Hibernate

Welcome to the fifth issue of The Window Seat. Although travel is still restricted, we start the year in “Hibernate” mode, focused on places to visit online or in our backyards.

Nobody does winter positivity like the Nordic nations. Credit: EyeEm

Warm Welcome

Keep your wanderlust burning at these cozy Nordic spots to while away the winter

Hygge, the Danish concept of coziness is now a well-known practice the world over. With this year being harder than most, keeping cozy and positive is more important than ever. So, it got us thinking—do the other Nordic countries have their version of hygge? 

From Iceland to Norway to Sweden to Finland, we discovered some of the best places that embrace the hygge concept as well as ways you can get that cozy feeling at home. 

Iceland has more than just a word for positivity, they have a whole way of life! The saying þetta reddast—“it will work itself out in the end”—is a mantra that all Icelanders live by. With a harsh climate, unexpected natural occurrences—think volcano eruptions—and an isolated location, Icelanders have long had a penchant for living in the moment and taking things as they come.

With mesmerizing landscapes, Iceland is high on our travel wishlist. Credit: Bjorn Snelders/Unsplash

If you get the chance to head to Reykjavik, visit Ida Zimsen, a quaint bookshop in the Mioborg. In typical Icelandic style, the exterior is a muted gray wooden building, but once you step inside, you’re welcomed with warm wooden floors, inviting nooks, and shelves stacked to the rafters with books (many of which are in English). Settle down with a coffee in one of the sheepskin-draped leather chairs and spend the afternoon getting lost in a good story. 

If Iceland isn’t in the cards, bring the þetta reddast ethos home by savoring small moments or go one step further and bring a bit of Ida Zimsen home by putting the kettle on, grabbing a blanket and losing an afternoon to a gripping read.

Reykjavik

The Swedes have their own philosophy when it comes to keeping a positive attitude during winter. Mys, like hygge, is the notion of coziness and as long as you’re having a pleasant, chilled out time then anything can be mys—from snuggling in with a good film to cozy cafes to brisk winter walks.

To get mys in person, head to Rosendals Trädgård, a picturesque garden and farm shop in Stockholm. Stroll through the vegetable patches and take in all the sights and smells before retreating into one of the vintage white-iron glasshouses for fika—a special break for coffee and cake—with a freshly baked cinnamon bun from their wood-burning stove.

Stockholm

If getting to Sweden isn’t feasible, you can easily bring the mys vibe home. Instead of pining for Friday nights out, why not embrace fredagsmys? Do as the Swedes do and order pizza or tacos, get plenty of salted licorice and settle down to watch a good movie—you’ll forget about the dreary weather in no time.

If you’re looking for something more social, then the Norwegian concept of koselig is for you. Similar to hygge and mys, the Norwegians like to enjoy their coziness with others—from long walks with friends to spending time with loved ones playing games. 

To get the true koselig experience, head to Oslo with a group of friends or family to take in the fresh sea air before heading to Schouskjelleren Mikrobryggeri, a mecca for beer in the vaults of the historic Schou brewery. With low ceilings, brick walls and a warming fire, it’s the perfect place for a very koselig night. 

Oslo

If a trip to Oslo seems only a dream, you can easily feel koselig at home—we suggest a long walk with your “support bubble” followed by a night of candlelit card games.

A brisk walk in the wild with friends will give you the feeling of koselig. Credit: EyeEm

Finland often ranks as the happiest country in the world and it’s easy to see why! Unlike the ideas of coziness from Sweden and Norway or the calming attitudes of Iceland, the Finns have a very different approach to keeping the winter blues at bay. Sisu is the idea of putting yourself in tough situations that will make you stronger.

Test your sisu by following the Finns to the sauna. Long a part of the Finnish culture, saunas were once the only sterile places to wash during the harsh winter months. Today, they’re a way of life throughout the Nordic land with nearly one sauna per person in the country of 5.3 million people.

For an authentic experience, head to Löyly on Helsinki’s waterfront—you can’t miss its striking geometric wooden exterior—where they take the idea of communal sauna-ing seriously. Delight in the multiple saunas, relaxation area and access to the sea for that character-building cooldown plunge.

Helsinki


Although most of us can’t sauna at home, we can experience the same invigorating experience by enjoying a candlelit hot bath followed by an ice-cold shower or running into a cold winter’s eve. If that sounds like too much effort then perhaps Kalsarikannit—getting drunk in your underwear at home—is more your thing. If all else fails this winter, why not embrace Finland’s more amusing pastime by enjoying a nice glass of wine in your PJs! Kippis!