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4 dream trips in Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Estonia

By: Jacqueline Kehoe

Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland. Photo: Shutterstock/Kotenko Oleksandr

Buy coffee, go to work, sit in traffic, repeat. Sometimes, that can feel like our modern-day destiny — but that’s only because we forget that we’re responsible for living outside the box. For taking our own wild left turns. For expanding our worldviews and challenging our preconceptions. For booking that ticket and saying yes to a dream trip.

In Northern Europe, horizon-expansion comes with the territory. Sleek, modern cities that feel not-quite-familiar fade into untamed terrain. Ancient villages dot an even more ancient landscape, and it’s all just a flight away. (And maybe a few clicks.)

So when you’re ready for that wild left turn, come aboard. Here’s what’s in store.

This guide is proudly produced in partnership with Lufthansa.
Purposefully long layovers for pond-jumpers have resulted in tourists outnumbering Icelanders six or more to one. But their eight-hour stops keep them in cramped shuttle buses following the first few pages of the guidebook. For your trip, you need to be in the driver’s seat, on the wide open road, with ample time to spare. Welcome to the Iceland all those Instagrammers haven’t.

The Diamond Circle

You’ve heard of the Golden Circle. Consider the Diamond Circle, its northern counterpart, a less-traveled upgrade…

Visit


The Westman Islands

A quick day trip from Reykjavik, the Westman Islands aren’t in your average guidebook…

Visit


Jökulsárlón Lagoon

In the 1930s, the 1,000-year-old ice of a nearby glacier started melting. And melting…

Visit


Snæfellsnes Peninsula

On the western side of the island, this peninsula packs an incredible amount of scenery into just 55 miles…

Visit


Akureyri

This is the “Capital of the North.” It’s Iceland’s second city…

Visit

Norway

A country so rugged it birthed the Vikings, so beautiful its landscapes are internationally protected. Norway stretches from well south of Iceland up to the Arctic Circle, stretching limits, stretching the imagination. What’s in store if you just keep exploring?

Haugesund

A.k.a. the home of the Vikings. Harald Fairhair, Norway’s first king, built his first castle on the outskirts of town…

Visit


Lofoten

Far above the Arctic Circle, Lofoten is Norway at its most timeless…

Visit


Svalbard

At 78° north, halfway between Norway and the North Pole…

Visit


Sognefjord

Norway’s largest and deepest fjord, the Sognefjord snakes inland for 127 miles…

Visit


Trondheim

The first capital of Norway has a thousand-year history that dates back to the era of St. Olav…

Visit

Denmark

Politeness, simplicity, hygge, bicycles, mermaids…you know the stereotypes. But you can’t be summed up in five words, and neither can the country with Europe’s oldest monarchy, a tiny nation that almost ruled the world. Push at the boundaries, and see what you find. Here’s where to start.

Copenhagen

This is the home of “New Nordic” everything…

Visit


Island of Funen

Nowhere is a “fairytale,” and the descriptor can be a bit overused. But if one place were to get close…

Visit


The Funen Archipelago

Beyond Funen proper, the other islands of the archipelago are often overlooked…

Visit


Roskilde

This is one of Denmark’s oldest cities. Between its Viking Ship Museum and the annual Roskilde Music Festival…

Visit


Ærø

With 400 Danish islands to choose from, it’s a feat to narrow it down…

Visit

Estonia

Almost Nordic but not quite, Estonia has a culture all its own — just take a look at the Estonian language, which shares roots with only a handful of other languages in the entire world. Ruled in turn by most of its neighbors, the fact that its national identity thrives today is a testament to its unyielding culture. Here’s how to tap into it.

Tallinn

Tallinn is timeless. It’s the “Silicon Valley of Europe,” but also has one of the best-preserved medieval old towns on the continent…

Visit


Saaremaa & Muhu islands

Estonia’s largest and third-largest islands are part fishing village, part national park…

Visit


Pärnu

On either side of the Pärnu River, paths will take you past timber villas and neoclassical spas…

Visit


Tartu

This is where Estonian culture is born and bred…

Visit


Lahemaa National Park

Lahemaa was the first national park in the Soviet Union…

Visit


This guide is proudly produced in partnership with Lufthansa.
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