Like moths to a flame, Britons tend to go south in the summer, rather than north. The reasons are obvious. If tanning is your priority, why would you choose a holiday destination even further from the equator than the UK? Alternatives to the Mediterranean also tend to be more expensive, while their kitchens may lack the same mass appeal as, for example, Spain and Italy (do you think of herring or patatas bravas?)
Yet, as Europe frees itself from its Covid bubble, the Nordic countries have a certain attractiveness. Not only have they been much less restrictive during the pandemic, with Covid passes and masks – both adopted with zeal in the likes of France and Italy – relatively unusual, but the rules they have thrown away quickly.
Last week, Norway dropped the tests for vaccinated arrivals and reopened its border for travelers who have not made a jump start taking a test. From tomorrow, Denmark will also make it easier for foreign arrivals – at the same time as all requirements for wearing masks are scrapped.
Expect the trend to continue. When I asked a group of experts about their predictions last week, they unanimously agreed that the Scandinavian countries would be the first to follow Britain to the “old normal” sunlit highlands.
For families with unvaccinated teenagers (and data show that only 12 percent of Britons aged 12-15 have received two doses), a Nordic holiday is a much simpler proposal for our old favorites in the Mediterranean. Unjabbed teenagers can not visit Spain at all, even with a negative test or proof of recovery, while Italy’s Covid passport system means they can not enter restaurants or other indoor venues. But Sweden, for example, exempts under 18s from all restrictions, as long as they travel with vaccinated parents. Its neighbors have a similar welcoming policy when it comes to children.
As for the lack of heat, you may be surprised. A few years ago, I spent a week in the summer exploring Norway’s Lofoten. They are located inside the Arctic Circle, on the same latitude as the Canadian territory of Nunavut, a country occupied by little but ice, Inuit and polar bears, and the Russian city of Murmansk, where temperatures routinely drop below -30C. However, the Gulf Stream makes the climate relatively mild, sometimes reaching 20C in the summer. I even enjoyed a place to sunbathe and a (very quick) dip in the sea. It goes without saying that it is milder even further south, sometimes above 30C on the beaches of southern Sweden and Denmark.
So, for anyone who is tempted to reconfigure their compass this summer, we have described the current rules in the five major Nordic countries together with holiday suggestions from Telegraph Travel’s 1,000 dream trips.
If you are fully vaccinated, you can travel into Sweden for any reason without having to test yourself or self-isolate yourself. If you are not vaccinated, you may only travel into Sweden under a limited number of circumstances and with proof of a negative test. You can, for example, enter if you are unvaccinated but have proof of recovery and travel from another EU / EEA country, for example Ireland. A complete list of exceptions is available here.
Children (under the age of 18) who accompany fully vaccinated adults are exempt from all travel restrictions, including testing.
Masks are not mandatory in any environment, but are recommended on public transport during hectic times. Although people may be asked to show proof of vaccination at major venues and events, Covid passes are not widely used.
Where to go
Sweden’s beautiful south: Skåne and Malmö
Skåne has it all: wild sandy beaches that compete with Cornwalls; small, beautiful port cities; infinitely undulating landscape; and a serious food scene with artisan producers and innovative chefs at the center. The most obvious place to start a trip is the region’s capital Malmö. Gamla Stan’s design district is perfect for home stores and galleries; the St Knut neighborhood is full of cafes; and Malmö Saluhall is crowded with locals. Go north to hike in Kullabergs nature reserve and kayak around the peninsula, where you can see sea seals and porpoises. The Sofiero Palace, known for its stunning display of dahlias and rhododendrons, is a must for garden lovers. And do not miss the wonderful green island of Ven, a 30-minute ferry ride from Landskrona where you can rent a bike and spend the day exploring alleys lined with picturesque cottages and happy sunflowers.
Find out more about this dream trip.