Top 6 things to do while backpacking in the Nordic countries

August 30, 2016

Planning your next adventure and want to see the magnificent north of Europe? We have the best tips for backpackers who want to explore the beautiful Nordic countries: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland on a budget.


1. Northern Lights

Photo credit: Ørjan Bertelsen

The best things in life are free, they say – and seeing the Northern Lights indeed doesn’t have to cost a penny! Travel to the north of Sweden, Finland, Norway or Iceland in the period between September and April and you might be in for a treat. The Aurora Borealis are best seen in places with little artificial light, so get out of the city and bring a good camera. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

Stay at: Mehamn Hostel (Norway) | STF Kiruna Hostel (Sweden) | Ytra Lón Hostel (Iceland) | Saariselkä – Hostel Ahopää (Finland)

2. Take the train across the Arctic Circle

If you’re travelling with regular tickets instead of an Interrail pass, the rail companies in Norway, Sweden and Finland offer quite cheap long-distance tickets that will take you across the Arctic Circle and to the ‘Real North’. Why not enjoy a good book, get to know some fellow travellers and travel sustainably across the Arctic Circle?

Book tickets on: www.nsb.no | www.sj.se | www.vr.fi/cs/vr/en

Stay at: Bodø Hostel (Norway) | Hostel Kemijärvi (Finland) | STF Lannavaara Hostel (Sweden)

3. Eat like a king in Copenhagen

A never-ending question for backpackers – how to get healthy and reasonably priced food in the places we travel? We of course love the guest kitchens where people can cook for themselves, and here are some first-hand tips on how to eat cheap in Copenhagen: There is a supermarket in the Central Station in Copenhagen, which sells reasonably priced salads and open face sandwiches. Almost every eatery offers lunch prices between 12 and 15, and the Shawarma shops are great, including a mobile one in front of Tivoli by the Central Station in Copenhagen.

Stay at: Copenhagen City Hostel, the biggest hostel in Northern Europe!

4. Go to a public bath in Iceland

Heard of the Blue Lagoon, right? Well, the Icelanders actually love another kind of water activity: going to public baths. There are public swimming pools found all over Iceland, these are clean and generally really cheap. Going to these swimming pools are actually considered a social activity in Iceland. Go there to work out, relax or meet the Icelanders – and get clean meanwhile.

5. Hike, hike hike…

All the Nordic countries are great places for outdoor life and hikes (even Denmark!). Bring good shoes, a couple of friends and make sure you check the weather forecast before you start hiking – the weather can change quickly. We promise you some fantastic views, clean and fresh air and fantastic selfie possibilities! Try for instance the Gaustatoppen Mountain in Norway or Kungsleden in Sweden. Just be careful – you might be bitten by the hiking bug and never want to stop!

6. Where to stay?

And, of course, stay in hostels along your way. There are hundreds of hostels in the 5 Nordic countries, all are great, affordable facilities in places like ships, jailhouses, a jumbo jet (!), cities and rural areas. In the hostels you meet other travellers that are fascinated by the Nordic countries, you can cook in the guest kitchen or relax in the common areas.

Welcome to the North!


Looking for more tips on how to travel in the Nordic countries? Check out the HI Scandinavia blog: www.sayhitoscandinavia.com

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