Scandinavia topped the list of happiest countries recently. Scandinavia is in fact a region which includes in popular parlance includes countries including Finland, Sweden and Denmark. However, if one to go by the strict definition of Scandinavia it has only three countries – Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Contrary to the perception that life in Scandinavian countries is very depressing and dull because the harsh climate the environment here is such that it is regarded as the best remedy for a long and healthy, carefree life. It’s often rumoured that the population of Scandinavia is like a big whole one family.
Music and food are the trademarks of Sweden. Music is a major Swedish export and it’s said that almost half the population of Sweden ends up becoming famous music singers just because they are born in the country.
Considered as a paradise for music lovers Sweden offers a lively music scene across the country especially in big cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Swedish food has also become popular – classic dishes like meatballs and pickled herring are the daily snacks which are available in local food vans. A trip to Sweden won’t be complete without trying them and enjoying the local wine. In fact, in Sweden, local food stalls are turning out to be more successful and popular than the expensive, challenging restaurants.
Fashion has also become a serious business in Sweden for tourists while the local Swedes have little taste for fashion and are seen wandering on the streets either dressed casually or in their bathing suits.
Swedes have a reputation for making huge profits by producing expensive clothes and advertising it as a necessity although they themselves never care about their appearance and choose to wear whatever they find comfortable.
The locals shop at the flea markets, or local shops lined on the streets of Stockholm, that are set up every weekend from.
This is a nation where you can sleep in a sleek treehouse, an old jumbo set, or a hotel made from ice and they are not that expensive as the big hotels in cities are. Husky horse rides, the northern lights, the midnight sun, crystal-clear lakes, brightly painted wooden houses and the planet’s best free camping and hiking are the main tourist attractions of Sweden.
Sweden also has excellent ice cream parlours and pubs. Nightlife is a popular time in Sweden when the streets get filled with local dances and orchestra performances.
Life there is very calm and peaceful and everything runs at a slow pace.
The Scandinavian country most visited by tourists receiving about 10.4 million tourists a year is Denmark. The capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen, on the island of Sealand, has captured the interests for big business dealers and traders.
Do not shop in Denmark as shops don’t offer sales even during the festive season. Ranked as the happiest place in the world based on standards of health, welfare and education Denmark is an ideal place to just sit and witness the happiness of life by seeing the row of colourful painted houses and the locals working in their homes while singing and whistling.
Denmark is also considered as one of the most romantic countries in the world because the wonderful colourful houses set against the backdrop of the beautiful Riviera and the pretty streets of downtown lined with the best candlelight dinners.
The Danes are considered one of the sweetest and most innovative people in the world. Locals express their gratitude all the time and it gives a feeling of having a Thanksgiving every day.
Tivoli Gardens, Rosenborg Castle, Statue of Little Mermaid, Christiansborg Castle and Legoland Billund Resort are the main tourist attractions in Denmark and a must see.
Denmark is also famous for it’s quality of breads and popular Danish pastries. Bakeries line the streets of the downtown and are often very crowded. The best time to visit Denmark is during the months of September-October when it is packed with tourists and the weather is still mild enough for outdoor activities.
One of the countries Finland is the birthplace of saunas and steam rooms. Almost every house has one and it is said that Finnish people don’t start their day without a sauna bath.
With an estimated three million saunas in Finland, it is a place to relax with their friends and family. The Finns regard sauna as a necessity of life and not luxury. An interesting fact before the hospitals came about almost all Finnish mothers gave birth in saunas.
Apart from saunas Finland also has excellent water quality. Winter is a magical time to visit Finland when the traditional Christmas markets are in full bloom.
In fact, there is a popular Christmas myth that Santa Claus opened his first workshop in the Arctic Circle near Rovaniemi to safeguard the tranquility of his secret hiding place and also to meet people and friends who love Christmas. A 9 hour and 36 minute drive north of Helsinki the drive to Rovaniemi is spectacular with beautiful scenery of the pure environment. The entry to the village is absolutely free. A fabulous buffet lunch and a visit to the Snowmobile museum of Santa Claus is a must.
Photographers who love capturing the colours of nature the igloo hotel village in Kakslauttanen is an excellent place to view the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
These hotels are igloo shaped domes with an open sky roof above the bed which gives a full view of the clear skies above. It is an excellent viewing platform to view Northern Lights even while stirring lazily on the bed.