Please sign in to post.

Looking for advice/suggestions - Guidebook(s) for Nordic countries trip

Next year in the spring (May / June) I'll be going on a trip to the Nordic countries and visiting Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. (I had the trip planned for 2020 but then Covid happened and I couldn't go :( but now I can finally do this trip).

I'm trying to figure out what are the best guidebooks to get (so I can put it on my Christmas wish list :D ).

I usually get the Lonely Planet guidebooks. There's a Scandinavia one that covers all 5 countries and I actually have it, although it's from 2017 so it may be quite dated by now, although I don't know how much things have changed because of Covid. The next edition doesn't come out until July 2023 after I return from my trip so that doesn't help me. I could get individual country guidebooks but for some of them the most recent edition is pre-Covid.

For Rick Steves guidebooks, the Scandinavia one was published July 2021 so it's fairly recent, although it doesn't include Iceland and the Finland section looks minimal. Rick Steves Iceland was published April 2020 so it's pre-Covid and the next edition isn't until this fall.

I also see Fodor's has a Scandinavia guidebook that covers all five countries but it was also published April 2020 and next edition is due this summer (I'm noticing some patterns here :D ).

So I'm not sure what to get for guidebooks. Has anyone been to the Nordic countries recently and if so which guidebook(s) did you use?

Posted by
4685 posts

Has anyone been to the Nordic countries recently

I guess you could say that…

and if so which guidebook(s) did you use?


Things have changed during the pandemic. But the most popular sites have not. The Vasa museum is still there, the Norwegian fjords have not changed and Visby is still charming.

Posted by
1948 posts

I like to go to a bookstore and see how various guidebooks handle a specific location I am interested in. Then read a page or 2 to see if the general tone is agreeable. What suits another person might not suit you.

Posted by
2487 posts

I’ve never been to the Nordic countries but when I begin planning that trip, I’ll check Rick Steves and Lonely Planet publishing dates to see which is most recent. No other guidebook lets you know when the next edition will be available. Here’s what I see:
Rick Steves Scandinavia 16th edition Jul’21 includes Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia. Next edition TBD.
Lonely Planet Scandinavia 13th edition Jun’18 includes Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia. Next edition Jul’23 (damn).
Rick Steves Iceland 2nd edition Apr’20. Next edition fall 2023.
Lonely Planet Pocket Reykjavík & Southwest Iceland 4th edition Mar 2022.
I would buy Rick’s Scandinavia book and Lonely Planets, pocket guidebook.

Posted by
24080 posts

Some fairly recent changes are listed below; I don't know whether they are reflected in any of the guidebooks currently available. These are things I discovered in preparing for my 2022 trip, after arrival, or in one case more recently.

- Oslo has a new museum, MUNCH, on the waterfront near the Opera House. The old Munch Museum is closed.
- Oslo also has a new National Museum of Art (aka National Museum) incorporating the art and decorative art formerly shown in the (now closed) National Gallery.
- The Viking Ship Museum is closed until 2025/2026. There are some Viking-related exhibits at the Kulturhistorisk Museum.
- There is no longer a tourist office in Flam (fjord country), just a "Visitor Center" pushing tickets, etc. It can't be relied upon for information on things like pubic-bus schedules. Do online research before arrival if you won't just be passing through.
- There's now a second company running ferries up the west coast of Norway--competition for Hurtigruten. The new company is called Havila.
- You'll need very, very little cash in Norway. Even most of the pay toilets take credit cards (perhaps only tap-to-pay cards--I'm not sure). There are places where you simply will not be able to use cash even if you would prefer to do so. It's extremely difficult to find a bank-owned ATM in Oslo. You could waste a lot of time looking for one.

- I just read an article reporting that government funding for at least some Swedish museums is being cut, so some that have been free will be charging entry fees in 2023. That will surely be reflected on their websites well before your trip begins.
- The Swedes don't use a lot of cash, either, but the situation didn't seem quite as extreme as it is in Norway. I don't remember having to look hard for a bank ATM.

I don't recall any major changes in Finland off the top of my head; I didn't go to Denmark or Iceland.

Posted by
859 posts

We just recently returned from Scandinavia. We had also planned to be there in 2020, but finally made it in August/September 2022 to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. We used Lonely Planet, Rick Steves guidebooks and The Rough Guide books.

We also used a lot of online information. For Norway the "travel like a local" website was great as we travelled exclusively by public transportation - trains, buses, ferries and planes.

As acraven says, there is very little need for cash. We only got cash out once in our whole Scandinavian trip and that was to use on a local bus in Denmark. Everywhere else we just used our Mastercard or visa.

Scandinavian public transport is very app-oriented so you will need to find and download a lot of apps if you want to travel by trains and buses.

On Viking things - we loved the Viking ship museum in Roskilde, Denmark. A very easy day trip from Copenhagen on the train. We knew that the Viking ship museum in Oslo was closed.

In Oslo - we saw four versions of Munch's "The Scream". The Munch museum has three and changes them every hour and the new National Museum has one. We felt very Munch-ed up by the time we left Oslo. A big Oslo highlight for us was the Vigeland sculpture park which we went to on a lovely sunny Sunday.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks for all the info. I had heard the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo is closed for renovation so I'm very disappointed I won't be able to see it :(

After thinking about this some more, I decided to approach it on a country by country basis. For Iceland and Norway, the most recent guidebooks are the country specific ones from Lonely Planet published in early 2022 so I'll get those two. For Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, the country specific guidebooks from Lonely Planet are pre-Covid so I'll get the Rick Steves Scandinavia guidebook since it's from July 2021. Because the RS book only covers portions of the three countries, I'll still use my Lonely Planet Scandinavia guidebook (which is from 2018, not 2017 as I had listed).

Posted by
8636 posts

I have been to Scandinavia twice since August 2021 and used Rough Guides in addition to RS.

Posted by
4685 posts

In addition to the guide books, the forum can also be helpful. There is some knowledge about the Nordic countries here.

Posted by
13820 posts

On researching information, tips, recommendations, etc, I used " The Rough Guide Scandinavia "....always informative, well researched, reliable.

Posted by
31 posts

I forgot about the Rough Guides so thanks for mentioning them.

The guidebook situation is a mess because some books haven’t been updated since before Covid. Some of them are now more than four years without an update.

Here are my notes on all the guidebook research I’ve done, in case anyone else is trying to figure this out too.

Rick Steves

Scandinavia: Publication date is July 2021 (16th edition). Next edition date is TBD. This is a regional guide, although it doesn’t include Iceland. I read through the previous version of this book in 2019. I really liked the maps and the areas it covered had a lot of good detail. Unfortunately, it only covers selected areas and leaves out a lot of places.

Iceland: Publication date is April 2020 (2nd edition). Next edition date is Fall 2023.

I also have the Iceland Planning Map (bought in 2019). Unfortunately, there isn’t a planning map for Scandinavia. I emailed RS at the time and asked if they have one. They said they didn’t and, somewhat surprisingly, they have no plans to create one. I did some looking for other maps and the best I could come up with is a Michelin map. It’s far bigger and more detailed than what I needed but it’ll have to do.

Lonely Planet

Scandinavia: Current edition is 13th edition, June 2018. Next edition is July 2023 (after I return from my trip so that doesn’t help me). This is a regional guide that covers all 5 countries. I have this one already because I bought it in 2019. I must say that I am somewhat disappointed with it because it doesn’t have very many maps and there isn’t a lot of detail. I realize that the book is trying to cover everything but I’m surprised it doesn’t have more maps and more details for the main places of interest. The book is about 500 pages and another 100-200 pages could easily be added to beef it up.

Iceland: Current edition is 12th edition, January 2022. Next edition is February 2024.

Norway: Current edition is 8th edition, January 2022. Next edition is February 2024.

Sweden: Current edition is 7th edition, May 2018. Next edition is July 2023.

Denmark: Current edition is 8th edition, May 2018. Next edition is July 2023.

Finland: Current edition is 9th edition, May 2018. Next edition is July 2023.

Rough Guides

Iceland: Publication date is 2022-05-14.

Norway: Publication date is 2022-09-14.

Sweden: Publication date is 2020-02-28.

No books for Denmark or Finland.