back to top

We’ve updated our privacy notice and cookie policy. Learn more about cookies, including how to disable them, and find out how we collect your personal data and what we use it for.

21 Things You Realize When You Visit Scandinavia

Prepare for seafood, hot people, and drinking.

Posted on

1. Finland and Iceland are NOT part of Scandinavia.

They're both great countries, but Finland and Iceland aren't technically Scandinavian. Yeah, they're considered Nordic, but not Scandinavian. That's reserved for the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

2. Seafood is such a thing.

Seriously. Mackerel for breakfast. Salmon for lunch. Lutefisk for dinner. They even have caviar in a tube. IN A TUBE.

3. And bread? ALL THE TIME.

Hope you like open-faced sandwiches because they are EVERYWHERE. Expect a meal of bread with some cheese (and if you're lucky, brown cheese), a protein like ham or salmon, maybe some of their tube caviar and extras like veggies and eggs. And if you're in Denmark, make sure you check out some rugbrød.


4. Or just sandwich cakes.

In Sweden, feel free to dig into a smorgastorta aka a cake that's literally layers of sandwiches.

5. Skiing is super duper important.

Flickr: trysil / Creative Commons

Especially in Norway, where skiing was invented. There's regular skiing, cross country skiing, ski jumping, and the biathlon, in which competitors cross country ski and casually stop to shoot rifles at targets because that is a normal sport.

7. Drinking is a favorite hobby. Drugs? Not so much.

Every holiday is basically a chance to drink. Is it because it's cold? And dark? And quiet? Who cares? In Norway, they even have a word for getting absolutely hammered on the weekends, helgefylla. But drugs don't have the same kind of acceptance that alcohol does — expect some head shakes if you mention marijuana.


8. Scandinavians know how to vacation.

25 days? Is this a JOKE? That's the fucking MINIMUM. Oh and in Sweden, men MUST take two months of paid paternity leave. No wonder these are the happiest countries in the world.

10. There's lots of snow, but even more rain.

And people just carry along as if rain doesn't affect anything at all.


12. In the winter, the sun goes bye bye. In the summer, there is daylight forever.

Your clock is 'bout to be so messed up, bro.

13. Don't be surprised if your waiter has three degrees.

Flickr: jonassmith / Creative Commons

Education is free. FREE. What does that mean? A literacy rate of 99-100%. You even get healthcare (thanks, Obama) and gender equality is actually kind of a thing! Though thanks to high taxes (even though minimum wage is upwards of $20 per hour), Scandinavian countries still top lists of most expensive places to live and visit.

14. Minimalism is still all the rage.

You know why everything looks so clean in Scandinavia? Because they are so over the clutter. Keep it white, keep it clean, keep it fresh.

15. People like to eat at home.

Families actually eat meals together. At a table. Talking to each other. And if they do go out, expect it to be for a decent meal. Copenhagen basically has all of the Michelin-rated restaurants ever.


16. Graduating is way more fun.

In Norway, they wear red pants and travel around getting wasted. In Sweden, they wear sailor caps and travel around getting wasted. In Denmark, they wear whatever they want and travel around getting wasted. I sense a recurring theme here...

18. Festivals are weird and fantastic.

Flickr: ulfbodin / Creative Commons

Sweden's midsummer festival includes dancing around a maypole and singing children's songs. Girls wear flower crowns and apparently pick seven different kinds of flowers to put under their pillow at night. That night, they'll dream about their future husbands.

It's also a great excuse for Swedes to drink heavily in nice weather.