Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
If you’re not a lover of football, beer and chanting then you may not enjoy the UEFA European Championships either. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of destinations you can go to in order to avoid the madness. In fact, we suggest you run away to the Nordic countries!
With Denmark, Finland and Norway not qualifying, they make the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. So, if you want to miss the crowds and the chaos we highly recommend going to these places. Although they are known as the colder countries they are absolutely beautiful in the summer time and compared to elsewhere in Europe at this time, it will be a lot less football-mad.
Named the happiest country in the world, Denmark has a lot to offer. Don’t forget they host one of the largest festivals in Europe—Roskilde Festival. This year the fest features some top musicians including Red Hot Chilli Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Neil Young and Macklemore. It’s held only 30 minutes from Copenhagen so it’s super easy to get to with buses and trains running direct from the city.
Copenhagen itself is an absolutely stunning city, with tons of park, very wide, clean streets and locals just hanging out, relaxing in the sun during the summer. The bars tend to be quirky, with quite a few microbreweries in the city. Make sure you visit the freetown of Christiania while you’re there; they have their own microbrewery, too! If you want to splash out a little, we definitely recommend taking one of the many boat tours that go right from the city centre…can’t get enough boats? You can sail a Viking ship in Roskilde!
Finland is the place to be this summer with Helsinki Pride 2016 happening from June 27th to July the 3rd. Expect lots of colours and a cheerful atmosphere. As well as Pride, the LGBTQ Eurogames are also aligned to take place on the 29th of June until the 2nd of July, which means there will be two great events happening at once! The Eurogames will host at least 14 different sports including badminton, tennis, basketball and dancing; there will also be a ton of night-time events coordinated with Pride.
Meanwhile, we recommend catching the Sideways Festival, which is happening on the 17th and 18th of June in Helsinki. It hosts a combination of great music, food and (of course) drinks. Tons of Finnish bands are playing, as well as Mykki Blanco, Peaches and PJ Harvey.
Finland is a nation filled with beautiful lakes, too. There are over 188,000 lakes here which make it a unique place in itself and perfect for kayakers, swimmers and boat lovers! Most of them can be found in just an hour’s drive from Helsinki in a region called Lakeland (obviously!). And much further north, in the Arctic Circle, you’ll find Lapland; it’s not just for Christmas. In the summer here, you can experience the disorientation of 24 hours of sunlight! We have hostels in Kemijarvi, Rovaniemi, and Akaslompolo.
Norway’s Midtsommer Fest is held on the 24th and 25th of June is a grand excuse to miss the European Championships! This contemporary music festival celebrates local and international artists in Bjørkelangen, just an hour’s drive from Oslo.
Like all of Scandinavia, Norway is famous for its beautiful scenery and nature. Pining for the fjords? Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord are the most popular to see because of their proximity to nearby Bergen. The landscape is vast, from epic mountain ranges to white sandy beaches and tranquil lakes. Not only that but you can also experience the famous northern lights here. If you want to see some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches then travel to the southwest region, Stavanger. It’s the perfect place to chill out in the summer and is close to the most popular nature sites.
If you want more of a city vibe then head for the capital, Oslo. It’s a vibrant modern city which has invested much in culture and the arts; it’s no wonder there’s more than 50 museums here. You can see ‘The Scream’ at the Munch Museum, check out installations at the Nobel Peace Centre and dream of the seas at the Viking Ship Museum. Elsewhere, Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway and is the best place to visit if you love seafood as some of the best seaside restaurants are based here. This place is also known as ‘The Gateway to the Fjords’ so it’s the perfect spot to base yourself.
Scandinavia and the Nordic region may be known for its amazing winter escapes but they equally as beautiful in the summer which is why it makes it the perfect place to escape the football this summer. Which country would be first on your list to visit?