You don't have to travel far to explore extraordinary locations that could combat some of the world's most-visited destinations...
Yearning to visit some of the world’s most iconic destinations but can’t be bothered to sit hours on end on a plane or go elbowing your way through thick crowds? Look no further than the Nordics, where you can find a host of “dupes” for some of the most popular locations and attractions across the globe.
Aside from bearing resemblance and an atmosphere akin to their famous counterparts, many of these local destinations have become increasingly sought-after due to being true hidden gems, more affordable to travel to and less congested. Plus, you will avoid the scorching heat wave that is likely to sweep through many of the original locations again come summer.
Read on to discover the top 10 Scandinavian destination doppelgängers to explore this year.
Drottningholm Palace, Sweden
Skip the crowds and queues at the Palace of Versailles and head to Sweden’s iteration of an equally stunning site: the Drottningholm Palace. The private residence of the Swedish royal family, the Drottningholm Palace is just a 20-minute drive from Stockholm, which makes it a perfect destination for an effortless and fun day trip. The palace’s sprawling, enchanting park is open for visitors all year round, while guests are also allowed a peek inside the residence during selected days. If you’d like to delve deeper into the palace’s history and its residents, be sure to book a guided tour to make the most out of your visit.
Högakustenbron (The High Coast Bridge), Sweden
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco remains one of the most well-known bridges in the world, admired for its architectural beauty. A similar majestic landmark can be found in Ångermanland in northern Sweden, where Högakustenbron (The High Coast Bridge), courtesy of architect Mats Edblom, crosses the mouth of the river Ångermanälven. Modelled after the Golden Gate, Högakustenbron, upon its completion in 1997, became the world’s ninth-longest suspension bridge, spanning almost two kilometres.
Surrounded by breathtaking views overlooking the pristine river and the deep green forests, Högakustenbron is worth visiting any time of the year. For those looking to explore the area even further, multiple cosy hotels are located near the bridge.
Croatia has much to offer holiday-goers, and its seaside city, Dubrovnik, has become one of the country’s most-visited destinations due to its rich history, well-preserved medieval architecture and captivating coastal scenery. However, there is a place in our very own region that possesses the same charm and historical appeal: Sweden’s Visby. Located on the island of Gotland, Visby is a quaint and alluring medieval town, also dubbed as the “fairytale town” of Sweden. Think narrow, winding cobblestone streets, striking medieval churches, lush parks and mesmerising views of the Baltic Sea.
Upon visiting the Kullaberg Nature Reserve in Skåne, southwest Sweden, one is reminded of the dramatic cliffs, rugged hill ranges and crystal clear waters that make up a lot of Spanish island Mallorca’s landscape. While the temperatures won’t climb as high as in Spain (which is also a good thing), Kullaberg offers similar activities to the ones in Mallorca, such as hiking along beautiful trails, taking a dip in rock pools, diving, rock climbing and golfing.
Are you searching for a destination as lively and vibrant as Amsterdam, where cycling reigns supreme, and you can enjoy a boat ride along a picturesque canal? Consider a trip to Copenhagen’s Nyhavn district. Its colourful, 17th-century quayside townhouses, buzzy restaurant, café and entertainment scene alongside the iconic canal that cuts through the heart of the district create a vibe similar to Amsterdam, making Nyhavn a must-visit for those who love the Dutch capital.
Råbjerg Mile, Denmark
Råbjerg Mile in Skagen, northern Denmark, is probably one of the most unique sights in Scandinavia. Covering roughly an area of one square kilometre, it is the largest migrating sand dune in northern Europe, moving around 15 metres towards the Northeast each year. For those contemplating a journey to North Africa to explore the Sahara Desert but hesitating due to long flight hours and sweltering heat, Råbjerg Mile offers a compelling alternative for a less intense (and more cost-effective) dune experience.
Kronborg Castle, Denmark
Puerto Rico’s renowned citadel and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, has been a coveted tourist attraction for centuries, embodying the country’s colourful history. Its Nordic counterpart can be found in Helsingør, Denmark, where the famous Kronborg Castle is situated. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Renaissance castle and fortress, built in 1420, is sometimes referred to as Hamlet’s Castle, as it is the setting of Shakespeare’s iconic play, Hamlet. Much like Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Kronborg Castle has played an essential role in Denmark’s history, protecting the country when it needed it the most.
Did you know that on the west coast of Norway, there’s a city that resembles Italy’s Venice? Ålesund, where mountains and fjords meet the ocean, stands out as one of Norway’s hidden gems for tourists. One of the city’s most distinctive features is its unique and beautiful art nouveau (Jugendstil) style architecture, characterised by colourful buildings with ornate details. While the buildings in Venice predominantly showcase the Venetian Gothic style, it’s the vibrant colours, coupled with the meandering canal that winds through the town, that evoke the essence of the Italian city.
New Zealand is a true outdoor paradise, adorned with breathtaking locations scattered across its two islands. Among the most magical spots is Milford Sound, a fiord nestled in Fiordland National Park. While Milford Sound offers an extraordinary experience, you don’t have to traverse the globe to encounter similar settings. Geirangerfjord in Sunnmøre, Norway, showcases the country’s nature at its best with its deep blue waters, wild waterfalls, and towering snow-capped mountains. Much like Milford Sound, visitors to Geirangerfjord can partake in various activities, including hiking, kayaking, swimming, and even fishing with local fishermen.
Nidaros Cathedral, Norway
Westminster Abbey in London is undeniably one of the most famous churches globally; however, a remarkably similar counterpart exists in the heart of the Norwegian city of Trondheim. Completed in 1300, Nidaros Cathedral is the world’s northernmost Gothic medieval cathedral, boasting the same architectural style as Westminster Abbey. Featuring pointed arches, ribbed vaults, rose windows, and medieval sculptures and statues, Nidaros Cathedral is certainly an architectural masterpiece, echoing the grandeur of Westminster Abbey.