Why Rick Steves Says To Avoid This European Destination Outside Of A Brief Window

Timing is everything when it comes to traveling. An ill-timed vacation could result in seasonal price hikes, chaotic crowds, and bad weather. According to Rick Steves, timing is also crucial when planning a trip to Scandinavia. The European region — consisting of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden (plus Finland, depending on who you ask) — shines during a two-month window each year, the travel expert writes on his website. Specifically, Steves says to travel to Scandinavia between mid-June and late August, the region's peak season. During this time, he notes that visitors can expect superb weather and the longest days of the year.

Steves also says that you can generally avoid bustling crowds when visiting Scandinavia in the summer, even if it is the top season for tourists. Groups are spread out across the area's popular sights and attractions, many of which are shut down during other times of the year. Steves describes these crowds as more "fun and action rather than congestion." Moreover, Steves suggests you may save money on flights and accommodations when traveling during the summer, since the off-season is generally more expensive due to the region's popularity among business travelers.

Summer getaways in Scandinavia

If you plan to follow Rick Steves' advice, you won't be disappointed. Scandinavia offers no shortage of charming summer destinations, from thriving cities to seaside escapes. When in Denmark, don't miss Copenhagen, the country's capital and largest city. Visit Copenhagen's stunning waterfront canal that inspired actual fairytales, and when you're done sightseeing, rent a boat or jump in the water for a quick cool-down (don't worry, the city's water is clean). For a break in the countryside, look no further than Ærø Island, one of Rick Steves' favorite European islands.

The country's neighbor to the northeast also boasts charming, summery spots of its own. Sweden's biggest hub, Stockholm, is home to numerous summer festivals, though tourists might notice that many of the locals choose to pack up and head to nature spots outside the city. Dalarna is one popular option adored for its peaceful forests and farms.

For an adventure-packed trip, consider visiting Norway's Jotunheimen National Park. The mountainous oasis offers stunning scenery and a range of hiking trails, with comfortable conditions during the summer months. Alternatively, take a trip to the country's famous fjords dotting Norway's west coast. The steep cliffs offer the perfect environment for hiking and climbing, as well as paddling in the cool waters below.

Celebrate sunny days during Midsummer

Though Rick Steves suggests visiting Scandinavia any time between June and August, you might want to consider booking your trip during the Midsummer holiday in June for an authentic peek at the celebration. Generally, you can expect Midsummer Eve to fall on a Friday in the second half of the month, with Midsummer Day following the next evening. However, the exact dates can vary by country. For instance, Denmark usually celebrates its Midsummer on June 23.

The holiday is a nod to the long, sun-filled days of summer, and you'll often find outdoor activities and festivals honoring the event. In Denmark and Norway, lighting a bonfire is one of the most traditional ways to celebrate, though you might want to avoid starting a bonfire at your Airbnb (unless, of course, your host gives you the okay). Instead, join a public bonfire party at a park or beach.

Swedes often gather at family homes for a Midsummer bash, but tourists are welcome to participate in festivals and public gatherings, complete with maypoles and delicious food. Head to a major city or the town of Dalarna to celebrate Midsummer in Sweden with the local community.