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The highlights that need to be part of any Scandinavian trip

Seven Sisters Waterfalls, Geiranger.

Seven Sisters Waterfalls, Geiranger. Photo: Viking

Scandinavia is on so many Australians’ travel lists, and with good reason.

Its jaw-dropping scenery, charming cities and fascinating historical sites make it a destination of a lifetime.

And with so many of the region’s most striking attractions clustered near the coast, a cruise is one of the best ways to see the most – relaxed and stress-free.

There’s one cruise company better equipped than most to be your Scandinavian guide – the clue is in the name.

Viking was rated No.1 for Rivers, Oceans and Expeditions by Condé Nast Traveller in 2023 – the first time a cruise company has swept all three categories.

You won’t find casinos or kids on a Viking ship. What you will find is exceptional value and trademark expertise which it brings to its namesake region with a selection of itineraries taking in the best Scandinavia and surrounds has to offer.

Here’s 10 Scandinavian experiences you can’t miss.

1. Seek the Northern Lights

The Southern Aurora is a very occasional treat for Aussies living in our south, but you’ll have a much better chance of catching a dancing kaleidoscope of night sky colours if you travel to Scandinavia at the right time of year.

How to do it: Viking’s 13-day In Search of Northern Lights journey runs between London and Bergen in Norway from January to March, sailing through Norway’s spectacular Inside Passage.

One port you will stop off on this voyage is Alta, known as the “City of Northern Lights”, where you can enjoy a sled ride over Arctic landscapes or head out to a high mountain camp and stay cosy in a Sami tent while scanning the horizons with an expert guide.

Northern Lights, Norway

Northern Lights, Norway. Photo: Viking

2. Trace the footsteps of the Vikings

There are many places to see and learn about the history of the raiders and pirates so synonymous with Scandinavia, but few better than the Viking burial grounds and the Ravenheart Hardanger museum in Eidfjord, Norway.

Also unmissable, the reconstructed farm on the outskirts of the birthplace of Harald Bluetooth in Aalborg, Denmark and the nearby Lindholm Hoje, a burial site of more than 700 Viking graves and 150 stone ships.

How to do it: The 15-day Viking Homelands journey is one of several the company offers focusing on Viking history.

It takes in all these attractions, as you journey through six countries, leaving from Stockholm, Sweden en route to Bergen, Norway via Poland, Denmark, Germany and Estonia. You’ll travel, of course, with Viking.

Viking Homelands

Lindholm Hoje. Photo: Viking

3. Explore otherwordly landscapes

Prometheus, Game of Thrones, Interstellar, Oblivion: There’s a reason Iceland is a stand-in for alien and fantasy lands in so many movies and TV series.

The scenery on every inch of this island will leave you feeling you’ve travelled to another planet, and no more than in the far north where you’ll have the chance to see some of the most thunderous and awe-inspiring waterfalls anywhere in the world.

How to do it: Viking’s Iceland’s Majestic Landscapes 13-day itinerary offers a shore excursion which heads along Iceland’s longest fjord, before taking in Godafoss waterfall, the lava castles and grottos of Dimmuborgir labyrinth and the boiling mud pools of Namaskard.

It’s among 13 Viking itineraries to explore this fascinating isle.

Godafoss Waterfall,

Godafoss waterfall, Fossholl. Photo: Viking

4. Ride a world-famous train through Norwegian Fjords

The village of Flam is known as one of the world’s most spectacularly located settlements, perched at the end of the Aurlandsfjord surrounded by steep mountains, green valleys and pristine alpine lakes. From here the options to explore are many.

A coach trip from Flam is Gudvangen, a charming village on the 18km Naeroyfjord where kayakers depart.

One of Europe’s most dramatic train trips departs from Flam. The 19km journey is regarded as a masterclass in engineering as it crawls its way up 900m through tunnels, over bridges and past waterfalls to arrive at Vatnahalsen Station.

Or combine the train trip with a bike ride with a gentle 11km descent following the twisting path of a river.

How to do it: Viking Shores and Fjords  is an eight-day journey from Amsterdam to Bergen in Norway stopping in Flam, or opt for an extended voyage from Viking’s itinerary options here.

Green Valley ,Aurland

Green Valley, Aurland. Photo: Viking

5. Experience 24 hours of pure sunlight

There’s something truly strange about experiencing full daylight for 24 hours.

Head to the Arctic Circle with a sleeping mask and be ready to make the most of every minute of the endless days.

How to do it: Between June and July Viking’s Into the Midnight Sun itinerary chases the light from Bergen in Norway to London via remote Honningsvag.

Here you can venture out on a deep-sea raft to catch king crab before heading to a Sami tent to cook and prepare the delicacy under the midnight sun.

Reinebringen Mountain, Lofoten

Reinebringen Mountain, Lofoten. Photo: Viking

6. Explore a 400-year-old warship

In 1628 the Swedish warship Vasa sank in Stockholm Harbour. More than 300 years later it was raised, astonishingly well preserved, and is now the focal point of the Vasa Museum, which also displays more than 40,000 items found in and around the ship and explains the search and excavation of the vessel.

Combine a visit to the museum with a wander through nearby Gamla Stan, or old town, with its old guild houses and narrow lanes spread across the city’s original three islands.

How to do it: Viking’s 29-day Scandinavia and the British Isles itinerary leaves from London and concludes with two days in Stockholm, visiting Estonia, Poland, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Scotland and Northern Ireland on the way, or explore Stockholm on any of these other voyages too.

swedish warship

Swedish warship. Photo: Viking

7. Cycle round Oslo

A city whose Viking past is only rivalled by its artistic history, Oslo is a wonderful place to explore by bike.

It’s easy to take in everything from the medieval Akershus Fortress to City Hall Square (home of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony) to the car-free Oslofjord with its views of islands and hills to the city centre by cycle.

How to do it: Viking’s Baltic Jewels and the Midnight Sun itinerary includes two days in Oslo on its journey from London to Stockholm over 29 days, or choose one of six other Viking itineraries here.

Opera house oslo

Opera House, Oslo. Photo: Viking

8. Spy the world’s cutest bird

They’re one of the world’s most iconic birds, and Scandinavia and the Arctic region is where you’ll find them.

How to do it: The 15-day In the Wake of the Vikings itinerary includes a stop on in Torshavn on the Faroe Islands where you can join a boat trip from the former Viking outpost of Vestmanna.

Its dramatic nearby sea cliffs are home to puffins, kittiwakes and other seabirds.

If the sea is co-operative, your journey may include entering the grottos and caves at the cliff base to see the birds nesting within.

puffin, denmark

Puffin. Photo: Viking

9. Visit a royal palace

No Australian should leave Copenhagen without visiting some royal landmarks. It’s what Queen Mary would want.

How to do it: Viking’s Scandinavia and the British Isles itinerary includes a day to explore all this picturesque world capital has to offer, as do three other Viking itineraries.

Stroll past Amalienborg Palace, our Mary’s official winter residence, or venture into the countryside to visit the fairy tale castle of Frederiksborg, now home to the Museum of Natural History.

Head to the UNESCO-listed Kronborg Castle and learn about its links to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

And if too much royalty isn’t enough, pay a visit to Christiansborg Palace, seat of the Danish parliament and home to the Queen’s reception rooms.

Frederiksborg Castle

Frederiksborg Castle, Hillerod. Photo: Viking

10. Ascend Bergen’s highest mountain

Known as the gateway to the fjords, Norway’s Bergen is watched over by the magnificent Mt Ulriken.

A cable car will whisk you 300m up from the affluent Bergen suburb of Kalfaret to the summit, where a hot chocolate and cinnamon Ulriken bun await along with unbeatable views of city.

How to do it: Many of Viking’s Scandinavia itineraries take in this destination, including Trade Routes of the Middle Ages, which leaves from Bergen en route for Barcelona via Amsterdam, Belgium, France, England and Portugal over 15 days.

Browse all of Viking’s Scandinavian journeys here.

Topics: Viking
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