Catch the Wild North
Iceland isn't the only place to revel in Nordic madness. Once the rest of Scandinavia has made it through another winter, the residents start to vibrate...they grin...they regress...and turn positively Viking. All you need to know is where and how to tap
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THE TRIP: Take a guided four-day, 75-mile trek on the Peer Gynt Trail, which winds between the Jotunheimen and Rondane mountains northwest of Lillehammer, with Borton Overseas (800-843-0602; www.bortonoverseas.com). Offered in July and August, $2,040 per person, including round-trip airfare from New York or Boston to Oslo. Or bust out on your own in Jotunheimen National Park, 458 square miles of soaring granite peaks, glaciers, alpine lakes, and evergreens in south-central Norway. The park contains more than 500 miles of marked hiking trails and 16 backcountry lodges maintained by the Norwegian Mountain Touring Association (www.dntoa.no). THE HUB: Canyoneering, mountain biking, rafting, fly-fishing—you’ll find it all in Voss, the Boulder of Norway, 160 miles northwest of Oslo. For outfitter information, contact Voss Promotion (011-47-56-52-08-00; www.visitvoss.no). Book a room at the Rondo Hotel (011-47-56-53-10-00; www.rondo.no), which caters to a crowd that didnít come for the cable TV. Doubles run $75 per person, including breakfast. THE EVENT: The Arctic Sea Kayak Race (www.askr.no), a 120-mile race around the Vesteralen archipelago, plus a noncompetitive midnight paddle, July 22-26.
THE TRIP Celebrate the longest day of the year—June 21, known as midsommar and observed with Mardi Gras-like parties throughout Sweden—by sea kayaking the Bohuslän archipelago on Sweden’s western shore. On this five-day trip with Crossing Latitudes (800-572-8747; www.crossinglatitudes.com), you’ll paddle the North Sea, exploring timbered inlets and outlying pink-granite islands. Home base is Tofta GŒrd, a dairy farm converted into a B&B. Offered June 17-23; $1,450 per person. THE HUB: Make Grebbestad, 75 miles north of Göteborg, your kayaking epicenter. Rent a boat and gear at Kajakcenter (011-46-525-109-30; www.kajakcenter.com) and head for the islands just off the coast. Under the terms of the medieval act Allemansrätten— “every manís right”—you can camp on any of them, as long as you leave no trace. THE EVENT: Gotland—an island in the Baltic Sea—for Medieval Week, August 4-11. Imagine your local Renaissance Fair, but set in Visby, a fortressed, ninth-century city—and with much better vodka (www.gotland.net).
THE TRIP: Equestrian guide Jorma Patosalmi’s family has lived in the Kuusamo region of Finland for more than 400 years, which makes him plenty qualified to lead you through southern Lapland’s Oulanka National Park. On Patosalmi’s five-day horseback tour on the 56-mile Bear Ring Trail, you’ll canter along the sandy banks of the Oulanka and Kitka Rivers. The rugged terrain and long distances (up to six hours in the saddle each day) make this trip best for those with riding experience. Horses North (888-686-6784; www.horsesnorth.com) and Equitours (800-545-0019; www.ridingtours.com) represent Patosalmi and offer the trip June-August, with prices starting at $965 per person. THE HUB: The 6,500-island archipelago of Aland (www.goaland.net) serves up the country’s best sporting smorgasbord: canoeing, kayaking, biking, hiking, and fly-fishing. The Aland Island tourist bureau (011-358-18-240-00; email@example.com) can set you up with a fishing guide, sailboat captain, or escargot expert (snail safaris are big here). Book a waterfront cottage from Längvikens Stugor (011-35-81-84-82-97) for $30 per night. THE EVENT: Crew on a dragon-class sailboat in the 2002 Dragon Gold and Baltic Cups, August 7-16 (register at www.segel.aland.fi).
THE TRIP: Not cycling in Denmark is like not kissing in Paris. The country (population 5.2 million) has more bicycles than people, and its flat meadows and gently rolling hills render even middling cyclists capable of 40-mile days. On the 203-mile, self-guided Ten Islands in Ten Days tour from ScanTours (800-223-7226; www.scantours.com) you’ll pedal the isles of southern Denmark and stop to skinny-dip in the cool blue Baltic. ScanTours provides seven-speed hybrid bikes, route maps, hotel reservations, and luggage transfer. Offered June-August; from $1,140 per person. THE HUB: Copenhagen welcomes bikes (96 percent of the streets have bike lanes) and offers ample opportunities to get wet: windsurfing, sailing, canoeing, and kayaking. Try Nautic Surf & Ski (011-45-32-84-83-00) for windsurfing; Elida Rederiet (011-45-45-57-07-24) for sailing or fishing. Stay at the hostel Bel3/4gningen (011-45-36-77-90-84; www.belaegningen.dk), six miles from downtown. You’ll find ample bike parking (and rentals) and double rooms for $43-$54 per person. THE EVENT: Get your Americana mojo back at the annual Fourth of July bash at Rebild Bakker National Park. Listen to folk and reggae bands, watch the midnight fireworks display, and pitch your tent at Safari Camping (011-45-98-39-11-10) in the park (www.rebild.org).