Are you thinking about planning a trip to Scandinavia? Made up of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, this region is a top destination whether you’re looking to experience the northern lights or visit the grand capital cities.
This useful guide will help you figure out the best times to visit and the best places to see in Scandinavia. Get ready for a bucket-list worthy trip to the land of the Vikings, steep mountains, long fjords and majestic waterfalls.
Best time to visit Scandinavia
With four distinct seasons, Scandinavia has plenty to offer all year long. When is best to visit for you is personal and may depend on your pre-booked holidays, what you want to see and experience, or your preferred season.
Read below for a short-and-sweet guide to the best time to visit Scandinavia.
- During the summer months, you could take on a self-drive trip around Scandinavia or join a small guided tour with a local guide
- Throughout the year, travel around Scandinavia independently via scenic trains and cruises journeys
1. Best time to visit Scandinavia for weather
Summer in Scandinavia, the months of July and August, is a great time to visit. At this time of year, you’re more likely to have pleasant and stable weather. Nature comes alive and locals and visitors alike can enjoy the great outdoors.
Another bonus of summer is the extended daylight hours. Take advantage of long days with more sightseeing and excursions.
The summer is also a good time for a road trip. Take the wheel, enjoy the warmer weather, go off the beaten track, and find your own corner of paradise.
- Browse these summer Scandinavia packages
2. Best time to visit Scandinavia for quieter travel
Scandinavia is very popular with travellers – for excellent reasons! But do you dream of a quiet holiday, to experience the natural wonders in peaceful reflection? Or to capture the perfect photos without too many distractions?
Travelling during in winter has many benefits that you may enjoy. One of which is experiencing the country at your own relaxed pace.
If you would like to take advantage of the fairer weather and quieter attractions, visit during the shoulder season in May or September.
3. Best time to visit Scandinavia to see the northern lights
While summer may be ideal to visit the Nordic countries, it is not the best time to see the northern lights.
To see the aurora borealis you need a clear, dark sky, which is difficult to find in the Arctic region. This includes Northern Norway, Svalbard, Finnish and Swedish Lapland where the sun doesn't fully set in summer.
For the best chances of dark skies and northern lights spotting, visit Scandinavia and especially its northern reaches between October and March.
- Check out Scandinavian northern lights tours
Best places to visit in Scandinavia
Encompassing Denmark, Norway and Sweden, this northern region of Europe has so much to offer. While planning a trip around Scandinavia, the only challenge you’ll have is to narrow down the places you’ll want to see.
Here are some suggestions to add to your Scandinavian itinerary:
1. Oslo, Norway
Norway's capital, Oslo, is a must-see city blending nature with modern, urban vibes. Chances are you will fly into Oslo to visit Norway, making it a perfect first stop on your itinerary!
Head outdoors to admire the green hills and surrounding mountains of Oslo. Or enjoy the vibrant cultural life, visiting world-renowned museums and galleries, such as the Munch Museum or the Kon-Tiki Museum.
- Book one of these Norway holiday packages
2. Bergen, Norway
Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, is a great place to experience rich cultural and historical attractions, as well as seeing majestic natural wonders.
Nicknamed the "Gateway to the Fjords", you’ll find yourself at the doorstep of Norway’s’ longest fjord, Sognefjord, and the beautiful Hardangerfjord.
You can also spend hours walking around the streets of this vibrant city, exploring museums and its old town, the UNESCO World Heritage site Bryggen.
- Look up city breaks in Scandinavia to explore Bergen as well as the capital cities
- Related: 7 Scandinavian cities you need to visit
3. Lofoten islands, Norway
Discover Norwegian natural beauty at its finest in the Lofoten islands.
As an archipelago within the Arctic Circle, this region boasts plenty of dramatic scenery with mighty mountains, craggy coastal lines, pristine waterways and quaint fishing villages. Svolvær, the main community of Lofoten, is a popular stop on the Norwegian Coastal Voyage.
This is an excellent place to visit for keen bird watchers in summer, and for those chasing the northern lights in winter.
- Explore tours to the Lofoten islands
4. Flåm, Norway
The small town of Flåm is an ideal stop to relax during a bustling trip around Norway or Scandinavia.
Nestled at the heart of the western fjords, you’ll find a wealth of natural attractions a stone’s throw from this tiny village. Admire the mighty mountains, stunning fjords, and powerful waterfalls.
From here, you could hop on a fjord cruise, or aboard the famous Flåm Railway, known as one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world!
- Experience the comfort of train travel and see the sights from your window with one of these Scandinavian tours by rail
5. Preikestolen, Norway
Conquer your fear of heights at the gravity-defying Preikestolen. Its name means "Pulpit Rock", given because of its odd shape resembling a preacher’s pulpit.
You could admire it from a boat tour along the fjords, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could hike up Pulpit Rock. It takes approximately 4 to 5 hours to make this 8-kilometre (5-mile) round trip.
At the top, enjoy the views over the Lysefjord from the 604-metre (nearly 2,000-feet) high cliff!
6. Sognefjord, Norway
Prepare to be amazed by Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, Sognefjord. Also known as the "King of the Fjords", it's a breathtaking site with towering mountain peaks and tranquil waters.
If you take part in the legendary Norway in a Nutshell© tour, you will pass through Aurlandsfjord, an arm of the Sognefjord. This will allow you to really take in its vastness. Sognefjord itself also extends inland to Jotunheimen and Jostedalsbreen national parks.
7. Geirangerfjord & Nærøyfjord, Norway
Escape to an area of renowned natural beauty. The UNESCO World Heritage-protected Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord are often referred to as the "world’s most stunning fjords" and you're in for a treat.
Spend a day cruising along their peaceful waters, looking up at the steep mountainsides, and spotting wildlife. You could also admire views of powerful waterfalls, such as the Seven Sisters and Bridal Veil.
- Sail along fjords, rugged coastlines and across the Baltic Sea on a cruise of Scandinavia
8. Stockholm, Sweden
Discover Stockholm, the enchanting capital of Sweden. Here you can spend your days discovering Swedish culture and history.
Wander through the cobblestone streets of the 13th-century old town (Gamla Stan). This area is dotted with interesting attractions such as the Nobel Museum and the Royal Palace.
You could also head out to Djurgården to visit the Vasa Museum, the most visited museum in Scandinavia. Or take a boat trip around the stunning Stockholm archipelago.
- Explore these Sweden holiday packages
9. Gothenburg, Sweden
While making your way through Sweden, don’t forget the western city of Gothenburg. With its chilled-out and trendy vibes, the country's second largest city is one of the best vacation spots in Sweden.
Here, you’ll discover neoclassical architecture along quaint streets and grand canals. You could dine at romantic gastropubs in Haga, ride rollercoasters at the 1920s Liseberg amusement park, and take a cruise along the Gothenburg archipelago.
- Check out these tours of Sweden to explore the country in more depth
- Related: Best group tours in Europe for solo travellers
10. Icehotel, Sweden
Sleep on ice at the legendary ICEHOTEL in Sweden – a quintessential Nordic experience!
During the day, you can try your hand at fun winter activities such as dog sledding, snowshoeing or snowmobiling. By night, keep warm on a reindeer-skin-covered ice bed. And don't forget to keep an eye out for the dancing northern lights in the sky above.
- Head north to have a winter getaway in Lapland
11. Copenhagen, Denmark
Travel to the fairytale city of Copenhagen, where you’ll discover royal palaces, nods to writer Hans Christian Andersen, and canals lined with colourful houses.
You could easily fill several days visiting all of Copenhagen’s cultural and historical attractions. But make sure to visit the extravagant Amalienborg Palace, home to the Danish Royal family, and Tivoli Gardens, the world's second oldest amusement park.
- Visit Copenhagen as part of a Scandinavian triangle tour that also includes Stockholm and Oslo
12. Helsinki, Finland
While not technically part of Scandinavia, don’t forget Finland when travelling through the Nordic countries.
Cross the Baltic Sea to Helsinki and experience Finnish culture at its finest. Here, you’ll find modern buildings alongside ornamental, Art Nouveau architecture, which makes exploring the city a real treat.
We recommend checking out the Design District, Temppeliaukion (an incredible rock-carved church), and Market Square.
- Take an independent tour of Scandinavia including Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway
13. Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland
Relive childhood fantasies by visiting the official hometown of Santa Claus in the capital of Finnish Lapland.
After you’ve met the jolly old fellow, make sure to visit the Arktikum museum. Or head into the great outdoors to experience the stunning beauty of the Arctic wilderness.
Rovaniemi is also a good spot to chase the northern lights during the winter months.
Planning your trip to Scandinavia
Booking a trip to Scandinavia couldn't be easier with Nordic Visitor. You can take your pick from the large selection of self-drive itineraries, train and cruise packages, and guided group tours.
Choose your favourite itinerary and we'll do the rest for you. We'll book your accommodation, in-country transportation and transfers, and activities. So all you have to do is fly here and enjoy your holiday!
When you’re ready to start planning your Scandinavian getaway, get in touch with our travel consultants who can arrange it all for you. They can even customise your itinerary should you have any particular needs and interests. We’re here to help you make the most of your time in Scandinavia!