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THE ATLANTIC ROAD - NORWAY
Just a baby, the Atlantic Road self drive is an eight kilometre stretch of road between Kristiansund and Molde in the far north of Norway. An engineering feat, the coastal road zig-zags over an archipelago of islands via an impressive collection of bridges, causeways and tunnels. The scenery is mesmerising enough in fine weather, but it really comes alive when the notorious North Atlantic storms roll in bringing massive waves and storm swells which actually break over the road.
ORESUND BRIDGE - SWEDEN AND DENMARK
Connecting Sweden with Denmark by road has been dreamed about for decades, but only became a reality in 2000 with the opening of the Oresund Bridge. It starts with a massive four kilometre bridge connecting Copenhagen with the artificial island of Peberholm. From Peberholm, you seamlessly swap the bridge for a tunnel which stretches a further four kilometres under the Baltic Sea to Malmo, Sweden. It’s another short trip, and can be done by car or train.
THE KINGS ROAD - FINLAND
Finland has an absolutely whopping 188,000 lakes and 179,000 islands! To put that in perspective, New Zealand has about 3,820 lakes and 600 islands. Needless to say, anywhere you drive in Finland is going to be pretty scenic. The most popular route is the Kings Road, an old trade route dating from the 14th century which actually starts all the way over in Bergen, Norway, and runs through Oslo, Stockholm, the Aland Archipelago, Turku and Helsinki before finishing in St Petersburg, Russia.
GEIRANGER-TROLLSTIGEN NATIONAL TOURIST ROUTE - NORWAY
Norway’s western coastline is quite similar to our own Fiordland, but on a much more massive scale. For 25,000 kilometres the land has been ripped and slashed at by glaciers for millions of years. If you calculate the exact coastline with fiords and islands, it blows out to a massive 83,000 kilometres. The Geiranger-Trollstigen National Tourist Route zig zags its way through some of the more impressive fiords and offers absolutely stunning views from many viewpoints along the way. Towns are few and far between and the land is mostly covered in forest, so there’s many hikes and walking tracks to be done. Or if you’re not a driver, the fiords are so massive that full size cruise ships call in and out on their way up the coast.
STOCKHOLM ARCHIPELAGO - SWEDEN
Sweden’s capital city of Stockholm is famously known for its beautiful location on 14 islands of the Stockholm Archipelago. But there’s more than just 14 islands in this archipelago; about 24,000 more! Scattered across the islands are historic towns hiding away remote city retreats, historic castles or cathedrals, and many fleets of fishing boats. You’ll never be able to visit all the islands, and many aren’t linked by roads, but the road network that is there is complemented by many hundreds of ferries and car barges which makes it an awesome place to self drive.
NORTHERN LIGHTS OR MIDNIGHT SUN? - FINLAND, SWEDEN AND NORWAY
Known as the Northern Lights Route, this stretch of road starts in Kemi in the far north of Finland, to Tromso in the far north of Norway. There’s several fantastic attractions along the way, and in all seasons! In summer, spot wildlife such as moose when you pass through huge areas of wilderness; take day cruises to remote, brightly coloured fishing villages; and experience the Midnight Sun when you’re so far north that the sun doesn’t set for days, weeks or even months. Self driving this part of the world in winter can be tricky, so you may decide to take a tour. Either way, there's still great attractions such as excursions out on real ice breakers as they ram their way through sheets of ice several feet thick; staying in a hotel made entirely out of ice; and of course, seeing the beautiful Northern Lights.
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Thanks to Visit Sweden, Visit Norway and Visit Finland for the images.
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