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Planning Scandinavia Trip - Do we include Finland?

We're planning a trip to the Scandinavia countries. Most itineraries I see don't include Helsinki/Finland in them unless you add an extension. For the most part they are Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

I guess the question is...is Helsinki worth the extra time and cost? Why do most itineraries exclude Finland? Is it the travel complications with either another ferry or a costly plane connection?

Posted by
3460 posts

If you have the time, I would include Finland even, as Edgar noted, it is technically not a Scandinavian country.

Posted by
2091 posts

I guess the question is...is Helsinki worth the extra time and cost?

Depends on how much time you have and how much money you are willing to spend. The ferries across the Baltic sea are ridiculously cheap so it is pretty easy to include Finland. But, while Helsinki certainly is nice, if you are looking at adding a city east of Scandinavia to your trip, my recommendation has to be Tallinn.

Why do most itineraries exclude Finland?

For the same reason most suggested itineraries of the USA exclude Canada. Finland is not part of Scandinavia.

Is it the travel complications with either another ferry or a costly
plane connection?

No, there are direct ferries from Stockholm to both Tallinn and Helsinki that are very cheap.

Posted by
5652 posts

Just some points of interest. The three Scandinavian countries and Finland are all Schengen treaty countries. Norway is not part of the European Union, but Sweden, Denmark and Norway are EU countries. While Sweden and Denmark are part of the EU they have their own currencies. Only Finland is on the Euro.

Three Scandinavian countries, three different "Crowns" all with different exchange rates and Finland on the EUR.
Norwegian Krone (NOK)
Swedish Krona (SEK)
Danish Krone (DKK)
But the good news is the Nordic Countries are advanced and close to cashless.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you all for the replies so far.

Ok...I think I've been properly spanked for the whole 'Scandinavia/Nordic' geography lesson.

Posted by
1420 posts

I think Helsinki is worth visiting, and even moreso, Tallinn, which is just a short ferry ride away. Both are accessible via direct overnight ferry from Stockholm. They are both attractive cities for different reasons.

But what I think you need to decide first is how much total time you have. Then make a list of places you want to see and how much time you want to spend in each place. Get some guidebooks to help you select from a combination of obvious urban centers (Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc.), smaller charming villages, and scenic spots worth exploring. From there you can decide what you have time for, and you can start eliminating places lower on your priority list.

When I planned my trip, I decided I just didn't have time for all the places I wanted to visit in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, plus Helsinki and Tallinn. So I ultimately decided to save Norway for another trip, which I did four years later. On this second trip I allowed eleven nights in Norway and still came away wishing I had time to see more of this beautiful country.

Posted by
5652 posts

Expanding on the question of how many days/nights. The suggested Rick Steves plan is very much a highlight trip:

Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographical
proximity into account, here are my recommended priorities:

4 days: Copenhagen, Stockholm (connected by a 5.5-hour express train)

6 days, add: Oslo

8 days, add: Norway in a Nutshell fjord trip, Bergen

10 days, add: Overnight cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki

Rick's suggested plan budget two days per city (and two days for the Oslo to Bergen Nutshell) INCLUDING travel time. This is a take a selfie and check off the sight kind of trip. That kind of itinerary may work for a well researched and carefully planned guided trip but not for one with self-exploration and time for "smelling the flowers".

Posted by
2091 posts

Rick's suggested plan budget two days per city (and two days for the
Oslo to Bergen Nutshell) INCLUDING travel time. This is a take a
selfie and check off the sight kind of trip. That kind of itinerary
may work for a well researched and carefully planned guided trip but
not for one with self-exploration and time for "smelling the flowers".

Thanks for sharing that link! It was certainly interesting to read and, I have to admit, not even close to what I would suggest.

Posted by
1 posts

I would suggest you add Finland and Tallin to your itinerary, if you have sufficient time for your Scandinavia and Nordic adventure. Last August, my husband and I flew from LA to Stockholm and spent 4 days exploring the city. We stayed in a wonderful and not too expensive, Airbnb. We always follow Rick Steves books on how to get around the city and save on getting into museums, etc. We then boarded the Viking Ferry to Helsinki and booked a buffet dinner with window seat and it was the most amazing smorgasbord, I've ever seen. I also booked a room on the ferry and made mistake of getting the least expensive one. Turns out that our room was located underneath two floors of cars that were parked on ferry. I was a little upset about the room, but it was clean and had nice towels and bedding and both my husband and I slept great on our bunks. The best part of being on that ferry was leaving Stockholm and cruising through the Swedish Archipelago! I grew up in Seattle and lived on Puget Sound and this was over the top beautiful. We spent two nights in Helsinki and explored the city and dined on salmon and berries at the outdoor market. One night, we took a Airbnb experience cooking class and learned how to make Finnish meatballs, salmon soup and cardamon, cinnamon rolls. The city is beautiful with pastel buildings with a skyline dominated by the Lutheran Church and Russian Orthodox church. Wonderful old style cafes and design shops and museums.
Our next stop was taking the Viking ferry to Tallin, Estonia and we booked another Airbnb for two nights. The city looks like something out of Disneyland, but is real! The Occupation Museum is a must for every American to go see and experience! After two nights, we took the Viking ferry back to Helsinki and then boarded a train to Turku. Spent two days in Turku exploring and then boarded a train to Oulu. Oulu is my ancestral town of my mother's family. Two weeks before our trip, I made contact with a relative and we were able to meet up with our Finnish family. Truly amazing and they even brought us to the church in Haukipudas, that my great grandparents were married before they boarded a ship to the United States in the late 1800's. Spent two nights in Oulu.
In Oulu, we rented a car and drove up to Lapland and stayed in Rovaniemi. In Rovaniemi, you can visit with Santa Claus, postmark your Christmas cards to be sent to your friends and family at Christmastime, see and feed reindeers and explore the area.
Drove back to Oulu and boarded a flight to Copenhagen and spent four nights before boarding a cruise ship that took us to Norway, Scotland, Ireland, across the Atlantic to Halifax and on to New York City.
The Viking ferry line was inexpensive as they operate casinos and duty free shops to keep costs down. The train from Helsinki to Turku and on to Oulu was about the same price, I paid for my husband and I and our two grandkids to go on a ten minute train ride from Santa Barbara to Carpenteria and back to Santa Barbara on Amtrak. Key is to book in Advance. Same with flight from Oulu to Copenhagen on Finnair, so reasonable. I am biased but found Finland to be magical!