"Northern Europe Travel Guide"
Northern Europe Travel Guide Estonia The northernmost of the three Baltic States, Estonia has fared well since the break up of the Soviet Union. When in the capital Tallinn you notice right away that people are doing well especially with their hospitality towards visitors. For the visitor Estonia offers some nice natural parks, a few old towns, some remains from the Middle Ages and a lot of islands just off the coast. Tallinn is a beautiful medieval old city, comparable to Prague with its multitude of spires and orange-tiled rooftops. Tallinn is also just a few hours' ferry trip from Helsinki, Finland: perfect for a day trip. Finland Finland is a northern European country of four seasons for the discerning traveler, not a land of mass tourism. Summer season in Helsinki, winter at the skiing centers in Lapland and few happenings all year round temp enough people to make it a crowd, otherwise you can enjoy the space and silence in the pure northern nature. During the winter months you can have a skiing holiday or visit the Santa Claus and take a reindeer tour. Summer offers you a wide variety of activity from trekking to urban holidays, or you can simply relax at a hidden summer cottage with a sauna near a lake. Besides the mainland with vast forests and thousands of lakes separated by few agricultural and urban areas, the Baltic Sea with widespread archipelagos offers plenty of possibilities for sailing and fishing. Helsinki and few other places are worth of visiting throughout the year. Finland has a high standard of living, comparable to Scandinavian countries, facilities are good and especially the telecommunications are next to none in the world. Iceland Iceland was settled in the 9th century by Norse vikings. The first settlement to last was that of Ingolfur Arnarson in Reykjavik. This is where most of the people of Iceland live. Reykjavik has a bustling nightlive, an exciting arts scene, and offers visitors the opportunity to explore the countryside in short trips to areas such as Thingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir. If you are interested in nature, Iceland is a great place to visit. In the summer, many companies offer guided bus trips that will take you around the country. You can also take the bus by yourself and go on hikes near places such as Thorsmoerk, Snaefellsjoekull, and more. Another alternative is to ride horseback across the highlands. Additional Notes: The terrain in Iceland is so rugged due to centuries of volcanic activity, this is where the US tested their lunar landing module that eventually drove on the moon! Also because of Norse woodcutting and volcanic activity, there are virtually no trees on the island! There is one small "forest" that is a national landmark. Word has it that Leif Ericsson named Iceland and Greenland like he did to get explorers to go to Greenland (only to find millions of square miles of ice). Iceland, though Greenland's neighbor, benefits from the gulf and jet streams. The warmest it got in my year there was 60F and the coldest was 0F. However, the wind blows almost constantly and reaches 100 mph (sustained for a day or two)! I had a friend who broke her leg when an empty dumpster rolled over her like a box blowing in the wind! Participate in a UST Trail Team for a great summer experience and to see the best of Iceland, cheaply: no participation fee, food, accomodation and travel fees paid for during project. Fits in well with most University's summer holiday but you will be camping alot and involves alot of physical activity! Ireland Located in northwestern Europe, the Republic of Ireland is bordered by the United Kingdom, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Irish Sea. It is a land steeped in history, but not particularly well endowed with historical marvels. Ireland is known for its misty green countryside, its culture and tradition (including legends and folklores), and its warm- hearted and friendly people. The Hibernia of yore, Ireland was too cold and bleak a country for the Romans to colonize. However, the native Celtic people continued to worship the sun till they were converted to Christianity by St. Patrick in the 5th century. The invasions by the Vikings in the 9th century and by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century were two significant events in Irish history. The British began concerted efforts to colonize Ireland in the 17th century but succeeded only a century later. Ireland united with Britain as part of the United Kingdom by Act of Union in 1801. The potato famine of 1845-1849 and the Easter Rising of 1916 were two other turning points in Irish history. In 1921, the Irish Free State was born as a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, though six northern counties which had a Protestant majority voted to stay part of the United Kingdom. The Irish Free State adopted a psuedo republican constitution in 1936 and was renamed Eire. It remained neutral during the Second World War. In 1949, it declared itself as the Republic of Ireland and withdrew from the Commonwealth. It joined the European Economic Community in 1973, now the European Union. Norway You need only have a quick glance at a map of Norway to guess where the main attractions are: that jagged coastline is home to Norway's world famous Fjords. Almost 22,000 kilometers of dramatic coastline, glacial melting waters plunging down cliffs into fjords more than 100 kilometers long, tens of thousands of islands and skerries, and none of it is off limits. If the outdoors is where you feel comfortable, and if you would rather not stand in line to look at nature, welcome to Norway! Located on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northwest Europe, Norway's geography is a constant reminder of the last Ice Age. In the central high plateaus of Southern Norway, the alpine terrain culminates at the peaks of Glittertind (2470m.) and Galdhøpiggen (2469m.). Several glaciers, most famous of which are Jostedalsbreen and Svartisen ("The Black Ice") are present day remains of ice that carved the many deep fjords and left behind fertile valleys with meandering rivers. Although home to the northern tip of Europe--Nordkapp, or North Cape--the country enjoys a mild climate for its latitude, in part due to the warm currents from the Gulf of Mexico. Apart from its awe inspiring fjords (the biggest of which are Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord), popular sights are the Lofoten islands, the beautiful Sørlandet (the South Coast), and the many charming towns and cities, most of which are found along water's edge. Norway is home to 4.5 million people, and occupies an area of 323.759 square kilometers. Sweden Being the largest of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden offers you many opportunities for cultural and outdoor activities. Visit the cities and explore the country's glorious past or the life in a cosmopolitan and modern society. If you need rest from the hectic city life, just leave for the countryside, and vast forests, 90000 lakes, mountains and the beautiful sea await you. Though on the outskirts of Europe, Sweden was never a culturally outpost. The reigning royalty often invited foreign artists to their courts and also stimulated the development of local artists. Furthermore the Swedish developed their own traditions in design, painting and architecture. Gothenburg City hall was a widely followed example of traditionalistic architecture. United Kingdom The United Kingdom is formed by England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and has been called the biggest small country on Earth due to its sheer diversity. In this site the different islands in the Irish Sea and those North of Scotland are also taken into consideration. Each of these regions has a very distinct identity and you should not call a Welshman English or vice versa. The United Kingdom has too many sites to mention. Though detached from the continent of Europe by only a few miles of water, Britain is permeated by a strong sense of its cultural separateness. Everything is different here: measures, traffic, customs and food. Life in Britain retains an extravagant continuity with a past that has little in common with its European sisters and brothers acpean unity, many citizens still have problems not only with accepting the European idea, but also with defining the concept of the United Kingdon itself. Northern Ireland is the most intractable aspect of national identity, but also Wales and Scotland have a long tradition of independent nationhood and autonomous cultures. Some belated recognition of this has resulted in the establishment of political Assemblies for each country, albeit with limited and differing powers for each. But there are also things that resemble: nationwide shops and businesses start to rule the appearance of many high streets, tourist infrastructure is very well developed all over Britain and the growth of a nostalgia-obsessed heritage industry has produced a lot of museums, theme parks and comme morative monuments. However, the country is rich in monuments, that attest to its intricate history, from ancient hill forts and Roman villas, through a host of medieval cathedrals to the ambitious civic projects of the Industrial revolution. Great Britain offers a lot of diversion to all its tourist: For pulsing cultural and nightlife, London is a must. To feel the charm of English sea bathes and the importance of harbours for an island like Britain, travel along the southeastern coastline. In the central part of England you will find towns plenty of historical heritage like Salisbury, Oxford, Cambridge and many many more. Western and northern England fascinate with beautiful landscapes: rugged moorlands, picturesque flatlands and rocky coastlines. A visit to the South Western penninsular is a must with Dartmoor and Exmoor in Devon and Somerset, and Bodmin in Cornwall. Also in Newquay is world class surfing. For true wilderness, however, you better travel to the mountains of Wales or the Scottish Highlands. The finest of Scotland 's lochs, glens and peaks, and the magnificent scenery of the west coast islands, can be reached easily from the contrasting cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.