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Norway, Sweden, Denmark

Hi all!
I am trying to put together an itinerary for late August to early September roughly 12 to 13 days long. Thinking August 25 through September 6 or 7. First of all, is this a good time to go to Norway, Sweden, Denmark? I know the kids are usually back in the school in the later part of August so I figured we could still capitalize on the fact that it's the end of summer and possibly better weather but less crowd. Still pretty deep into the research phase but I'm just looking for general opinions. Right now I'm trying to plan for Bergen, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. Definitley want to experience the beauty of the fjords in Norway. What are some of the best options for this? I've seen a lot about the "Norway in a nutshell "tour. Also I think all of these cities are easily accessible by a train but time is of the essence so not opposed to flying either. Looking forward to the replies thanks in advance for the help!

Posted by
1493 posts

First off, there's no way to do a day trip to Tallinn from any of the other places on your itinerary, unless you fly round trip, but I wouldn't try to do that all in one day.

The four cities you mention could be squeezed into a 12-13 day trip, but it's a lot. Something like this might work:

  • Fly into Stockholm
  • Stockholm: 3 (or 4) nights, then train or fly to Copenhagen
  • Copenhagen: 3 nights
  • 1 night overnight ferry to Oslo
  • Oslo: 2 nights
  • Norway in a Nutshell with 1 (or 2) night stay en route
  • Bergen: 2 nights
  • Fly home from Bergen

If you have flexibility on time, add nights as suggested in parentheses.

Posted by
36 posts

Lane,
Thanks so much for your insight! I did not know about Tallinn. I had seen something about going from Stockholm but it is "out of the way" I suppose. Appreciate the input!

Posted by
533 posts

You may be thinking of the "mini-cruise" to Tallinn - an overnight ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, and an overnight ferry back the next night. Not quite a crazy as taking a round-trip flight in one day, but still not really advisable with your limited time, I'd think.

Be aware that Arlanda, Stockholm's main airport, is pretty far outside of town, so getting there means taking either the quick but pricey Arlanda Express or one of the multitude of cheaper but much slower options. In my view, that tips the scales in favor of the train for getting in and out of Stockholm. The scenery is nothing close to what you'll get in Norway, but Swedish trains are pleasant and efficient, and they're extremely inexpensive when booked in advance.

I was in Stockholm and Copenhagen in late August 2016, and I thought it was a very reasonable time to go. The weather varied between cold drizzle (so bring a rain jacket) and an unexpected "heat wave" (meaning temperatures in the high 70s, which can actually be a little unpleasant when all the buildings are built to retain heat rather than dissipate it).

There were still plenty of tourists around, including a couple of cruise ships full, and places like Skansen that vary their prices by the season were still charging peak-season prices, but for the most part nothing was obnoxiously crowded. The one exception was the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. If you want to go there - and I strongly recommend it - try to arrive right when it opens, which is 8:30 in August and 10:00 in September. If you can beat both the line outside and the crowds inside, you'll have a much more enjoyable visit.

Posted by
2284 posts

Lane's itinerary is good, but if you are flying back to North America, you may have an easier time finding a flight from Oslo. So it may be better to fly from Copenhagen to Bergen and then work your way to Oslo by ferry and train.

The overnight cruise from Stockholm to Tallin (there's also one to Helsinki) is a great idea, but you really don't have enpugh time to fit it in.

Posted by
36 posts

Yes it seems Tallinn won't be included in this trip because of the time frame. Thoughts on Stockholm? Are there other places within Sweden that might be better to visit? We aren't opposed to trading out Sweden for perhaps another country or Stockholm for another city within Sweden. Very open!

Posted by
11292 posts

"Thoughts on Stockholm?"

A lovely city with a very nice vibe as well as good sights like the Vasa and the Millesgården. I can't compare it to other places in Sweden as I didn't get to any, but it's one of my favorite small major cities (as opposed to big major cities like Paris or Berlin).

Do you have the Rick Steves Scandinavia book? It not only has lot of information on sights, but also how to get between cities and countries, as well as lots of money-saving tips (very important for this very expensive region).

In 12-13 days, you will have to be brutally selective. Lane's itinerary is a great starting framework; add or subtract days depending on your interests. And do look at flights between your home city and various Scandinavian cities before making any final itineraries. Flight options to Scandinavia are more numerous now than before, with the rise of WOW and Norwegian Air flights to the US, but are still nothing like options to London or Paris.

Do look at flying within Scandinavia, but when doing this, remember to add the time and money it takes to get to and from the airports. The flights themselves are often reasonable, as SAS, Norwegian, and Finnair (and their various subsidiaries) compete on many routes. Check Skyscanner for options, but remember to look at the actual airline's website for all rules and extra fees: https://www.skyscanner.com/

Rick's book has all the details about Norway In A Nutshell, both doing it in a day and breaking it up over several days. I did it as a one way from Oslo to Bergen, stayed two nights in Bergen, and then flew out of Bergen via Oslo to Newark. Obviously, this is just one option.