Scandinavia’s best film locations

Many of us have spent a lot of time at home recently binge-watching box-sets and films, set in stunning, dramatic, if slightly creepy, Scandinavian landscapes.

Sakrisøy Rorbuer, the stunning location for psychological thriller Twin in Norway's Lofoten islands
Pic: Nelson Minar (CC)

With many Nordic noir crime dramas, the dramatic scenery – looming mountains, remote hamlets, eerie urban townscapes – play as big a part in the storyline as the actors do.

So, if you’ve been doing a lot of armchair travelling and wondering about the stunning locations that play a major role in your favourite programmes, check out  our guide to what’s been shot where. Find out all about the real places behind these amazing film and TV locations.

Twin: The Lofoten Islands, Norway

The intriguing crime drama about the death of a husband and the involvement of his twin brother in a small Norwegian fishing town has had us gripped recently.

The leading role is played by Game of Thrones’ star Kristofer Hivju, but it’s the stunning scenery of Norway’s Lofoten islands that really steals the show.

Much of the action takes place on the tiny island of Sakrisøy, just 8 miles from the end of the road at the far southern tip of the Lofoten islands. The main location here is a collection of converted former fishing cabins, known as rorbuer, that are now run as as a waterfront hotel.

Want to stay here?

It may be the scene of intrigue and lies in the series, but in reality Sakrisøy Rorbuer is a beautiful welcoming collection of comfortable converted fishing cabins with wooden floors and sea views.

Trapped: Seyðisfjörður and Siglufjörður, Iceland

The town of Seyðisfjörður, on Iceland’s remote east coast was the main location for the gripping claustrophobic crime drama, Trapped, about events in a small town that gets cut off by snow from the rest of the country.

Sitting at the bottom of a 17-mile-long fjord and surrounded by mountains, this picturesque town is a good eight-hour drive from the capital Reykjavik.

The only road link with the rest of the country is a 17-mile mountain pass, which gets regularly blocked by snow although, as in the series, there is also a weekly ferry link to the town from Denmark.

Some scenes were also shot in Iceland’s northernmost town, the fishing community of Siglufjörður.

Tucked in between glowering mountains alongside a narrow fjord on Iceland’s north coast, the remote location was an apt place to make the series since the cast and crew of the drama actually were snowed in several times during filming.

Want to stay here?

The Hotel Snaefell (part of Hotel Aldan) in Seyðisfjörður has comfortable rooms with good views over the harbour, and is just a short walk from the ferry terminal.

Alternatively, you can stay in the large green building on the waterfront that features prominently in Trapped – it’s actually the upmarket Siglo Hotel in Siglufjörður, with a smart spa, outdoor hot tub and views over the marina.

Ex Machina: The Juvet Landscape hotel, Norway

The star of Alex Garland’s 2014 science fiction psychological thriller Ex Machina is undoubtedly the house where creepy genius tech billionaire hides away experimenting with robots and AI.

Juvet Landscape Hotel was the amazing location in Ex Machina
Pic: Knut Bry (CC)

Although in the film the house is supposed to be in Alaska, it was actually shot at the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway. Tucked away in a remote valley in the Valldalen district, in Norway’s fjordland, the building clings to the wooded edge of a mountain alongside a gushing river. 

Designed to blend into the landscape, the contemporary glass-and-wooden cabins are suspended above the river with floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize the views of the trees and water.

Want to stay here?

Well, you can if your wallet’s large enough. Rooms at the Juvet Landscape Hotel cost an eye-watering 3700 NOK a night. This includes breakfast and use of the 24hr-a-day luxury spa with outdoor hot tub and river views from the sauna.

The Bridge: The Öresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö

The iconic road and rail link between Denmark and Sweden plays a major role in gritty, gloomy Scandi crime drama The Bridge.

The fact that the bridge connects two different countries is integral to the plot, and images of the towering bridge itself looming out of grey fog add to the foreboding atmosphere.

Since it opened in 2000, the 8km-long Öresund Bridge has become a vital link between Copenhagen and Malmö, with many people commuting regularly between Sweden and Denmark.

For more on the bridge and how to cross it, click here.

Mission Impossible – Fallout: Pulpit Rock, Norway

Generally regarded as the highlight of the 2018 movie Mission Impossible – Fallout, the scene where Tom Cruise, playing special agent Ethan Hunt, hangs from a huge rockface, 600 metres up in the air is a truly nail-biting moment.

Although the action was supposed to take place in Kashmir, it was actually shot on Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock, in Norway’s fjord region.

Towering above the Lysefjord, Preikestolen is a popular spot to visit with more than 200,000 people a year tackling the two-hour hike up to the top to be rewarded with the most dramatic, if rather stomach-churning, views.

For more on the practicalities of the hike, see our guide on hiking to Pulpit Rock.

Want to stay here?

The hike up to Pulpit Rock starts from the Preikestolen Base camp, which has simple hostel accommodation plus a more comfortable mountain lodge hotel. Spend the night here if you want to beat the crowds and get an early start on the hike up to the summit for sunrise.

Wallander: Ystad, Sweden

The attractive coastal town of Ystad in southern Sweden is where the gripping, thoughtful series about damaged detective Wallander, is set and shot.

Ystad in Sweden, the pretty home town of Wallander
Pic: marcelkessler (CC)

Adapted from the books by Henning Mankell, the series also showcases the surrounding district of Skane with its long white sand beaches and beautiful open, if rather bleak, landscapes.

The town of Ystad with its pretty medieval centre, narrow cobbled streets and brightly-painted timber houses contrasts with the brooding melancholy of Kurt Wallender, played in the English version of the series by Kenneth Branagh.

Want to stay here?

Check into the Station B&B in the building which doubles as the police station in Wallander. Actually a former train station, it’s now the comfortable Stationen B&B.

See also:
Film locations from the Snowman in Oslo
Best places to visit in Scandinavia
Amazing hostels to stay at in Scandinavia

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