Scandinavia for beginners

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Scandinavia. The countries made of ice and snow. At least that’s what most people believe before they actually come and visit us. There is actually a lot more to Scandinavia than just ice and snow. Let us now guide you through everything you need to know about Scandinavia before you visit. Let’s see if we’re really so strange as the world seem to believe. 

There are no polar bears

Just thought we had to get this out of the way first. There are no polar bears in Scandinavia (exept for Svalbard that is considered a part of Scandinavia via Norway). This is Scandinavia, not the north pole. We actually can have warm summers.

That is the first thing you have to realise. If you come and visit in summer, leave the warm clothes at home. Most of Scandinavia actually has a pretty mild climate. Some winters, we barely get any snow at all! However, you might want to bring your raincoats. No matter what the weather in your phone says, don’t be surprised if it starts raining. 

We are not mean

This one might fit best with Sweden but it applies to all Scandinavian countries. When you sit on a bus or on the Subway, you might realise how quiet it is. No one is talking to each other and this is nothing weird. We are also not mean for not striking up conversations with you or not being thrilled about talking to you if you initiate a conversation with us. It’s simply the way of life up here. We can be quite friendly once you get to know us. Getting to know us however, that’s the tricky part. 

Good luck buying alcohol

You might think it’s as simple as walking in to any store and buying a beer. Sadly, that’s not how it works in most of Scandinavia (all of the countries except Denmark). In Sweden, for example, you have to go to Systembolaget if you want to buy any alcoholic beverages containing more than 2.25% alcohol. Of course, you can still enjoy a beer at a restaurant or a club but you are not allowed to bring anything with you when you leave. 

To shop at Systembolaget, you also have to be at least 21 years of age. Similar rules are found in all of Scandinavia except Denmark. One more thing. Systembolaget is closed on Sundays and have limited opening hours on Saturdays. 

You can come here in winter

Just because winter comes does not mean the entire country closes down. Sure, it gets a bit dark but many would argue that Scandinavia is more beautiful in winter than in summer. Also, as stated before, we often get pretty mild winters. That is unless you travel to one of our northern cities. If you have ever dreamt of seeing the northern lights surrounded by snow, this is the place to do it.  

Of course, there are multiple other things for you to do as well. Skiing is a very big sport here in Scandinavia.  So is ice skating and dog sledding. If you are a true Viking, you can even go for a swim. This is extremely popular in Finland. First, you sit in a sauna to get real warm. Then you jump into the cold lake to cool off. Then it’s right back into the sauna. Sounds crazy? Scientists have actually proven that doing this can improve your health in multiple ways. 

We hope that this article did not scare you too much. Scandinavia might seem like a crazy place but when you actually arrive… Well there’s no words to explain it. You will have to come see for yourself. 

Ludvig Hoel
Ludvig Hoel is the owner and driving force behind Scandinavia.life. A native Norwegian with ties to Denmark, Sweden and Finland, he is the perfect guy to guide you through the delights of Scandinavia.
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