Your time in Copenhagen will surprise and delight. For the style-conscious, you’ll be kept well-entertained by the Stroget, Europe’s longest shopping street, while Europe’s oldest functioning observatory, the Round Tower, is the perfect spot for a bird’s eye view of the city. No visit to this city would be complete without a pilgrimage to the statue of the Little Mermaid, but if you really want to get in touch with your inner child, the Tivoli Gardens are a true wonderland. The city frequently tops the “most liveable” lists – grab one of the 1000+ free bicycles dotted in locations all over the city and find out why for yourself.
In terms of land area, Oslo is one of Europe’s largest capital cities, but by population it’s one of the smaller, which means there is plenty of room for everyone, and for all of the activities that Norwegians are mad on. Skiing, sailing, kayaking, even ski-jumping: all of these are on offer within close range of the city centre, and in some pretty spectacular settings. But don’t assume that it’s only worth a visit if you’re an adrenaline junkie: cultural buffs can head for the National Gallery or the open-air sculpture park, Vigeland Park, or for a taste of Norway’s past, you must visit the Norwegian open-air Folk Museum.
With the central city stretching across 14 islands, the outlying archipelago comprising 24,000 islands and over thirty percent of its area made up of waterways, you’ll soon understand why Swedes refer to Stockholm as the “Venice of the North”. One of its most popular islands is Djurgården: home to Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum, plus parks, galleries and loads of open spaces. It’s like taking all the best bits of Sweden and putting them on one small island. For a taste of old Sweden, walk the streets of the “Gamla Stan”, then when your feet grow weary of cobblestones, you can descend into an underground café for a restorative coffee.
Named the ‘Design Capital of the World’ in 2012, Helsinki is also known as one of the most liveable cities in the world. Almost completely surrounded by water, it sits on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. Influences from both the East and West have fashioned the city’s architecture with an interesting combination of Nordic Minimalism, Modernism and Art Nouveau. The city has its own Design District with a number of walking routes and in summertime there are open-air markets which are a food lover’s paradise. Other notable attractions include the Temppeliaukio Church, quarried out of the natural bedrock, and the UNESCO World heritage-listed Suomenlinna, one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world.
The capital and only city in Iceland, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital. It’s a buzzing city with heaps of contrast. You’ll see interesting architecture with colourful old houses, visit many contemporary art galleries and museums, and spend time in its thriving café and restaurant scene. In summer take advantage of the endless daylight hours, stroll around the city and enjoy the many festivals and events on offer, or maybe rent a bike and head into the surrounding countryside. During the long months of winter, marvel at the dramatic landscapes and the allure of the northern lights.