Top 3 Places To See In Scandinavia

Travel and Lifestyle Guide

Scandinavia is, arguably, the best place on earth to observe the northern lights, a fabulous natural phenomenon that attracts numerous visitors every year. And, the reasons for that are not limited solely to the geographical location with the region’s long winters, but also the prime-quality infrastructure and a number of tourist attractions.

In this article, we examine three spectacular destinations for northern lights safari: Norway’s north, Swedish Lapland and Finnish Lapland. While the price of such a holiday tends to be more or less the same in each of these destinations, we describe other features of these locations such as convenience, comfort and facilities, and activities.

Hopefully, this guide will serve you as a decent associate in traveling to the Scandinavian north!


Tromsø, often regarded as the capital of Norway’s north, is a major cultural hub and one of the largest Norwegian cities. Yet myriads of tourists come to this Norwegian city every winter in order to embark on an Aurora Borealis safari. Indeed, Tromsø is an ideal choice for observing the northern lights. In winter, locals often go to work while it is still dark in the morning and get to observe Aurora Borealis. While it is an ordinary routine for them, many tourists flock to Tromsø to experience this phenomenon.

On the other hand, Alta is a small Norwegian town, located within a 7-hour-drive from Tromsø. Traveling to Alta would be a good option if you would prefer to avoid large crowds of tourists. However, this serenity comes at a price — the selection of hotels, restaurants, facilities and tours is much more modest in Alta.

  • Getting there

Among all three reviewed alternative destinations, Norway’s north is the most easily accessible region. Keep in mind that if you are going to stay in Alta, you can easily reach it from Tromsø by car, bus and/ or plane. There are at least 3 to 4 daily flights from Tromsø to Alta.

On the other hand, two Scandinavian airlines, SAS and Norwegian, have at least a dozen of daily direct flights from Oslo to Tromsø in winter. You can also fly to Tromsø from other Norwegian cities (Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim) and other capitals (Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and London).

Alternatively, you may embark on a Hurtigruten cruise to reach Tromsø. Considering, Hurtigruten operates 365 days a year and offers discounts during winter, the cruise might be a good bargain.

  • Comfort and facilities

Travelers in Tromsø may enjoy greater comfort than travelers in Alta or any alternative destinations. First, the number of hotels is overwhelming. Second, there are at least a few dozen bars, pubs and restaurants in Tromsø, which is another advantage.

Tromsø is also famous for its vulkana spa, which combines sauna, bathing, arctic nature and excellent food, while attractions like Tromso’s Polar Museum and the Arctic Cathedral shouldn’t be missed.

Alta, on the other hand, only has 4 to 5 hotels and just about a dozen restaurants. But your stay in Alta can be made special. For instance, Igloo Hotel, an ice hotel that is built in Alta every December, features quite extraordinary ice sculptures. Other noteworthy places include the Northern Lights Cathedral and Alta Museum.


Rovaniemi, the capital of Finland’s Lapland, is widely known as the official residence of Santa Claus. This, among many other things, makes the Aurora Borealis safari in this region quite special, thus resulting in the generally higher prices on hotels and plane tickets.

Ivalo, on the other hand, is a Finnish village, which serves as a gateway to Finland’s Southern Lapland. While there are not many tours and facilities available, travelers can rent normal or glass cabins in order to observe the northern lights.

  • Getting there

Currently, Finland’s Lapland is far more difficult to reach than Norway’s Finnmark. Direct flights to Rovaniemi are only available from Helsinki, London and other Finnish cities. You may also book train tickets from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, but it takes around 9 hours.

Likewise, Finnair and Norwegian also fly from Helsinki to Ivalo. However, you can’t reach Ivalo from Rovaniemi by plane. Another way to reach Ivalo is to drive there by car.

  • Comfort and facilities

There are more than 15 hotels that can accommodate tourists in Rovaniemi. But if you want a top experience, you may rent either a wooden cottage or a glass cabin — an ideal way to observe the Northern lights.

There are also at least a few dozen restaurants in the city — most of which serve the traditional Finnish meals. But what attracts travelers to this city the most is the Santa Village believed to be the “official residence of Santa Klaus” which is the reason many families visit this Finnish region on their winter vacations.

Ivalo, on the other hand, with its few hotels and around 10 restaurants, is famous for its wooden cottages and glass cabins that are situated far from the civilization, providing serenity and tranquility. And while there are many activities available, there is almost nothing to see in Ivalo (except the Wild Spirit Park).

  • Activities

Finland’s Lapland is a region that offers the greatest variety of activities. Aside from activities such as dog sledding, snowmobiling, reindeer sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing that are available in this region, travelers can also partake in activities such as Icebreaker tours, Ice climbing, snow golf, horseback riding, photography tours, biking, zoo tours, floating and Finnish sauna. Moreover, here you can pre-order activity packages, which typically include an activity (or several activities) and 3 meals per day.