Europe has a North. Who knew? It can be easy to stick to the West and South of Europe, but you’d be denying yourself such a great experience. Northern Europe has its own distinct identity in each country. Not only are they rich with history and culture, but beauty too. It isn’t just snow up there.
Iceland is a pretty adventurous place. People tend to think it’s this massive ice covered place, but that’s only because of the name. It’s often confused with Greenland, which actually is at least 80% covered in ice.
Iceland is probably one of the few countries where you can finish up a white water rafting experience with freshly ground coffee in one of the hippest cafes you’ll ever see. Top that off with a museum visit and it’s fair to say you’ve had a pretty rounded outing.
To discover the real Norway you need to want to do a broad range of activities. Not that there’s any shortage of things to do, in fact, it’s the opposite. Norway has a culture stretching back so very long. A lot of the remnants of the old world are still in fairly good shape today.
If you want to explore the contemporary and the old, you need to have enough time. The Heddal Stave Church and Vikingskipshuset give you a real taste of history. Wonderfully preserved, it feels like you’re stepping back in time.
Norway is a place of true natural beauty too. Whether you’re a photographer or a painter or just love a beautiful landscape, this country will take your breath clean away.
While Sweden is yet another Northern European cultural centre, it’s best qualities lie in nature. While other countries are just as beautiful, Sweden is probably the easiest and most serene to explore. With historical canal tours and biking trips through the country, it’s somewhere you want to see as much as you can.
Even so, Sweden is not just all about nature. There are cities and towns all over the country where you can enjoy a very metropolitan experience. The population are incredibly friendly and helpful as well, if you find yourself in an emergency.
Situated in the Baltics, this former Soviet country has a real distinct flavour to it. The Hill of Crosses is not a landmark you will see replicated elsewhere. There’s something really awe inspiring about it, not to mention completely unique.
Remnants of the former Communist rule still exist. They make great tourist spots. Grutas Park for instance is punctuated by a stone bust of Lenin.
Lithuania has a burgeoning jazz scene, with a number of underground and overground clubs participating. It’s probably the last place you would have expected to hear any jazz, but that’s Lithuania for you. Full of surprises. Nothing is ever cut and dry with this country, it’ll always subvert your expectations.
A trip to Europe doesn’t mean you have to go to the same old haunts. If you’re a seasoned traveller, it has to be plain boring by now. See something new for a change, and give Northern Europe its chance.