Search for:

10 things to do in the Nordic countries during the summer 

Thanks to long hours of sunlight during the summer months, the Nordic countries make the perfect holiday escape, particularly if you want maximum time for outdoor activities. Whether it's urban swimming, cruising the Fjords, whale watching or even skiing, the Nordic countries are a fantastic option for your next summer holiday. Here are 10 activities that you should definitely try on a summer break to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland or Iceland.  

  1. Urban swimming in Copenhagen’s harbour baths
  2. Exploring Norway’s fjords on a cruise
  3. Taking a dip in Iceland's Blue Lagoon
  4. Summer skiing in Norway
  5. Kayaking in Stockholm
  6. Whale watching in Reykjavik
  7. Cycling the Iron Curtain Trail in Finland
  8. White water rafting in Norway 
  9. Hiking the Faroe Islands
  10. Wild camping in Sweden 

1. Urban swimming in Copenhagen’s harbour baths

You don't even need to leave the city to make the most of a Nordic summer. Copenhagen's public harbour baths are a great way to cool down after a city tour. Why not take in the city skyline while swimming at Islands Brygge? This beautiful spot, with its lifeguards, five pools, three diving towers and water that's checked for cleanliness daily, is an easy walk over the bridge from the city centre. Alternatives include Sandkaj harbour bath in the Nordhavn quarter and the lovely lagoon at Sluseholmen on the harbour's southern side.

Don't miss: taking your little ones to the specially-designated children's pool at Islands Brygge. 

2. Exploring Norway’s fjords on a cruise

Long sun-filled days and balmy temperatures make the summer months perfect for enjoying a cruise through the Norwegian fjords. Most trips include Bergen and sometimes Oslo but it's the smaller ports that make a fjord cruise so magical. Geiranger is a particular favourite thanks to the green-cloaked mountains surrounding its fjord. Some trips go even further north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to Svalbard. Known for its polar bears and, of course, for the fact that the sun genuinely does not set here for around four months of the year, it's a real highlight of any fjord cruise.

Don't miss: taking a short kayaking trip through the fjords to see the waterfalls and cliffs from a different perspective. 

3. Taking a dip in Iceland's Blue Lagoon

You'll find this geothermal spa in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula. A short drive from Keflavík, the chance to float and relax in the warm, milky waters of the Blue Lagoon is unmissable. Additional attractions include in-water massages, a spa, dining facilities and, if you simply can't bear to leave, two hotels. Other thermal spas to look out for in Iceland include Mývatn Nature Baths, where you can also indulge in a geothermal steam bath, and Geosea with its sublime sea views.

Don't miss: trying the silica mud mask at the Blue Lagoon. 

4. Summer skiing in Norway

Just because it's summer doesn't mean you can't indulge in your favourite winter sports. Norway's Tystigbreen glacier is home to the Stryn ski resort, which offers alpine, off-piste and snowpark skiing. Then there's Galdhøpiggen. This is Norway's highest mountain and its summer ski resort is the place of choice for many skiing or snowboarding professionals. However, everyone is welcome and the views are as good as the skiing. Alternatively, if you're visiting Copenhagen and want to combine the city with a spot of skiing, head for the purpose-built CopenHill.

Don't miss: taking a glacier walk at Galdhøpiggen. 

5. Kayaking in Stockholm

Made up of 14 islands and with almost 30,000 more in the archipelago just outside the city, Stockholm is ideal to explore by kayak. It's easy to rent kayaks, all other necessary equipment and there are several guided tours you can join. The harder job is deciding where to go. Day trips are perfect if you're new to kayaking: popular excursions include kayaking to a small island for a picnic, finding a beach to swim off, or for something more indulgent, setting a course for Bullandö Marina and its delicious ice cream.

Don't miss: a kayaking and wild camping expedition if you're a more experienced kayaker. 

6. Whale watching in Reykjavik

You can go whale watching in Reykjavik all year-round but the summer months are something special. The long hours of daylight and pleasant temperatures make it easy to spend time out on the water. Minke whales are one of the most common species to spot but no less thrilling for that. You might also be lucky enough to see humpback whales, orca or white-beaked dolphins. If you're a keen wildlife spotter, why not pick a tour that also takes in one of the lively puffin colonies!

Don't miss: looking out for the Northern Lights if you're whale watching towards the end of summer. 

7. Cycling the Iron Curtain Trail in Finland

If you're a keen cyclist, the 1700 km Iron Curtain Trail might already be on your radar. Even if you're not, cycling even a section of the route is a great way to get to know part of the country. Going through some of Finland's least populous areas, the trail's remoteness is as much of an attraction as the history lesson it provides. Although not mountainous, you should come prepared for hills and, if you have a choice, tackle the route from north to south to reduce the risk of cycling into a strong headwind.

Don't miss: staying up late at least once to cycle under the ‘Midnight Sun’. 

8. White water rafting in Norway

Whether you're new to the experience or have ridden the rapids before, Norway is a fantastic place for white water rafting. Home to both the Raundalselva and the Strandaelva rivers, Voss is a popular rafting centre. With nine rapids, Strandaelva is often the river of choice but Raundalselva is actually the more technically challenging, although perfectly accessible for beginners when led by a guide. The Sjoa river is another very popular choice for white water rafting. Its waters are fast-flowing and hurtle through plenty of impressive gorges. And, if you like fishing, it ends up in Gudbrandsdalslågen, one of the country's best angling locations.

Don't miss: a family rafting trip if you're on holiday with children. 

9. Hiking the Faroe Islands

There are few better places to hike than the 18 remote, rocky, volcanic islands that make up the Faroe Islands. Which island you choose might depend on what you want to see. For instance, Mykines is known for its puffin colony and Eysturoy has a trail with incomparable views over Lake Sørvágsvatn, known as ‘the Lake over the Ocean’. On foot is also a great way to explore the capital of the Faroe Islands, Tórshavn, on Streymoy. Its turf-roofed houses are as picturesque as any of the dramatic seascapes you'll see on other hikes.

Don't miss: the ferry to Kalsoy island for the hike to Kallur lighthouse. 

10. Wild camping in Sweden

The Swedish concept of ‘Allemansrätten’ or, ‘right of public access’, makes the country one of the best places in the world for wild camping. And you'll be spoiled for sites. Skuleskogen National Park on the Baltic Sea coast should be a definite contender: the views are great but the park is also home to one of Europe's last remaining primeval forests. Gotland, Sweden's biggest island, is another excellent choice, especially if you fancy sunbathing on one of its beach. And if you like to combine your camping with hiking, Skåne in the south of the country is home to the Skåneleden Trail.

Don't miss: watching out for the native wildlife, which includes elk, reindeer and even bears. 

Bicycle tours and trips 

Incredible cycling holidays in Europe, Asia, the USA and beyond 

Book now →

You may also be interested in...

Search for your dream holiday

ATOL PROTECTED

Sign up to our newsletter

We'll send you exclusive offers and sneak peeks of our best deals,
plus travel tips and the latest advice on where you can go.