If you’re the type of person who likes nothing more than exploring all that nature has to offer, then there is no better place to visit in the world than the Nordics. Here you will find mild climates, stunning greenery and scenic mountain views combine to offer travellers incredible opportunities to enjoy some of the world’s most picturesque treks. With that in mind, we’ve scoured the area and come up with ten of the best hikes and cycles in the Nordic region – for anyone who likes their holidays a little more energetic than just sitting on a beach with a cocktail in hand, this is the perfect chance to walk on the wild side!
Preikestolen / The Pulpit Rock (Norway)
One of Norway’s most popular attractions, Preikestolen – translated into English as the Pulpit Rock - towers over 600m above the Lysefjord inlet in Forsand, south-west Norway. Offering stunning views of the calm blue waters, gorgeous green valleys and sprawling mountains of the Ryfylke region below, Preikestolen is a real must-see - having remembered to wrap up warm and put on your sturdiest walking boots, a 4km hike uphill is sure to work up a sweat, but the incredible vistas once you reach the summit make it all worthwhile!
The 82km Rallarvegen is one of Norway’s favourite cycling routes, attracting over 20,000 visitors every summer. Passing endless rivers, hills and flats as you whizz through the country’s beautiful highlands, you’ll head off from Haugastol train station in Buskerud, travel west through the mountains to Finse, before continuing on to either Flam in the north or further west to Vossevangen - both of which offer a smooth ride for bikers as well as breath-taking views and relics dating back to the building of the Bergen railway over a century ago.
If you’re a real thrill-seeker, you need to make sure the Trolltunga – literally the ‘Troll’s tongue’ – is on your itinerary. This jaw-dropping stretch of rock protrudes from the side of one of the Hordaland region’s many mountains, 700m above the Ringedalsvatnet lake – offering an exhilarating, if somewhat terrifying, sheer drop to the water below. With snow-topped mountains also visible in the distance this is a truly incredible spot from which to see Norway in all its natural beauty – however, due to safety concerns, Trolltunga is only accessible from June to September each year.
Oulanka National Park (Finland)
Situated in the Lapland region of northern Finland, the Oulanka National Park is perfect for walkers and cyclists alike. The park covers an impressive 270km² and encapsulates everything that makes Finland such a fabulous place to visit – from sand banks and pine forests to rivers and swamps, Oulanka has something for everyone, with hundreds of varieties of plants and animals including rare butterflies, reindeer and birds. Oulanka offers an array of walks and cycle routes, so whether you’re just there for a short walk before retiring to a local restaurant or want to spend the whole day on two wheels, you’ll find something to suit your needs.
Known as the “King of Trails,” the Kungsleden is the perfect expedition for hardened hikers, spanning over 400km through the north of Sweden into the Arctic Circle. During winter the Kungsleden is laden with snow and becomes a popular ski trail, but the rest of the year it offers a rich and varied environment for experienced walkers, including a number of charming small villages and the Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain at over 2,000 metres high. In total, the trail takes around one month to complete, so you’ll need to come prepared – but with huts dotted along the trail at manageable intervals of between 9 and 22km (approximately one day’s walking) the Kungsleden offers a truly unforgettable experience.
Located in Oppland, southern Norway, Besseggen is the country’s most popular mountain trail, with over 30,000 hikers descending upon the ridge every year. Your hike usually begins with a steep uphill walk from Memurubu, but the incline soon levels off, allowing you a relaxing walk between the banks of the Bessvatn and Gjende lakes before you reach the highest point of the walk, Veslfjellet (at over 1,700m high) at which point you can begin your descent. The walk takes between five and seven hours in total, and visitors will notice the difference in colour between the shimmering blue of the Bessvatn river and the sparkling green of the Gjende.
Abisko National Park (Sweden)
Named the world’s most illuminating experience by Lonely Planet in 2015, the Abisko National Park in Lapland, around 200km north of the Arctic Circle, is renowned across the globe for its natural beauty. The Park offers different experiences depending on the time of year you visit, but for a truly memorable walking trip we advise going in summer, with endless interesting sights to see as you hike through the forest. Gorgeous waterfalls and gaping canyons will take your breath away, while late-night walkers will experience midnight sun – and may even see the extraordinary Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.
Nordmarka Forest (Norway)
Just outside Oslo lies the Nordmarka forest – a fabulous retreat for any holiday-makers who have experienced everything the capital has to offer and want to get back to nature. Barely 20 minutes from the Oslo centre, when you’re in the heartland of Nordmarka you couldn’t be further away from city centre, with a number of superb hiking routes offering you a bit of tranquillity as you stroll leisurely through the forests. With many independent cafes offering local food on route and other activities including kayaking and skiing available depending on the time of year, the Nordmarka is worth visiting even if you’re only in the capital for a few days!
The picturesque hills of Koli in northern Karelia have it one of Finland’s most popular tourist hot-spots – but we must warn you, it certainly isn’t hot! The snow-covered forests can be easily negotiated with a pair of hired snowshoes, and with over 80km of marked trails on offer you are spoiled for choice when it comes to seeing the sights – although the most popular view is seen from the peak of the Ukko-Koli, the park’s tallest hill, which offers a panoramic vista over the beautiful Pielinen lake. Cyclists are more than catered for here, with numerous marked trails and private roads for bikers to use – and you can even spend the night in a tent, or the local hotel if you’re in need of a hearty meal.
One for dedicated cyclists, the charming and charismatic island of Bornholm just off the coast of Denmark offers some real challenges for anyone on two wheels. After stocking up your energy levels with smoked herring for breakfast, you can head out for a day of racing around the island’s varied terrain, choosing between the testing, rocky paths of the north or the more forgiving flat roads and peaceful beaches of the south. With most bicycle routes separated from other traffic, Bornholm is perfect for amateur cyclists who want to explore the natural environment of this fabulous island, zipping through forests and up hills to your heart’s content!
Courtesy of Expedia in partnership with Visit Norway.