Scandinavia: road, rail or sea?

There are plenty of reasons to love Scandinavia as a travel destination. Whether you're meandering through mountains, pine forests and glaciers on the Polar Express, zig and zagging Iceland's picturesque Ring Road on an epic road trip or sailing along craggy peaks and deep blue waters of Norway's coastline and fjords, there's never a less than spectacular moment. But, with travelling around easier than ever, it does pose the question: what is the best way to explore the region? Is it by self-drive, a rail journey or with a cruise? Below, we break down the options and explore the benefits of each.

Scandinavia by road

A driving holiday is a great way to see Scandinavia and the Nordics. If you wish to speed from A to B, it's efficiently connected with well-maintained road and highways – take for instance the ease at which you can travel between Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg on a trip encompassing southern Sweden. If you're after breathtaking scenery, you'll find countless routes featuring winding mountain roads, remote fjords and verdant forests.

Øresund Bridge, connecting Copenhagen and Malmö

In fact, some of Scandinavia's finest scenery can only be experienced if you take to the road. Top of the list has to be Norway's dramatic Atlantic Road – popularised by none other than Daniel Craig in "No Time to Die" – an extraordinary five-mile stretch of highway with bridges arching between dozens of islets and reefs, providing stunning scenery and a unique drive. Elsewhere, the Golden Road offers an off-the-beaten-track detour through forest-lined coasts and fjords, linking Trondheim and Bodø with attractions themed around award-winning food, beer and handicrafts. For further flung getaways, look to Iceland, where coastal roads bring you to the heights of its waterfalls and lows of its black-sand beaches – think the famous Ring Road or Arctic Coast Way.

Norway's Atlantic Road

Whichever you choose, a self-drive allows you to explore at your own pace and create your own adventure, stopping at picture-perfect views along the way. Nordic roads are very well signposted to suit tourists and established routes are very easy to navigate. It can also be the most cost effective way of exploring around the region, especially if you are travelling as a family or group.

Scandinavia by rail

From breathtakingly scenic journeys through impressive mountains and fjords to a vast network of routes connecting lively cities, travelling by rail is one of the best ways to discover the natural wonders and urban delights of Scandinavia and the Nordics. There's something truly unique about sitting back and watching the ever-changing scenery pass by without having to concentrate on the road.

Nordland Railway Polar Express

Among the many great rail trips in this region, you could enjoy an unforgettable journey on the world-famous Flåm Railway, voted the most scenic rail journey in the world. A 20km section between Flåm and Myrdal, this awe-inspiring high-altitude journey through southern Norway links the charming city of Bergen with the Norwegian capital Oslo. You'll experience snow-peaked mountains, effervescent waterfalls, deep valleys and 20 tunnels, all making for fantastic spectacle.

The world-famous Flåm Railway

Sweden also has an extensive rail network which links the southern cities of Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg with neighbouring Denmark's capital Copenhagen, as well as branching out north all the way up to Luleå and Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. This gives potential to endless urban adventures in the south of the country, or the ultimate winter experience by combining the likes of the innovative Treehotel and ICEHOTEL in the north. Another excellent option in Swedish Lapland is this rail adventure between Luleå and Haparanda, on the Finnish Border, particularly if seeing the Northern Lights is on your agenda. For a mixture of city sightseeing and rural relaxation, you can even pair the Finnish capital Helsinki with the adults-only Kuru Resort in the heart of Finnish Lakeland with a train journey through lakes and pine forests in between.

Swedish Lapland's Treehotel can be paired with ICEHOTEL by rail

Scandinavia by sea

Whether it's an expedition-style ocean cruise with the likes of Hurtigruten or a port-to-port journey through Norway's fjords with Havila Cruises, there are plenty of reasons to travel by sea on a trip to Scandinavia. During the summer months, traditional ocean cruises stop off in the very best northern European cities in the Baltic Sea, with the likes of Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Oslo each offering intriguing historical and natural attractions.

Havila Cruises travelling through the Norwegian fjords in summer

Taking to the seas also allows you to experience scenery that no land based holiday can ever match. One of the most popular options is a Havila Cruise, where you can appreciate an in-depth exploration of Norway's heavily indented western coastline and deep fjords, all the way up to the 'top of the world’ with a journey to the North Cape under the Midnight Sun. In the winter months, the scenery turns into a magnificent winter wonderland. 

Nordkapp can be visited via a coastal Norwegian cruise

A cruise in Scandinavia and the Nordics are also the perfect way to tie together some of the region's best-loved cities. Taking in three countries, boat trips on our popular Baltic explorer link together Stockholm's cultural gems with the world-class architecture of Helsinki and the medieval ambiance of Tallinn. And, if you venture to the far northern reaches of the Nordics, boat trips in Svalbard and Greenland are the best ways to experience the likes of the calving Eqi glacier and remote colonies of Walrus in Spitsbergen.

Cruise to Eqi Glacier, Greenland

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