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Image credit: Sverre Hjørnevik /

Scandinavia for all seasons

Whether your family seek snowflakes or sunshine, Holidays with Kids finds Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland are perfect for both.

It is said that there is something in the air in Scandinavia... that the people grow taller, blonder and naturally more tanned. That may well be the case – with the crisp northern seasons a far cry from Australia’s mild winters and world-renowned summers. No matter what time you visit though, magical experiences await, whether based on Vikings, nature, Santa or sleighs.

Northern lights and Christmas cheer
The phenomenon of Aurora Borealis is certainly a magical one, and just because it’s a joy restricted to the world’s most northerly region doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by all ages.

Fifty Degrees North specialises in journeys in this region, and through tours such as ‘Northern Lights & Arctic Sky’ families can find themselves experiencing Finnish Lapland with everything from husky sledding to reindeer safaris and snowmobiling.

Come evening you’ll sleep in cosy rooms with glass windows and walls that give you prime seating for the lightshow above you.

The only thing that could make this trip more dazzling would be to visit around Christmas, when tour options expand to encompass visits to Santa’s cabin, baking cookies and meeting the man in red with his elves.

Larger cities across Scandinavia are also mesmerising during the festive season, with Christmas markets, trees, traditional treats and trinkets, and decorative lights galore.

Image credit: Finland Tourism

Fjords of glory
The mighty fjords of Norway need to be seen to be believed, and the warmer months from May to October are the better times to visit. Perhaps the most famous view is that of Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), a formation that rises 604 metres from the waters of the Lysefjord.

To get there you catch a drive-on ferry from the charming town of Stavanger, filled with traditional white pitched-roofed houses, to Tau. There you continue by bus or car to Preikestolen Fjellstue. Once you arrive, the hike begins – and be sure to pack a picnic because you won’t find any kiosks along the way. It’s not too strenuous, and the sight at the end is nothing short of remarkable, and though it’s popular for walkers to brave sitting on its edge, it’s not recommended for younger ones. Pair your visit with a cruise through the fjords for the ultimate experience.

Image credit: © Hanne Sundbø / Reisemål Ryfylke AS

Island hopping
Setting sail in Finland is not like cruising the sunny isles of the Pacific. You mightn’t know it, but the Helsinki archipelago is comprised of around 330 islands – each close together and readily accessible for days at the beach, weekend camping trips and daily explorations. Suomenlinna – also known as the sea fortress – is one of the country’s most famous icons, accessed by a quick ferry from Helsinki that only costs a little over two euros.

It’s perfect for strolls, picnics and sunset watching... all while surrounded by heritage-listed fortifications that date back to the 18th century.

Remember to pack a torch so you can go tunnel exploring!

Snow show
Being so northern, it’s no surprise that skiing is a popular pastime here.

In Sweden most of the kid-friendly resorts are found speckling the Swedish mountains and between Christmas and Easter you’re bound to find some amazing skiing (and English-speaking instructors) with plenty of accommodation options... Many even have theme parks with pulka (sleigh runs) and snow-scooters!

Hot tubs and warm glasses of glögg mean there’s something for all ages to enjoy off skis and boards.

Åre is particularly popular, boasting snow all year round for true powder hounds, while Hammarbybacken offers skiing right in the heart of Stockholm.

Image credit: Visit Sweden

Vikings victorious
A visit to Norway would not be complete without a taste of Viking history, which you’ll find scattered across the country in spades.

In the capital, Oslo, you can see the two best-preserved Viking ships (and a whole lot more) at the Viking Ship Museum.

If you’re heading north as far as the Lofoten Islands you’ll find the Lofotr Viking Museum and a plethora of immersive activities (in summer).

Here you can master how to swing an axe, enjoy a Viking feast complete with wild boar and mead, and in August you can even partake in a vibrant festival with traditional handicrafts, contests, show battles and more.

Midsummer madness
When you consider that in places like far-north Finland, the sun never rises in the peak of winter, and in major cities like Helsinki and Stockholm it only does for an hour or two, it’s no surprise that locals go crazy come the long summer days – these are the lands of the Midnight Sun, after all.

The Swedes in particular take to this season with gusto, with one Friday between 19 and 25 June each year known as ‘Midsummer Eve’.

The event sees families brought together, maypoles raised and flower crowns adorned – and while it is indeed fun to visit at this time, be aware it can be hard to experience the festivities like a local (unless invited by one).

In saying that, if you also want a trip to Canada, you can experience the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in BC, packed with plenty of kids’ activities, flag waving and even a wife-carrying competition.

Swedish and Norwegian National Days are also worth working your Scandinavian adventures around – 6 June in Sweden and 17 May in Norway. Spirits are high and traditional garb and delicacies are out in force.

Image credit: Finland Tourism Flickr

Road trips, farms and the great outdoors
Plenty of adventures await those that hit the road in Scandinavia.

Norway rewards roadtrippers with iconic highways like the Atlantic Road, which seemingly bounces from one minute island to the next via a series of curving bridges, or Trollstigen Mountain Road which zigzags dramatically across a mountain side.

Those that want to pair their drive with unique accommodation and barnyard animals should look out for numerous family-friendly farmstays lining the way.

Think of Iceland and you probably picture ‘icy’. However, this isn’t the case all year round.

A self-drive voyage around the island under the guidance of Fifty Degrees North will have you enjoying a nine-day itinerary dotted with kid-friendly farmstays, whale watching, hot springs and even the chance to drive through an ice cave in an eight-wheel monster truck.

Pair all this with the unique and rugged landscape you’re driving through and it’s bound to be a holiday the whole family never forgets.

Image credit: Finland Tourism Flickr

Image credit: Swedish sun © Ulf Huett-Nilsson

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