Staff picks: 11 favourite locations for outdoor activities in Scandinavia
50 Degrees North’s Nordic staff share their personal favourites for outdoor activities in their home region. We can easily incorporate any of these destinations and activities into a tailor-made tour of Scandinavia.
Almost all of the staff at 50 Degrees North are natives of the Nordic region, each with true insight knowledge of their home countries and the regions they’ve explored both as children and adults. With the global situation lending itself to more time spent outdoors, enjoying clean, fresh air, I decided to ask our native Scandinavian staff to share their personal favourite locations for outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling in our region. Below are some of their suggestions – many of them less known and off the beaten path. We can easily incorporate any of these destinations and activities into a tailor-made tour of Scandinavia.
Cycling trails in Scandinavia
Ålesund and its islands in the west coast of Norway
Our Nordic Manager, Satu (originally from Finland, but living in Norway), lists Ålesund and its islands as one of her favourite locations for outdoor activities, such as cycling. For example, you can head to Lepsøy which is only 40 min away from Ålesund by public ferry and has a great trail to the top of the mountain with stunning 360-degree views. For families, there is also a fairytale forest walk as well as a beautiful white-sand beach.
Credit: Anton Ligaarden, Visit Norway
Trysil in Eastern Norway
Satu also recommends Trysil near the Swedish border for some amazing family-friendly cycling opportunities. In the past years, Trysil has come together to create a network of single-track bike trails and training grounds for jumps and drop-offs as well as a pump track, suitable for the whole family. The tracks are free to use, and those that want more speed can buy a lift ticket for the ‘Magic Moose’ downhill trail. According to Satu, this is a definite must for all family-bikers while in Norway.
Credit: Trysil Bike Arena
The Åland Islands off the coast of Finland
Tiina from Finland recommends heading to the beautiful Åland islands and doing a 10 km cycling trip (or 20 km return trip) from Mariehamn to the lovely Stickstugan Hantverk & Café for delicious coffee and cake. There are many lovely places to stop and hike en-route if you wanted to make a day of it - and have lunch at the Cafe instead of coffee.
Credit: Tiina Tahvanainen, Visit Åland
Punkaharju Ridge Nature Reserve near Savonlinna in Eastern Finland
Heidi from Finland recalls the Punkaharju Ridge as one of her all-time favourite places in Finland with plenty of outdoor activities, such as cycling and canoeing. The Punkaharju Ridge Road (Harjutie) was chosen as the most beautiful scenic drive in Finland in 2017 (Finland’s centenary year) and the stunning lakeside views certainly attest to that!
Credit: Visit Saimaa
Hiking trails in Scandinavia
The Romsdalseggen hike from Åndalsnes in Norway
Tietse, 50 Degrees Norths’s CEO and co-founder (Norwegian), recommends the Romsdalseggen walk as one of the most amazing, spectacular walks he has ever done (and as a keen hiker, that is saying a lot!), with magnificent views of the mountains of Romsdale. However, note that this is a fairly demanding, long (7-8 hour) walk suitable for experienced hikers, so do some practice before trying this!
Jotunheimen National Park in Norway
Ivy from Norway recommends hiking in the Jotunheimen National Park, particularly to the top of Galdhøpiggen , Norway's highest peak, or the Bessegen Ridge, another spectacular, favourite hike of hers.
Koli National Park in Eastern Finland
Both Mari and Katariina – both from Finland – praise the Koli National Park as one of their all-time favourite destinations for outdoor activities in the Nordics. Koli is Finnish to the core, presenting beautiful, iconic views of the Finnish national landscape where water, sky and forest come together. Also, with 80 km of hiking and skiing trails (ranging from 1.5 km to 61 km), you will be spoilt for choice.
Credit: Harri Tarvainen, North Karelia
Urho Kekkonen National Park in Finnish Lapland
Katariina also recommends exploring the different hiking and cross-country skiing tracks, such as the Rumakuru trail, in Urho Kekkonen National Park in Saariselkä (Finnish Lapland). Like most Finns – even us expats – Katariina has fond memories of full days of walking (in summer) or cross-country skiing (in winter) through Finnish National Parks with plenty of hot chocolate and snack stops to keep up energy.
Credit: Mikko Karjalainen, Vastavalo
Island hopping in Scandinavia
The Stockholm Archipelago in Sweden
Jayde, 50 Degrees North’s co-founder, recommends cycling in Sweden’s archipelagos, such as the islands near Stockholm. With 30,000 islands near the capital, there is plenty to see and do. Catch local ferries to islands of your choice and explore them by bike or on foot.
Image: Visit Sweden
The Archipelagos of Paalasmaa and Espoo in Finland
Both the Archipelago of Paalasmaa in Eastern Finland and the Espoo Archipelago have made it into Katariina’s list of all-time favourite locations for outdoor activities. The Paalasmaa archipelago is dotted with pretty bridges between islands and a tranquil ferry crossing over lake Pielinen. There are also some lovely, sandy wilderness beaches and a viewing spot worth a visit. Similarly, the Espoo archipelago is a great option with local ferries between islands for island hopping, walking, swimming, fishing, and paddling.
Credit: Juho Kuva
Kristiansand and nearby islands in Southern Norway
Southern Norway, especially Kristiansand, is Camilla’s (Norwegian) summer favourite. It is characterised by white wooden houses, lovely cafes and seaside restaurants with fresh seafood. There is a small bay with nice beaches, and one of Camilla’s favourite activities is going out on a boat between the many islands and narrow inlets. You can also continue along the south coast which is full of charming coastal villages.
Foto: Martin Granum, Visit Sørlandet
Banner image credit: Algirdas Zabitis, Trolltunga Active
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