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Planning a Scandinavian Adventure - would love advice/ideas!

We are planning about a 3 week long trip through Scandinavia for either late August or mid-December 2021 (depending on Covid travel restrictions). The focus will be Sweden (12ish days) and Norway, with perhaps a couple days in Copenhagen. In my preliminary research, it seems like getting the Scandinavian Eurail Pass seems like the easiest and most affordable way to travel between major cities. In Sweden we want to see Malmö, Göteborg, and Stockholm as well as smaller towns throughout central/southern Sweden (my great-grandparents came from Småland, Kalmar and Värmland, and I want to explore the rural areas/small towns). We are also thinking about taking the night train from Stockholm to Kiruna/Narvik, as we want to spend some time in Abisko and the Sami areas (especially if we go in December - we will spend several days there for hopes of northern lights viewing). In Norway, the focus will be Oslo and Bergen (and nearby fjords).

My questions:
- If we go in December, is the train reliable all over the country, or can there be weather delays/closures? Especially thinking for up north near Kiruna, etc.
- Should we rent a car for the few days seeing the small towns in the central/south (say pick up from Göteborg and drop off in Stockholm), or is train/bus travel sufficient in the rural areas?
- Is there anything else to consider if we have to go in December? Is it common for long holiday closures at major museums, sites, etc? Is it possible to see/do much in the fjords in Norway in the winter?
- Is there anything off the beaten path (not in guidebooks) that we should not miss in any of the areas I mentioned? Especially in Norway - we love hiking and the outdoors, and would love to explore more if we can make it in August.

Tack så mycket!

Posted by
2094 posts

In my preliminary research, it seems like getting the Scandinavian
Eurail Pass seems like the easiest and most affordable way to travel
between major cities.

Maybe, maybe not. You need to do the maths before you buy the passes. They can be a good option, but they can also be a waste of money.

  • If we go in December, is the train reliable all over the country, or can there be weather delays/closures? Especially thinking for up north near Kiruna, etc.

Usually yes, but it is always a good idea to have some margins for delays in the north in winter. Normal winter is no problem for public transport, but in case of bad weather there can be delays. Also note that this is not only a problem for trains, in case of bad weather flights will be cancelled and some roads may be closed.

  • Should we rent a car for the few days seeing the small towns in the central/south (say pick up from Göteborg and drop off in Stockholm), or is train/bus travel sufficient in the rural areas?

It depends on where you actually want to go, trains and buses can be excellent or sparse. Make a rough plan of what you want to see, then I can give you better advice on best way to travel.

  • Is there anything else to consider if we have to go in December?

It will be dark early, the further north you are the earlier the sun sets.

Is it common for long holiday closures at major museums, sites, etc?

Not in december.

Is it possible to see/do much in the fjords in Norway in the winter?

Yes, but as mentioned it will be dark early, so focus on the southern fjords is my advice (the Bergen area).

  • Is there anything off the beaten path (not in guidebooks) that we should not miss in any of the areas I mentioned? Especially in Norway
  • we love hiking and the outdoors, and would love to explore more if we can make it in August.

There are many areas that can be considered off the beaten path. What are you interested in? Both Norway and Sweden are great areas for hiking so there are hundreds of hiking trails to consider if you make it in August (in December they will not be as nice due to the weather), ranging from short ones for day trips to longer ones like the 440 km Kungsleden or the around 1300 km Gröna bandet (The Green Ribbon).

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks for the help!

We want to see the areas around Vetlanda, Alseda, Långaryd, Veddige, Redslared, Jönköping, Hannäs, and potentially Växjo, Kristianstad, Gilberga. Doubt we will be able to hit all of these, but figured a car would give us more flexibility?

As far as activities go, we enjoy outdoor hiking, culture, history, art, museums, music, etc. We want to absorb everything of the local culture and history, both in big cities and rural areas.

I have some family who lives in the Stockholm area, so they can help me a bit, but hoping for any insight regarding logistics and other sites that are worth a visit.

Posted by
1177 posts

Friends of mine who only went to Norway in their 2 weeks, combined Fjord Cruises with Connecting trains. You really don't need a car in the cities or tourist towns. It is physically difficult get too far off the beaten paths near the fjords. My friends had a cabin on a ship/boat that had a regular run up and down a fjord that delivered cargo and mail with stops along the way. They even had meals on the boat. I don't have specifics but I'm sure someone else does. They did get to visit the village of the wife's ancestors. They stopped to ask where the family farm might be, explaining that they were American relatives. The lady of the house said "Welcome, come in cousins". P.S. I would wait until next year.

Posted by
3159 posts

I think December is an odd choice for Scandinavia because of the short days, unless visiting relatives for the holidays is your plan. Are you comfortable substituting skiing for hiking to get outdoors if it's snowy? And then you would need all the special clothes.

If money is a concern, renting a car and staying in cabins outside cities and cooking for yourself will bring the cost down to be similar to say traveling in England. Staying only in hotels, taking the train and cruises, eating only in restaurants, well, the cost is likely to be double for that style of trip. Of course the economy of the car depends upon the number of passengers involved to divide up the cost.

I would never explore rural Sweden or Norway without a car, to save money and increase access. If you are going to farms then you don't really have a choice. Logistically you are looking at a car for part of the time in each country.

Posted by
31 posts

I don't see why December is an odd choice? I guess if you hate winter, but that's not us. From what I hear Christmastime in Sweden is really fantastic. We'd love to visit the holiday markets and (hopefully) see the northern lights. We don't know our family in Stockholm well yet (haven't met in person before), but my other family from the US has visited them, so we will likely see them for a day or two but I don't plan to rely on them too heavily. August would be my first choice to go, but we don't know if they will be opening up to foreign travelers by then, or what the state of Covid in general will be. We are very comfortable in winter weather (we live in CO and showshoe, ski, winter hike, etc often). Luckily we can decide on quite short notice (using airline miles to book the tickets), so will likely book last minute if we end up going in August.

Thanks for the input on the rural areas - I suspect that renting a car for a few days will be our best option to get around. I don't want to drive the whole time we are there because I really enjoy train travel and want to be able to see the countryside without worrying about navigating the whole time. We have zero interest in cruising, or other large group touristy stuff. It will be two of us for the majority of the trip - we plan to meet up two friends for the Norway portion, but they are also keen on train travel.

I'll have to look at the cost of individual train tickets vs the Eurail pass. We plan to take several long train trips (likely Stockholm-Kiruna, Oslo-Bergen, possibly Göteborg-Stockholm), so I figured a pass would be cheaper, but as Badger said, I'll definitely do the math.

As far as lodging goes, we are quite flexible and will probably do a combination of hotels and Airbnb. I travel for work half the time (in non-pandemic times), so I have some hotel points I can use. We do have some dietary restrictions (vegetarian, celiac) so will probably be preparing the majority of our own meals, unless we are in the larger cities with more options in restaurants.

Thanks everyone for your input!

Posted by
3159 posts

Here's a daylength chart for a somewhat northern fjord area, day length is 5 hours around Christmas. So no sightseeing or hiking before 10 or after 3. You would literally have to plan meals at odd times so that you leave the whole 5 hour period of light uninterrupted by eating. In this area in June the sun sets but it is light all night (note this is far below the Arctic Circle) so there is the opportunity for all night hiking, which people do.

https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/norway/geiranger?month=12&year=2021

Airbnb has the market in these 2 countries nearly cornered.

It is hard to research train costs because tickets are usually not on sale till 4 months in advance and the price often triples leading up to departure. You will have to make some assumptions about what the cheapest price is going to be for the dates you want. AFAIK Norway has 3 main lines, Oslo up to Trondheim/Åndalsnes, Oslo west to Bergen, Oslo south to Kristiansand. That's not a lot of service although the bus network seems to be excellent.

Posted by
18752 posts

Average monthly hours of sunlight for December (from the cities' Wikipedia pages):

Denver: 195.9
Oslo: 39.4
Stockholm: 33

That's a massive difference; I believe Denver is known for its beautiful, sunny winters. I realize dealing with the dark, overcast environment in Scandinavia may be worth it to you, for the much improved chance of seeing the northern lights.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks all - I'm well aware of the long, dark days there during winter, and it is not a deterrent. That's part of the trade off for going that time of year in hopes of catching the northern lights. And honestly it is part of the adventure - experiencing long winter darkness in the Arctic Circle - we definitely will feel far from home. We plan to do lots of museums and wouldn't be spending as much time outdoors in December as if we were going in August, so we can make the most of the short daylight hours.

I realize there are many differences to traveling in Scandinavia in August vs. December and our itinerary will have to be flexible depending on when we can go. I'm trying to research/plan for both times of year so that we can have a great trip regardless of when we can get there.

Posted by
2094 posts

We want to see the areas around Vetlanda, Alseda, Långaryd, Veddige,
Redslared, Jönköping, Hannäs, and potentially Växjo, Kristianstad,
Gilberga. Doubt we will be able to hit all of these, but figured a car
would give us more flexibility?

It seems like it will be focused mostly on Småland with a few exceptions. You can do this by public transport, but renting a car is probably a good idea.

As far as activities go, we enjoy outdoor hiking, culture, history,
art, museums, music, etc. We want to absorb everything of the local
culture and history, both in big cities and rural areas.

3 weeks is not much to absorb everything, and it will be different in August compared to December. Any particular eras of history or kinds of museums you like? I you like hiking there are trails almost everywhere. For an August trip a few days in the mountains will give you a chance to see that part of the country and also meet locals as well as other tourists. For a december trip, you should try to catch a Lucia celebration.

I don't have specifics but I'm sure someone else does.

Sounds like Hurtigruten.

If money is a concern, renting a car and staying in cabins outside
cities and cooking for yourself will bring the cost down to be similar
to say traveling in England.

If money is a concern, renting a car is usually a bad idea, trains are often the cheaper alternative. Staying in cabins in the countryside can be a good idea though but usually not an option in December. Hostels can be a good option if you are travelling on a budget, and no hostel doesn't have to mean a single bed in a huge room with 60 backpackers.

From what I hear Christmastime in Sweden is really fantastic.

It can be, but December is early winter so it can be pretty dull weather in the south, especially along the coast. There are some nice Christmas markets aswell, if you able to fit it in your plan, the one in Jamtli just outside Östersund is nice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knjkKwc4RZE

We do have some dietary restrictions (vegetarian, celiac) so will
probably be preparing the majority of our own meals, unless we are in
the larger cities with more options in restaurants.

Cooking yourself is a great way to save a bit of money, but your dietary restrictions shouldn't be a problem. Vegetarian food is pretty easy to find, gluten free as well.

It is hard to research train costs because tickets are usually not on
sale till 4 months in advance and the price often triples leading up
to departure.

It is hard to get an exact price, but usually very easy to get a rough idea. But yes, the prices go up the closer you get to departure.

Posted by
31 posts

3 weeks is not much to absorb everything, and it will be different in August compared to December. Any particular eras of history or kinds of museums you like? I you like hiking there are trails almost everywhere. For an August trip a few days in the mountains will give you a chance to see that part of the country and also meet locals as well as other tourists. For a december trip, you should try to catch a Lucia celebration.

I've heard of good museums in Småland for emmigrants and glassblowing and we'd like to see some Viking history and Scandinavian art. Also would be interested in interior design museums. Honestly we are pretty open there. Lucia Day would be on my list for December if we can get in that early. Where is the best city to see the celebration? We will likely fly in to Copenhagen (spend 1-2 days there) and start our Swedish journey in Malmö and then head up to Göteborg.

It can be, but December is early winter so it can be pretty dull weather in the south, especially along the coast. There are some nice Christmas markets aswell, if you able to fit it in your plan, the one in Jamtli just outside Östersund is nice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knjkKwc4RZE

If we go in December, we will spend more time up north and in the cities than lingering in the rural south, so that confirms my ideas. I've heard about the Göteborg Christmas markets, but didn't know about the Jamtli one - thanks!

Cooking yourself is a great way to save a bit of money, but your dietary restrictions shouldn't be a problem. Vegetarian food is pretty easy to find, gluten free as well.

Glad to hear this!

It is hard to get an exact price, but usually very easy to get a rough idea. But yes, the prices go up the closer you get to departure.

I've been looking for early summer prices to get an idea. On the SJ site, their prices seem similar if I buy a ticket direct (for example a sleeping car on a night train) as if I try to add the seat/bed reservation on top of the Eurail pass. Does that seem correct? I know seat reservations are extra on top of the Eurail pass, so wondering what makes sense there. Any websites or tricks you might know on trying to figure out train routes/prices would be helpful.

Posted by
3159 posts

Did you say you had hotel points to use? Some chains are absent from Norway/Sweden like IHG, and Marriott and Hilton are rare. The most useful points are Radisson and Choice.

For some reason Airbnb prices are similar to the rest of Europe but hotels can be much more, even double the price. So while 4 in an Airbnb might be $175, 2 hotel rooms might be $500. That’s the math that can make a car cheaper if the Airbnb is out of reach of train or bus.

Posted by
2094 posts

I've heard of good museums in Småland for emmigrants and glassblowing
and we'd like to see some Viking history and Scandinavian art. Also
would be interested in interior design museums. Honestly we are pretty
open there. Lucia Day would be on my list for December if we can get
in that early. Where is the best city to see the celebration?

Glassblowing was a huge industry in Småland, and there are still some active glass works in the area so that is a good suggestion. Småland was also a major centre of emigration in the 19th century, if you haven't read the novel series "The Emigrants", I can recommed it for a bit of background information. I'm not that familiar with interior design museums but since you plan to be in the area, the Ikea museum in Älmhult might interest you.

For Viking history, the place to visit is in my opinion Gamla Uppsala but there are other places worth mentioning like Foteviken viking village outside Malmö (only open in the summer though). For other Swedish history the Vasa museum in Stockholm is maybe not a must, but pretty close to. The best place for Lucia is to be honest wherever you are on the 13th. But if you have a choice Uppsala cathedral is not a bad place. For art I can suggest Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Glyptoteket in Copenhagen and Louisiana in Humlebæk, just outside Copenhagen. And I also have to mention the Zorn museum in Mora.

If we go in December, we will spend more time up north and in the
cities than lingering in the rural south, so that confirms my ideas.
I've heard about the Göteborg Christmas markets, but didn't know about
the Jamtli one - thanks!

The Liseberg Christmas market is also a great one!

I've been looking for early summer prices to get an idea. On the SJ
site, their prices seem similar if I buy a ticket direct (for example
a sleeping car on a night train) as if I try to add the seat/bed
reservation on top of the Eurail pass. Does that seem correct? I know
seat reservations are extra on top of the Eurail pass, so wondering
what makes sense there. Any websites or tricks you might know on
trying to figure out train routes/prices would be helpful.

For trains in Sweden, use www.sj.se and in Norway use www.entur.no. My knowledge about using an Eurail pass in Sweden is close to zero, so I'm not sure I can help that much. But for night trains, the cost of the compartment can be quite significant. SJ's high speed trains can be pretty cheap when bought in advance, you can get a single ticket for around 200 kr. Local and regional trains often have fixed prices.

Posted by
5 posts

Long-time lurker here, finally delurking since you mentioned possibly visiting Värmland. You can get to communities near Lake Vänern (e.g., Karlstad, Kristinehamn) by train, but otherwise Värmland isn't well served by train. I hate to drive, so when I visited in 2016 I took local buses from Karlstad out into the countryside. So, it can be done, but it took a lot of planning because the bus routes may not run every day or very frequently. You can research whether there is bus service to where you want to go at the bus website: https://www.varmlandstrafik.se/.

I returned to Värmland in 2019 with a relative who loves to drive. We rented a car in Karlstad, and stayed in a summer cottage AirBNB in a forest near Molkom. This turned out to be a much more efficient way to explore the region, and I saw a lot more than I did during my first visit.

I almost forgot: there is tourist information at the Karlstad public library, and I definitely recommend visiting Värmlands Museum in Karlstad for the informative exhibit (in Swedish and English) on the history of Värmland. https://varmlandsmuseum.se/en/

Posted by
31 posts

Did you say you had hotel points to use? Some chains are absent from Norway/Sweden like IHG, and Marriott and Hilton are rare. The most useful points are Radisson and Choice.
For some reason Airbnb prices are similar to the rest of Europe but hotels can be much more, even double the price. So while 4 in an Airbnb might be $175, 2 hotel rooms might be $500. That’s the math that can make a car cheaper if the Airbnb is out of reach of train or bus.

Yes, hotels are usually more expensive than Airbnb, but you might be surprised at how good the rates are now because the industry has been hit so hard during Covid. I'm pretty good at searching out deals, so not too worried about the lodging. Either way I think it will make the most sense to stick to public transit in and in between the bigger cities and get a car only when we venture into the central/southern rural areas.

Småland was also a major centre of emigration in the 19th century, if you haven't read the novel series "The Emigrants", I can recommed it for a bit of background information. I'm not that familiar with interior design museums but since you plan to be in the area, the Ikea museum in Älmhult might interest you.

The Emigrants series is on my to-read list before we go, and I'm currently reading Moberg's two volume "A History of the Swedish People". For design museums, we are thinking more high end, classic/modern Scandinavian design, though I'm sure the Ikea museum is quite a thing (do they make you assemble something to gain entry?) !

For Viking history, the place to visit is in my opinion Gamla Uppsala but there are other places worth mentioning like Foteviken viking village outside Malmö (only open in the summer though). For other Swedish history the Vasa museum in Stockholm is maybe not a must, but pretty close to. The best place for Lucia is to be honest wherever you are on the 13th. But if you have a choice Uppsala cathedral is not a bad place. For art I can suggest Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Glyptoteket in Copenhagen and Louisiana in Humlebæk, just outside Copenhagen. And I also have to mention the Zorn museum in Mora.

Thank you for all of these suggestions - I'm making note.

If you are visiting in the winter and like skiing, I would search out an adventure like this, although nothing likely in December.
http://www.rajaltarajallehiihto.fi/en/

Wow! I don't think we'd be up for something anywhere near that length, but how cool! If we make it in December, I've heard you can do dogsledding, and we are very interested in visiting the Sami areas and seeing the reindeer. Anyone have experience there?

I returned to Värmland in 2019 with a relative who loves to drive. We rented a car in Karlstad, and stayed in a summer cottage AirBNB in a forest near Molkom. This turned out to be a much more efficient way to explore the region, and I saw a lot more than I did during my first visit.
I almost forgot: there is tourist information at the Karlstad public library, and I definitely recommend visiting Värmlands Museum in Karlstad for the informative exhibit (in Swedish and English) on the history of Värmland. https://varmlandsmuseum.se/en/

Thanks for sharing your experience! Based on this and the other advice I've received, I think I will plan to rent a car for the rural part of our journey, for flexibility sake primarily. I'll check out that museum too!

Posted by
2713 posts

Do you know the specific locations your ancestors lived? I've only been to Sweden once, in 2015, but it was to go to the locales where my ancestors lived. I picked half of them so when things open, I'm going back...and I now have located cousins thanks to the following... I traveled solo and did not rent a car. Local people showed me the houses and locales/farms where they lived in Småland, specifically Ingatorp area. I would never have found these farms, etc. had I rented a car. I wouldn't even have identified them. I based in Eksjö, charming old wooden buildings, where the TI and a genealogy office were located. The TI handed me off to the genealogy office who contacted a woman who knew all the back roads (almost paths IMO), so they handed me off again to her, who showed me homes/farms/workplaces and entertained me with local food made in her classic Swedish farmhouse. Of course...I was solo, so I'm not sure you could replicate this, but you could try. In Umeå, I hired a taxi to go to the hamlet and in the end, the taxi company was advising the driver regarding our "tour" and history, etc. A car would have isolated me from these and many other experiences.

I did befriend another woman (or really she befriended me) who allegedly does genealogy research and then prepares a tour for the specific people who come searching their ancestors. It's informal, she's a very pleasant woman and I spent time touring around with her, but I can't vouch for her work. I was pre-idea. If you want her email address, I can get that for you.

You'll see I traveled from Vasterbotten to Småland via Stockholm and return in a period of about 15 days. Three locations only was enough to enjoy the area and meet people. You say 'we' but if children are involved they should read Pippi Longstocking books and perhaps go to the amusement park for these characters...the name escapes me but I'm sure someone else will recall it.

Posted by
31 posts

@Wray: Yes, I have birth, marriage, baptism, death, etc records for many of my ancestors, and have found the original towns/parishes they lived in for several generations. Your experience is really interesting! You just showed up and they connected you to people who could show you these places? Did you do any research beforehand (ancestry.com or similar) or relied only on local info? Several of my relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins) have already visited our family homelands and so can guide me to specific areas, including the house where my great-grandmother was born in 1865. I also have extended family living now in Sweden, and they can connect me to the roots of that side of the family.

We will probably spend 3-4 days exploring the central/southern rural areas, as we have a lot of other things we want to see in Sweden during our trip. No children, only me and my spouse (and 2 friends later joining us in Norway).

Posted by
3159 posts

Here's a digital map of Sweden that has the farm names on it, for directions.

https://kartor.eniro.se/?c=57.669865,14.972831&z=14&q=%22eksjo%22;geo

For the fjord area I would still recommend a car. The Loop from Åndelsnes to Geiranger to Ålesund is one of Norway's great scenic drives. I would think about flying from Sweden to Ålesund to save time. Norway is slow going, I think the national speed limit is 45 mph, so driving up and back is time consuming. You will want to rent a cabin or 2 in the fjord area anyway.

Posted by
31 posts

Here's a digital map of Sweden that has the farm names on it, for directions.
https://kartor.eniro.se/?c=57.669865,14.972831&z=14&q=%22eksjo%22;geo
For the fjord area I would still recommend a car. The Loop from Åndelsnes to Geiranger to Ålesund is one of Norway's great scenic drives. I would think about flying from Sweden to Ålesund to save time. Norway is slow going, I think the national speed limit is 45 mph, so driving up and back is time consuming. You will want to rent a cabin or 2 in the fjord area anyway.

Very cool map - thanks for sharing! Will note your suggestion about the car for the fjords. We are keen to take long train rides, as we aren't in a crazy hurry and want to enjoy the scenery - our friends are really looking forward to the Oslo-Bergen route.

Posted by
18752 posts

I haven't been to any of these places yet (aborted 2020 trip), but these are decorative-arts-related sights in my notes:

Stockholm
- DesignTorget, entered from lower level of Kulturhuset: juried local products. This may be a sales outlet rather than a museum.
- Hallwyl Museum, Hamngatan 4, Norrmalm/Ostermalm: Art and decorative art housed in Art Nouveau mansion. www.hallwylskamuseet.se/en
- Nationalmuseum (National Museum of Fine Art), Sodra Blasieholmshamnen 2 (Blasieholm): Has design, ceramics and small-treasures collections.
- Nordiska Museet (Nordic Museum), Djurgaardsvagen 6-16: Covers five centuries of Swedish lifestyles, including furniture, clothing and jewelry mentioned. Website probably has more details. On same island as Skansen and the Vasa Museum. www.nordiskamuseet.se
- There's also the Royal Treasury; not sure what it exhibits.
- Commercial outlets you can research: Illums Bolighus (design store), Design House Stockholm (furniture and housewares), Society, Nordiska Kompaniet (expensive dept. store), Mood Stockholm (the most exclusive mall), Jacksons (crystal, glass, ceramics). There are reportedly high-end shops behind Nordiska Kompaniet and around Mood Stockholm.

Goteborg
- Rohsska Museet, Vasagatan 37-39: design and applied arts. www.designmuseum.se
- Commercial outlets to check out: Bohusslojd, Avenyn 25 (simple but fine Swedish handicrafts),
Sma Kara Ting, in suburb of Haga (colorful and graphic 1950s and '60s Swedish ceramics, now hugely popular in Japan).

Glasriket (Kingdom of Crystal): https://www.glasriket.se/en. Some of the larger glassworks have museums.

Kalmar
- Kalmar Konstmuseum, Stadsparken: Contemporary art and design

Oslo
- Nowegian Centre for Design and Architecture, Hausmanns Gade 16 (sometimes has exhibitions). www.doga.no/en/activities/design-and-architecture-in-norway/
- Commercial places to check out: Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen (harborfront promenade and nearby trendy neighborhood with upscale galleries; there may be glass galleries), Oslo House (small shopping mall with interior design shops--not sure what that entails), Norway Designs (Stortingsgata 12; high-priced kitchenware, glass, textiles, jewelry), Heimen Husfled (Rosenkrantz Gate 8; top quality, traditional jewelry and other crafts), Glas Magasinet (Stortorvet 9; expensive department store with quality souvenirs), Kitch’n (Stranden 3, Ake Brygge Shop Ctr; stylish Scandinavian housewares), BRUDD Kunsthandverkere (42 Markveien, Grunerlokka; craft cooperative).

Bergen
- KODE Art Museum (4 buildings), Rasmus Meyers allé 3, 7 og 9: The Permanenten building has decorative arts.
- Commercial places to check out: Sandviken (hillside area behind St. Mary’s Church with designers’ studios as of 2003).

Copenhagen
- Rosenborg Castle and Treasury (not sure what Treasury exhibits)
- Design Museum Denmark, Bredgade 68. Closed until 2022.
- Commercial places to check out: Gammel Kongevej (many design shops in area), Stroget (Kongens Nytorv end), Illums Bolighus (Amagertorv 10; Danish design), Designer Zoo (Vesterbrogade 137; ceramics, glassware, jewelry, etc.), Stilleben (Frederiksborggade 22; housewares, including ceramics and glass).

Posted by
31 posts

@acraven - fantastic suggestions! This is exactly what I'm looking for - thank you!

Posted by
2094 posts

Either way I think it will make the most sense to stick to public
transit in and in between the bigger cities and get a car only when we
venture into the central/southern rural areas.

Sounds like a good plan. If it was my trip and I was starting in Copenhagen it would look something like this in the beginning: Train to Kristianstad, then a train to Växjö. Rent a car in Växjö and use it to explore all the areas in Småland you want to visit. Return the car in Jönköping and then take the train to Gothenburg. If you wan't to visit Värmland you then take the train to Värmland, explore the areas you want to see (by car or public transport) before you board a train to Stockholm.

For design museums, we are thinking more high end, classic/modern
Scandinavian design, though I'm sure the Ikea museum is quite a thing
(do they make you assemble something to gain entry?) !

For design museums, I agree about Röhsska in Gotheburg. But there are some special ones, like the Textile museum in Borås.

Wow! I don't think we'd be up for something anywhere near that length,
but how cool! If we make it in December, I've heard you can do
dogsledding, and we are very interested in visiting the Sami areas and
seeing the reindeer. Anyone have experience there?

There are many options, if you are staying in the Kiruna/Abisko-area there are several opportunities for dog sledding and other winter activities. For Sami culture, the Sami museum Ájtte in Jokkmokk might be of interest.

DesignTorget, entered from lower level of Kulturhuset: juried local products. This may be a sales outlet rather than a museum.

Yes, Designtorget is a chain store and not a museum. But it can be worth a stop for modern Scandinavian design (there are stores all over Sweden though so no need to get to Kulturhuset).

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2713 posts

Joy,

Yes, I have a family tree, which is extensive. I had birth and death locations, and vital statistics back to 1600s for many of the Swedes. I was planning on just hitting the general areas. In Umeå, I had the specific area and work place, so I had planned to go there. This is when the taxi company really got into my trip and came up with additional information for my driver/me.

For the Jönköping area, I had planned to go to the church in Ingatorp and just absorb the area. I had gone to the TI for the bus schedule for Ingatorp. The TI person wanted to know why I wanted to go there. When I explained my family was from the area, she told me to come back in the morning. I did and she walked me to the genealogy office. I gave them names, dates and locations. They asked me to come back in two hours. I did and they had documents for these people and called a woman who lived in Ingatorp who had an enormous amount of information on my family. She asked me to meet her the next day at the bakery and she drove me everywhere, stopped a the community club for a snack and then she made me a dinner representative of Northern Sweden. I did have a paper map for the farms (which I still have), but that would never have provided me with sufficient information. My ancestors homes often were now the shed in the backyard with that original fireplace or the small military housing that was now a holiday home, or the farm before they changed farm names, or borders. Or the section or roadway that went right through my family's houses, which no longer exist, etc. I was lucky these people became a resource, when I had no idea they were there. I received a great reception even amid strangers in shops when they heard I was one of their "lost cousins" as apparently the families that emigrated are very much in their minds and hearts.

Have you seen Allt För Sverige, a television series? It's loosely kind of like a nice Amazing Race in Sweden to win a meeting with their Swedish relatives.

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31 posts

@Badger, thanks for the ideas - I'll look into that itinerary and the museum suggestions.

Have you seen Allt För Sverige, a television series? It's loosely kind of like a nice Amazing Race in Sweden to win a meeting with their Swedish relatives.

I haven't! It doesn't seem to be available to stream on any of the major platforms, but I'll have to try to find it. I did love "Welcome to Sweden", but that's definitely not the same thing! :) Also, your experience is really interesting! I had planned to do all the research beforehand, but I think now we will definitely stop by the TI and genealogy office in Eksjö to talk to the folks there. My family that lives in Sweden are still connected to my great-grandmother's birthplace, but seeing as we have an enormous family and lots of lines of ancestry to research, I'm sure the folks there will have a lot of insight. Thank you for sharing your experience in great detail! I hope we get to be so lucky.

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134 posts

Re Design - a good stop in Stockholm is Svenskt Tenn, a very well known Swedish interior design shop, directly on Strandvägen. Their website is available in English and has a lot of information about the history and philosophy of the company.
The store is almost like a museum (in fact, they often have small design exhibitions in the store) and is interesting just to wander around. While most of the stuff is on the pricier side, there are smaller items which are affordable and make unique gifts (for yourself or others!). If you are interested in classic modern Swedish design, you should definitely stop by.

If you stop in Malmö, you may also want to visit the Form/Design center which houses many interesting exhibits about Scandinavian design and architecture. Their website is also available in English.

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31 posts

Re Design - a good stop in Stockholm is Svenskt Tenn, a very well known Swedish interior design shop, directly on Strandvägen. Their website is available in English and has a lot of information about the history and philosophy of the company.
The store is almost like a museum (in fact, they often have small design exhibitions in the store) and is interesting just to wander around. While most of the stuff is on the pricier side, there are smaller items which are affordable and make unique gifts (for yourself or others!). If you are interested in classic modern Swedish design, you should definitely stop by.
If you stop in Malmö, you may also want to visit the Form/Design center which houses many interesting exhibits about Scandinavian design and architecture. Their website is also available in English.

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll check out the websites now.

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31 posts

One thing I haven't asked about yet - does anyone know of any great wool yarn shops in Sweden? My spouse and I are avid knitters and if we do take any souvenirs home, Swedish wool yarn might be at the top of our list!

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2094 posts

There are many places for wool yarn, and it sounds like a good reason to include Gotland in your itinerary. Sheep have long played an important role on the island, and there is a long tradition of using wool all kinds of ways. Including as yarn. (Also, Visby is a charming town worth a visit even if you are not looking for yarn.) Or maybe Öland, sheep are common there as well. Maybe a detour to Öland for a visit to Ullcentrum on the northern part of the island that sell locally made wool yarn.

But wool yarn can be found on the mainland as well, there are stores in most major towns and cities.

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31 posts

There are many places for wool yarn, and it sounds like a good reason to include Gotland in your itinerary. Sheep have long played an important role on the island, and there is a long tradition of using wool all kinds of ways. Including as yarn. (Also, Visby is a charming town worth a visit even if you are not looking for yarn.) Or maybe Öland, sheep are common there as well. Maybe a detour to Öland for a visit to Ullcentrum on the northern part of the island that sell locally made wool yarn.
But wool yarn can be found on the mainland as well, there are stores in most major towns and cities.

Good to know - thanks! Are Gotland & Öland doable/tolerable in December, if we end up going then?

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2094 posts

Yes, very much. As long as you are dressed for it, it can get windy in the winter. Gotland is a bit out of the way but there are ferries from Oskarshamn so you could make a small detour from Småland to Gotland. Or from Stockholm if that works better. Öland would be a lot easier, you could rent the car in Kalmar instead and drive over to Öland first before you explore Småland. But, while Öland is a nice place, there are no towns that compare to Visby.

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31 posts

Yes, very much. As long as you are dressed for it, it can get windy in the winter. Gotland is a bit out of the way but there are ferries from Oskarshamn so you could make a small detour from Småland to Gotland. Or from Stockholm if that works better. Öland would be a lot easier, you could rent the car in Kalmar instead and drive over to Öland first before you explore Småland. But, while Öland is a nice place, there are no towns that compare to Visby.

Ok, good to know! If we go in December, we will be well prepared for winter weather.

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2094 posts

That sounds like a good idea, especially of you plan to head north where it can get cold.

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3159 posts

we will be well prepared for winter weather

Does Colorado get "real" winter weather? Just saying that I have had visitors who grew up in Boston thinking they must have experienced winter weather sometime in their lives, only to find out upon arrival that they had no idea what "real" winter weather was like, and we were left scrambling to find adequate jackets and footwear for them to borrow.

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31 posts

Does Colorado get "real" winter weather? Just saying that I have had visitors who grew up in Boston thinking they must have experienced winter weather sometime in their lives, only to find out upon arrival that they had no idea what "real" winter weather was like, and we were left scrambling to find adequate jackets and footwear for them to borrow.

This March was the 2nd snowiest in Denver’s recorded history - 34” total, with one storm that brought 27”. The CO mountains get extreme weather often, and we recreate in the mountains all winter. One of the last times I was skiing, it was -15F when I started out in the morning.

Normally, Denver’s winters are pretty mild with any snow accumulated melting the next day. I’m guessing your question is asking if we know what real winter weather is? I grew up in Nebraska and half my family lives in MN (visited year round) so yes, I know what -30 F and 40-50 mph winter winds feel like :) Our winter gear stash is well stocked!

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2094 posts

Our winter gear stash is well stocked!

Excellent! I should be noted though that the cold is usually not the problem in the south in December. But it can be very windy and wet as well. So something windproof and waterproof is a really good idea.

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31 posts

Excellent! I should be noted though that the cold is usually not the problem in the south in December. But it can be very windy and wet as well. So something windproof and waterproof is a really good idea.

Perfect - we have waterproof winter parkas and will plan on layers! It's looking more like December is the likelier bet for this trip, and it seems doubtful that Sweden will be open by August (things seem pretty awful there now!). We might pivot and try to do Iceland with some friends in August, assuming they are still open then.

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3159 posts

Joy: We are also looking at Iceland. Markets vary. but Icelandair is still showing mostly $900 RT in Saga class until December, if that interests you. Saga class is not lie-flat, but looks pretty good to me. Sale ends soon. They are also showing $1000 RT to London, Amsterdam, Dublin in Saga class but who knows if those countries will be open.

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31 posts

Joy: We are also looking at Iceland. Markets vary. but Icelandair is still showing mostly $900 RT in Saga class until December, if that interests you. Saga class is not lie-flat, but looks pretty good to me. Sale ends soon. They are also showing $1000 RT to London, Amsterdam, Dublin in Saga class but who knows if those countries will be open.

Looking from Denver, they are showing Saga RT at about $2200 for late July-Aug, so bummer those deals aren't available here. We pretty much only fly United and Star Alliance partners, since I have elite status with United and we live in a hub city. We can use points, or can get Economy Plus RT for $650 in that timeframe, which I can live with.

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2094 posts

Perfect - we have waterproof winter parkas and will plan on layers!

That sounds like the perfect combination, you obviously know how to dress!

It's looking more like December is the likelier bet for this trip, and
it seems doubtful that Sweden will be open by August (things seem
pretty awful there now!).

It's not that awful to be honest. The vaccination rate is accelerating and we can see the end of the tunnel. But it is still too early to say what the situation will be like in August, and personally I wouldn't plan a trip here from North America in August. Mostly because I like to plan longer trips in advance. December seems like the safer option.

We might pivot and try to do Iceland with some friends in August,
assuming they are still open then.

Not a bad idea at all!

We pretty much only fly United and Star Alliance partners, since I
have elite status with United and we live in a hub city.

In that case, a small piece of information for booking a trip to Scandinavia: For a Star Alliance airline to northern Europe SAS is often a good option, but SAS and United don't codeshare across the Atlantic so if you book with United they will most likely route you through Frankfurt or Munich. But they codeshare within Europe and within North America, so looking at SAS will give a few more options that are otherwise "hidden".

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31 posts

In that case, a small piece of information for booking a trip to Scandinavia: For a Star Alliance airline to northern Europe SAS is often a good option, but SAS and United don't codeshare across the Atlantic so if you book with United they will most likely route you through Frankfurt or Munich. But they codeshare within Europe and within North America, so looking at SAS will give a few more options that are otherwise "hidden".

Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely look at SAS when we book. My United searches so far have partnered with Lufthansa (through Frankfurt) and AirCanada, so checking out the SAS routes will give us more options.

Posted by
2094 posts

Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely look at SAS when we book. My
United searches so far have partnered with Lufthansa (through
Frankfurt) and AirCanada, so checking out the SAS routes will give us
more options.

If you look at Thai as well you will have ticked off all founding members of Star Alliance :-)

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7 posts

Hi! REALLY enjoyed this thread about travel to Sweden and Norway. Absolutely agree with comments about winter but wanted to add that since you may go in December, it would be a very good idea to check if the smaller, rural museums and sights are open? In my experience, August 31st is really the cutoff for boats, smaller excursions, etc except on weekends, so you might like to add this to your plans, in what looks like a very fun itinerary! Although we spend most of the summer in CA, we try to get back to Sweden by mid August to enjoy the small excursions & villas that usually close end August.