The Nordic countries are known for many things – great food, friendly people, and fantastic scenery. The Nordic Region is the largest region in Europe, covering almost 1.2 million square kilometers. Despite its massive size, it’s not an overly populated area, which has allowed nature and wildlife to continue to thrive. The Nordic countries have beaches, hot springs, lakes, rivers, fjords, glaciers, and icebergs. For the active traveler who loves nature, these countries have a lot to offer. Here are the top 10 outdoor adventures to explore in the Nordics.
1. Explore the Inside of Thrihnukagigur Volcano (Iceland)
Thrihnukagigur is a dormant volcano, last erupting over 4,000 years ago. Today, you can take a tour into the heart of the Thrihnukagigur Volcano. The tour starts with a 45-minute hike to the crater. Next, you take a 400-foot drop to the bottom of the crater via a cable lift. You’re then given some time to explore the magma chamber before being lifted out and making the hike back to your starting point.
This is definitely an outdoor adventure you’ll remember for life!
2. Glacier Hiking on the Sólheimajökull Glacier (Iceland)
After exploring a volcano on your Iceland trip, why not tackle a glacier next? Sólheimajökull is Iceland’s fourth largest glacier. This won’t be like your usual outdoor hike; you’ll be climbing up ice, so you should be prepared for a challenge. It will be a slippery, demanding hike which is why you should book an experienced tour guide to accompany you. As you conquer this glacier, you’ll get to crawl through an ice cave, climb a wall of ice, and see views of the beautiful vistas across Iceland’s landscape.
3. Camp in Thy National Park (Denmark)
Thy National Park is Denmark’s first national park, initially opening to the public for the first time in August 2008. The park spans 55 kilometers and includes sandy beaches, massive dunes, and thick forests. The park is home to over 200 lakes (many of which you can freely fish in), wildlife like red deer and white-tailed eagles, and dozens of edible plants.
The best outdoor experience is to camp in the park. During the day, you can explore the park on bike, horse, or foot, catch some fish, and make yourself a fresh dinner under the stars.
4. Watch the Northern Lights (Norway)
Getting a spectacular view of the Northern Lights is only possible from a handful of countries, with Norway being one of those. Because the center of the aurora zone is in the Norwegian Arctic, the city of Tromso in Norway is considered one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. Tromso offers views of the lights from September to April.
It’s speculated that as the sun enters a less active solar cycle within the next decade, it will become more challenging to get a view of the Northern Lights. So, pack your suitcase now and sleep under these green, yellow, and pink night views while you still can!
Here are 8 expert tips for traveling to Norway if you’re making the trip to see the Northern Lights.
5. Take a 10-day route through 7 Finnish National Parks (Finland)
If you’re ready for a multi-day outdoor adventure, we recommend taking the popular 10-day route in Finland that takes you across seven Finnish National Parks. The course starts in Helsinki and ends in Oulu. It’s a self-guided tour that will take you through wetlands, lakes, ancient forests, and more. Throughout the trip, you can visit small villages, go on short hikes, canoe on lakes, and just enjoy the natural landscape Finland has to offer.
6. Ice Fishing on Frozen Lakes (Norway)
If you want a truly authentic, outdoor Norway experience, try your hand at ice fishing on a frozen lake. A lot of Norweigan cuisine centers on local, fresh seafood. When the ice freezes all the lakes over the winters, locals simply walk out onto the frozen water, cut a hole with a manual drill, and drop a fishing rod in.
This is probably one of the slower activities on the list, but it’s worth trying out at least once in your life! Bring some hot mulled wine to warm the soul and chat with your friends as you hope to catch something for dinner. The typical fish you can expect to catch are salmon, halibut, char, and trout.
7. Snowmobile Through Svalbard and See Polar Bears (Norway)
Svalbard is a Norweigan archipelago right in between Norway’s mainland and the North Pole. This little cluster of islands is only accessible by plane and is one of the most northernmost inhabited areas. You can book snowmobile tours that take you around a never-ending vision of white snow and bright blue glaciers. The most exciting part about Svalbard is all the wildlife you might encounter. Svalbard is home to 20% of the world’s polar bears. You also might see walruses, Arctic foxes, and reindeer. This is one outdoor adventure you’ll never forget.
8. Hike Kungsleden: The King’s Trail (Sweden)
Kungsleden, translated to “The King’s Trail,” is Sweden’s longest and most popular hiking trail. The trail takes hikers to the far north of Sweden and across four national parks. The complete course would take about a month to complete, but the hike has multiple entries and exit points so you can customize it to your desired timeline. Most people choose to do the section between Abikso and Nikkalokta, which will take about 11 days and is 105 kilometers long.
This hike is a wonderful way to see Sweden’s landscape. Author Peter Pottersfield has hiked 10,000 miles of trails across six continents and proclaims The King’s Trail to be the best.
You’re surrounded by fresh air, tundras, glaciers, and mountain views. Explore Sweden the way the country is meant to be experienced – in the outdoors!
9. Dog Sledding (Greenland)
Greenland is the world’s largest island, known for its beautiful, large glaciers. One of the most popular ways to take in Greeland’s landscape is with a winter dog sledding tour. Disko Bay is a popular area to explore as it offers stunning views of nearby icebergs. You can commit to a one-day tour dog sledding or longer excursions, like an 8-day dog sledding trip in East Greenland. Dog sledding tours include snowshoeing, visits to Inuit villages, and the opportunity to ride up and down glaciers.
Greenland recently made our list of beautiful countries untouched by tourists. If you hate crowds, you’ll love Greenland.
10. Diving (Faroe Islands)
The Faroe Islands are a self-governing archipelago that is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In total, there are 18 volcanic islands sitting between Iceland and Norway. Known as “Europe’s best-kept secret,” these islands have so much to offer.
Outdoor adventure comes in many forms here – from hiking to surfing – but we especially recommend diving. Typically, visibility is best during the winter months, averaging about 30 meters in terms of visibility. The Faroe Islands are home to many species of animal life and marine botanicals, making it an excellent place to dive. You can sign up for diving courses and diving tours, so you have a safe underwater adventure.
The Nordic countries all have landscapes meant for exploring. So which outdoor adventure piques your interest most?