Hike and sail the coast
Suits Adventure seekers
Price Hiking from £354pp/sailing from £417pp
Green Trails has a fine collection of eco-friendly short breaks across Sweden. Its three-day hiking expedition to the High Coast takes in canyons and pine forests, beaver dams and lakes. Basic orienteering and bushcraft skills are taught by guides, with nights in tents or cabins. Combine it with a two-day sailing trip into Stockholm’s archipelago, on a 30-foot yacht with skipper.
• Price for hike on one date only, 12-14 September, includes transport from Stockholm and most meals, and accommodation in tents and cabins. Sailing trip (sleeps four) any time on request, thegreentrails.com
Lake retreat, southern Sweden
Suits Laid-back romantics
Price From £75 a night
A floating sauna that can be towed into the middle of the lake adds to the magic of Stedsans, a wildly romantic camping and cabin site on Lake Halla, two hours’ drive from Gothenburg. Glass-fronted waterside cabins are made from upcycled greenhouses; Bedouin-style tents have solid wooden floors, and lanterns. There’s yoga in the “wild spa”, fishing and bird-watching, and feasts in the mozzie-netted restaurant, with ingredients such as foraged edible moss, wild flowers and blueberries.
• Sleeps two, coolstays.com
Island glamping, near Stockholm
Swimming at Nordic Camping Nickstabadet
Price From £176 a week for 4, or free
A trip to the thousands of islands and inlets of Stockholm’s archipelago is not diminished by its popularity. An hour’s train ride south from the city is Nynäsgård, on Nynäshamn, the southernmost outpost of the archipelago. It is a wonderful area for swimming, with interesting ancient rune stones to discover, and ferries to Gotland, Latvia and Poland for those who want to carry their adventure further. Nordic Camping Nickstabadet is on a large sandy beach with kayaks and swimming just beyond the tent-flap, plus a high diving board.
• Price for a pitch for a week for a tent sleeping four, nordiccamping.se. Or wild camp in any spot for up to three nights, due to Allemansrätten, the right to access private land
Seafood tour, south-west Sweden
Bryggan Fjällbacka in Fjällbacka. Photograph: Alamy
Price Rooms from £90pn
Sweden’s west coast and islands are famous for their fish and seafood, not least the Bohuslän area. Rather than just sitting and scoffing, find an immersive experience on vastsverige.com, which hooks you up with fisherfolk for mackerel and crab safaris, to gather mussels and oysters, or haul in langoustine pots. Stay in at least a couple of places and drive between the cute coastal towns for meals at renowned restaurants such as Brygghuset in Fiskebäckskil and Bryggan Fjällbacka on the water in quaint Fjällbacka.
• Price is for a double in July/August at Logi & Bastu guesthouse in Käringön. Doubles at pink, wooden Villa Evalotta in Fjällbacka are from £118 a night in July. Fly to Gothenburg or Oslo
Pretty beach town, south-east Sweden
Lyckesand beach, Öland. Photograph: Alamy
Suits Young cool things
Price House from £102pn
Kalmar is an attractive coastal town three hours on the train from Malmö with a castle and gorgeous beaches, which online mag thelocal.se reckons is one of the best summer spots in Sweden. You may like to know that one beach’s name, Kattrumpen, means “cat’s bottom”, and it connects to a hipster neighbourhood in town. Other stretches are for naturists or dogs. Kalmarsunsbadet boasts a pusshallplats, an official “kiss stop”, like a bus stop (busshallplats) but for lovers (and not to be confused with a kisshallplats, which means pee stop). Cross the 6km bridge to atmospheric Öland island for more beach action.
• Price for one night at the “Modern house by the sea in Kalmar” (airbnb.co.uk, sleeps 8), 10km out of town. Fly to Copenhagen (a three-hour drive)
Wilderness hikes, Swedish Lapland
Suits Adventure seekers
Price From £1,466pp a week
Epic mountain landscapes, grazing reindeer herds, Sami communities, ambling elks and ferocious wolverines, and rare and vivid flora are the natural highs on a hiking trip into the Unesco Sarek national park in Lapland. Meeting at Gällivare, the small group is transferred by helicopter into Sarek to start the seven-day hike from Kvikkjokk to Ritsem, trekking mainly off-track and camping out in the wilderness.
• Price is for a week’s hiking, including helicopter travel, all meals, personal guide and equipment, truenaturesweden.com. Fly or take overnight train to Gällivare from Stockholm
Iron Ore Line, Sweden and Norway
Suits Train lovers
Price From £36 one-way
Built to transport iron ore in the late 1800s, the Malmbanan railway, or Iron Ore Line, runs from the mines around Kiruna in north Sweden to the port of Luleå on the Baltic and Narvik, on the North Sea in Norway. Now it transports tourists too, who can admire swooping scenery of Lapland from its cosy carriages and wood-panelled bistro. Stop for hikes, hotels and activities en route. Or book the 20-hour sleeper from Stockholm to Narvik (from £67pp in a couchette, £152pp in a private compartment for two).
• Price from Luleå to Narvik in July (sj.se)
Arctic wildlife, Svalbard
A male walrus stands in Svalbard. Photograph: Paul Nicklen/Getty Images/National Geographic Creative
Suits Adventure lovers
Price From £1,114 for 6 days
As holiday locations go, the isolated Svalbard archipelago, between Norway and the North Pole, has to be one of the most adventurous. Rugged, remote and dramatic, it has undeniable natural glories, and in summer the abundance of migrating birds, whales, seals and walruses will have wildlife-watchers’ spotter-jotters bulging. There’s fun to be found in the university town of Longyearbyen, the world’s most northerly settlement of over 1,000 residents. Discover The World’s trip can include staying at the new super-cool renovated Coal Miners’ cabins.
• Price includes flights, transfers and B&B accommodation, activities extra, discover-the-world.co.uk
Loen Skylift, Nordfjord
Photograph: Mattias Fredriksson
Price From £1,210 a week
One of the steepest gondolas in the world, the Loen Skylift, which opened last year, ascends to 1,011 metres at the crest of Mount Hoven, in Stryn, for outrageous views of glaciers and the forested fjords of the surrounding Nordfjord area. Mighty Sognefjord, the largest and deepest in the country, and Geiranger fjord, perhaps its most spectacular, are also included as part of this Best Served tour, plus boat cruises, hikes and nights in Ålesund, noted for its concentration of art nouveau architecture, and historic Bergen.
• Price is per person for a week including flights, hotels and B&Bs, best-served.co.uk
Orchards and bikes, southern Norway
Suits History buffs and foodies
Price From €690 for 4 days
Style-savvy tour operator Up Norway has excellent foodie, cultural and outdoorsy trips, including a vegan gourmet tour and festivals. They ain’t cheap, but one of its most affordable breaks visits the Telemark Canal, considered the eighth wonder of the world when it opened in 1892, which guests explore on a historic boat, then stay at fairytale Dalen Hotel, visit a vineyard to sleep in a converted wine barrel, and cycle from farm to farm in the fruit-growing village of Gvarv.
• Price is pper person for two sharing for four days and three nights B&B, including transfers and one dinner but not flights. Fly to Oslo, upnorway.com
Island nature, northern Norway
A white-tailed eagle on the island of Senja. Photograph: Sjo/Getty Images
Suits Nature lovers
Price Cabin from £110 a night
With a feel a little like the Lofoten islands, Senja, Norway’s second biggest island, is famous for whale-watching in winter, but in summer it’s wonderful for spotting sea eagles, and for fishing and hiking amid heart-stopping landscapes. Mefjord Brygge is a year-round resort between mountains and fjords in the fishermen’s village of Mefjordvaer, with a sauna, restaurant and 20 rooms.
• Price is for a small cabin with a terrace facing the sea that sleeps two (from £146 a night for cabin sleeping four). Activities such as sea eagle safari £91pp, mefjordbrygge.no. Fly to Tromso
Kråkenes lighthouse. Photograph: Alamy
Suits Romantics, families
Price Two nights from £358
Whether it’s a hell-raising storm or calming, soporific waves, watching the sea from a Norwegian lighthouse is unforgettable. Of the 212 built along the country’s coast between 1655 and 1932, dozens have been turned into holiday homes. Some are on titchy islands, some near cities, most in spectacular settings. Kråkenes lighthouse, in the far west, is the most exposed, with hurricane-strength winds often reported, and waves that reach its full height, 42 metres above the sea. It’s at the tip of Vågsøy Island (linked to the mainland by bridge), which has a few villages, shops and beaches.
• Price for two in top-floor bridal suite; a double in the stormhouse next door from £285 for three nights, lighthousesofnorway.com. Norwegian flies to Alesund from Gatwick
Rafting and more, southern Norway
TrollAktiv Adventure Park
Suits Fun-loving families
Price From £9pp pn
TrollAktiv Adventure Park is an outdoor pursuits centre near Evje in southern Norway, with white-water rafting, rock-climbing, standup paddleboarding, cycling, escape room experiences and – new this year – a high-wire and zipline course. There’s glorious hiking in the Setesdal valley, and the nearby Mineral Park has more ziplines and a vast collection of stones and minerals.
• Price is for a tipi sleeping 8; a family cabin for 4 is £63, trollaktiv.no. From 13 Aug, Widerøe flies from Stansted to Kristiansand from £100 one-way
Baltic dips, North Zealand
Photograph: Martin Kaufmann
Suits Stressed-out workers
Price Room from £142 a night
At the Kurhotel Skodsborg, an indulgent take on the Scandi wellness experience includes rooftop yoga, cross-fit sessions in the Baltic and more saunas than you can shake a birch branch whip at, including SaunaGus, which infuses essential oils into the heat. The smart white hotel, 20 minutes from Copenhagen in North Zealand, has classy rooms that ooze hygge (Scandi cosiness and conviviality), and three restaurants overseen by top Danish chef Erik Kroun.
• Price is for a double B&B including luxury spa day is £213, skodsborg.dk, Fly to Copenhagen (hotel is 43km north)
Trelleborg Viking Market, Denmark
Suits History buffs, families
Price From £895 a week
Viking games and battle demonstrations provide a Valhalla vibe on a road trip around Denmark’s Viking sites. Beginning and ending in Copenhagen, this tour from Scandi specialist Best Served takes in Roskilde, the pretty fjord town where King Harald Bluetooth is buried; Lejre, where Beowulf was set; Trelleborg fortress; and a Viking-era farm at Lake Tisso. Kids will love the high-wire trails at Kragerup Gods, and Gerlev Playground, a theme park that explores thousands of years of playing culture with Viking games.
• Price includes flights, five days’ car hire and six nights’ B&B, best-served.co.uk
Photograph: Kim Wyon
Suits Families, surfers
Price From £237 a night for four
The white beaches of North Jutland are known for their cute wooden cottages, which thousands of Danes make a beeline for when the sun appears. But there are gorgeous hotels here, too, including Hotel Løkken Strand, which opened last June in the former schoolhouse of the coastal town of Løkken. Days can be spent surfing at North Shore Surf, or gnarlier Klitmøller, which is like a chilly Hawaii. The wave-averse can head to the pretty town of Skagen, or try horse riding in Thy national park.
• Price is for B&B for four in large family room (new this year) in July/Aug, doubles from £106, hotelloekkenstrand.dk. Fly to Aalborg
New national park, Danish Riviera
Old Mill Esrum farm in Royal North Sealand national park
Suits Cycling explorers
Price From £1,250 a week
On 29 May, Denmark’s fifth national park, the Royal North Sealand, opens on its largest island, Zealand. The ancient oaks of the Gribskov forest, and the country’s biggest lake, Esrum So, are at the centre of the 64,900-acre park. It is also home to stone age and medieval sites, 10th-century Esrum Abbey, and the Royal Palace of Fredensborg, known as the Danish Versailles. A self-guided cycling holiday with Inntravel includes rides around the park, and to coastal villages and the white sand beaches of the Danish Riviera.
• Inntravel trips include hotel accommodation, four dinners, luggage transfers, cycle hire, route notes and maps, but not flights (to Copenhagen), visitnorthsealand.com
Summer fun, Finnish Lapland
Picking wild blueberries. Photograph: Sitikka/Getty Images
Suits Active explorers
Price From £755 a week
When your summer is only three months long, you have to go for it. For Finns, that means being outdoors round the clock in the midnight sun, swimming in lakes and berry picking. Blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries and cranberries can be snaffled on a Lappish adventure, one of many activities on the tailor-made Summer in Finnish Lapland itinerary to Torassieppi with Artisan Travel. Canoeing on Lake Torassieppi and hiking with huskies are further options, wih sleeps in a kota (Lappish tipi), a laavu (with fire), and cottages on a reindeer farm.
• Price is for a week including flights, accommodation, transfers and meals, artisantravel.co.uk
Up all night, Lakeland
Price Cottage from £720 a week (sleeps 6)
Finland’s go-to holiday zone, its Lakeland, includes vast Lake Saimaa, which has a maze of inlets and forested strips hiking, kayaking and swimming. Almost every Finn knows someone with a holiday cottage here, but you can still nab one for yourself, and join in their midnight sun traditions, such as nocturnal swimming and sauna sessions, and outdoor activities in the early hours. Tag on a night or two in Helsinki too, to witness the wild nightlife of the season.
• Price is for a week in Beaver Cabin, a wooden cottage on Lake Saimaa with electric sauna with some July and August availability at time of press, finlandcottagerentals.com. Plenty of other lakeside cottages on the website. Fly to Helsinki
Bear-watching, Finland’s wild east
Photograph: Mats Lindberg/Getty Images
Suits Nature lovers
Price From £481 for 3 nights
About 1,500 brown bears live in Finland’s forests, but that doesn’t make spotting one easy. Hideout in a woodland cabin near Kuhmo with some binoculars though and you might just get lucky. This is a typical local experience, and is part of a three-night break at family-run Hotel Kalevala, a wooden hotel designed to look like a fortress with sauna and jacuzzi, which includes one over-night in a bear hide.
• Price is for two nights in hotel, one in bear-watching hide. Trains to Kajaani from Helsinki. Kuhmo is 100km east of Kajaani