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Finland and Scandinavia Itinerary Advice

We've settled on a whole month in Scandinavia, and have purchased tickets arriving in Helsinki and departing from Oslo.

Can anyone suggest tweaks to the following itinerary, or suggest things to see/ do we haven't considered? Where is a good spot for Midsummer Solstice?

Arrive Helsinki - 8 days in Finland
Overnight cruise to Stockholm - 4 days in stockholm
Train to Copenhagen - 2 days in Copenhagen
train to Aalborg - sleep in Aalborg?
Ferry from Hirtshals to Kristiansand, train to Bergen?
2 nights in Bergen
(How do I get to Nordkapp from here???)
train to Oslo, several nights in Oslo
Fly home

This doesn't add up to a month yet - I'm just trying to figure out a path!
Thanks for your wisdom and suggestions.

Posted by
301 posts

I'd add a few days elsewhere in Sweden. Uppsala is nearby (about 45 minutes by train, so an easy day trip....or a much cheaper hotel room) and has some really nice sights and pleasant atmosphere in general. I've not been to Gothenburg, but have heard great things about it.

It depends on what you want to see (nature? museums? etc.), but I think Copenhagen and its environs are worth more than two days.

While in Norway, it is well worth looking into the "Norway in a nutshell" train trip, or, if inclined to rent a car, to drive part of it on your own. Either way, don't miss the fjords!

Have a great time! I loved Scandinavia!
Caroline

Posted by
501 posts

Hi - thanks!

The only place in Scandinavia I've already been is Denmark - I spent two weeks in Copenhagen and Odense / Funen.
We are certainly open to seeing some more of Sweden. We like nature, museums, seafood, fjords -- all of the above!

Posted by
8201 posts

We visited the larger cities in the region by cruise ship a year ago, and spent 2 glorious days in St. Petersburg. We recommend a Baltic cruise for the value received. All of the Scandinavian countries are deathly expensive to travel through independently.
We flew from Copenhagen after the cruise to Oslo and took the Norway in a Nutshell tour to Bergen. The 1 hr. mountain train down to Flam was the highlight of the day, as we didn't find the fjords as beautiful as expected.
We absolutely loved Bergen, however. And we flew back into Oslo to connect to our direct flight home. on Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Posted by
1804 posts

I'm not sure what you plan to see for eight days in Finland, so I can't say whether it's enough or too much. I spent 4 nights in Helsinki and did a day trip to Turku. From Turku I took a local bus to Nantaali. I only had a couple of hours there, but I wish I'd had a full day. It's a lovely town. But I don't know what I would have done with 8 days in Finland without traveling to some other locales. It's certainly more time than you would want if you're just staying in Helsinki and taking day trips.

I would also suggest spending a few nights in Tallinn. You can take the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn (it's no more than a couple of hours), and then you can take the overnight ferry (to call it a "cruise" is a slight exaggeration!) from Tallinn to Stockholm.

I spent a couple of nights in Kalmar when I was in Sweden, and I rented a car to explore Öland. I definitely think that would be worth doing.

And on the journey from Bergen to Oslo, there is a lot to see en route. You could add an overnight stop or two along the way.

Based on what I saw (and didn't see) in Norway and what I've heard, I can't wait to go back and go to the Lofoten Islands. If you can include them in your itinerary, you might want to look into it.

Anyway, these are just a few random thoughts on some ways to fill out the full month. You are going to love it!

Posted by
501 posts

Thanks all for your thoughts.

I'm wondering if, in a single month, the following tour could be done - or do we have too much here?

Helsinki
Some of the Finnish countryside and archipelago
St Petersburg
Tallinn
Stockholm
Uppsala
Copenhagen
Oslo
Bergen

Plus fjords, nature in Sweden and/or Norway

Is this going to be breathless? What do we cut?

Posted by
1804 posts

I think you've got a reasonable itinerary for a month.

I would do Uppsala as a day trip from Stockholm and not as a separate destination. I did this and found it was easy to see a lot of Uppsala in a day.

The greatest bang for your buck in terms of scenic beauty is in Norway, so I would concentrate on fjords and nature there.

Maybe consider a more west-to-east itinerary, so you don't have to backtrack:

Bergen
Oslo
Copenhagen
Stockholm
Tallinn
Helsinki
St. Petersburg

This route will allow you to travel on the ferry through the archipelago in the evening. Going the opposite direction, the most beautiful part of the trip happens early in the morning before you arrive in Stockholm.

Oops, sorry, just saw that you've already purchased tickets. Nevermind on the suggestion for reordering things...

Posted by
501 posts

... yes we got insanely good rates for arriving in helsinki and departing from Oslo. At least we dont have to backtrack to Helsinki!

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Jtraveler. I would recommend a day or two in Helsinki. It's a really small city by Western standards, and there is not enough to see to spend 4 or 5 days there. I would recommend travelling to Rovaniemi (Arctic circle) for the summer solstice as you can take full advantage of the midnight sun. I strongly recommend renting a car and driving up to Oulu, and then to Rovaniemi. From Rovaniemi it is quite simple to travel to Nordkapp. For Stockholm, it is much more vibrant than Helsinki, and more cosmopolitan as well. Be advised, the prices in the Nordic region are usually much higher than the US. In Oslo, I recommend the night transfer to Stavanger, as it will save time and money. From Stavanger, it is very easy to book the trains for the various fjords. So in closing, Finland-Helsinki-Oulu-Rovaniemi-nordkapp. Then the ferry to Stockholm and then to Copenhagen. Finally, on to Oslo and the fjords. Just as a note; I did this same trip last summer, and had a blast doing so. I'm also American, and live and work in Rovaniemi as a chef and Safari guide for the last 2 1/2 years. Thanks, and enjoy your trip, Christopher!

Posted by
501 posts

Ok thanks Christopher- (funny, the only person I know in Scandinavia happens to be an anglophone expat in Rovaniemi. I wonder if you know her.)

We are now getting the bug to include St Petersburg in our itinerary. Looks like there's a simple 3 hr train from Helsinki - a much longer one from St Pete to Tallinn. Is that what you'd suggest?

If we did this, what about the following:
Fly Helsinki
Helsinki - 3 nights (one to sleep off jetlag)
Oulu - 1 night
St Petersburg - 4 nights
Tallinn - 2 nights
overnight ferry to Stockholm - 1 night
Stockholm - 6 nights with day trips to Uppsala and the Archipelago
Copenhagen - 2 nights
Gothenburg - 1 night
Oslo - 5 nights with day trips to Fjords
Bergen - 2 nights
Oslo - 1 night
Fly home

Is there something better to see between Copenhagen and Oslo rather than Gothenburg? For example going up to Aalborg DK and then catching a ferry?

Posted by
1804 posts

I have a few thoughts about this latest version of your itinerary. I think you're getting closer to something ideal, but I think a few more tweaks are in order. My comments are in bold.

Fly Helsinki

Helsinki - 3 nights (one to sleep off jetlag)

Oulu - 1 night I saw ristocc70's advice that you drive to Oulu. But it's a very long drive -- 7 hours according to Google maps -- and an even longer train ride (9:30). I haven't been there, so I can't say whether you should go there, but certainly not for a single overnight.

St Petersburg - 4 nights If you go to Oulu, how do you get to St. Petersburg?

Tallinn - 2 nights The train from St. Petersburg to Tallinn arrives at 12:35 pm. Since the ferry from Tallinn to Stockholm is overnight, you might consider cutting Tallinn to a single night. That still gives you a day and a half there, which might be enough, depending on what you hope to see. Having 2 nights will be great, but just something to consider if you are trying to find time to add elsewhere.

overnight ferry to Stockholm - 1 night

Stockholm - 6 nights with day trips to Uppsala and the Archipelago I think I would cut Stockholm back to 4-5 nights. You will arrive very early the first day, so 6 nights is 6 full days. You could probably find enough to do, but I think you're giving short shrift to Copenhagen (see below), so I would add it there. Or I would add a stop in Kalmar for a couple of nights between Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Copenhagen - 2 nights I recommend at least 3 and 4 would be better. In addition to the city, there are many delightful day trips from Copenhagen.

Gothenburg - 1 night I haven't been to Gothenburg, but another stop to consider on the way to Oslo is Fredrikstad. It's a popular weekend getaway for locals, a lovely town with a historic fort and attractive waterfront.

Oslo - 5 nights with day trips to Fjords Rather than day trips to fjords, cut Oslo back to 3-4 nights, and add a night or two en route between Oslo and Bergen. The best way to explore the fjords is to spend time among them. I spent two nights in Balestrand and rented a car for the day and it was glorious.

Bergen - 2 nights

Oslo - 1 night

Fly home

Posted by
768 posts

It has been some time since the last post to this thread, but if you're still following it here are a few comments. If the Helsinki to St. Petersburg ferry (formerly St. Peter Line that included a 72 hour Visa for touring St. Petersburg) and the St. Petersburg to Tallin Ferry (also formerly the St. Peter line) is up and running again by April of this year and assuming your visit coincides with this ferry service, you might want to consider an itinerary like this:

Arrive Helsinki 1st day
3rd-6th days in/around Helsinki
6th Evening Ferry to St. Petersburg
7th- 9th day in St. Petersburg
9th Evening Ferry to Tallin
10th -12th day Tallin
12th Evening Ferry to Stockholm
13th-16th day in/around Stockholm
17th day Flight to Copenhagen
17th-19th day Copenhagen
20th day train to Aalborg
20th-21st day Aalborg
21st Evening Ferry to Bergen
22nd-24th day Bergen
25th day Round trip ship Bergen/Trondheim/Other(?)/Bergen
26th day Norway in a Nutshell
27th-29th day Oslo
30th day Depart/Fly home

This, of course, depends on the availability of ferry service Helsinki/St. Petersburg/Tallinn see [http://thegate.boardingarea.com/great-no-ferry-service-to-saint-petersburg-from-helsinki-now-what/][1]

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for posting your latest comment, Jon. I am tying to build an itinerary for Scandinavia in 3 weeks with a side trip to St. Petersburg. We have 3 weeks and it looks like following your itinerary to Copenhagen and then going home will work for us. Though I hate to miss Norway, maybe next trip!
We are trying to come up with some other things to see in Finland as we will be staying there for several days (my son is fascinated with Finland and this is his high school graduation trip!). Does anyone recommend any day trips by car or train?
Someone mentioned that going from Tallin to Stockholm was not as scenic? Is this true?