest rates of tax in the world, their taxes on food and alcohol are among the most expensive in Europe owing to the consensus in most Scandi countries that lower inequality and a fairer distribution of wealth lead to a happier population. But don't let its hefty prices put you off.
Sure, there are many other cheaper destinations in the world, but few offer what Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Finland does. Here, we list ten reasons why Scandinavia is worth every cent, no matter how far away you are.
1. The Northern Lights
Any trip to Scandinavia (unless you happen to be visiting in the summer months) isn't complete without a journey to see the Northern Lights. Officially listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, you'd be a fool to pass up on the opportunity of a lifetime. Observed best in Iceland, Norway or Finland, regular coach excursions are available from most local tourist offices for as little as $60.
Being in Scanadavia, waiting in the winter wilderness to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis will probably feel like torture, but once the dancing lights glitter, you'll wonder whether you've left Earth and entered a mythical land of enchantment and splendour.
2. Uninhabited Beauty
Owing to the rugged landscape of Northern Europe, most of the five countries are sparsely inhabited. In Sweden for instance, a country considered to be among the leading Scandinavian nations regarding tourism, an astonishing 97% of their land in uninhabited, while the figures for Iceland, (a country with a population of just over 300,000) Denmark, Norway and Finland aren't too dissimilar.
Yes, exploring Scandinavia offers ample world-class sight-seeing opportunities and it's little wonder TV shows like Game of Thrones have used Iceland as a filming location. After all, there is kaleidoscope coloured mountains, turquoise coloured lagoons, fabled nature reserves and volcanic mountains, the majority of which are found across Northern Europe, not just Iceland. For those daring enough, their beaches aren't too bad either if you're willing to brave the icy waters.
3. Winter Sports
As previously mentioned, Scandinavia isn't short on space, making it an ideal location for an array of winter sports. Indeed, for 5 months of the year all Scandinavian countries turn into winter wonderlands, meaning sports like snowboarding, skiing, ice-skating and curling are commonplace.
In Sweden there are over 200 ski resorts, not to mention a plethora of spas and boutique restaurants. But you don't have to splash the cash. If you want to keep things straightforward and inexpensive, you can always organise a massive snowball fight or simply ledge down the many snow-dappled hills.
4. Trendy Architecture
The Scandinavians have a penchant for looking good, and that also translates into their trendsetting architecture. Of course, most people know that the furniture-making giant Ikea is Swedish, but few are aware of the global significance Scandinavian designs have had in other parts of the world.
Dating back to the 1930s, leading Scandinavian architects pioneered modernist and minimalist designs that are now ubiquitous to many homes and buildings across the world, meaning your stay in one of their hotels or even a person's Airbnb rental will most likely have ben created with the uppermost thought.
5. Good Looking People
It's no secret that Scandinavians are among the most beautiful people on Earth and according to folklore, the reason for this accurate generalisation stems back to the Viking days, with many believing the men would take home only the prettiest women from their voyageurs and start a family with them.
But looks aren't everything and it's important to note that as well as being tall and chiseled, most Scandinavians are polite and friendly, with crime rates in the five nations being among the lowest in the world, which also plays a significant role in them appearing in the upper echelons of the Global Happiness Index- an index which measures the wellbeing of a country's citizens as opposed to its GDP output.
6. The Fashion
While Sweden is home to fashion powerhouse, H&M, dressing well isn't only the preserve of Swedish blondes. Nearly every Scandinavian, whatever age, knows the wonders slim and tailored attire can have on one's appearance.
Better still, most clothes sported by Scandinavians are often understated and free from pricey Western logos and because of this, top designers, as well as scouting for models, see the Scandi nations as prime targets for scouting new trends and designs. So take some fashion inspiration from your trip and before you know it you'll be the hottest dresser in your friendship group.
7. Creative People
Because of the harsh conditions during the winter months, Scandinavians are well accustomed to making the most of their free time indoors, but rather than watch TV, many have grown up in artistic households, and have been encouraged to exercise their creative potential.
And whether it's reading loads of books, writing stories (Iceland has more published authors per capita than any other nation) or learning an instrument, you'll find that most have some sought of talent, which could serve you very well if you're looking to exchange artistic ideas or seek inspiration from others.
8. The Lakes
Danes and Swedes, thanks to their country being rich in sun-dappled lakes, often take picnics down with their friends and family and sit by the lake all day as they drink beer and feast on the many appetisers brought with them.
Often surrounded by glorious mountains and sprawling greenery, the surface, in the summer months, is heated generously by the sun, making it a perfect alternative summer retreat as opposed to flocking to an overcrowded beach in the Tropics or the Med.
9. Ice Hotels
Who wouldn't want to sleep in a hotel laden in nothing but ice? Granted, it's not something you'd think of when holidaying, but that's one of the many charms about these unusual hotels. There are many to choose from, but the most well-known one is perhaps the aptly named Ice Hotel in the small Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi.
Open only in the winter months, the hotel, which includes an eccentric mix of seasonal ice structures is usually fully booked, so it's best to book ahead. Others that are less known but equally as impressive include The Igloo Village in Saariselka, Finland and The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta, Norway.
10. Everybody Speaks English
Let's face it: English speakers are notoriously bad at learning other languages, but luckily for us, English is the world's business language and thus the most widely spoken in the Western World. The same, however, cannot be said for the native languages in Scandinavia, meaning that learning English is a must and is often spoken instead of their native language; especially among young people.
Of course, getting acquainted with a bit of the language will go a long way in gaining the respect of locals, but for the most part, speaking English won't be a problem.