Wild Scandinavia: adventure without breaking the bank.
This is a pricey part of the world, but the adventures in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland are pleasantly surprising.
With some of the largest remaining tracts of true wilderness in Europe, Scandinavia and Iceland offer a multitude of adventure opportunities and, if you head off the beaten track, they can work out a lot cheaper than you might expect. The centuries-old tradition of allemansrätten (every man’s right) means people can roam and wild camp just about anywhere so long as they do not disturb or destroy the environment. Foraging is also permitted, and provides a seasonal abundance of delicious berries, mushrooms and fish. Travelling by train, bike or on foot takes you into these magnificent landscapes.
Sweden: the Inlandsbanan slow train
Completed in 1937, the Inlandsbanan railway snakes for 800 miles up through the rugged and forested heartland of Sweden from the southern county of Dalarna to Swedish Lapland, inside the Arctic Circle. The line is divided into two sections – north and south of Östersund – and just one train travels in each direction along each section each day. This means that although the journey can be done in two days, you can also easily make it last a week or more. The amazing landscape changes from forest and lakes in the south to tundra and huge wild rivers in the north.
Denmark: Bornholm by bike
The idyllic Danish island of Bornholm lies in the Baltic off southern Sweden, reached by train from Copenhagen and ferry from Ystad, Sweden. Its 158km network of roads, lanes, and tracks is perfect for exploring on a hired bicycle. For an island of just 588 sq km the variety of landscapes are breathtaking. At the northern tip of the island, known as the Hammer, the remains of a medieval castle sit above sheer granite cliffs. The most southerly point, Dueodde, has a beautiful beach with white sand so fine it was once used for hourglasses
In the wooded Døndalen valley in the north of the island, Denmark’s longest waterfall tumbles 20 metres into the valley. This is also dinosaur country. In 2000 a geology student found a tooth from a 100-million-year-old dromaeosaur.
Norway: hike the Narvik mountains and fjords
In the stunning Ofotfjord, the port town of Narvik is the springboard for hiking, swimming and exploring a stunning section of Norway’s wild coast. The summer midnight sun, combined with the Gulf Stream and the shelter offered by the mountains results in a relatively mild climate for such a northerly location – and help make this a fantastic area for exploring.
The weather is often still good into mid-September, when the autumn colours appear to bring the mountains to life and the northern lights start to light up the clear night skies.
Beautiful Skjomenfjord runs south off Ofotfjorden and is framed by steep mountains and peaks. The clear water is perfect for a bracing swim. On its western side, in the shadow of Reintind there are over 80 rock carvings, believed to date from around 5000BC.