If your travel dreams are taking you to the Northern European sub-region of Scandinavia, you’re in for a deep dive. One doesn’t need to be a travel ninja to access insights before they board the flight, however, these facts are going to blow your mind. Here’s getting below the surface and bringing you ten amazing facts that you probably haven’t come across about Scandinavian countries.
Lakes in Finland
According to Rick Steve, it’s best to visit Scandinavia when it gets warmer. Stroll through forested landscapes of Finland and you will see lush green and calming blue dominating the scenic beauty – only during the summer months. Finns have a certain attachment to the element of water, rightly so, especially with the number of lakes crowning the country. Affectionately called “the land of a thousand lakes” does, in fact, have 188,000 lakes. Given the naturally calming surrounding, it is highly recommended to enjoy a boat ride. Maybe start with a cruise through the longest lake of Finland, the Lake Päijänne. Do it like the locals, who unwind with canoeing or fishing before retiring in a lakeside cottage.
The Country Flags
Depicting the common ancestry, history and civilization, all the Scandinavian country flags have the Nordic cross. Representing Christianity, Denmark was the first country flag to don the cross at the time when it was dominant in Europe. After Denmark, others like Norway, Finland, and Sweden followed suit. After the reformation in 1537 when the Danish king banished Catholicism, is when the national state became Christian. It is believed that the “Dannebrogen” (the Danish flag) is the oldest flag of the world. The Swedes took inspiration from the arch-rival Denmark, to mark resistance, in the 16th century when they donned the cross in their country flag too. The Norwegian flag that was created in 1821 uses the three colours that represent freedom.
The ‘Contentment’ Quotient
Not a secret that along with its Nordic neighbours, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, have consistently ranked highest in UN’s World Happiness Report. Reading all about how happy a country is sitting miles and timezones away may have you visualizing locals as over-friendly with strangers. Take it from those who have experienced it firsthand, it’s not true. “Locals of Finland (the country ranked as the Happiest in the world for three consecutive years), would not smile at you while travelling in a bus or while shopping in the same aisle of a store” explains Hansol, a Korean Influencer who lived in Finland for years. So what really is different about this region? “It’s an understated emotion stemming from a number of assumptions that they have been fortunate to grow up with. These include that people are generally good and can be trusted and that the government exists to serve its people and will fulfil that purpose” says Audrey Camp of Cognite. This American writer among many others who have moved to the region highly recommend experiencing Scandinavia for the sheer freedom and space, the culture oozes a sense of contentment as opposed to constantly striving for something better, and superlative respect for one and all – making it the best and safest for tourists too.
The OG Legoland in Denmark
Built in 1968, The Legoland in Denmark is the first and original play-heaven for kids of all ages. While it is the first in the world, the theme park has something for everyone in the family. Tourists love staying in the Hotel Legoland which has themed princess and pirate rooms. The heart of the park is the Miniland which is built with over 20 million lego bricks, also has a safari section that leads you to meet animals made of lego. What’s amazing about this world of gazillion attractions is its proximity to the airport, just three kilometres from Billund Airport. Families can plan their visit without having to spend hours on the road just to get to the Legoland, Denmark.
The free and open to the public ice rink for skiing at Frederiksberg Runddel in Copenhagen, Denmark
As winter sets in, the Frederiksberg Runddel Garden is transformed into an ice rink, making it a wonderful attraction. If you’re an avid traveller, chances are you have your own men’s padded jacket and ski skates. Just grab them and head to the rink to enjoy with your group at any time of the day, it is accessible to all without any cost. If all you have are women’s snow pants and some plus size women’s winter coats on you, choose to rent skates for your bunch of friends during the day. If winter sports are your agenda of travel, you’re most likely going to find yourself in Copenhagen between November and February. The Frederiksberg Runddel ice rink is open during this time unless there’s a difference in the weather.
The GoT-themed Hotel at Kittilä, Finland
The Lapland Hotels SnowVillage has chosen to pick up the famous series GoT as the theme for two consecutive years. Expect realistic characters and events right out of the series like the Iron Throne, the Dragon, the Sept of Baelor all built of snow. They don’t just have zones perfect for the gram, the village also has themed suites for guests to stay-in and elevate their snowy experience. While they make sure to provide warm and fuzzy sleeping bags for all guests, it is recommended to carry your warm wear like ladies winter coats for the comfort you deserve
The Pasta and Coffee Consumption
Some words are known to the world but are not translatable completely. Two such words are Fika and Hygge. The meaning of these is beyond the cosy, self-care rituals popular among Danish and Swedish cultures. Taking a closer look at the concept, it means to take a break, grab a coffee and a cake (or anything that makes your insides happy). As a concept, the Swedes consume more of what makes them happy, making sure they do it every day. Case in point, coffee – Sweden is the largest consumer of coffee in the world. Swedes love their coffee breaks and their coffee too, they wouldn’t settle for less when it comes to the quality of their favourite black water. Just like coffee in Sweden, Pasta is in Denmark, Danes eat more pasta than any other country in the world.
The Spooky Destinations
There are aplenty tourists who love exploring the unexpected, especially places that run up chills in one’s spine. Adding to the odds, there is an underground hotel in Sweden called the Silvermine Hotel which is heated to eighteen degrees, completely built over a hundred meters underground. If looking for obscurity, a visit to The Museum Obscurum in Denmark is a must. Hidden behind a secret door to a famous collector’s house is this cabinet where he hoarded dragons and vampire skeletons, forest children and fairy wings. Another one for the intrigued is the largest medieval book in existence, the Devil’s bible which has found home in Stockholm’s National Library of Sweden.
Norway’s Dark Winters
Music to the ears of winter-lovers, Norway sees the Polar Night that lasts all winter, from November to February. May sound depressing and living the gloomy winter-blues in high spirits could seem like a farfetched dream for many, the city of Tromso has reported a low wintertime depression. Rightly so, especially because of what they don’t tell you about the Polar Night, the sky lights up in shades of sunrise and sunset for three to six hours even on the darkest of Polar Nights. While there wouldn’t be an actual sunrise, the soft hues reach through when the sun skirts below the horizon.
A Long Life
A country’s life expectancy says a lot about the culture and lifestyle, also the healthcare system. With an all-time high, one in every five people in Sweden is above the age of sixty-five, with an all-time low in mortality rate due to strokes and heart attacks. The average life span of a Sweden woman is eighty-three while that of a man is eighty-one. The longevity has always been studied and related to the healthy lifestyle led by people across cultures living in this sub-region. Physical movement, mental health and self-care are utmost important and are a part of peoples’ daily lives. Sure learning for many others across the globe.
Besides being the doorway to incredible experiences, Scandinavia has a lot more in store. Iceland is headed to a low-carbon future without compromising on convenience. You would be surprised to know that Iceland’s popular Blue Lagoon uses geothermal heating. Not only for recreation, but Iceland has also aced the use of renewable energy to heat roadways and homes during winter months. Luring the freedom-diggers in us, Norway has upped its outdoor recreation game. As too-good-to-be-true as it may sound, anyone can roam freely, even camp, anywhere in Norway as long as it is an unfenced land. Another amazing fact that we cannot help but mention is that you can tour through 6000 years of Copenhagen’s history in just 3 hours. The Sandeman’s Walking Tour is not just intriguing as it unfolds some of the lesser-known events and beliefs but is also available at no charge whatsoever. Are you scrolling through the best ways to get there already?
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This article was written by Resham Lilani for Kosha.