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Month Long Home Base

Hi,

I have a conference in Copenhagen mid July. We are have four weeks prior to the conference to explore the Scandinavia area. Is there a good home base where we could park ourselves and do day trips in Sweden, Norway, or Finland? We love the great outdoors: hiking, kayaking, etc...

I realize most folks would see many different places, but we prefer to indulge in one location and branch out from there. If you have thoughts or recommendations, please let me know.

KC

Posted by
27426 posts

Those are all large countries, so I think you may find the possible coverage from a single base somewhat less than you might hope for. That's probably especially true in Norway, because the geography is extremely challenging. There's also the fact that the transportation costs for out-and-back trips in those countries may be higher than you would anticipate. That is definitely true of Norway, even if you're on buses part of the time.

I've spent over 3 months in Norway, Sweden and Finland since June 2022. I hate changing hotels and am willing to sit on trains longer than most people. Still, I didn't really take very many side trips.

A month is a long time to tie yourself down if you don't have to. If I had to do it, I'd choose Stockholm because the city itself has so many sights and is beautiful just to walk around, and it has at least a few viable day trips (Uppsala, Sigtuna, Drottningholm Castle, the Archipelago--probably plenty more I'm not aware of). But staying in Stockholm for a month would mean no opportunity to see Finland, Norway, Goteborg, Visby, Lund...

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you so much for the reply! This part of the world is outside my area of expertise. :-)

Posted by
2672 posts

If you want to choose one location I would vote for Oslo because it has the best options for multi-day trips by ferry, train or plane. Furthermore you will find great opportunities for day and / or car round trips, e. g. Lillehammer, Rjukan, Gaustatoppen, Gothenborg, Tanum, Sandefjord, Valdresflyen, ...

Stockholm is a nice town, also the islands are nice but the landscape in reach is somehow flat and boring compared to Oslo.

Posted by
27426 posts

It's true Norway has much more than its share of dramatic landscape, but I have a different definition of "day trip". Goteborg is great, but it's 3-1/2 hours from Oslo by train.

Posted by
6664 posts

In short: No, there is no good place where you can base yourself and do day trips in all three countries. There are some tiny villages in the north where the borders are close, but those are not places I'd recommend to visit for a month.

Looking at a map of the area is in general a good idea, Sweden, Norway and Finland are large countries and their total area is roughly the same as France, Benelux, the German-speaking countries and the Czech republic combined.

So yes, you need to decide if you want to spend one month in one place or if you want to see more of the countries.

Posted by
7016 posts

If you have your heart set on Scandinavia, then you may not want to consider this. But have you considered Northern Germany as a base? There are a lot of places to see and do in that area and it’s an easy train ride to Copenhagen.

I don’t know if you wanted to base yourself in a city or a town, but in terms of cities, there is Hamburg, which is a vibrant and exciting city with a lot to see and do. You can catch a train from Hamburg to just about any place. Berlin is a quick 2 hour train ride from there. There are also many beautiful and smaller towns in the area that would make good bases, like the coastal town of Lübeck. There is also the Harz Mountains, which is a beautiful area of northern Germany with lots of hiking and outdoor activities available, and the charming towns of Quedlinburg, Goslar and others. You could base yourself in Hanover, which is a smaller town than Hamburg but still close for easy access to the Harz Mountain region.

Germany also has the advantage of being less expensive than Scandinavia. I’m not trying to convert you from Scandinavia, as I know it’s a gorgeous place and you can find a lot to see and do there in a month. I just wanted to point out another option for you to think about. That said, if you want to look at some Germany options, you might want to post this same question on the Germany board for some more responses. Here are a few threads with some information, though.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/harz-mountains
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/7-10-days-in-germany-what-is-the-most-beautiful-region
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/northern-germany-6016b05d-a109-4393-a7c3-e6422427230e
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/germany/northern-germany-itinerary-help-870ace58-3d4c-42a5-b034-4f2da031fbad

Posted by
68 posts

Hi Kristie,

Stockholm is the perfect home base for a month. For hiking and nature walks, there are many open spaces and parks inside and outside the city that can be accessed by bus or Tunnelbana. There are places to rent a kayak or a bike to discover hidden corners all around the city. Just do a little research.

If you are coming mid-June you could go to Skansen for their Midsommar celebration. It's a nice way to see Swedish culture and hear some traditional music. (Just be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella and wear layers. Mid-June to mid-July is a beautiful transition time in Stockholm. The days are longer and the nights start getting warmer. Of course, because it's in the North the weather can be variable; cool one day, warm the next.)

You could do day trips around and outside the greater Stockholm area (Uppsala, the archipelago Islands, Mariefred, etc.) and you can take a train to Malmo to experience different Swedish cities. Trains can get you to the mountains in Are. Rent a car and drive to the High Coast or go down to Ystad. You could take a large ferry to Visby or Tallin for a few days too. Catch a smaller ferry downtown that goes out to the closer archipelago islands. Rick Steves recommends a few in his books.

Take a snack and a book to a local beach and go for a really cold swim. Also, it's just nice to relax on the rocks around the lakes.

In the summer Swedes love being outdoors and a lot of restaurants and cafes set up outside tables. It's nice to absorb the vibe and people-watch. Swedish coffee is really good too! Just a small note, in some neighborhoods, restaurants close for part or most of the summer so make sure to check their hours.

Finally, it's an easy train ride to Copenhagen from Stockholm (stop in Goteborg for a day or two if you want), once the month is over. Hope this helps! Have a great trip!

Cheers,
Moomin

Posted by
795 posts

Hey hi there, If I wanted to base myself somewhere in Scandinavia to hike & kayak, I would choose somewhere smaller than Stockholm or Oslo. My SIL hikes from hotel to hotel along the water in Skåne in Southern Sweden each summer for example. (I can ask her in a few weeks where she's been. ) Perhaps you would get more detailed responses posted under "General Europe" & ask specifically about your interests in your question. I saw a post recently about the best bike trips, it got great replies from people who've done multiple biking trips! (PS, it's still fun to spend some time in larger cities, and both Stockholm & Oslo are great cities.)