Tag Archives: Nordic

Tips for traveling in Scandinavia in a free guidebook

2017-07-22

The land of the Midnight Sun, long and cold winters, welfare states, high living standard, languages that no one outside Scandinavia can understand, plenty of space and few people. Sure, it is a definition of Scandinavia, but for travelers, the Northernmost region of Europe is much more.

If you want to find out how much more, read Traveling in Scandinavia. It is an ebook that you can download for free.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The guidebook is a selection of travel information, tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included in the book as well.

From the book description:

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Free download.

Sweden: the entire country is open for accommodation bookings on Airbnb

2017-05-24

In the northernmost Nordic countries – Finland, Norway and Sweden – both local people and overseas travelers can enjoy an ancient tradition known as the Everyman’s Rights. It means that you are free to roam and even stay a night on anyone’s land assuming that it is not explicitly forbidden (I have never seen such a thing) and you are moving and staying far enough from homes and farms. There is simply so much space that it actually works fine.

Slottsskogen in Gothenburg, Sweden

Slottsskogen in Gothenburg. Sweden.


Now, Sweden’s tourism marketing organization has realized that with the Everyman’s Rights they have a gem in their hands that is truly an exceptional asset in the whole world (apart from neighbor countries that have the same concept). So, Sweden listed the entire country on Airbnb booking service.

Listing a country to an online booking service is ofcourse a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing, but it is executed with style. And everything, for instance, what the following listing in southern Sweden says about a destination is true. Take a look at the screen shot below.

Sweden listing on Airbnb
Bring your own tent and food, and don’t leave any rubbish when you leave. It is as simple as that. Making fire is a bit more complex issue. In national parks, there are fireplaces – for detailed information what to do in other areas, see the books listed at the end of the article.

Here is a video that tries to explain the beauty of the free roaming concept:

Via New Atlas.

For information on traveling in Sweden, the following visual travel guidebooks can help in planning a trip and making it. The books also include detailed descriptions of the Everyman’s Rights concept – what is allowed and what is not.

Gothenburg and Sweden’s West Coast (Klaava Travel Guide)
Lapland: North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia (Klaava Travel Guide)

Planning a trip to the northernmost region of Europe, Lapland? This is what you need to know

2017-02-23

The northernmost region of Continental Europe, Lapland, is a vast wilderness area where the great outdoors invite people to hike, ski, fish, ride a mountainbike or simply just admire the scenery. Located north of the Arctic Circle, Lapland is also the home of Sami people and their reindeer.

Since Lapland is quite far away from large centers of civilization and distances in the region can be long, it is important to plan ahead and prepare for a trip to the region. The best way to explore the region is to drive, and it shows during the summer when the roads of Lapland see the number of motorhomes, cars and motorbikes considerably increase.
Lapland travel guidebook, book cover image
Some road travelers have a mission to reach Europe’s northernmost place Nordkapp (North Cape), whereas others explore fells, fjords, hiking paths, Sami culture and small towns of Lapland. There is something for everyone, except for those who require big-city sights.

Now, you can plan your Nordic journey with a Klaava Travel Guide titled Lapland – North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia. The book features the sights, destinations, activities, events, wildlife, and everything needed for a successful trip to the north. Special sections for road travelers highlight the best routes and tips for driving in varying conditions.

Information on the book’s availability and prices can be viewed at this page.

Below a few sample pages from the book.

hiking destinations in Lapland (Klaava Travel Guide)
Scenic drives in Lapland (north Finland, Norway, Sweden)
City of Tromsö, Norway in travel guidebook Lapland
Abisko national park in Sweden, Lapland (Klaava Travel Guide)

Even without daylight, mysterious lights glow in Lapland in winter

2016-12-23

The daylight period is short or even non-existent in Lapland during the weeks before and after the solstice, but it doesn’t mean that it is completely dark in winter in the Europe’s northernmost corner. Snow covers the ground in the whole region, efficiently reflecting every beam of light the stars, the moon and other sources emit. Other sources? Yes, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can transform the whole sky into an exciting lightshow in Lapland. Let’s take a look at a photo gallery that shows this phenomenon.

Northern Lights. Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd
The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi (Photo Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd).The Northern Lights in Rovaniemi (Photo Copyright Visit Rovaniemi/Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd)

The Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen  (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).The Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).
NorthernLights, through a glass ceiling. Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic ResortThe most comfortable position to view the Northern Lights in Kakslauttanen (Photo: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort).

Read more about the Northern Lights in this article that also features tips for photographers. A travel guidebook to Lapland is available here.

The most likely places to see the Northern Lights are north of the Arctic Circle. In fact, the light shows are frequent in the north, it is just the weather conditions (clouds) or summer (too much sunlight even in night) that may prevent viewing the lights. It is possible to see the Northern Lights south of the Arctic Circle as well, but the chances are much lower than in the north.

So, where do you travel in order to be inside the Arctic Circle? In Europe, the destination is Lapland. Here is a map where you can see the Arctic Circle. You can also spot the photo locations on the map: Rovaniemi in Finland right on the Arctic Circle, and Kakslauttanen about 250 km / 155 miles north of Rovaniemi (via road).

Map: Lapland, Arctic Circle, Sami region

Sweden’s book city: Gothenburg

2016-12-19

Stockholm is the capital and the most populous city of Sweden, but Gothenburg on the country’s West Coast features the largest annual book show of Scandinavia. Maybe it is simply because Denmark, Germany and Norway are not far away from Gothenburg, or maybe the city has traditions in book business.
bookcrossing, slottsskogen, gothenburg, sweden, europeIn the large park of Slottsskogen near the city center you can find books on trees. It was a rainy day when the photo was taken, so someone must have saved the books from getting wet. The message on the plastic box encourages you to change your book to a new one.
bricks-and-mortar, book shop in Gothenburg
bookstore in gothenburg, sweden
Akademibokhandeln bookstore in gothenburg, sweden west coastBookstores in the city center.

book show, gothenburg, sweden.The annual Book Fair in September in Gothenburg attracts visitors and exhibitors primarily from Scandinavia, Baltic countries and Germany.

If you are planning to travel to Sweden or Gothenburg, it is worth knowing that the West Coast region next to Gothenburg is the second most popular vacation destination for Swedes. This travel guidebook covers the essential places, sights and activities in the city and the region.

Traditional Nordic cooking for contemporary kitchens: Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors

2016-03-24

Maybe Finnish kitchen is not (yet) as renowned as the French or Thai kitchens that can be found in all major cities of the world, but Scandinavian tastes have been discovered by food lovers. Traditional Finnish meals were prepared from ingredients readily available at small farms, lakes, large forests and the sea. It was simple, hearty food.
Sample page from Finnish Cookbook
Even when something already tastes good, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be made even better. That’s what author Marko Päkki has been doing for most of his life. He knows exactly how to cook traditional Finnish food, but he didn’t leave there. He has developed new recipes based on traditional Nordic cooking.

Here is the result: Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors for home chefs who want to try out simple but tasty recipes in their kitchen. Choose from fish, meat, vegetable dishes or prepare a traditional dessert (out of fresh berries, naturally).
Download ebook: Cookbook, traditional food of Finland
Recipes introduced in the book are, for instance, Traditional Baltic Herring Fillet Steak, Chanterelle Bacon Pie. Karelian Stew, and Rainbow Trout with Fruit Salsa.

More information about the book Finnish Cookbook with Modern Flavors here.

Guide to finding, viewing and photographing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

2015-11-29

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is a spectacular phenomenon that occasionally lights up the night sky in the far north. Green, blue, red, violet and many shades of these colors dance in the sky, forming shapes and pulsating almost like living creatures. Seeing the lights is pure magic that no one will forget. There is no photograph or video that can show how impressive the real thing is when the sky lights up. So, here is a guide to finding, viewing and filming the Northern Lights by yourself.

Northern lights are frequently visible north of the Arctic Circle. It is possible, but rare, to see the lights south of the Arctic Circle as well. In the far north, the lights show up regularly, and spotting them is pretty easy if the following key factors have been covered.

aurora borealis, timo newton-syms, Ruka Kuusamo

Photo by Timo Newton-Syms in Ruka resort, Kuusamo

1. Season. In summer, it is not dark enough in the night to see the Northern Lights. The midnight sun sheds light through the night and prevents human eye spotting Aurora Borealis. Autumn, winter and spring are the seasons for Northern Light viewers.

2. Weather. If it is cloudy where you are, the lights give their show to someone else who is admiring it in a place where there are no clouds.

3. City lights. Even though there are not too many large towns north of the Arctic Circle, you want to move away from the brightest city lights if you want to see the full light show.

In northern parts of Lapland, long term statistics show that the Northern Lights phenomenon occurs in three out of four nights. Yet, if you want to increase your odds in seeing the Northern Lights, you need information on two things: the weather (for clear skies) and solar winds (when a strong burst is going to make contact with earth’s atmosphere).

You can find detailed weather forecasts, for instance, for Nordic countries at national meteorological web pages:

Weather forecast for Sweden: www.smhi.se/vadret
Norway: www.yr.no
Finland: en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi

Predicting the time when the Northern Lights appear is based on the sun’s activity. The sun continuously emanates electrons and protons to the space. The flow of these electrically charged particles is known as the solar wind. The wind correlates with bursts of sunspots. When a burst causes strong enough solar winds, the particles arrive in earth’s magnetosphere in one or two days. When it happens, the particles collide with gas in earth’s atmosphere and turn on the colorful lights for the majestic show.

Northern Lights prediction service for Lapland: www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/
Predictions for other regions: spaceweather.com

Viewing the Northern Lights

Viewing the light show is simple: look at the sky. When the Northern Lights are alive, the northern sky is the silver screen for the show. The colorful lights are easily seen by the naked eye, no instruments or aids are required. In order to maximize your viewing area, position yourself so that nothing blocks your view to the northern sky.

The lights are not harmful, they are dancing at the height of 100 km / 62 miles and above from earth. Only an extremely strong solar wind may cause disturbances to sensitive magnetic and electric devices.

You don’t have to search for a particular place where seeing the Northern Lights is supposed to be guaranteed or the views are better than in another place. It doesn’t make a difference if your viewpoint is at the top of a mountain, bottom of a valley, at the yard of a rented cottage or at a car park. Especially in Lapland, ski resorts, hotels, and activity centers like to advertise how their place is the best for viewing the Northern Lights, but in reality, only the previously listed factors matter.

There are hotels, like Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland that has cottages with glass roofs. Then, you don’t have to go out at all, but you can sit on the couch (in the dark) and wait for the light show to start.

Apps and alerts for Northern Lights

Some Nordic national meteorological institutions have public alert systems that send out email messages when the Northern Lights are expected, and a number of ski resorts, like Levi and Ylläs in Finnish Lapland have their own mobile applications that alert of lights. Alert applications that can forecast the appearance of lights in all areas are available for Android and Apple mobile devices.

For Android phones and tablets:

Aurora Alerts

Northern Lights Alerts

For Apple mobile devices:

Aurora Forecast

Northern Lights Alerts

Alerts via Twitter twitter.com/Aurora_Alerts
Web page that shows the situation in Lapland www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/

Photographing the Northern Lights

You can try photographing the rapidly changing lights with an ordinary compact camera or camera phone (choose the night mode), but if you want to capture decent images you need better gear, and you have to know how to use the gear. You need:

– A camera that can take good images in high ISO setting. The higher ISO value you can set, the better your chances are for capturing a sharp image.
– A lens with wide aperture. f2.8 or less is recommended.
– A tripod.
– Spare batteries if you intend to take more than a few pictures in cold climate. Freezing temperatures quickly suck out life from batteries.

Tips for shooting the Northern Lights:

– Set the largest aperture your lens allows.
– Choose the highest ISO value that still provides reasonable image quality.
– Set the focus at infinity. Do it manually. If you can’t, focus on the most distant object you can see.
– Set the exposure time to as short as possible. For instance, if the aperture is f2.8 and ISO value is 800, try exposure time between 4 and 15 seconds.

aurora borealis, carsten frenzl, Kilpisjärvi

Photo by Carsten Frenzl in Kilpisjärvi.

aurora borealis, whatimom, Canada

Photo by Whatimom, in Canada

Art book Glow of the North depicts an enchanting saga of Nordic seasons

2015-08-07

Art book Glow of the North depicts a mystic Nordic saga about the inception of the seasons. A result of multiple artists’ efforts, the book combines visual and textual storytelling. Glow of the North is now available at major online bookstores. Author Inka Tolonen describes how the book was conceived and how the complex project was successfully completed.

book page 7 from Glow of the North

Photo credit Veli-Veikko Elomaa


Glow of the North is an ambitious book. Multiple artists from different fields contributed to the project. How did you get everyone on board?
It took a long time to create a vision for the book because it happened in phases . Every artist had their own motivation to participate and to contribute. I believe working on a book has been a wonderful experience for all artists and a unique opportunity to create something new. Co-operation has been remarkable between all participants.

The book is an exciting combination of visual art, costume design, make-up artistry and poetry. Which one showed the way for the whole book?
For years, the illustrator of the book, Päivi Ruuska, had passionately worked on her costume, jewelry and textile art. During those years, professional photographers had captured a large collection of images of her works. Art photographs that you can view in this book originate from those photo sessions.

In 2013, Päivi Ruuska contacted me and proposed collaboration. We decided to create an art book so that I would write a story that was based on images from her collection. It became my job to pick up the photos and create a story, but we would work on the visual concept and layout together. Our goal was to create a beautifully illustrated and narrated art book.

Images I discovered from Päivi Ruuska’s collection were enchanting, making it difficult for me to pick up the ones for the book. After I had studied the images, I let some time pass by. Then, certain pictures started to draw me towards them, and at the same time, my mind was composing a story: a modern, mystical saga from the North. That was the origin of Glow of the North.

kirjasta Pohjolan hehku, valokuva veli-veikko elomaa

From Glow of the North. Photograph by Veli-Veikko Elomaa

Originally, Glow of the North was written in Finnish. How was the English translation process?
Aino Huotari and Roger Nöel Smith did a great job in translation.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the book was discovered as a souvenir from Finland. I can also envision Glow of the North on a stage of a dance theater along with music that expresses the world of fantasy.

Which books would you recommend to your readers, and what kind of books do you read yourself?
I’d like to mention my next book Haltijat (Fairies) that will be published in 2015. The book introduces the works of Finnish fairy mother and doll artist Tuija Leinonen. Many sensitive and funny true stories along with plenty of fairy images are featured in the book. Today, fairies created by Leinonen live in more than 20 countries.

In addition to art books, I like to read aphorism collections and biographies.

What are you planning to do next?
My next book, Haltijat (Fairies), will be published soon. After that, I will take a break from writing for a large book project.
I am, however, considering writing a series of fairy tales for children. I already have a collection of stories that I wrote when I studied writing. Perhaps my fairy tales will be published one day.

download art book Glow of the North
More information about Glow of the North here, and information on the Finnish edition, which is titled Pohjolan hehku.

How Was Finland Created? Lessons from History

2012-10-12

In 2017, Finland will celebrate its 100th Independence Day. It has been a long and turbulent path to prosperity for this Northern European nation, but today, Finland is a stable democracy.

A Concise History of Finland outlines the key historical events that created the nation. The story of Finland starts from the early Middle Ages, and takes readers to the new challenges set by globalization.