Travel Sustainably in Scandinavia
You’ll soon be travelling to Scandinavia and we’re here to help you get prepared in the best way possible.
Scandinavia usually refers to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. But we’re also including Finland here as it’s one of our lovely destinations and a neighbouring country in the region.
Whether you’ll be visiting one of these countries, or all of them combined, it’s good to keep in mind the importance of preserving it all for future generations to enjoy.
At Nordic Visitor, we believe in doing our part for the planet and our local environments. For that reason, we want to encourage you to do the same when visiting our beloved region.
That said, sustainable travel is not just about conserving the environment. It’s also about supporting local economies and having a positive impact on the local communities.
On this page, you’ll find some friendly suggestions on how you can do your part.
Packing for your visit to Scandinavia
Arrive in Sweden, Norway or Finland prepared to be as green as possible by bringing a couple of items from home, including reusable water bottles and shopping bags. This way, you can save money and be environmentally friendly all at once.
The drinking water in the region is clear and pure. That means it’s safe to drink the tap water and you can refill your bottle as you go.
When it comes to shopping bags, shops in Scandinavia are required by law to charge you for them. So an easy way for you to reduce the amount of waste from your holiday and save money is to bring a reusable shopping bag with you. Win-win situation!
Making the most of the local cultures
Visit Scandinavian nature and you’ll see more than shining fjords, tumbling waterfalls and lush fields. You’ll also discover a culture rooted in Nordic and Viking heritage. While similar to each other, these countries and their people have developed their own festivals, traditions and tasty food.
By supporting the local cultures, you’ll embrace your Swedish, Danish, Finnish or Norwegian experience while making a positive impact on the economy and people.
1. Shop local for souvenirs
If you plan on buying souvenirs, why not purchase items made locally? Here are some suggestions:
- Wooden Dala horse – this is the symbol of Sweden and a great craft object to bring home.
- Candy – you might already know, but the locals love their black licorice. Make sure to try it and take some home if you have Scandinavian tastes.
- Knitted wool items – you could purchase jumpers or mittens handknitted by locals.
- Sámi jewellery – pick up some of these fancy accessories while in Lapland or the north of Norway.
When buying souvenirs, try to look at the origins of the product to see if they are local or not. You can also ask the vendor. For example, on many local products in Finland you’ll find a key-shaped Finnish flag, so you can be on the lookout for that symbol when purchasing souvenirs here.
2. Don’t remove natural items from the landscape
Please keep in mind that in the Scandinavian nations you are not allowed to remove stones, plants, rocks or other natural items from protected areas.
3. Eat local
An easy way to support the economy while travelling is to eat out at local restaurants. You need to eat, after all! We recommend especially looking for menus that feature local, seasonal produce.
The Scandinavian countries produce a variety of food products, including fresh fish, meat and dairy products. There are also some crops that come from Sweden and Denmark. We highly recommend visiting farm shops where you can purchase locally grown fruits and berries.
4. Attend Scandinavian events
Going to festivals and special events hosted in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki or further afield is a great way to soak up the local cultures.
5. Be respectful of local traditions and customs
When visiting cultural and historical sites, remember to be mindful of the importance these sites have for locals. Sometimes they represent their culture and hundreds of years of tradition and are great sources of pride.
Using sustainable transportation
1. Walk around if you can
All 3 Scandinavian capitals, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo, as well as Helsinki are easy to get around on foot. Wandering the enchanting streets of the old city centres is also a great way to explore. Your accommodation is likely to be central so you can access restaurants and shops.
2. Hop on public transport
Public transport is an easy, cheap, and sustainable way to travel around Scandinavian cities. All capitals as well as Bergen offer extensive routes with buses and trams.
3. Drive gently to be more eco-efficient
If you are going on a self-drive tour, there is still a way for you to be more sustainable if you want. The easiest way to limit the fuel consumption of your vehicle is to drive gently, evenly, and smoothly. Acceleration and braking require more energy, so avoid sharp acceleration and abrupt braking. Try maintaining a constant speed to be more economical and eco-friendly.
Conserving the natural environment
One of the main attractions in Scandinavia is the incredible natural scenery, and there is lots you can do or keep in mind to help during your trip.
1. Leave no trace behind
The Scandinavian region is known for its unspoiled and clean nature. Help keep it this way by putting your litter in bins and recycling if possible. If there are no bins where you are visiting, take your rubbish back with you to your accommodation so you can dispose of it there.
2. Don’t go off-road driving
Driving and parking sensibly will help preserve the natural landscapes. Keep to marked roads and parking spots and do not create an obstruction.
3. Hike along marked trails
Hiking is a great way to discover more of the natural scenery of Norway, Sweden and Finland. You’ll find many beautiful hiking trails of all levels and through a variety of landscapes.
Good to know is that these 3 nations provide visitors and locals with the freedom to roam. This means you are welcome to roam around the natural landscape, go hiking, enjoy nature, swim in lakes and pick berries.
Please be aware that you are not allowed to pick protected species or to remove items from national parks or nature reserves. You are also not allowed to swim in lakes within nature reserves or where there are bird sanctuaries.
The main principle to keep in mind on your journey is “do not disturb and do not destroy”.
For your safety, and to conserve the natural environment, always follow advice from park rangers and directions from safety signs. If marked paths are available, please use these.
4. Be mindful when visiting national parks and protected areas
You need to show extra consideration to the natural environment when visiting national parks and protected areas.
Some sites in national parks may have restricted access during wildlife nesting and breeding seasons. Make sure to honour these restrictions so as not to disturb the wildlife.
5. Observe wildlife without disturbing it
When visiting Scandinavia and going wildlife spotting, your goal should be quiet observation. To not disturb the different species, we recommend you do not make quick movements or loud noises.
You should also try keeping your distance. A recommended 200 metres (700 feet) is ideal. This is especially true if you’re out hiking and come upon animals.
When meeting farm animals, please respect farmers' advice. If they are out in fields, do not pet them or feed them.
Carbon offsetting your trip
If you are interested in carbon offsetting your trip, you can do so through Sustainable Travel International. What does carbon offsetting mean? Trees will be planted to offset the carbon emissions produced by your trip.
Sustainable Travel International also funds projects to reduce CO2 emissions, like generating renewable energy or increasing energy efficiency. They support farmers in the region who want to practice sustainable harvesting, help restore wetlands, and much more.
If you’re looking for more resources, you can also check out our Norway and Lapland travel guides. Here you’ll find information on weather conditions, health and safety, what to pack and other useful tips to prepare for your trip.
By travelling in a sustainable way you are helping us preserve our countries so that future generations can also enjoy visiting.