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Scandinavian Intinerary (4 weeks) - Revised; requested feedback

Based on previous input, I've revised my original Scandinavia Itinerary (July 2024) and would appreciate feedback.

My wife and I are a healthy 60+ couple and want to travel via train, bus, and boat and avoid car/driving if possible; we are aiming for a well-rounded blend of nature, urban life/culture, art, history, and food/dining. In addition to the sites, we’d also would enjoy:
1. incorporating a couple of shorter hikes (about 5-6 miles or less), especially in the fjord country.
2. Tips on outdoor music scheduled along our travel route.
3. Recommendations on local foods/cuisines—what and where (e.g. seafoods, smoked meat/seafoods, any other special or popular dishes)

Questions:
Does the schedule look reasonable? What would you change?
We want to add 3-5 days to this itinerary—any suggestions where to add these days?

Non-Norway Segment:
Days 1-3: Copenhagen (3 nts),
Days 4-5: Aeroskobing (2 nts),
Day 6: Kalmar (1 nt),
Day 7-9: Stockholm (3 nts),
Day 10-11: Tallinn (2 nts),
Day 12: Helsinki(1 nt),
Day 13: Turku + ferry to Stockholm (1 nt)

Norway Segment:
Day 14-16: Oslo (3 nts)
Day 17: Lillehammer/Gaala (1 nt)
Day 18: Travel train/bus to Geiranger (1 nt)
DAY 19 – Travel by Boat (Hurtigruten) to and overnight in Alesund (1 nt)
Day 20 – Travel by Boat (Hurtigruten) to Bergen (1 nt)
DAY 21-22 – Bergen (2 nts)
DAY 23: Depart on "Norway in a Nutshell” & overnight in Flam or other midpoint (1 nt)
Day 24: Oslo/Copenhagen (1 nt)
Day 25: Fly home (1 nt)
Day 20 – Travel by Boat (Hurtigruten) to Bergen (1 nt)
DAY 21-22 – Bergen (2 nts)
DAY 23: Depart on "Norway in a Nutshell” & overnight in Flam or other midpoint (1 nt)
Day 24: Oslo/Copenhagen (1 nt)
Day 25: Fly home

Posted by
2538 posts

The Non-Norway Segment is really filled up - your travel time compared to location experience time will be really high. This would not be my way of travelling but matter of taste.

Aeroskobing is really out of your regular way and I put a question mark on if it is worth it. I was sailing this area in my young years with my parents - and it is lovely but you will find similar experiences on Bornholm and on Møn (much closer to Copenhagen). The white cliffs Møns Klint are a favorite destination for nature lovers. Hårbølle is comparable mild to Aero area. Klintholm harbor is rougher and a favorite stop of yacht owners between Germany and Sweden. Less touristy would be Odense.

Another Danish area for nature lovers is North Jutland - rough on North Sea shore, more mild at Baltic Sea side. There are several ferries between Hirtshals and the Norwegian coast, e. g. up to Stavanger (access to Lysefjord and Preikestolen) and Bergen. Ferry provider is Fjordline, tip: booking on Norwegian website is cheaper.

My stomach feeling is that I would plan the whole trip in a different way by reaching nearly same destinations and experiences. I would fly into Helsinki and work myself through from there, so you have the whole way only once.

I need to think about your Norway part separately.

Posted by
6552 posts

Better, but there are still some things to comment on. To begin with the listed items:

  1. Hiking trails can be found almost everywhere in Sweden and Norway, so you'll have plenty of options for hiking.
  2. It's hard to give advice without knowing the exact dates your planning this.
  3. Any particular preferences? When in Kalmar, ostkaka, isterband and kroppkakor are local specialities worth trying in my opinion.

In general the schedule looks doable, but the non-Norway part is very rushed in my opinion. And yes, Ærøskøbing is a bit of an odd addition, it is very out of the way and travel there and back takes a lot of time. Especially Ærøskøbing to Kalmar is a very long trip that will probably take around 7-8 hours. You could remove Ærø from the plan and instead add two nights in Visby between Kalmar and Stockholm. Bornholm is as mentioned also an option.

Overall your itinerary is very focused on Norway, and maybe that's what you want to see. But you should maybe ask yourself if the short visit to Finland really is worth it.

Posted by
27353 posts

It would be helpful to know the timing of your ferries. I believe the Stockholm-Tallinn ferry trip is very long--16 to 20 hours. Viking departs from Stockholm at 4 PM; Tallink Silja, at 5:30 PM. They use different docks, so be sure you allow adequate time to get there. Your last day in Stockholm is going to be compromised by having to return to your hotel to pick up your luggage and get to the dock by the check-in time. When all is said and done, you will have only one full day in Stockholm (your Day 8) plus a couple of generous half-days. It's such a lovely city, and it sprawls across a lot of islands, with sights pretty widely scattered; I think most would agree it warrants more time than Oslo. I'd add an additional day or two to Stockholm.

It looks as if the Tallink Silja ferry arrives in Tallinn at 10:45 AM, whereas Viking arrives at 1:15 PM. You'll have about 1-1/2 days to see Tallinn. I think you'd be able to fill another day there easily, especially if you have an interest in what life was like under Soviet domination. This would be a good place to add one of your extra days.

You'll have less than a full day in Helsinki (it's not an overnight ferry from Tallinn), then you'll be off to Turku for less than a day. I've been to Turku a couple of times. The Turku Archipelago is very pretty, the city itself is pleasant, and there are some museums worth seeing, but I agree with Rick that Turku is a lesser destination than Helsinki. I'd drop Turku and shift that time to Helsinki, taking the (overnight) ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm--unless you have a special reason for going to Turku. Less than a full day in a capital city seems a shame. If Turku is a must, I'd use one of your extra days in Helsinki.

I believe the southbound Hurtigruten ships leave Geiranger at 2:45 PM, reach Alesund at 7 PM and then depart at 1:20 AM. I'm a big fan of Art Nouveau architecture and set up my itinerary so I'd have a full day in Alesund. I needed all that time. If you don't share my love of Art Nouveau, you might be fine with just a few hours in Alesund. There should still be daylight till after 10 PM even in late July.

Your itinerary gives you less than 1-1/2 days in Bergen. I think you might enjoy more time there if the weather is conducive to outdoor activities. (No guarantees of that; Bergen is one of Europe's wettest cities.) There are said to be good walks at the top of the Ulriken cable car and the Mount Floyen funicular. I've read that you can walk between those two. They aren't outdoors, but there are concerts at the Grieg house outside Bergen.

I can't address the adequacy of the time you're planning in Copenhagen, but I suspect it could use another day, like Stockholm and Tallinn (and Helsinki if you don't drop Turku and shift the Turku time to Helsinki).

It's getting late to find lodging in Flam for this July. I don't think July ferries are in danger of selling out soon, but in my experience the fares for summer sailings can rise significantly as the sailing date approaches, and cabins can sell out. I don't know what the optimum timing is for purchase of Baltic ferry tickets.

Posted by
27353 posts

I didn't think to mention this yesterday, and you may already know, but:

The Hurtigruten ships haven't been running seven days a week recently. Be sure the schedule works with your dates. If not, check the Havila ships; their schedule might be different.