When flying to Scandinavia, Air New Zealand and Air France offer cheap flights via Asia and into Europe. Emirates also fly via Dubai, or if travelling from Europe, most European airlines fly into the Scandinavian international airports, which are in most cities.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is the region's leading carrier flying from Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, Copenhagen and Oslo Airport.
Scandinavia, or Nordic Europe consists of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. The region is renowned for its natural beauty, in summer the days are long, so travelling during May to August catches the best weather. However if you wish to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), the best time to travel is in September and until springtime.
Denmark and Copenhagen
Denmark, a lowland country, featuring small settlements and farming, has a temperate climate and is known to have the best beaches. Denmark's most popular attraction is probably Legoland in Billand, another is Kronborg Castle, not far from the capital, Copenhagen.
Copenhagen is noted for its elegant architecture, shopping in Stroget (the world's longest pedestrian street), canals, and the freetown of Christiania- one of the cities highlights.
The medieval inner city is within old fortifications, which partly consisted of encircling lakes. One of these, Tivoli, is now a world famous theme park, which is a beautiful spectacle at night.
Sweden and Stockholm
Sweden the largest of the Scandinavian countries, is connected to Denmark by the 10 mile long tolled Oresund Bridge. The northern part of the country is sparsely populated, and noted for wilderness areas of forests, lakes, big rivers, marshes and mountains. The area is great for hiking and winter sports. And here you find the famous IceHotel in Jukkasjarvi, made of ice and snow. Construction usually starts in November, so rooms are available from December.
Sweden's capital Stockholm is built around numerous islands on Lake Malaren, which flows into the Baltic Sea. Here the attractions include Gamla Stan, the medieval old city, where you can find Royal Palaces and the Stockholm Cathedral. The most interesting museums to visit are the Vasa museum with its 17th century warship, and the Skansen open air museum.
East of Stockholm is the Stockholm archipelago, consisting of over 20,000 islands, around the coastline. Choose to visit a pretty tourist orientated island or a wilderness experience, most are easily accessible.
The Viking legacy is evident in Birka, an easy day trip from Stockholm, where the Vikings established their first town. Birka is of significant archaeological importance and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can see burial mounds and stone ruins.
Norway and Oslo
Norway is known for the mysterious northern lights and majestic deep fjords along the west coast. The country's rugged landscape is an unspoilt wilderness of forested hills and valleys, islands, and mountains with waterfalls plunging into the sea in the fjords. Popular places to visit are Bergen which is known for the Bryggen Wharf, a UNESCO site featuring 60 14th century Hanseatic wooden buildings. The free fish market and surrounding mountains and fjords are also not to be missed
Tromsø, further to the north is an ideal place to see the aurora, or northern lights. Tromsø should also be visited during summer to see the midnight sun.
Oslo, the capital of Norway is situated by the Oslo fjord and extends into the forested hillsides. It is a city of museums and parks. Northwest of town is Holmenkollen, with a world-famous ski jump and ski museum.
Finland and Helsinki
Finland stands apart from the rest of Nordic Europe, a gentler landscape of lakes and islands, with Lapland in the north, home to the Sámi people, who still subsist on reindeer herding. Also the home to Santa Claus and a Santa Claus amusement park. During the summer months the sun is up 24 hours.
Many lovely cities are on lake shores around the country, or for a more relaxing time escape to the lakeside cottages and enjoy the local hiking, fishing and mushroom or berry picking.
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is on the shores of the Baltic Sea. The market square on the waterfront, the parks and museums and 19th century architecture all reflect the Russian influence on the city. One highlight not to be missed is the Fortress of Suomenlinna, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and showcases European military architecture. The Helsinki Cathedral is another beautiful landmark.