Off the beaten track…

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page,” this may be a clichéd adage but when you really ponder on the idea you would realize that it is, in fact, true. The world is so vast, it would take several lifetimes to explore it in its entirety. So why not start exploring your dream destinations now!!!

Scandinavia is a great option for those who are seeking unbeaten paths. If the most areas in Europe offer scenic extravaganza, Scandinavian countries pack a punch of adventurous Europe along with beauteous panoramas. The kingdoms of Denmark, Norway & Sweden comprise Scandinavia. Visit Norway and you will be mesmerized by its natural wonders like fjords, midnight sun & northern lights, travel to Sweden and soak up the sun in Karlstad, visit Helsinki and get acquainted with Finland's stylish capital, visit Holmenkollen's Ski Museum, which showcases 4,000 years of skiing history. There is so much to do and see in these off-beat destinations that you will be spoilt for choice.

Norway is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. A glance at the map of Europe shows that Norway is a small country in the western part of Scandinavia. To the north, west and south, Norway is bordered by varied seas. It has 25000km of coastline. The entire coastline of Norway presents some of the most visually impressive coastal sceneries in the world. The most noticeable of these are the fjords: deep grooves cut into the land flooded by the sea following the end of the Ice Age. This entire region lies in the polar circle which offers its mountains a crown of snow and mystic beauty. The important aspect of Norway’s natural riches is its glaciers and waterfalls which provide the stunning backdrop of dramatic landscapes throughout the country. No wonder Norway is known world over as the ‘Land of Mother Nature’. From wildlife watching to dog-sledding, Norway offers a multitude of activities. Norway is the perfect choice for those who want to try their hand at skiing. Skiing is Norway’s national sport, and Norwegians’ favourite way of appreciating their stunning and unspoilt landscape. In a land passionate about its history and culture, skiing is one of the most cherished of all traditions. You can also enjoy cycling on a remote island in the midnight sun, on a path beneath a mountain plunging into a fjord, or get your adrenalin pumping going downhill. From the Oslofjord to Northern Norway, road cycling offers scenic landscapes, well maintained roads and little traffic. Dog sledging is a popular winter activity. You can even go dog sledging on wheels in the summer. Hiking too is a widely liked activity in Norway. There is a network of well maintained, marked trails and cabins all over Norway, which enables hikers to have a good time.

The next Scandinavian country, Denmark, is one of the happiest nations on earth with the best quality of life. Beyond the capital and the bigger cities, Denmark offers a mix of lively towns plus rural countryside, medieval churches, Renaissance castles and tidy 18th-century villages. Neolithic dolmen, preserved 2000-year-old ‘bog people’, and impressive Viking ruins are just some of the remnants of the nation’s long and fascinating history. Top it off with a rich, well-preserved cultural heritage and the Danes legendary sense of design and architecture, and you have one intriguing holiday destination. There is a myriad of things to do in Denmark. Visit the Tivoli Gardens of Copenhagen. Situated in the heart of the city, Tivoli is a charming combination of amusement rides, flower gardens, food pavilions, carnival games and open-air stage shows. Dating from 1843, the entertainment park is Denmark’s most popular attraction. Tivoli Gardens boasts one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world that is still in operation. Called "Rutsjebanen", the wooden coaster was built in Malmo almost a hundred years ago, in 1914. Other highlights among the many rides are a modern zero-G coaster, a flight simulator named Vertigo, and Himmelskibet, the world's tallest carousel. Tivoli is fun by day but in the evening it takes on a more romantic mood as the thousands of specially made fairy lights are switched on and a wide range of cultural activities take place, from theatrical performances to pantomime and part of the Copenhagen Jazz Festival concerts. For the architecture buffs, a visit to see the statue of the Little Mermaid is a must. The most famous mermaid statue of them all, with a number of copies around the world, the statue of The Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, sitting on a rock at Langelinie in the harbor of Copenhagen, is one of the major tourist attractions in Copenhagen.

Last but not the least, Sweden, the largest of the Nordic countries, is separated in the west from Norway by a range of mountains and shares the Gulf of Bothnia to the north of the Baltic Sea with Finland. Having long remained outside military alliances (including both World Wars), the country has a high peace profile. Sweden houses the Nobel Prize committee for all the prizes except the peace prize, which is hosted in Oslo. Truth be told, the best thing about Sweden is its natural beauty. But to really appreciate this country’s charms, you have to leave the city behind, whether that means sailing across an archipelago to visit an island or two, or trekking along a kingly trail through the northern wilderness. Hiking, camping, cycling, skiing, boating, fishing and foraging for mushrooms and berries are all major Swedish pastimes, and it’s easy to get in on the action from just about any place in the country. Frozen wastelands, cosy cottages, virgin forests, rocky islands, reindeer herders and Viking lore – Sweden has all that and much more.

Along with the Scandinavian countries Russia also allures with its charm. Russia is a vast country, both geographically as well as culturally. From its diverse landscapes of icy tundra and sun-kissed beaches, dense silver birch and fir forests and deep and mysterious lakes, snow-capped mountains and swaying grasslands, Russia is a country worth exploring. Consider its ancient fortresses, luxurious palaces, swirly spired churches and lost-in-time wooden villages and you’ll begin to see why Russia is simply amazing.

So whether it's walking along charming streets in Bergen, sailing through vast fjords, cycling around idyllic islands or sun-bathing on serene beaches you'll undoubtedly be left with a multitude of picturesque memories from this once in a lifetime experience. So what are you waiting for? Get planning your Scandinavian adventure with Russian extravaganza.

Team Veena World