For the perpetually overworked, getting away from it all normally involves lazy days on the beach and the chance to enjoy a week or two somewhere warm and sunny.
So Scandinavia – a place more famous for its high prices and chilly climate – might seem like an unusual place for rest and relaxation.
But this is a surprisingly stress-free part of the world to vacation in, with none of the crowds that can make Europe’s more popular destinations a bit of a headache to visit.
Feeling stressed? Need a fresh perspective on life? Here’s are 5 reasons why a Scandi getaway might be just what the doctor ordered.
1. Nature is everywhere
Studies show that spending time surrounded by nature can improve your mental health, staving off feelings of stress and anger.
In Scandinavia, you never have to travel far to find yourself surrounded by tall pines, or enjoying some life-affirming view. Even if you stay in Stockholm, the biggest city in all of Scandinavia, you’ll have thousands of beautiful islands right on your doorstep.
2. There’s space to think – and to breathe
Parts of Scandinavia have less than a single inhabitant per square kilometer of land. Make no mistake, you can find tranquility here if you need it.
But you don’t have to wander off into the wilderness to have your mind and lungs de-cluttered. Scandi capitals like Helsinki and Stockholm have been named among the world’s cleanest capitals, with good air quality helped by nifty cycle lanes and an obsession with pedal power.
And for some reason – blame it on Scandinavian design, if you like – even built-up areas can seem strangely calm.
3. Looking after yourself is normal
Whether it’s sweating it out in a sauna, going for a dip in an icy-blue lake, or cosying up with a good book by candlelight, many Scandinavians make wellness a part of everyday life.
Outdoor activities are particularly important, and the huge shift in seasons – from bitterly cold winters to surprisingly warm summers – means that pretty much anything goes, from dog-sledding to beach volleyball.
4. You’ll get a new perspective
This one comes in two different flavours. There’s the big bucket-list stuff, like seeing the northern lights and going skiing under the midnight sun. And then there are those little everyday things that will help you see things in a new light.
It could be a group of dads playing with their kids in the park on a work day (thanks, generous shared parental leave!) or locals finishing work at 4pm, as if they’ve got hobbies and friends and other more important things to attend to. Either way, you’ll leave feeling that another way is possible.
5. There are some incredible places to stay
Scandinavia is home to some of the strangest, coolest and most relaxing places to stay anywhere on Earth.
Seriously, where else can you sleep in an igloo, camp wild for free under a canopy of stars, or wake up high above the forest floor in a treehouse shaped like a UFO? And that’s before you add in all of the castles, lighthouses and floating hotels dotted around the place. You can see more of Scandinavia’s best places to stay here.