ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fun Things To Do In Norway And Sweden -- Best Scandinavia Attractions

Updated on May 4, 2012

Scandinavia Holiday

Though we weren't sure what to expect when we visited Norway and Sweden, both my husband and I had positive memories of being in Scandinavia. We'd loved our vacation in Iceland; meanwhile, his first time out of the country had been to Finland -- a trip he still speaks fondly of. That said, we were almost certain that we'd have a great time returning to that area. We were right.

Scandinavia was one of the most beautiful areas we've been to with jagged, snow-capped mountains, crystal blue lakes and fjords, charming towns and cities and lush, green forests. When we were there, the air felt cleaner, everything seemed to be more peaceful and we just felt a lot calmer than do in New York City.

We easily could've spent a year exploring Norway and Sweden, but because we only had a week, chose to go to Stockholm, Sweden, Oslo, Norway and Tromso, Norway. We do intend to return, though and see the rest of these exciting countries.


Stockholm Sweden

From the moment we entered Stockholm, we were blown away by its beauty. The city is actually built on many small islands, so it's surrounded by water. The streets are clean and bright, and the old turreted buildings are colorful and opulent. As we rode in the cab to our hotel -- the uber-modern Clarion Stockholm -- our driver played tour guide, pointing out all the sights. We couldn't believe how grand the museums and even the apartments looked.

One of the great things about visiting Scandinavia in the summer is that it doesn't get dark until about 11 p.m. (or in the case of Tromso, never, but I'll get to that later). Even though we didn't begin our first "day" until 6 p.m., we still managed to have a full schedule.

That evening, we met up with for dinner with a friend who lives in Stockholm. Sweden is known for having great food, so we went to a pub and enjoyed some traditional Swedish comfort food. I had probably the best Swedish meatballs I've ever had (which shouldn't be too surprising!), which were served with roasted potatoes and lingonberry sauce. My husband had a herring appetizer and Sweden's answer to beef and potato hash.

After, we attended the Stockholm Jazz Festival, which happened to be held the week we were there. They actually got some great names to play, including Steely Dan and Ziggy Marley (most of the acts weren't actually jazz). We saw Lala, a half-Swedish, half-Iranian singer, whose music reminded us of Tori Amos's. Lala sung in both Swedish and English, so we could understand at least some of her stuff, but it didn't really matter. It was 10 p.m., the sun was shining, and the surprisingly-non-blonde crowd was having a great time. It was the perfect way to kick off our trip.

Since we were only in Stockholm for a day and a half, we spent the next day simply walking around and exploring the city. First, we wandered through the old section, known as the Gamla Stan. After visiting the local Tomtar (troll) shop --really! -- we enjoyed an impromptu concert in the sqaure. We then noticed droves of people hurrying over to the palace, so we followed them. Turns out, it was time for the chaging off the guard. A few moments later, a parade of well-dressed soldiers rode through the streets on white horses, while a band played behind them. We hadn't expected to see this, so it was a nice surprise.

Later, after taking a boat ride around the islands, we sat down for lunch in one of the small parks near the water, where a carnival was being held. Again, we encountered a random event: a Children's Cancer Research organization was selling balloons to gain money for their cause. They then released 30,000 into the sky, breaking the previous record. Watching so many balloons drift away was quite a sight..

We finished our day by walking through town to Skansen, this bizarre park that has a zoo, an amusement park and miniature models of Srockholm's buildings. My favorite exhibit was the lemur house, where they have about 25 lemurs that they basically let run wild. The animals will leap around you and climb right past you; it was a little surreal and definitely not what I expected to experience in Sweden, of all places!

Stockholm, Sweden, a crown jewel

Here are some of Stockholm, Sweden's gorgeous waterfront views.
Here are some of Stockholm, Sweden's gorgeous waterfront views.

Oslo Norway

Thet next day, we were off to Oslo, Norway. I have to say, SAS is probably the most efficient airline we've ever taken. Our flight was going to be a mere five minutes late, and they were right there, making announcements and apologizing for the "inconvenience." In the States, we're lucky if our flights leave within a half hour of their scheduled time.

Our travel book ragged on Oslo, calling it "dreary" and "without character." Well, we beg to differ. No, it's not as stunning as Stockholm, at least not at first glance, but as we walked through the city, we stopped to admire plenty of well-kept Victorian homes and lush green parks.

Oslo's premier park is the Vigeland Sculpture Garden, which was designed by the Norweigian sculptor, Gustav Vigeland. He specialized in creating nude statues placed in unique poses, and he liked to include all ages from babies to the dead.

The park, which is beautiful in itself, contains over 200 of his works. It's very difficult to describe, and you have to see all the statues at once to get the full effect, but I'll attempt to share it. As you enter the park, you walk down a promenade lined with these figures, all naked and many in provocative poses. There was a man tossing a woman over his back; another had a woman holding a baby in the air. The most popular figure is of an angry baby, but my personal favorite was of a man shaking several babies off of his feet and arms. I titled it, "Man Flinging Babies."

Once you get to the end of the walkway, there are steps leading up to a platform with a fountain. Surrounding it are more of his figures, holding up the fountain and lining it. They're arranged in a "circle of life" formation, going from babies to people dying.

The final level is up several flights of steps on top of a hill. In the center is a huge monolith, covered with more figures; then circled around it are other statues placed in that circle of life order. These were the most evocative and you couldn't help staring at them. Somehow this artist managed to capture every pose and emotion, and even made the dying figures beautiful.

The next day was spent enjoying the many ruins and musems present in Oslo. We stopped by the Viking ship museum, then visited the most well-known site in Norway: Askerhus Castle. Those of you who've been to "Norway" in Disney's Epcot have seen it (sort of); this is the castle that Disney chose to represent the country ... only the real fortress does not have the Maelstrom flume ride inside!

Later, we took a ferry out to see a thousand-year old monestary on one of the small islands. We were practically the only people there so we got to enjoy the ruins ourselves. We then returned to Vigeland Park. This time, it was packed with tourists, but it was still a special place. That was definitely one of the highlights of Oslo, not to mention our entire trip.

We ended our day by having dinner in an Indian restaurant that overlooked the square. As we ate our meal and people-watched, we again regretted spending such a short time in that city.

Tour Of Vigeland Sculpture Garden

Tromso Norway

The final place we visited was Tromso, Norway. Tromso is the world's northermost official city, sitting well above the arctic circle. However, while it's colder there, the ocean currents keep it relatively warm. Also, in the summer, the sun stays out for 24 hours ... which was very cool, but seriously messed with our sleeping patterns.

While there, we stayed at the Thon Hotel, which is a popular chain in Norway. While it wasn't the fanciest place, our room at least had nice, thick curtains to keep out the sun.

Our first night there, we walked over the fairly large bridge to the mountains on the other side of the fjord. Sitting at the base of the mountains is the Arctic Cathedral, a white, modern church designed to look sort of like one of the mountains, or maybe an icicle. Each summer night at 11:30 p.m., they hold a concert there to welcome the midnight sun. At the one we attended, we heard an excellent alto sax player, who performed along with a pianist and organist. We finally headed back home around 12:15 a.m. Walking over the bridge with the sun still out was a very odd experience.

In Tromso, we also did some hiking, stopped by the world's northermost botanical garden, and went to see the local aquarium's seal exhibit. But our most memorable adventure -- besides the church concert -- was going on a 6 1/2 hour whale watching cruise. We happened to pick a day when it was pouring outside, though the whales don't really care. Still, while the first part of the ride through the fjord was beautiful, the water became rather choppy as we headed out into the ocean. Plus, it was freezing and for the first couple of hours we didn't see any whales. But then we finally saw several, including one that took a spectacular dive, showing off his tail. I never knew that whale watching would turn out to be such hard work, and that such large creatures could be so elusive!

Tour Of Tromso, Norway

Scandinavian surprises!

In Sweden, many believe in the existence of trolls, which are known there as "tomtars."
In Sweden, many believe in the existence of trolls, which are known there as "tomtars."
We were thrilled to see the palace guards ride by in Stockholm.
We were thrilled to see the palace guards ride by in Stockholm.

Scandinavia In A Nutshell

Scandinavia comes with many stereotypes: quiet, reserved people and cold, dark nights. However, while the winters are cold and the people are rather reserved, we experienced nothing but warmth and hospitality from Norway and Sweden.

Scandinavian Living

Which of the following do you most associate with Scandinavia?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • tastiger04 profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for the great info! I am itching to get to Scandinavia! The photos were awesome and the ideas for what to see sound fantastic as well. voted up :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      wow !!! beauty full places

    • Riviera Rose profile image

      Riviera Rose 

      8 years ago from South of France

      What a great trip - I went to Stockholm briefly in the '70s but would love to spend more time there. A beautiful city.

    • nilsarnejohnsen profile image


      9 years ago from Sandnes, Noway

      This was interesting for a Norwegian to read about Oslo and Stockholm. Me and my wife talk about visiting Stockholm. And now I looking very much forward to that. I have been in Oslo manyt times and your description is very good. To you that haven´t been there I suggest to visit Holmenkollen (jump hill?), and Aker Brygge, a nice place with the harbor. Good luck with your bloggs

    • charanjeet kaur profile image

      charanjeet kaur 

      9 years ago from Delhi

      Wow this hub has been nothing but nostalgic, i have lived in malmo sweden for 3 years. Loved every input you gave in this hub. Have you seen the oresund bridge and the turning torso, they sure were some major attractions out there. Have you travelled by car? We had been to Oslo by cruise a wonderful experience.

    • qlcoach profile image

      Gary Eby 

      9 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

      Okay, so I want to travel now to Sweden. Excellent writing and pleasant descriptions. For fun, hope you will visit my new HUB about cruising: Here's to joy of travel...Gary.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)