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Northern Europe: Best Places to Go in 2024

Where will 2024 take you? Perhaps you’re looking to explore new places in Europe, or rediscover the ones that hold a special place in your heart. You’ve come to the right place for inspiration.

The desire to enjoy experiential, authentic travel adventures has never been stronger. Like many other travellers, you might be seeking local connections, stunning natural sights, and cultural wonders. That’s why a trip to Northern Europe makes sense for 2024.

Not only does this region offer all the above, it's also home to the happiest countries in the world. Plus Northern Europe has milder weather compared to the scorching temperatures found elsewhere. And you can look forward to special events in 2024, such as increased chances of seeing the northern lights.

Read on to explore the best places to visit in Northern Europe this year, according to the world’s leading travel publications. Here we round up the top recommendations and throw in our own expert travel tips as well.

Get ready to discover the European destinations you’ll want to visit in 2024!

Colourful buildings line the waterfront in Bergen

1. Norway

With cities like Trondheim and Oslo in the limelight last year, the focus has shifted back to Norway’s iconic fjords in 2024.

You won’t want to miss the bustling port city of Bergen. Known as the “Gateway to the Fjords”, it’s the perfect base for day trips into the surrounding countryside. Plus, Forbes named it among their top places to visit in 2024.

With thousands of kilometres of coastline, one of the best ways to see the country is on a Norway cruise and train tour. Cruises can take you from Bergen to untouched Northern Norway.

If you do go north, you’ll come across the town of Bodø, one of Condé Nast Traveller’s top European destinations for 2024. Don’t just explore the town though. The wider county of Nordland has been tipped as one of the coolest places to go by National Geographic.

The area is a paradise for outdoor activities like hiking and cycling in summer when you can experience the magic of the midnight sun. On the other hand, travel in winter for the opportunity to chase the northern lights.

Speaking of the aurora, it’s worth knowing that 2024 is predicted to be a bumper year for nature’s greatest light show. Why, you ask?

Well, from January to October, the sun will reach its solar maximum. As a result, solar activity will be higher than normal, meaning you can expect more frequent displays of the aurora borealis. 

Tower Bridge in London at sunset

2. The UK

Dive into this year’s round-up of recommended destinations and you’ll uncover plenty of places in the United Kingdom. So it’s not hard to see why we recently added the UK as a new destination for Nordic Visitor.

It should come as no surprise that London is one of the best places to visit in 2024, according to TimeOut. The capital of the UK is teeming with stylish restaurants and world-class cultural attractions. And of course, there’s the city’s West End for theatre-lovers.

Beyond the capital, you’ll find even more captivating cities including the likes of Oxford and Bath. The latter is one of Europe’s great spa towns and is among Condé Nast Traveller’s prettiest UNESCO sites.

Beyond England’s cities you’ll discover picturesque countryside dotted with peaceful villages. Places like Yorkshire have been recognised in National Geographic’s cool destinations for 2024 thanks to its old-world charm and rewilding projects.

Colourful northern lights above a black church in Iceland

3. Iceland

Iceland has long held a special allure for thrill-seekers, nature-lovers, and the culturally curious. If you haven’t already seen the Land of Fire and Ice for yourself, why not make 2024 the year you do?

Safety is important when you travel, and Iceland has officially been named the most peaceful country in the world once again. It has held the top spot since 2008. 

Like Norway, Iceland is one of the best Northern European countries to visit to hunt for the aurora. And with an even better chance of spotting the northern lights in 2024, now’s the time to plan your winter getaway.

That’s not all that awaits if you visit Iceland in winter. You’ll also encounter crisp white landscapes, dazzling ice caves, and Reykjavík’s cosy café culture.

If one natural spectacle isn’t enough to tempt you, you’ll be happy to hear that Iceland is also home to black sand beaches, gigantic glaciers and active volcanoes.

You could start with Condé Nast Travellers’ recommendation to explore the glaciers of Vatnajökull National Park, one of the world’s most beautiful UNESCO sites. Here you'll find Europe’s largest glacier, which shares the park’s name.

For a memorable volcanic experience in Iceland, head for the Reykjanes peninsula. This is where country’s newest volcano first erupted in 2021, and more eruptions have taken place until very recently.

When it’s declared safe to do so, you could visit the region and see the orange lava or fresh lava fields for yourself.

Good to know: The volcanic events in the Reykjanes peninsula haven’t impacted flights or tours to Iceland over the past few years. Visit our Iceland volcano update page, or the SafeTravel website, for up-to-date information.

Cliffs of Moher, Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

4. Ireland

In recent years, you may have heard Ireland mentioned as one of Europe’s hidden gems. Come 2024, the Celtic nation’s charm is undimmed. Thanks to its intoxicating mix of ancient history, emerald landscapes, and lively nightlife, Ireland remains one of the best places to travel in Northern Europe.

Just ask TimeOut, who highlighted Galway in its top European city breaks for the year ahead. With its inviting bars and rich tradition of live music, Galway is a perfect place to stay on your Irish adventure.

Of course, this isn’t the only city worthy of your time on the Emerald Isle. Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, is a favourite among these cool places to go in 2024. Its fascinating history and buzzing food scene mean you won’t want to miss it.

Don’t just stick to the cities though. The island of Ireland is home to heather-clad mountains, crumbling castles, and so much more.

Along Ireland’s windswept west coast, you’ll find the Wild Atlantic Way, the longest continuous coastal route in the world. It’s a journey that blends compelling Irish culture with jaw-dropping natural sights.

You’ll be enchanted by quaint fishing villages, hidden coves, and deep inlets along the way. So it’s no wonder that the route graces National Geographic’s list of the world’s most exciting places to visit in 2024.

If you’re travelling the Wild Atlantic Way, delve into Donegal, one of the best in travel for 2024. This Irish county has the island’s tallest sea cliffs, countless beaches, and breathtaking hiking trails for you to explore.

Kilchurn Castle, Scottish Highlands

5. Scotland

Whether you set your sights on vibrant cities or soaking up natural beauty in 2024, come to Scotland and you’re in for a treat. 

Explore Glasgow, the country’s largest city, which comes highly recommended in TimeOut’s list of the best European city breaks for 2024. Of course, you’ll also want to experience historic Edinburgh.

With its cobbled streets and winding medieval alleyways, the Scottish capital is no stranger to the pages of the world’s top travel publications. And 2024 is no different. This year, Edinburgh features in Condé Nast Traveller’s best places to visit in the UK and Ireland in 2024.

That said, no trip to Scotland would be complete without a visit to the Highlands. Here you can expect dramatic hills, heather-carpeted glens and idyllic sandy beaches.

This year, why not go beyond much-loved spots like Glen Coe and Loch Lomond to reach Scotland’s Far North?

The area is gathering interest, thanks to its Flow Country habitat being a candidate for Scotland’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. Read more about why you’ll want to experience its rugged romance for yourself in Lonely Planet’s best in travel for 2024.

Ullapool is another under-the-radar destination in the Scottish Highlands. What’s more, this west coast fishing village is one of TimeOut’s best places to visit in the UK in 2024. You’ll come for the striking mountains and stay for the offering of cute cafés, and restaurants serving local seafood.

St Andrews also gets a spot on TimeOut’s round-up. While this charming seaside town is often a favourite with travellers, it’s getting extra attention this year from fans of The Crown. In the latest season of this Netflix series, St Andrews features in Prince William’s university scenes.

Greenland boat tour

6. Greenland

Imagine pristine glaciers, Inuit culture, and untamed wildlife. This is Greenland.

The Arctic nation was named among Lonely Planet’s sustainable best-in-travel destinations for 2024. And with a new international airport coming to the country’s colourful capital, Nuuk, later in 2024, it’ll be easier to experience all of this for yourself.

As you’ll discover, some of the country’s biggest thrills happen on the water. For instance, you could take a boat trip to Greenland’s colossal ice sheet or join a whale-watching boat tour.

There’s also plenty to see on land. Imagine diving into local culture in Nuuk, Greenland’s largest city. Or taking advantage of the milder summer weather to go hiking.

Alternatively, wrap up warm and head to Ilulissat in the Arctic Circle. With opportunities to chase the northern lights and enjoy helicopter rides over iceberg-strewn bays, it’s breathtaking whatever the weather.

Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

7. Sweden

Known for its rambling forests, delicious pastries, and world-famous design, Sweden has long been recognised as one of the best places to go in Northern Europe. What’s more, if sustainability is a priority when you travel, Sweden’s cosmopolitan cities should be at the top of your list.

Don’t miss Gothenburg, the world’s most sustainable city in 2023, according to the Global Destinations Sustainability Index (GDS). And be sure to explore the Swedish capital city of Stockholm, which came in at number 7 in the GDS rankings.

Sustainability credentials aren’t the only reason to head for Sweden. Forbes has named Malmö in their round-up of Scandinavia’s must-visit destinations in 2024. In May 2024, the city will host the world’s most celebrated Euro-pop event – the Eurovision Song Contest.

For an altogether different, yet equally unforgettable travel experience, Forbes also recommends Abisko. This national park in northern Sweden is home to the Aurora Sky Station. Here you can enjoy gourmet Nordic cuisine before an evening of stargazing and hunting for breathtaking displays of the northern lights.  

Take a trip to Swedish Lapland between December and March for the ultimate winter getaway. For starters, picture yourself riding a snowmobile, learning how to drive a dog sled, or staying at the world’s first ice hotel.

Tallinn city in the fall

8. Estonia

The Estonian city of Tallinn is having a well-deserved moment in the spotlight this year. In fact, the capital of this under-the-radar European nation was mentioned in both Forbes’ and Travel + Leisure’s best places to go in 2024.

Tallinn’s walled Old Town is UNESCO-protected as it’s one of the best examples of medieval architecture in the world. For unrivalled views of the city’s church spires we recommend heading to the Kohtuotsa observation deck.

Tallinn is also home to a host of museums and galleries. If you’re interested in art, don’t miss the PoCo Art Museum where you’ll see pieces by the likes of Banksy and Andy Warhol.

If it’s local cuisine you’re after, check out the Marzipan Museum, which showcases the history of this traditional sweet treat. Then make your way to the Noblessner, a revamped shipyard district packed with contemporary eateries.

What’s more, Estonia is located just across the Baltic Sea from Finland. So if you’re already planning a trip to Scandinavia, you can easily add time in Estonia to your getaway. 

Nyhavn Harbour, Copenhagen, Denmark

9. Denmark

There’s no bad time to visit Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital and one of Europe’s most elegant cities. But come 2024, the city’s Carlsberg City District has emerged as a highlight.

In fact, 2 top publications recommend visiting this part of the Danish capital in 2024. Condé Nast Traveller included Carlsberg in their shortlist of the best places to go in Europe, and Forbes in Scandinavia’s 5 must-visit destinations.

Located south of Frederiksberg Palace, the Carlsberg brewery sat empty for 160 years, before being repurposed and completely redesigned as a neighbourhood.

Take a stroll and you’ll see historic red-brick factory buildings that are now homes, schools and shops. While you’re here, grab a drink from a trendy café and relax in one of its many green spaces.

Top tip: Combine your visit to Denmark with Norway and Sweden

Why choose just one Scandinavian country to explore? The region has open borders and widespread English fluency, meaning a nation-hopping journey couldn’t be easier. So get ready to soak up a mix of chic cities and gorgeous countryside.

Turquoise waters and flowers at Lake Geneva

10. Bonus destination – Switzerland and the Alps

Snow-covered peaks, crystal-clear Alpine lakes, and perhaps the best chocolate in the world. These are just some of the reasons why Switzerland and the Alps come up as top travel destinations year after year.

Nestled in Europe’s heart, the Alps stretch across Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, and beyond. With so much to offer year-round, the region’s highlights have graced many a travel guide over the years.

Take Zermatt, where you’ll discover a timeless Alpine resort brimming with mountaineering history, and views of the towering Matterhorn. And while it’s still a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, there are also indulgent dining experiences and luxury shops lining the streets.

Or why not follow the recommendation of Condé Nast Traveller and enjoy the Alps on a once-in-a-lifetime train journey? Their article singles out the Glacier Express, a route that’ll take you from Zermatt to St Moritz, through jaw-dropping mountain scenery.

But you don’t have to stop there. The Alps are home to plenty more picturesque railways, including one that traces the shores of majestic Lake Geneva. Hop aboard and you’ll glide past vineyards, medieval towns and romantic chateaux. 

Explore Northern Europe with Nordic Visitor

Whether you’re looking for city breaks or longer adventures, at Nordic Visitor we can plan the trip of a lifetime for you.

When you travel with us, you’ll get a dedicated Northern Europe travel consultant to make tour arrangements for you. Our travel experts – based in Reykjavík, Edinburgh, Stockholm and Lucerne – will use their in-depth knowledge to craft your perfect getaway.

All you need to do is choose your ideal tour package in Northern Europe. With self-drive tours, private trips, guided small groups, and other travel styles to choose from, you’ll find the 2024 getaway that’s right for you.

So get in touch with us and let’s make your 2024 travel dreams come true.

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Post by: Catherine

Born and raised in Scotland, Catherine has a background in trip organisation and design. When not travelling, or writing about travels, you can find her rock climbing and exploring remote corners of Scotland. Her top travel experiences include cycling along India’s Brahmaputra River, wandering the souks of Marrakech, and mountaineering in the Alps.

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Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.