Scandinavia travel with my son

For the past 4 summers, my extremely fit (now 14 year old) son and I take a major trip together. Last summer, we flew to California from Montreal and toured the state. Sight seeing does not interest him very much. After 5 minutes, he says "yea, yea yea, another tree, mountain....". He is into adrenalin activities. Last summer, we climbed Half Dome in Yosemite, we went spelunking the last 2 years, white water rafting last year, zip lining, waterparks, Zorbing, etc... We both look forward to these trips every year. Spelunking was his favourite activity (what son wouldn't like to see his dad trying to fit through a small crack deep underground...only to get stuck). I'm currently planning next summer's trip and I'm torn between 2 geographies. I'm thinking about western Canada and USA (Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, Seattle, Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Rockies and Banff) and Scandinavia as possible destinations. The latter appeals to my sense of adventure but I'm struggling to find adrenalin activities for both of us. We are both adventurous and nothing is off the table. Do you have any recommendations? Neither one of us is into history or visiting churches. While we don't mind it, our goal is always the same, to be very active and have lots of fun.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11078 posts

If you have more than 2 weeks, you might consider hiking all or part of the newly restored Way of St. Olaf, which runs from Selånger on Sweden's Baltic coast to Trondheim on Norway's Atlantic coast. I have not hiked the route, but I've visited the region in the winter for skiing. The scenery is pretty stunning, particularly the territory west of Östersund as you approach the Scandinavian mountains. It's also a rather sparsely populated region. Between Östersund and the suburbs of Trondheim, the only sizable community you encounter is the ski resort of Åre. Otherwise, it's mostly very small hamlets and untouched wilderness. Here's the official website.

Posted by Barry
San Diego, CA
625 posts

As far as BC is concerned here's some ideas though to be honest I wouldn't consider them adrenalin adventures, but they are adventures none the less. First, hiking the West Coast Trail, it is on the southwest corner of Vancouver Island, it is a 75 km hike that takes about a week to do, very remote, you can start at the north or south end, it's a combination of hiking on the beach, in the forest, over huge rock formations. you have to get a permit from Parks Canada, they issue them to keep the amount of people on the trail to a certain level. Next, also on Vancouver Island, sea kayaking, either on the west coast near Tofino or the northeast coast near Port McNeill, there is a large concentration of killer whales in this area, there is nothing else in the world that equals seeing one or a pod of these magnificent animals up close and personal in a kayak. Third, canoeing the Bowron Lakes in northern BC. they are about a 12 hour drive north of Vancouver, they are a series of lakes that nature has made into an almost circular pattern, they are over 116 km overall, the take about a week to do. Some of the lakes connect via streams (when I did them we had a bull moose standing in the middle of one) or sometimes you have to portage. Both the West Coast Trail and Bowron Lakes are overseen by Parks Canada and require an orientation lecture prior to starting. There is a company out of Vancouver called Sea to Sky Expeditions that have guided tours of all of these locations.

Posted by Luc
Brossard, Quebec, Canada
5 posts

Thank you Tom. We would travel between 2 and 3 weeks. Your suggestion looks like a great place to hike. This is certainly a place that I would consider adding to our itinerary.

Posted by Heather
10 posts

I live in the Pacific Northwest and can attest for the wonder of what you'd experience here...but Scandinavia is genuine rival when it comes to both beauty and outdoor activities. Here are a few ideas that my family has thought about doing the next time we are in Scandinavia (my kids are now 14 and 17): the bobsled/luge track at Lillehammer, kayaking the Norwegian fjords or the Stockholm archipelago, glacier hiking, and biking the "Old Navvy Road". I'd add hiking and fly-fishing to the list, because they are world-class in both Scandinavia and the Pacific NW, but that's not necessarily high-adrenalin. Either way, you'll have a great time! Skol!

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
2104 posts

My Canadian friends are all Nordic skiers. If you and your son ski cross country, you should consider a winter guided tour with the Norwegian Trekking Association. The organize hut to hut week long mountain tours of varying difficulty. I have only participated in winter tours and can highly reccomend the DNT tours. The guides are association members keeping pricing reasonable for what you get. They also sponsor summer tours but I have not participated in their hiking or mountaineering trips.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
1511 posts

I know this is the wrong continent (South America), but I thought of this outfitter because it may be something you may consider in the future. They seem to specialize in adventure type (trekking, mountain biking and other multi-sport) travel that you are looking for. I am looking forward to doing a trip with them myself:

Posted by Julie
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
5 posts

If you go to Scandinavia, I'd strongly urge you to do a stopover in Iceland, which is fabulous when it comes to adventuring. It's a very volcanic isle that straddles the European and American continents, and the landscape itself is incredible and perfect for lots of adrenalin activities. There are the usual tourist attractions of geysers, waterfalls, bubbling mudpools and outdoor hot springs everywhere, including the famous Blue Lagoon. You can also climb a volcano and, if you're lucky like I was, a "tourist" eruption will start the week before your flight. That's a small enough eruption that the extremely well developed and responsive tour operating companies can take tourists up to the peak to stand a hundred-some meters away from the eruption. You can dive the continental rift between Europe and America or alternately, stand with one foot on each continent. There are caves to explore, glaciers to walk on and iceberg-filled coves to canoe through. And you can ride an Icelandic horse and go whale watching on choppy seas. Julie

Posted by Luc
Brossard, Quebec, Canada
5 posts

I want to express my appreciation for everyone's comments. They are all very helpful. I had not considered Iceland as part of our trip, but now I'm re-thinking that. We normally do a camping trip and I see in the Iceland Tourism site that there are a lot of campgrounds on the island. Even if South America isn't remotely close to Scandinavia, I appreciate the input. The Galapagos and Machu Picchu are on my bucket list of places that I want to see in my lifetime. I'm still not sure whether we'll be going to Scandinavia or Western Canada/North West US next summer. It is sure fun thinking of all the possibilities though. I look forward to reading additional comments.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
1511 posts

I second the Iceland recommendation. I've been there twice and really enjoyed the stunning natural beauty and isolation (plus Iceland Air is great and you can sample Iceland on the way to somewhere else, provided Icleand Air flies somewhere near you). There are plenty of trekking options, including on glaciers.

Posted by Janis
Grapevine, TX, USA
873 posts

Check out all the outdoor activities available in Slovenia. Beautiful country, friendly people who speak English, great highways, great wine!

Posted by Janet
Lakewood, WA
103 posts

Dont write off the Pacific Northwest of US and Canada. Iceland is amazing destination but we have active volcanoes, lots of hiking, camping and outdoor sports too. And a Flaming Gyser (ok its only a state park and a small flame) ;-). After the shutdown is over go to the U.S. Forest Service or U.S. National Park websites to get a feel for what is around the PNW. I assume the Canadian gov. has similar websites available. I know many people do not think of the eastern part of (eastern side of the casades) Washington to be a tourist desitnation but there is a lot of outdoor activity around. Google or do a youtube search for: Spokane, Omak, Paulose Falls/ Dry falls, Columbia Gorge, Ellensberg, or the Grand Coulee Dam to see what might interest you.
Just my two cents

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2701 posts

The great thing about Scandinavia is that all the major cities are connected by overnight cruise-ferries. The vessels look and feel like full-blown cruise ships but are ferry boats. There is plenty of entertainment and tax-free shopping on board - and when you wake up you're already in the heart of another city.

The best vessel if MS Viking Grace between Turku, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden. The area around Turku is just what you'd expect from e.g. Canada. From Stockholm there are many great connections to Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), Helsinki (Finland) and even St. Petersburg (Russia). If you enter St. Petersburg on a St. Peter line ferry you've got a visa good for the day (from around 8am until 6pm)... it comes with the boat ride. But please note St. Peter line ferries are pretty old (yet Western built) and the main purpose for their existence is for Russians to gamble and get cheap alcohol.