If you’re travelling around the Nordic countries, Norway may be the first place to come to mind, particularly when you’re on holiday. If so, the country is taking pride in the fact that it holds the title of “Europe’s prettiest country”. Its harbourside towns – such as Bergen or Tromso, which dot the coastline near the Arctic Circle – are a haven of peaceful serenity. This year, even as snow and ice begin to retreat from the Norway’s mid-winter, there are still plenty of reasons to visit. The sea temperature is a balmy, though not summery, 15 degrees, which means that pinks and oranges will be appearing in the sunflower fields, as well as in the flowers that cover the mountains in Oslo and Inverness. Cruise lines are being driven by the arrival of massive cruise ships to develop more boutique ports, and in 2017, state-of-the-art attractions such as the Old Town of Bergen, a five-minute walk from the port, opened.
Inland, the region also offers plenty of shopping. Older towns such as Fornebu in the north have heritage centres, local histories and craft markets, while the Baltic coast – where long-established Marseles Forest forts protect against German submarine raids from the north – has new tourist attractions, such as the Vilnius Museum of the History of the Baltic Sea in the medieval city of Riga.
Try one of these scenic European towns for starters.
The Arrival in Oslo, Norway.
Stortorget in Stockholm.
Kuusamo in Helsinki.