Follow your compass North with Nordic Visitor! As a specialist travel agency based in Iceland and Sweden, we know this amazing region inside out. On this page you can learn more about the unique lands that make up the region we call home. For itinerary suggestions, ideas about things to see and do or information about getting around and when to visit, you will find plenty of helpful tips in our At a Glance guide.
The Nordic region consists of countries in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic, including Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the associated territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Svalbard and the Åland Islands.
Scandinavia is sometimes used as a synonym for all the Nordic countries (often excluding Greenland), but that term more properly refers to the countries on the Scandinavian peninsula of Northern Europe—Denmark, Norway and Sweden.And although Finland is not technically considered part of Scandinavia due to its ties to the Baltic countries, it nonetheless shares many of the geographical, cultural and historical characteristics as the Scandinavian countries, particularly with its neighbour Sweden. Overall, this region of Europe is well known for its sophisticated, design-savvy capitals, but its Viking relics and medieval historical sites as well as its extremely diverse nature—from Norway’s famous fjords to Finland’s lush forests—offer something for all travellers.
The small archipelago of the Faroe Islands and Iceland—a volcanic island roughly the same size of Portugal—are geographically very different from Scandinavia but are considered part of the Nordic countries due to their strong historical and cultural ties. These countries also have far smaller populations than their Scandinavian counterparts, offering active travellers and nature lovers an abundance of natural attractions to explore. Bird watching, sailing and hiking are particularly popular in the Faroes, while Iceland has just about any outdoor adventure you could imagine—from snorkelling and glacier hiking to lava-caving and horse riding.
The associated territories of Greenland and Svalbard and the Lapland region of northern Scandinavia are destinations that offer unique cultural and natural experiences for travellers that want something a little different from the usual European holiday. Whereas the Nordic countries overall have a reputation for being very modern, these places allow guests to experience the simpler life and enjoy the thrills of Arctic activities like dog-sledding, multi-day snowmobile trips and other adventures in the snow or ice. Both Greenland and Lapland also offer a chance to learn about the traditions and daily life of the native Inuit and Sami people.
Nature is among the biggest attractions across the entire Nordic region, with visitors from all corners of the planet drawn to the dramatic fjords, scenic islands, volcanoes, lush forests, lakes, waterfalls and idyllic farmlands. These destinations offer everything from rugged adventures in Arctic wilderness to royal palaces and world-class culinary experiences in centuries-old cities. Besides the magical scenery and natural phenomena like the midnight sun in the summer and the northern lights in the winter, the cultural buzz of major Nordic cities is equally alluring to travellers. The capitals of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland are well known as hubs of cutting-edge designs as well as innovative cuisine, art and music. (back to the top)
A country for all seasons
Iceland is one of the world’s most astounding landscapes. Unlike anywhere else on the planet, its pristine, unspoilt nature and natural phenomena will quite simply take your breath away. From its spouting geysers, active volcanoes and spectacular waterfalls to vast lava plains, glaciers and fjords, it is beautiful, enchanting and utterly tranquil.
Iceland's vibrant capital, Reykjavik, is home to 40% of the total population of the country. With a legendary nightlife as well as first class restaurants and a great choice of cultural and social events, Reykjavik boasts panoramic views of the mountains and the Atlantic ocean on almost all sides. Its small size means it’s also really easy to explore by foot.
For thrill-seekers, Iceland’s great outdoors offer myriad activities, such as snowmobiling, horse riding, cave exploration, hiking, swimming, skiing, river rafting, kayaking and mountain safaris on modified 4x4 vehicles, to name but a few. For nature-lovers, Iceland boasts a surprisingly diverse Nordic flora and fauna and is an ideal place for bird lovers, as well as offering some of the world’s best whale-watching destinations.
Iceland is a great destination all year round not only because of its diverse landscape but also its amazing contrasts in light and dark, which vary from season to season, offering new discoveries with every visit. (back to the top)
Majestic mountain peaks, awesomely steep fjords, vast forests, lakes of crystal blue water, the Northern Lights and the Land of the Midnight Sun. Norway has all this and much more. The country can arguably boast the most stunning and dramatic landscapes in Europe, guaranteed to leave your senses reeling. Not surprising when you consider that Norway has over 1,300 nature reserves, offering bounteous amounts of space and tranquillity where the air is fabulously fresh and the surroundings sublime.
This is where modern skiing was invented so don’t be surprised to discover excellent ski pistes, most notably in the south-east around Lillehammer, which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics. You may even want to follow the example of the adventurous Norwegians, who love to make their own trails in the middle of nowhere - no matter what the season.
To experience nature at its most raw, visit the Land of the Midnight Sun at Lofoten, on the edge of the snowy wilderness that is the Arctic Circle. And when you’ve had your fill of the great outdoors, don’t forget to visit Oslo, the world’s biggest village. Anywhere you go, Norway will keep surprising you. (back to the top)
A land of awesome extremes
Greenland is a land of mind-blowing extremes—one of the world’s last great wildernesses. Whether you visit during the summer, when the sun never sets, or in the winter, when the northern lights (aurora borealis) often dance across the night sky, Greenland is a jaw-dropping experience.
Imagine cruising in the Ilulissat Icefjord, located in the north-west, where in summer the midnight sun reflects warm reddish colours on the gigantic icebergs. The Icefjord, producing 20 millions tons of ice per day, is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
South Greenland, meanwhile, is the fertile part of the country, where you will experience the contrast of green fields and icebergs along with Viking Age remains and Inuit culture.
Continuing eastwards, a visit to Ammassalik gives you insights into a culture closer to its roots than anywhere else in Greenland. Here you have the opportunity to experience the wildlife of this snowy wilderness, for example by going on a thrilling dog-sledding tour with a local musher. (back to the top)
The Land of the Midnight Sun
Lapland is a magical land, famous for its dazzling natural phenomena, the northern lights, and the summer’s ever-present midnight sun. It’s a beautifully pure, untouched landscape, home to the nomadic Sami people and their large herds of reindeer.
Extremely diverse, it starts at sea level in the Norwegian fjords in the west and climbs to the mountainous inlands of northern Norway and Sweden with glaciers and large valleys in between. It even extends into the northern reaches of the Arctic Circle.
The Sami people have a remarkably rich and lively culture. An estimated 70,000 Sami live in Lapland, although few live the traditional life of hunting and herding reindeer these days. However, the culture lives on, and the Sami welcome travellers. (back to the top)
Land of the thousand lakes
Mainland Scandinavia’s most culturally isolated and least understood country, Finland is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.
This extremely sparsely populated country is home to dense forests and thousands upon thousands of clear, sparkling lakes. Many boast quiet and tranquil islands, a popular retreat for travellers and city-dwellers alike.
Each region of Finland has its own distinct character, from the wilds of Lapland to the magical lakes of the east and the archipelagos of the south-west.
The Finns love their outdoor sports and each winter the landscape provides a stunning backdrop for all sorts of winter activities. The country is arguably most famous for its love of sauna, which, for Finns, is as much about meaningful social ritual as it is about health and fitness. Throughout the year, many Finns take to the outdoor sauna with their birch whips and bottles of schnapps. And when they’ve worked up a suitable sweat, there’s always a refreshing lake nearby in which to cool off. (back to the top)
Sea breeze and green tourism
The Faroes or Sheep Islands make for one of the world’s most remote and exotic islands.
A cluster of 18 islands situated roughly midway between Iceland and Norway, the Faroes are characterized by easy an pace of life, tranquil fishing villages, rocky cliffs, deep-green slopes, historic architecture, renowned bird-life and just about 49,000 friendly inhabitants, proud of their heritage. Regardless of where you are in the islands, you can feel the fresh sea breeze and see the ocean.
The islands are a paradise for the nature lover with many opportunities for hiking, fishing, bird-watching experiencing living museum of a farm life today and adventures at sea. (back to the top)
Up close and personal with nature’s finest
One of the world’s most dramatic outposts, Svalbard is a remote wilderness of mesmerising proportions. From polar bears to reindeer, dog sledding to snowmobiling, glacier expeditions to kayak trips and ski treks, this archipelago plays host to the quintessential Arctic adventure, taking you well off the beaten track.
Situated in the Arctic Ocean between Norway and the North Pole, Svalbard’s main island is Spitsbergen, which offers a stunning choice of winter and summer safaris by foot, skis, boat, kayak and dogsled. Go on a dogsled safari to the east of Spitsbergen and you’ll have a good chance of seeing a polar bear in its natural habitat. Meanwhile, the world’s northernmost trek is among Svalbard's rising peaks and mighty glaciers on the island’s north-westerly side.
Svalbard’s capital, Longyearbyen is your gateway to your Svalbard adventure. This small community of 1,900 people has many historical sites and the Svalbard Museum will tell you everything you need to know about this enchanting island. (back to the top)
An outdoor paradise
The third largest country in Western Europe, Sweden is one of the world’s largest areas of unspoilt, diverse nature with an enviable sense of space.
A favourite among outdoor sports lovers, the Swedish countryside features everything from numerous lakes and waterways punctuated by vast pine and spruce forests and majestic mountains and glaciers as well as lush, open countryside. The coastline stretches for thousands of kilometres and boasts some of Europe’s most stunning beaches.
A dominant force in Scandinavia for centuries, Sweden has a rich cultural and historical heritage and you can see many castles, cathedrals and ancient manor houses throughout the country. The Swedish capital, Stockholm, is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, spread out over 14 islands with great beaches and green parks. Known as the Venice of the North, the capital is a bustling metropolis where old-meets new and there’s a great mix of art, museums and international shopping.
If you want to get away from the busy capital, take a cruise on the Göta Canal from Göteborg to Söderkjöping on the Baltic Sea. Whatever you do, Sweden is a captivating country full of unforgettable experiences. (back to the top)
Royalty & Fairytales
A green and pleasant pastoral country, Denmark is the home of Royalty, Vikings and Fairytales. Denmark is rich in culturewhich you can get a glimpse of in the country's many museums and galleries.
Denmark is the perfect destination for families, with a laid-back atmosphere and countless activities and cultural experiences. The capital, Copenhagen, is a charming city to visit any time of year with distinctive architecture, a royal palace and historical sights which you can easily cover on foot or bicycle.
Why not take a boat trip around its revamped harbour front, and visit the statue of The Little Mermaid, commemorating the great fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Enjoy the vibrant life at Strøget, the main shopping-street; experience a day in the charming family-park “Parken”; or seem some light-hearted thrills in the legendary Tivoli amusement park, right in the heart of the city. Sitting down in Nyhavn with a smørrebrød sandwich and Danish beer is something everyone should experience. No wonder the Danish are so happy-go-lucky, or as they say “ligeglad.” (back to the top)