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Stuart Messham
Mesmerising, unorthodox and other-worldly, these entries show why there’s nothing on Earth quite like the Nordics… 
1. Blue Lagoon, Iceland

There’s nothing more spellbinding, surreal and soothing than the piping hot pools of the Blue Lagoon, a preternatural geothermal spa in southwestern Iceland.

Despite a chastening chill in the surrounding air, as soon as you immerse yourself in the natural volcanic waters you’re transformed into some kind of uber-unwinder, gently harmonising with nature and centring yourself in the radiant powers of the seawater.

Relax, rejuvenate, ruminate, repeat.

And if you want even more solitude and sanctuary, book at the Silica Hotel which has its own private lagoon. Lovely.

2. Koli National Park, Finland

With over 80km of hiking routes through forests covered with mossy blankets and broken up by idyllic waterfalls, the Koli National Park is one of the best outdoorsy spots in the whole of Finland – and that’s saying something.

If you make it up Ukko-Koli Hill, you’ll be rewarded with a staggering panoramic of Lake Pielinen. Go up Paha-Koli Hill and your eyes will be equally grateful: there’s a rocky resting place where you can settle with a picnic and really dial back into nature.

You can also ski, cycle and canoe your way to various other gorgeous spots and unwind in the Koli Relax Spa to finish.

Well-renowned Nordic writers, painters, photographers and composers come here for inspiration and even a short excursion will help you understand why.

3. Oresund Underwater Bridge, Denmark and Sweden

Bridges normally go over water and then end. That’s usually the deal with bridges, right?

Well, not this one in Denmark and Sweden. This one goes over the water like your common or garden bridge but then goes under the water too. Or under then over, depending on which way you’re travelling.

The aptly named Oresund Underwater Bridge stretches for nearly five miles across the Oresund Strait and is the longest road and railway bridge in the world, connecting the Swedish coast to the artificial island of Peberholm and then to the Danish island of Amager.

Needless to say, driving across it is both majestic and surreal in equal Nordic measure and something you’ll never quite forget.

4. Preikestolen, Norway

With nearly 2,000ft of climbing, reaching the granite plateaus of Preikstolen is not for the unfit or the faint of heart. But trust us when we say living on this particular edge is well worth the effort.

Pulpit Rock can only be reached via a steep, boulder-laden pathway that can take up to six hours to negotiate both ways. However, when you see the glacial blue waters of the Lysefjord and one of nature’s most unique rock formations below, all will be forgiven.

Guided hikes are available daily and recommended for beginners and experienced walkers alike.

5. Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

Ever wondered what 20,000 close-knit islands would look like spread throughout the Baltic Sea, teeming with seagull colonies, Viking graves and some top-notch foodstuffs?

You’ve been imagining the Stockholm Archipelago: a captivating assembly of miniature land masses and the ideal place to perfect your sailing skills as you hop from island to island to sample ecologically produced farm foods and exotic wildlife.

If you’re handy with a kayak, that’s another premium way to explore. We strenuously recommend taking a guide, though, as the opportunities for getting lost/sidetracked are pretty much endless.

6. Vik & Dyrhólaey, Iceland

Keen to get off the beaten track and to give your eyes a treat they may never forget?

Then get yourself over to the small town of Vik (about 2 hours from Reykjavik) in the east of Iceland and an up-close look at the remarkable Dyrhólaey.

Take a stroll and some enviable snaps on the black sand beach with the soaring basalt columns behind, explore the caves (if the water is calm) and give a friendly nod to the puffins who call this place home.

Make sure you stay for the afternoon to enjoy the sunset, too. It’s really quite special.

7. Löyly Sauna, Finland

You can pretty much stumble into a sauna anywhere in Finland, but the Löyly Sauna takes the experience to another level.

As you enjoy the traditional smoke sauna, you’ll also bask in contemporary design and incredible views of the Baltic in a one-of-a-kind waterfront installation that really is a one-of-a-kind place.

You can go communal or private, have a dip in the sea after and, as you radiate in the sauna afterglow, lollop down in the swish on-site restaurant or cafes to further enjoy the views.

8. Råbjerg Mile and Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Denmark

If you’re looking to witness an unusual phenomenon of nature on your Nordic adventures, why not pop over to the Råbjerg Mile in Denmark and witness an old lighthouse steadily being swallowed by sand dunes that climb ominously to over 130ft?!

It’s really quite the sight.

Scandinavia’s small-scale-Sahara shifts and reforms every week thanks to its gusty, forceful winds. The lighthouse has already been moved once to stop it from being covered entirely, but the sands just keep on coming.

See it while you can. And the more extreme the weather conditions are, the more in awe of Mother Nature you will feel.

9. Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland’s capital has got the full monty for a memorable tourist escape: beautiful things to look at, a welcoming community at its heart, plenty of yummy places to eat and lots of hidden little caverns where you can frolic the night away.

Check out the hallgrímskirkja cathedral for architectural wows, book a whale-watching excursion to fraternise with nature and cavort the night away in the myriad live music and bars in the Hverfisgita area.

There’s so much to see in Reykjavik. A word of advice though: should you be out gallivanting, keep one eye on your bar bill as alcoholic drinks are exorbitant.

10. Ice Hotel, Sweden

There’s chilling out, and then there’s staying a night at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden with temperatures in the igloo-esque rooms a steady -5 to -8 degrees day and night.

Don’t worry though, you’ll be supplied a cosy army issue sleeping bag and reindeer blanket. After your dog-sledge ride in the elements and some shots of warming vodka at the bar, you’ll be more than happy to curl up in your army issue sleeping bag and reindeer blanket and watch the stars through your skylight.

Magical, remote and totally cosmic.