If you thought that all Scandinavia had to offer was homemade alcohol, expensive accommodation, modern architecture, bacon, Vikings and interior design, then think again! Apart from happy blonde people dancing around, Scandinavia houses some truly extraordinary places for curious travelers and adventurous souls. Here is a list of 20 such places which you probably have never heard about before.
Outside the main tourist destinations are some strange, and perhaps unexpected places to explore if you are into the likes of mysterious museums, obscure antique collections, impressive limestone caves, and other hidden underground attractions. Much more than northern lights, weird cuisine, and cold metropolitan capitals, Scandinavia offers a spectacular amount of weird and unique places to explore for those who seek extraordinary travel experiences seen nowhere else on earth.
Consisting of countries Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, Scandinavia is a Northern European region most famous for its welfare societies, gender equality, cold winters, and rainy summers. Home to many other geological, cultural and historical sights, however, Scandinavia is worth the visit for many reasons beyond its capitals Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen. The places listed below are mystical, obscure and extraordinary in every sense, and presents a part of Scandinavian history you probably didn't think existed. Believe it or not, but remember that things are not always what they seem to be, and what you thought you knew about Scandinavia, might not be completely accurate. Enjoy.
20 The Cisterns
A long-forgotten subterranean reservoir, The Cisterns once contained the supply of drinking water for all of Copenhagen and could hold as much as 16 million liters of clean water. Today an impressive underground experience, the reserve hosts a gallery with frequent exhibitions and performance arts. As an integral part of the Frederiksberg Museum, this attraction is easy to reach from Copenhagen and therefore there is no excuse to miss the impressive architecture and atmosphere provided by the water, still dripping through the holes in the roof of the reserve, and the subtle sound of the rivers running through it.
19 The Silvermine Hotel, Sweden
Famous for housing the world deepest suite at 155 meters underground, the Silvermine Hotel in Sala is truly a unique attraction within Scandinavia. Although housing the world’s deepest hotel accommodation, the rest of the hotel is situated above the ground and offers an impressive visit to the mine, if that is your desire. At a stunning 468 Euros per night for a stay in this unique hotel room, it is certainly not cheap but probably worth the visit, if you don’t suffer from bathophobia, the fear of large debts. According to the hotel website, you should make sure to wear warm clothes for the guided tour as it is only 2 °C in the mine. However, the suite is heated to around 18 °C for the comfort of visitors.
18 The Regan Vest Bunker, Denmark
Behind a typical Danish house, weirdly situated in the woods of northern Denmark, is a peculiar place. Behind the house is a door in the hill. It is heavy and looks forgotten, as nature has covered the entrance in green moss. However, below ground, there is an atomic-proof bunker. Located 60 meters below ground in the grand Rold Forest, the impressive bunker was meant as a place for the Government, the Royal Family, and other important people during a military emergency situation. From the hidden base, the civilian crisis management would take place during wartime. Finished in 1969, the bunker was put into service but never used to its original potential. Although covering a considerable of territory, only the Queen was to be provided with a private toilet.
17 The Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum, Norway
Going to Oslo and don’t know what to see first? Then pay a visit to the incredible Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum. Said to be one of Oslo’s best-kept secrets, the museum is to be the tomb of painter Emmanuel Vigeland. Covered with painting about life and death, this museum displays the mind and thoughts of an incredible artist and human being. With tales and stories of mythical creatures with a mix of eroticism, this attraction is sure to get you thinking about life and death, and the sexual desire of the human mind in a whole new way.
16 The Borgund Stave Church, Norway
In medieval times, someone decided to build a church, out of wood. They placed it within the mountains to the East and engraved it with the most stunning original Scandinavian carvings known to humankind. Together with the churches of Urne, Hopperstad, and Heddal, Borgund presents a unique look into the architecture, as well as into the culture and religious practices of medieval Scandinavia. Despite being constructed in 1180, the Borgund church is one of the best preserved of the stave churches and includes engravings of animals and what seems to be mystical creatures, such as dragons.
15 The Tree Hotel, Sweden
With an impressive collection of distinctive tree house suites, this place is magical in many ways. With a total of six treehouse cabins each with a distinctive name including The Mirrorcube, The Bird’s Nest, The Cabin, The UFO, The Blue Cone, The Dragonfly, and The 7thCone, this is a perfect place to see the northern lights. From each of them, you get a fantastic view of the Lule River Valley. Situated between 4-6 meters above the ground, the cabins are sure to make a minimum ecological impact on the surrounding environment, making this hotel a sustainable contribution to the travel industry. It is also said that delicious homecooked meals are served here.
14 The Museum Obscurum, Denmark
A passionate collector and explorer, Cornelius S.C. Rödderhad hid his most obscure collection behind a secret door of his house on Danish island Falster until someone opened it in 2017. Like many other collectors in the 19th century, Cornelius's collection started out as a curiosity cabinet, but expanded into a collection of the obscure, with the collection now including tiny dragons, vampire skeletons, forest children and fairy wings. Although you have to take a ferry to arrive at this small island, it is definitely worth a visit for one of Denmark’s only such collections.
13 The Mønsted Limestone Mines, Denmark
Known as the world's largest limestone mine, the Møndsted Limestone Mine provides an opportunity to explore an impressive underground cave. Including nothing less than an underground cinema, not in the figurative, hipster sense of the word, but literally a cinema beneath the surface of the earth, this is a hidden spot in Denmark for tourists to go beyond the culinary capital of Copenhagen. As the most significant winter accommodation for bats in Europe, and an important cultural and geological sight, these mines will be a perfect destination for those interested too in some underground exploring.
12 The Lenin Spa, Sweden
Advertised as a ’Dream in Blue’, the Lenin Spa under the Hotell Gästis in Sweden is something else for sure. Constructed as a copy of the Vladimir Lenin’s favorite bath in St. Petersburg in the early 1800’s, the bath includes a swimming pool, cold bath, steam room, and a foot bath, making this copy of the famous bath of Lenin a truly unique experience. To add to the peculiar mood of the bath, it is filled with antiques such as mirrors, sculptures, crowns, and other collectibles. If you are particularly fond of the color cobalt blue, then this extraordinary place is perfect during a visit to Scandinavia.
11 The Viking Sanctuary Lindholm, Denmark
If you want to really get a sense of the Danish Viking history, then Lindholm Høje is the place to visit first. What was once a burial site is now a hill covered in stone formations and constructions proving the existence of a former medieval city. The site holds a treasure including hundreds of shipwrecks, more than 700 graves, and the remains of a city. As with most forgotten cities which are now less than ruins, a good imagination is required to really imagine how the site must have looked over 1000 years ago. Luckily, the museum on the hill will provide all the information one could ask for when exploring the ways of life of Vikings.
10 The Sun Mirrors of Rjukan, Norway
Like an enchanted city, or perhaps more like a cursed city, Rjukan is tucked in between two gigantic Norwegian mountains in a valley of Southern Norway. For six months of the year, the city is covered in darkness as the mountains do not allow for sunlight to hit the city, but only just touches the mountains peaks. Already when the town was founded, Sam Eyde proposed mirrors to be installed on the top of the mountain to provide light to the city during winter. In 2013, these mirrors became a reality. If you want to see the true effect of the mirrors, visit in the winter.
9 Old Tjikko, Norway
Did you know where the world’s oldest tree is currently located? Probably not. Do you really want to know? Probably not. However, named Old Tjikko, the world’s oldest tree is standing in the Fulufjället Mountain in the Dalarna province of Norway. Old Tjikko is estimated to be nothing less than 9.560 years old and looks a little tired as well to be perfectly honest. However, experiencing one of the world’s oldest living things should be everybody’s wish list as the mystery of time will definitely let your mind wander and think about your own existence in the process.
8 The Devils Bible, Sweden
On display in Stockholm at the National Library of Sweden, the 310-page book known as the Devil’s Bible, or Codex Gigas, is believed to have been written by a single anonymous monk, spending around thirty years to finish it. Adding to the mystery of the book, it originally contained 320 pages, but these were cut out and removed at some point in time. Brought to Prague in 1594, the book was later taken as war booty in 1648 by the Swedish army. Weighing about 74 kilograms, it is famous for being the largest medieval book in existence.
7 The Solar Egg, Sweden
At Sweden’s most northern town, Kiruna, a large golden egg stands on a hill. It contains a traditional Scandinavian Sauna but in very different clothing. Inside the structure, temperatures range between 75 °Cand 85 °C, a sharp contrast to the freezing temperatures normally characterizing the region. Part of a new residential project, the Solar Egg celebrates the project ‘with the sun as a catalyst for creativity, hope, and togetherness’, according to the company behind the construction, Riksbyggen. Seating up to eight people, the Solar Egg is a truly unique construction perfectly capturing the Swedish sauna tradition.
6 Stevns Klint, Denmark
Selected as a world heritage site by UNESCO, this 40-meter tall cliff presents a unique geological signature displaying the so-called K-Pg boundary, agreed upon by scientists to have been the time of mass distinction, in other words, the geological footprints of the time when dinosaurs almost immediately went extinct. Apart from being a significant place in our planet's history, the cliff of Stevens is a beautiful sight to explore when paying a visit to Scandinavia's most southern component, Denmark. With an old church almost hanging over the cliff, this is a perfect spot for some distinctive Danish nature exploration with a touch of geological and cultural history.
5 Bexell’s Talking Stones, Sweden
In the late 1800’s, a man named Alfred Bexell demanded 700 rocks around his property in Torstorp, to be inscribed with Swedish sayings and riddles, now known as the Talking Stones of Torstop. Mentioned in the inscriptions are some of the great personalities of history such as Aristotle, Beethoven, and Caesar. To the east, rocks are mainly inscribed with dictates such as "Better torn with your foot than with your tongue”. It is completely unknown why Bexell chose to inscribe the rocks, which gives the place a mysterious and poetic apparel.
4 The Utter Inn Hotel, Sweden
Floating around in the muddy waters of a Swedish river to the sound of nothing? Perhaps not exactly your typical exotic travel aspiration, however, you should know that this is a possibility in Scandinavia. Although you shouldn’t expect a typical turquoise underwater view associated with similar hotel rooms in the Caribbean, more pine tree yellow colored lake water view, then this is the spot for you! Literally floating around the lake, this single room hotel offers both an over the ground and underwater space for visitors to explore the meaning of solitude, all while floating through the Swedish waters.
3 The Rubjerg Lighthouse, Denmark
Waiting patiently to be taken by the alluring ocean, the lighthouse of Rubjerg is already partly buried by sand and therefore abandoned. Expected to fall into the water no later than 2020, right now is time to see it, before it will vanish completely. Surrounded by sand dunes, this site is a perfect place to see the famous shores of Denmark. After authorities constructed a museum around the lighthouse in the 1970’s, this ironically was also taken by nature and covered in sand by the year 1992. Consuming both the original and new buildings, the lighthouse is not awaiting its faith, slowly disappearing into the sea.
2 The Lummelunda Cave, Sweden
Discovered by accident by three boys from the region in 1948, this cave turned out to be much larger than first anticipated. Since 1959 is has been open to visitors. Named by the boys who discovered it, the main part of the cave ‘The Mountain King’s Hall’ is the main point of the visit for tourists and travelers alike. Home to stunning halls and even lakes the cave presents an extraordinary destination for anyone passing through Sweden during a trip to Scandinavia. The three boys were much later made honorary members of Swedish society in a ceremony in January 2011.
1 The Chemist’s Collection, Denmark
If you are looking for something for that sore shoulder where modern medicine just doesn’t do the trick, then visit pharmacy of Jens Bang’s House in Denmark. A collection of pharmaceutic instruments and medicine is to be found under the attic at the Chemist’s Collection Museum in northern Denmark. Through guided tours, the museum displays medicine from up to 350 years ago, as well as other necessities of the time such as liquor and candy, only allowed to sell through the hands of a chemist. From Spanish flies, to buck blood and snake venom, the museum houses an extraordinary testimony to the ancient world of medicine.
References: VisitNorway, VisitSweden, VisitDenmark