Nordic Noir is a dark, dramatic subset of crime fiction – think The Bridge, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Killing – that captivates people the world over. The endless Midnight Sun and dark Polar Nights in this part of the world provide time-bending backdrops for mysterious and thrilling tales, often featuring classic crime-drama characters such as the relentless detective or the sinister stranger. Nordic – or Scandi – Noir has a huge following and, if you're a fan of the genre, we've compiled a list of the Nordic Noir locations you must visit.
Stieg Larsson's world-famous The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a best-selling novel adapted in several iterations for the big screen – one even featuring James Bond star Daniel Craig. The book is set in Sweden – unsurprising given that Larsson is Swedish – and many of the scenes in the novel were since filmed in iconic locations around Stockholm. On the island of Södermalm for example, you can visit the homes of Mikael Blomqvist and Lisbeth Salander, the two main characters. At the Stockholm City Museum, you can view an exhibition on the entire Millennium trilogy – the series that began with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. A walking tour inspired by the books is the best way to ensure you don't miss any of the highlights.
Mikael Blomqvist's apartment, Stockholm
Denmark's vibrant capital city features in several Scandi Noir series, including The Killing, starring Danish actress Sophie Grabol as Sarah Lund. A city break in Copenhagen offers the chance to visit the location of Lund's apartment from the show, hidden in the upmarket area of Østerbro. Much of the action in season one takes place around the Copenhagen Town Hall, while Christiansborg Palace features heavily in season two – both are easy to find. In fact, Christiansborg Palace is also a central location in the Danish political series Borgen, so fans of both shows can kill two birds with one stone. Home to the Danish parliament, it showcases an abundance of grand tapestries, gilded rooms and 11th-century ruins.
Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen
Connecting Copenhagen with Mälmo, Sweden, the Øresund Bridge is nearly eight kilometres long. It's also the key location for eponymous series The Bridge – in the first episode a body is discovered on the bridge itself, right between Sweden and Denmark. Because of its border-straddling location, you can explore filming locations for the series in either country, and – of course – along the bridge itself. A small artificial island called Pepparholm, where the bridge becomes a tunnel, features in an important scene. You can drive across the bridge, or you can take the train, enjoying stunning views across the water as you go.
Fans of Wallander, a Swedish series adapted from Henning Mankell's novels, will need to head to Ystad, a coastal town in southern Sweden with a population of just 29,000 people. Not far from Mälmo – whose Old Town Gamla Staden also featured heavily in the series – it's a quiet place set amongst rolling hills and sandy beaches, with a typically Nordic-Noir weather scene – all grey skies and windswept landscapes ideal for scenes of reflective meditation. Its Hansa Gothic red brick buildings and half-timbered houses are postcard-perfect, particularly in summer, and the Town Hall on Stortorget square is usually bustling. The same square can be spotted numerous times across Wallander's many episodes, and you'll want to stop in at the café (Fridolf's) where the show's characters eat Wallander cake.
By far the most famous crime novelist in Norway, Jo Nesbø is responsible for the enduringly popular Harry Hole series. Since the first novel, The Bat, was published in 1997, a further ten novels have been released about the exploits of detective Harry Hole. The titular character lives in Oslo, and the series places great importance on many locations around the city. Be sure to visit the Restaurant Schrøder – his regular hangout – or pop into the Dinner Restaurant from The Redbreast and Teddy's from The Snowman. In fact, you can see the hotspots that feature in Hole's investigations all over the city – including Karl Johans Gate, The Royal Palace, and Egertorget Square.
Royal Palace, Oslo
The perfect Nordic Noir holiday
If you have the time, combining multiple destinations in one trip is the best way to immerse yourself in all things Nordic Noir. Our Scandinavia’s Nordic Noir Cities By Rail itinerary brings you from Copenhagen to Stockholm via quaint cobbled streets, ancient buildings, historic sites and famous filming locations. You'll even cross the iconic Øresund Bridge. Along the way, you'll sample Nordic cuisine and stay in charming hotels just moments away from the locales made famous by your favourite Scandi crime dramas.