Why we heart Scandinavia
The cool countries of Scandinavia tend to get overlooked somewhat on an European vacay. Too cold, too expensive, too quirky. We get that. But while Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland may not be as flashy and well-known as other popular Western European destinations (ahem, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Spain), the Nordic countries have been quietly gathering a certain indie cred as trendsetters in music, culture, fashion , design and street style.
And since Scandinavia is way too cool to shout about its attributes, we’ll do that for them. And tackle some of your doubts with our best high school debating skills. Here goes.
Scandinavia is too expensive.
Yup, you’ve heard of the $US9.83 Starbucks grande latte in Oslo? Firstly, why are you buying US coffee in Norway? And secondly, yes, this country has a strong currency as does Sweden, Finland and Denmark and a high standard of living that accompanies this standing. But there’s no need to bypass Scandinavia if you’re on a backpacker budget. The hostels here are some of the cleanest in the world and great value. Or you can pitch a tent anywhere in the countryside bar national parks. Take advantage of free travel and admission to attractions with tourist cards, and eat and drink at local cafes, on the street or cook your own meals. Beer is cheapest in Denmark and you’ll encounter heaps of drunken Swedes and Norwegians here for this reason too!
It’s frigging freezing in Scandinavia. And dark.
Uh duh. It’s Northern Europe and parts of Scandinavia fall within the Arctic Circle. But it’s not all snow and ice. Norway is known as the land of the midnight sun with over 18 hours of sunshine in summer and nights that never really become dark. There’s also the amazing Northern Lights phenomenon to witness north of the Arctic circle and heaps of summer festivals in Sweden and Denmark to check out. On the flipside, winters are so dark, long and cold, it’s no wonder the locals are SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Stockholm gets only 5 hours of daylight in winter but UV-free light cafes are a thing now to balance the winter blues. Our tip? Visit in summer, peeps, or wear thermals, gloves and a beanie and use your seasonal angst to write poetry or something.
What about the Vikings?
Have you seen the ‘Vikings’? Sure they pillaged, looted and plundered their way across Northern Europe but they were hawt (or is that just the TV show with Aussie hottie Travis Fimmel?). Anyway, these skilled seafaring Scandinavians are considered to have passed on much better attributes to the super-attractive people of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Finland (and even parts of Scotland) than their anti-social ways. They were known to have bathed much more regularly than other Europeans of the time, women could request divorces, and the men were considered to be well-endowed. There’s the sexy side of ‘Vikings’ again!
So, yes. Sweden has gifted the world Abba, Avicii, Likke Li and Robyn. Norway – A-Ha and Röykskopp. Denmark – Aqua and Lars Ulrich of Metallica. Björk, GusGus, Sigur Rós and Of Monsters and Men are well-known Icelandic exports and from Finland, um, Eurovision winners Lordi. From black metal to indie tunes and from top DJ/producers to sugary pop, Scandi music is both cool and cringeworthy at the same time, but totally worth name checking.
Those Swedes again. Taking over the world one flat-pack bookcase at a time. We heart Nordic design for its clean, modern lines with just enough quirk to keep it interesting whether that be bold pops of colour, unusual fabrics and textures or just that certain Scandi something (Marimekko, H&M, Cheap Monday and Acne). Get set to embrace wooden toffel clogs and bold prints again this summer, hipsters!