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Advice Please: Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam

Hello!

We’ve received some amazing advice for previous trips on this forum, and are back to ask again.

We would like advice and guidance for a trip to Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam between July 28 and Aug. 7.

My husband and I are in our 30s, active, enjoy walking, museums (art, history), music, good food. We typically try to hit the highlights from Rick Steve’s book, starting our time in each city with a private guide to get a lay of the land. This will be our first time in Stockholm and Copenhagen. Third time in Amsterdam, hence the short stay (one of my favorite cities through).

If anyone has COVID specific advice, we would greatly appreciate it. This will be our first international trip since COVID. We are both vaccinated.

Our trip:

July 28 Arrive Stockholm 1235, staying in Scandic No. 53 Hotel (can change hotels if there is an amazing option that you recommend)
July 29 Stockholm
July 30 Stockholm
July 31 Stockholm
Aug. 1 Depart Stockholm 1710 Arrive Copenhagen 1820, have not made hotel reservation yet
Aug. 2 Copenhagen
Aug. 3 Copenhagen
Aug. 4 Copenhagen
Aug. 5 Depart Copenhagen 1130 Arrive Amsterdam 1255, have not made hotel reservation yet
Aug. 6 Amsterdam
Aug. 7 Depart Amsterdam 1045 for USA

Some questions:
What would you suggest for the afternoon/evening of our arrival? We’ll be tired, but don’t want to waste the time. We were going to schedule a guide for the following morning, so are open to any suggestions.

Is a trip out to the Linnaeus Gardens outside Stockholm worthwhile?

Any hotel suggestions in these cities? Prices seem super low, so no need to recommend any budget accommodations. We don’t usually waste money on fancy hotels, but the demand seems low and decent places are less than 200USD/night

Are there any important sites in these cities that require advance reservations? It doesn’t seem that way, but I didn’t want to arrive and miss out on anything.

Does anyone on this forum have advice about COVID testing in Copenhagen prior to returning to the US? Specifically, has anyone used self-administered test that has a telahealth visit by app?

For Amsterdam, we have stayed near Vondelpark in the past. Enjoyed the park, and enjoyed the easy access to the rest of the city. Any suggestions for other areas to stay this time?

Thanks so much,
Jen

Posted by
855 posts

All I can say is you short changes Amsterdam.... unless you only plan to visit the actual city of Amsterdam. Copenhagen is one of the places I could live but I might cut a day there and in Stockholm add them to Holland.

Don't miss the Resistance Museum in Copenhagen - one if the best I've visited. I love The Square Hotel in Copenhagen

In Stockholm visit the Nobel Museum

Posted by
612 posts

Agree with Dona.

Spend more time in Amsterdam and less in Copenhagen.

Posted by
745 posts

"This will be our first time in Stockholm and Copenhagen. Third time in Amsterdam, hence the short stay."
A day and a half in Amsterdam is plenty if this is your third visit. No doubt, you know your way around and
you know what you want to see.

Posted by
21327 posts

If you read the OP original question, she indicated that this is their third trip to Amsterdam and the reason for the short visit. For us we have been in Amsterdam five or six times over the past 20+ years and always stay in Haarlem. It is about a 15 min train ride from Amsterdam. We like it for its very relax atmosphere after the hustle of Amsterdam. But we are also very slow travelers. Been hitting the same fry shop for 15 years and have our special, custom sauce perfected. (Bit of a long story for another time.)

Posted by
1291 posts

As always, many things depend on your interests. However my general personal experience (which is not the same as everyone, of course) is that I loved Stockholm. Which I did not expect. I would happily go back to spend more than the 4 days we had. I also enjoyed Copenhagen, but did not love it like I expected to. So my 4 days there were sufficient. So I would hate to see you have only 3 full days in Stockholm and schedule one of them on day trip, however worthwhile it might be. My trip was in 2018, so no Covid experience. However you divide your time, though, it will be a lovely trip!

Posted by
2414 posts

So this is a trip next week?

Aug. 1 Depart Stockholm 1710 Arrive Copenhagen 1820, have not made
hotel reservation yet

This sounds like you have booked a flight. For anyone else planning a similar trip, take the train between Stockholm and Copenhagen. It takes roughly the same time, is a lot cheaper as well as more comfortable.

Is a trip out to the Linnaeus Gardens outside Stockholm worthwhile?

If you are interested in the history of science, yes. But the main sights in Uppsala are the cathedral, the castle and the Viking burial mounds in Gamla Uppsala. And the cafés, that in general are far better than the ones in Stockholm.

Posted by
6837 posts

For Amsterdam we like to stay in the Canal Ring area. Hotel l’Ambassade is well located there, on the Herengracht Canal.
In Copenhagen we stayed near Tivoli Gardens and did not like that area at all. We stayed at a modern Radisson because it had a/c. When we visit there again, we would prefer to be closer to Nygarden area. Friends recommended Hotel Admiral to us.
Stockholm is a huge favorite of ours. The Scandinavian hotel chain Scandic has several properties there.

Posted by
5003 posts

I have been to all three cities that you plan to visit.

We only did two nights in Stockholm, but enjoyed it. Don't miss the Vasa Museum. Also, walk around the town center where the Royal Palace and other sites are located.

The Linnaeus Gardens are botanical gardens and we have enjoyed visiting some great botanical gardens in other cities.

You might wish to cut a day from Stockholm and add a day in Amsterdam.

As for Copenhagen, we have been there three times and love that city and Denmark.
Here is one trip review that includes a cruise, as well as our five days pre-cruise in Copenhagen.
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=264272

Also, here is my review of our stay in Stockholm then cruise from Copenhagen up the coast of Norway to the Arctic Circle (a must do cruise).
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=659526&et_cid=3214772&et_rid=17221689&et_referrer=Boards

Posted by
1365 posts

What would you suggest for the afternoon/evening of our arrival?

Get lost in Gamla Stan, Stockholdm’s old town. The purpose is to be on your feet and when you’re ready to sit down, find an atmospheric place so you can people watch.

For Amsterdam, we have stayed near Vondelpark in the past.

For the best view, the Doubletree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station Skylounge Rooftop bar offers the best view. The Jordaan area is nice too.

Posted by
4566 posts

Scandic No 53 is central and close to the market and foodhall at Hötorget. For the day of your arrival, I’d wander around Gamla Stan, take a walk along Monteliusvägen (great views), or walk along the water around Djurgården. For a casual lunch or fika (coffee break) on a nice day, I love Rosendals Trädgårdskafe on Djurgården. It is a cafe set in a garden and apple orchard with outdoor tables. They have lovely salads, sandwiches, and wonderful baked goods. When I lived in Stockholm, it was one of those places that I took all my guests.
https://www.rosendalstradgard.se/in-english/
David Lebovitz wrote a post on the bakery a few years ago: https://www.davidlebovitz.com/rosendals-tradgard-bageri/

Don’t miss the Vasa Museum, City Hall tour, and wandering around Gamla Stan. I like Skansen (but I like open air museums), but check the schedule before you visit to see what exhibits are open and what special activities are planned. A visit to Millesgården is also nice.

Posted by
356 posts

A quick, general, and obviously subjective response. I have been to Stockholm and Copenhagen (though not to Amsterdam). I consider Stockholm one of Europe's most underrated cities and would love to return. I liked Copenhagen, but not nearly as much as I liked Stockholm. Given the choice between visiting the two cities, I would pick Stockholm. Given the task of allocating time between the two cities, I would spend at least one more full day in Stockholm than in Copenhagen. Of course, this is a personal preference, and I am sure there are Copenhagen fans who prefer Copenhagen over Stockholm.

Posted by
195 posts

In Amsterdam we have stayed at the Dikker & Thijs Hotel on the Prinsengracht Canal. I would recommend reserving a Deluxe Double Canal View Room. We had a small balcony overlooking the canal, The location was right by a tram stop, so it was easy to get to from Centraal Station. It was very walkable to the Anne Frank House, Flower market on the Singel Canal, Van Gogh Museum, Riksmuseum, and the Lovers Canal cruise. It was a lovely spot to stay.

Posted by
15 posts

In Stockholm, we stayed at the Hotel Esplanade on Strandvagen. Well priced & very well located. Water views & easy walking to Gamla Stan, Vasa Museum & Abba museum. Price included a wonderful breakfast buffet. We would definitely stay there again!

Posted by
143 posts

I agree with Laura’s suggestions. We loved the Vasa Museum and City Hall and walking through Gamlastan!! Enjoy your time there!

Posted by
105 posts

Does anyone on this forum have advice about COVID testing in Copenhagen prior to returning to the US? Specifically, has anyone used self-administered test that has a telahealth visit by app?

I don't know that service, but I can tell you that antigen and PCR test are free of charge in Denmark, also for tourists.

As a non-citizen you have to register on covidresults.dk if you want to get a PCR test (not needed for antigen tests). On this website there’s also a link to a map and list of all free covid test centres in Denmark.

Posted by
523 posts

I haven't stayed here yet, but for an upcoming trip I've booked a couple of bridge houses in Amsterdam: https://sweetshotel.amsterdam/ Now, if you are looking for concierge services and the like, this would not be for you. But if, like us, you are a fairly independent traveller and like unique accommodations, this might interest you.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks to all the replies for some good suggestions. We just came back from our trip, and found that we enjoyed both Stockholm and Copenhagen. We got very lucky with the weather, as it was mild with minimal rain (can make a trip all the more delightful). For our third time in Amsterdam, it was fun to end in a somewhat familiar city where we knew what we wanted to see during our limited time. As usual, the advice in Rick's Scandinavia book was great for museums and things to do so I won't repeat that info here.

I can confirm that taking the train from Stockholm to Copenhagen is probably the better move. At $100 a plane ticket, it seemed like a good move to chose a 1 hour flight versus a 5 hour train ride. In hindsight, it probably didn't save more than 90 minutes and was much more hassle than going from central station to central station. Also, SAS doesn't allow a personal item/purse, so that was a pain.

If anyone is planning on going to these places anytime soon, for Sweden, be sure to get a covid test prior to your departure. The Swedish Polisen website states that "Sweden will always apply entry regulations according to the last country you enter from, even if this is only a transit country." As we cleared customs in France then flew to Sweden, the rules governing travel from France to Sweden should have been controlling, and we would not need covid tests as we were vaccinated. That was not the case in our experience, as both the airline and the border guards demanded proof of a negative test. Fortunately, we both got tested anyways before leaving the US, and we were glad we did. The border guard confirmed that we would not have been permitted entry if we did not have the tests.

Once in Europe, we had to randomly show proof of vaccination at some hotels and restaurants in Copenhagen. For example, we entered a museum with no proof of vaccination, but they required the proof once we sat down in the cafe to drink coffee. We walked around with paper copies of our passports and CDC cards, and had no issues with not having the originals.

We were able to get a covid test in Copenhagen at no cost. It took <5 minutes, and got the results in 20 minutes. This was required for re-entry to the US. We also packed Ellum rapid test kits, just in case. $30 for the kit, and $15 for a video proctored service to generate an official report (https://www.azova.com/testing/ellume/delta/). You can buy the kits at CVS. We didn't end up needing to use them, but it was a relief to know we could have taken care of it without much hassle if needed.

For Stockholm, we can recommend Marita as a tour guide, she is listed in the Rick Steve's book: https://www.guidestockholm.com/en/guider/marita-bergman-2/. Also, Richard in Copenhagen was a colorful and interesting guide dressed as Hans Christian Anderson: http://www.copenhagenwalks.com/800x600/ph_General.htm. Both guides reported that we were the first customers from the US since Covid.

If you are thinking of traveling, go! Is it safer to travel to Europe or Florida? I don't know for sure, but we took steps to reduce our risk and I'm so glad we went to Europe rather than Florida. Places were busy but not too crowded. The only issue we had was that I neglected to get tickets to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and they were sold out for our limited time there. Otherwise, we were able to secure tickets and I don't remember much time spent waiting in lines (outside the airports...airport lines were as normal or worse probably related to the increased burden on the desk agents to check documents).

Thanks for all the advice.