Lands of the midnight sun
By Jeannine Williamson | May 2017 | 4 minute read
Do you have clients who want to make the most of the long summer daylight hours? Look to northern Europe and the lands of the midnight sun. Here are ten ideas to add some spark to your itinerary
Take a hike: Stavanger, a former European Capital of Culture with an old town filled with white-boarded homes, is a top spot to savour Norway’s summer. Daily ferries cross the scenic Lysefjord to Oanes, with onward coach travel included in the fare to the start of the rugged walk to Norway’s landmark Pulpit Rock, 60m above the fjord. The two-hour climb is worth the amazing views from the top.
Tuck in: Enjoy the fruits of the Norwegian summertime with the many blueberry dishes that appear on restaurant menus when the berries ripen. These include pancakes, pies and, more unusually, soup. Another popular summer dish is freshly-caught mackerel, with sour cream, fresh potatoes and cucumber salad. Join locals in ‘utepils’, literally ‘outdoor beer’, as bar tables spill out onto pavements and gardens to mark the eagerly awaited arrival of sunny days.
Swim in the city: Built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, the Swedish capital is often described as the Venice of the North. The waterways are so clean and clear you can take a dip right in the middle of town. Alternatively, rent a kayak or canoe and paddle your way from island to island. And look out for the free outdoor Stockholm International Film Festival in August.
Set sail: The 190km Gota Canal leads from the River Gota in Gothenburg to the Baltic Sea in Stockholm, negotiating eight lakes and 66 locks and travelling through some of Sweden’s most picturesque landscapes. There are hotel boats as well as vessels offering shorter sightseeing cruises along the waterway lined with walking and cycling routes. Sunvil’s seven-night itinerary combines a cruise combining stays in Stockholm and Gothenburg, a creative city of cobbled streets and canals.
Twilight tee time: Although golf is not typically associated with Finland a growing number of Midnight Sun golf tournaments provide a novel attraction for golfing clients. Oulu Golf Club, on the western coast, is the world’s northernmost 36-hole course, where golfers often play throughout the night during the midsummer months when the sun rarely dips below the horizon. Bears have even been spotted during midnight games!
Paint the town red: The Helsinki Festival, from August 17 to September 3, is Finland’s largest arts event. Aimed at making art accessible for all, many events are free. The programme line-up features classical and world music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts as well as a range of urban events. And you can always round off your cultural day or night the Finnish way – with a trip to the sauna and a swim in the Baltic.
Prepare to party: Join Copenhageners who spend the summer enjoying open-air events and festivals throughout the city. Tivoli Gardens’ Friday Rock will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year with weekly concerts through to September showcasing new talents and international stars. Throughout the summer there are two free concerts every Sunday in the hippy Christiania district, and in July the Copenhagen Jazz Festival is one of the biggest in Europe.
Pretty as a picture: Skagen, on Denmark’s northern tip, is famous for the beautiful natural light that has inspired painters for centuries. Visitors can stroll through small seaside streets of yellow houses to the harbour to order the catch of the day in one of the many fish restaurants, and sit on white-sand beaches to watch the crashing waves which appear at the point where the North Sea meets the Baltic.
Hit the high road: Iceland’s rugged interior is only open to traffic in the summer. The dramatic Highlands scenery includes eerie lunar landscapes, craters, glaciers and hot springs such as the geothermal crater lake Viti in the northeast. Fun ways to explore include jeep safaris and treks on sturdy Icelandic horses. For outdoor-loving clients, Exodus has a walking and camping holiday to wilderness areas that can only be reached on foot.
Have a whale of a time: Icelandic waters are home to 23 different types of whale, including minke and humpback, and the best time of year to go whale watching is between May and September. Trips leave from Reykjavik’s old harbour three times daily and also provide the opportunity to see other marine wildlife including white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and various sea birds including puffins.
Where to book it
Trafalgar has a 20-day immersive exploration of the northernmost parts of Scandinavia that comes complete with tales of ancient Viking kings and Lapland’s Sami people. Guests travel through fjord and glacial landscapes, view the world’s northernmost university and meet Santa in Rovaniemi. The trip takes in the Scandinavian capitals and the North Cape Visitor Centre to witness the midnight sun. Prices start from £3,075pp and include accommodation; ‘Be My Guest’ experiences, local specialists and transport.