Looking for the best food trips to take in Scandinavia? Check out our guide to the best Scandi food trips the olive team took this year, from a gander around Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, to wood-fired cooking in style in Stockholm, Sweden.
Expect to eat cinnamon and cardamom buns, big brunches, cups of coffee, foraged food and wood-fired food.
Bedrooms are slightly on the spartan (and, in some cases, small) side at this friendly, family-run hotel in Norway but staying here is all about the fjord and the food. Owner Bård fishes for trout and mackerel straight from the balcony overlooking the spectacular Sognefjord and locally-caught halibut and monkfish (fished at depths of up to 500m) are regularly on the menu (and sometimes cooked over the large outdoor fire pit). Hardcore fish fans can enjoy mackerel in tomato sauce and sour herring for breakfast, as well as waffles and brunost “brown cheese”, a sort of caramelised cheese that’s beloved of Norwegians but an acquired taste for most of the rest of us. Deer, honey, vegetables and dairy are sourced locally and herbs come from the hotel’s own garden.
A cosy guesthouse in the remote southeastern corner of Iceland, Hrifunes’ isolated location means the wi-fi’s a bit dodgy but who cares when the views (including the northern lights, if you’re lucky) and food are this good?
The two-course dinners are jolly affairs, served at a long communal table with other guests from all over the world. There are no options – you get whatever the owner Hadda feels like cooking – but it’s always delicious and as wild, local and seasonal as possible. Hadda and her husband, Haukur, are both licensed hunters so you could be served wild goose or puffin, or sea trout from a local farm, Icelandic lamb from the neighbours or berries, mushrooms or herbs foraged nearby. The freshly-baked bread at breakfast is also well worth getting out of the very comfy beds for.
This 19th century former forester’s house, not far from Finland’s Russian border, was bought and renovated by Finnish entrepreneur and former supermodel Saimi Hoyer in 2015. It’s surrounded by some of Finland’s most stunning countryside, including the vast Lake Saimaa and the Punkaharju ridge, and the kitchen makes full use of the natural larder provided by the surrounding forests and lakes.
Visit in autumn for mushroom feasts (including dishes such as roasted and smoked celeriac with apples and pickled chanterelles) and guided foraging tours – Saimi is one of Finland’s top mushroom experts and can point out local specialities such as arched woodwax and candycap mushrooms. The hotel has 11 individually designed rooms and, in summer, you can also stay in one of the site’s original forest cabins, set among pines beside the obligatory lakeside sauna. Try the traditional Karelian pasties ‘kalittoa’ and fresh beetroot juice for breakfast.
In Tilsvideleje, on the ‘Danish riviera’, Helenekilde has been a classic bathing hotel since 1904 but was bought and done up – extremely stylishly – in 2009 and is now a hip yet hyggelig seaside retreat favoured by Copenhagen’s cool crew (here’s where they eat and drink when in the city). Swim in the sea, play petanque, have a massage, practice yoga in the outdoor pavilion or borrow one of the hotel’s bikes to go exploring, Danish style.
Food is simple, seasonal, modern Nordic, with fish provided by the local fisherman Johnny and wines from nearby Ørby Vingaard, where owners Søren and Birthe handpick the grapes themselves. Try one of Ørby’s whites with a starter of oysters with buttermilk, horseradish and cucumber, or one of their dessert wines to go with a classic Danish dessert of red porridge with double cream and strawberry sorbet.
Just an hour south of Stockholm but tucked away in the rolling Sörmland countryside, this Swedish b&b is a real find. Niklas and Johan, the charming and talented couple who run it, have decorated the rooms in quirky, shabby chic style (think old doors as headboards) and, in the summer months, you can stay in one of two dreamy glamping set-ups overlooking Lake Sillen, complete with outdoor showers and hammocks.
Organic and biodynamic produce is sourced from local farms and suppliers and Johan is a skilled sommelier, so let him choose you a natural wine to go with plates of moose salami, pickled spruce shoots or pikeperch fresh from the lake. Start the morning with a dip (warm up in the sauna on its floating pontoon on chilly days) before tucking into a breakfast buffet that includes homemade almond and apricot bread, pickled herring and rosehip soup.
Sweden’s capital is a must visit for cinnamon buns, rye bread and glasses of glögg. Start the day at Il Caffé for squishy cardamom buns and a cup of filter coffee. If you want lunch café-style, head to Katarina and order the reuben sandwich on rye bread. For Michelin-starred food, Ekstedt is a must visit. Wood-fired ovens create new Nordic dishes like birch-grilled pork and wood-fired almond cake.
If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat in West Sweden, Stedsans in the Woods is a must-visit. Set in the heart of the Swedish forest, this restaurant with cabins focuses on bringing its guests closer to nature. Make sure you visit the floating sauna in the middle of the lake, or take a few books and sit by the water’s edge. The daily changing menu is made up of foraged foods like the forest flower salad, or cep mushrooms sautéed in butter with tarragon. After dinner, snuggle up around the campfire with blankets and appreciate the stillness of life on the lake.
The 2017 capital of culture, Denmark’s second city, Aarhus, is the perfect spot for a cosy winter getaway. No trip to Scandinavia is complete without a pastry, so start the day at Langenæs Bageriet for a cinnamon horn and chocolate Danish. Wash that down with a coffee (roasted in house) from La Cabra, or join a class and learn how to brew at home. If you want to step away from the traditional Nordic cuisine, book a table at Nordisk Spisehus where you can expect dishes like blackberries with marzipan and honey.
The Danish capital is packed with high-end restaurants, but we’ve found the coolest (and most affordable) places to eat and drink in this vibrant city. Meyers Bageri is a must visit for snegls – a take on a cinnamon bun, which is more buttery and topped with thick chocolate. For a weekday brunch, head to the aptly named Granola for a breakfast plate of golden pancakes, muesli, chopped fruit, yogurt, almond cake and whipped chocolate spread. And don’t leave before paying a visit to Lidkoeb – a stylish yet cosy cocktail bar with its own whisky den.
Head to Finland’s seaside capital for your fix of vegan and veggie-friendly cafes and restaurants. Begin your day with a trip to Andante – a flower and coffee shop. Expect matcha lattes and raw cakes (think blackcurrant and lingonberry cupcakes). If you’re there in the summer, visit design shop LOKAL for stylish Scandi homewear and a scoop of blackcurrant leaf ice cream. If you want classic Scandinavian dishes, visit Vinkkeli for fuss free seasonal dishes like white chocolate panna cotta with redcurrants.