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Scandinavia Family Trip 20 days - Sweden, Finland, Norway

Hi
We are planning a late July to early August trip to Scandinavia for 20 days. We will be flying into Stockholm (our second trip there) as our first destination but would like to include Helsinki, Gothenburg, Oslo and Bergen in the trip. We are a young family with 2 kids ( 9 and 6 yr) and looking for a mix of family fun (parks, children/science museums) and nature at a relatively relaxed pace.

I am struggling to allocate the appropriate number of nights in each stop and would like some expert planning advice in sequencing the stops, considering things to do, travel time in between destinations etc.

My tentative itinerary is as follows, feel free to opine if it is too less or too many in each and the order of cities:

  1. Stockholm - 5 nights
  2. Helsinki - 3 nights (fly from Stockholm as overnight ferry is too long and will eat into precious holiday time)
  3. Gothenburg - 3 nights (fly from Helsinki)
  4. Oslo - 3-4 nights (Train from Gothenburg)
  5. Bergen - 4 nights (Train from Oslo) - 1 day planning to do Fjord tour

Of the above, I am unsure of Gothenburg. Is it worth including in the itinerary or should add some other destination in these countries. Before anyone advise on Copenhagen, I have done it before so would skip it this time.

thanks

Posted by
6519 posts

What do you want to see and do? I don't know where your trip begins but flying to and from Stockholm makes things a bit more complicated. Is it a trip this summer and are the flights booked?

Any reason for choosing the above itinerary? You mention nature but still have a very "city heavy" itinerary. Of the cities mentioned, Gothenburg is not the one I'd be unsure about. It is a nice city, often overlooked, and a great stop between Stockholm and Oslo. Helsinki would be the one I'm unsure about, if you want to take a trip to the other side of the Baltic sea I'd recommend Tallinn. And whichever one you choose, flying there would be a mistake. The ferry doesn't that long when you consider that you are sleeping during a large part of the journey. In addition is saves you a hotel night, and gives you great views of the archipelago as you approach/depart Stockholm. Or maybe add Visby instead for a smaller town.

Posted by
36 posts

We are flying in to Stockholm and flexible to fly home via Oslo. in terms of what we want to do we are looking to do a mix of nature, culture and family cultural activities. My kids are really into science museums so will love some recommendation. Upon further thinking we are dropping Finland on this trip and would like to stick to Sweden and Norway.

In Sweden we are thinking of Stockholm and Gothenburg but the jury is still out on Gothenburg and can spend more time in Stockholm instead. Are there other destinations other than Gothenburg we can make as a second Swedish spot, at a reasonable train distance. Also any recommendation for things to do and see in Stockholm.

In Norway we were thinking of traveling to Oslo spending around 4 nights there and then taking a Norway in a Nutshell tour west to Bergen. That will give us some flavor of Fjord cruise. Planning to spend around 4 nights in Bergen. Is it too much ? what are things to do and see around the city and in the near by surroundings. Perhaps a day trip to the Folgefonna glacier to see snow.

this will leave us 4 nights which we are open to spend either in Scandinavia or travel to another European city either Amsterdam or Geneva

will appreciate some feedback

Posted by
27328 posts

It sounds to me as if you may not yet have a guidebook. This is a very, very costly area you're heading to. I wouldn't think of trying this trip without a guidebook.

I believe it would be difficult to find lodging in the fjord area for July/August, so you are probably facing the long, one-day trip from Oslo to Bergen.

I'd check flights back from Bergen as well as from Oslo to reduce travel time.

Rick lists his top sightseeing suggestions for some major destinations right on this website:

Oslo
Stockholm

Click on "At a Glance" for specifics.

I enjoyed Bergen a lot, and it has many sightseeing options (see below), but I feel as if many tourists would find 4 nights one more than necessary. On the other hand, Bergen is very hilly except in the area immediately around the harbor, so it takes more time and energy to walk around than you might expect.

Sightseeing:

  • RS lays out a walking tour in his guidebook. I haven't checked to see whether there's something on the RS Europe app.

  • Bryggen Walking Tour: 90 min., incl 20 min in Bryggens Museum, 20 min in Hanseatic Assembly Rooms (Hakonshallen), and 20 min. in Hanseatic Museum (unless still closed), rest outdoors in Bryggens district (many of whose wooden buildings are modern re-builds).

  • Bryggens Museum, big modern building beyond Radisson Blu Royal: Archaeology.

  • Hanseatic Museum: Old merchant house. Mostly closed but Schotstuene (reconstructed Assembly Rooms) has reopened with new exhibits.

  • Bryggen: Colorful Hanseatic quarter mobbed by cruisers 1000-1500.

  • Gamle Bergen (Old Bergen): Fifty 18C-20C buildings. Tours of museum interiors top of the hour included in entry fee. Seeing facades is free. Outside city center.

  • Sandviken: Hillside area (behind St. Mary’s Ch); cobbled streets, clapboard cottages housing designers’ studios, jewelry boutiques, cafes.

  • Floibanen (Mount Floyen funicular): City, island and fjord views. Hiking trails at top. T.O. has maps. Floien Folkerestaurant, top of funicular, is affordable cafeteria. 25-30 min walk back down to town (get Floyen Hiking Map when buying ticket); tough on knees.

  • Ulriken643 Cable Car: Ascends Bergen’s highest mountain. Great views, trails, restaurant. 40 min. back down. I think avid hikers can go up one lift then hike to the other.

  • Bergenhus Festning: Includes 13C Hakonshallen (ceremonial hall, reconstructed post-WWII) and Rosenkrantz Tower. Included tour provides good historical background on city.

  • Berhenhus Festningsmuseum (Fortress Museum): Norwegian military history and Nazi occupation.

  • Mariakirken (St. Mary’s Church), Dreggen 15: 12C with 15C frescoes and colorful pulpit.

  • Theta Museum, Enhjorningsgarden: Small museum about resistance movement in reconstructed room. Limited days and hours.

  • Lepramuseet (Leprosy Museum): Former hospital. Skimpy exhibit; need to borrow an English translation or take tour.

  • Marken and other streets between RR station and harbor: fine residential area.

  • Gestapomuseet, Chr. Michelsen’s Gate 10

  • Klosteret: Hilly area with wooden houses, S of Klosteret Sq.

  • Bergen Akvariet (Aquarium): well-presented; shark tunnel.

  • Kultur-Historisk Samlinger: Ethnographic museum. Was closed summer 2022.

  • Naturhistorisk Samlinger: Natural history museum

  • Outside town: rebuilt Fantoft stave church (take light rail toward airport then walk) and Grieg house.

The tourist office on the harbor (upstairs) was very helpful to me last summer. I imagine it could get really busy, though.

I'll address sightseeing in Gothenburg in a separate post.

Posted by
5631 posts

Helsinki - 3 nights (fly from Stockholm as overnight ferry is too long and will eat into precious holiday time)

Are you sure about that? In my opinion, the flight is much more of a time waster.

If you fly, you waste a good deal of time traveling to and from airports and you waste 2 hours in the airport before your flight. If you take the ferry, you leave in the late afternoon and get to see the beautiful archipelago as you sail out of stockholm. You can enjoy a nice dinner with beautiful scenery. Most of your travel time takes place while you are asleep. You have breakfast on the ferry and arrive in Helsinki early and ready for a day of sightseeing. The cost of the ferry is generally leaa than the cost of a hotel room and flight.

Posted by
27328 posts

Sightseeing options in Gothenburg:

  • Roda Sten Konsthall, Roda Sten 1, under bridge: Contemporary-art special exhibitions in old boiler house.

  • Linne: Gentrified area with cafes, antique shops and craft shops. Between Jarntorget and Slottskogen, including side streets like Prinsgatan.Linnegatan has Dutch-inspired 19C architecture.

  • Haga: Oldest suburb (17C). Beautifully restored 17C wooden houses on winding cobblestone streets. Cafes, antique shops and craft shops.

  • Vasastan: E of Haga and W of Avenyn, district with intricately decorated late-19C apartment buildings (some National Romantic and Art Nouveau) and much more appealing cafes than found in the center. See Vasagatan and Engelbrektsgata.

  • Domkyrkan, Kyrkogatan 28: Early 19C neoclassical exterior. Opulent gilded altarpiece.

  • Stadsmuseum, Norra Hamngatan 12: History museum

  • Ferry from Lilla Bommen to Eriksbergsvarvet shipyard.

  • Centralstation: 1856; oldest train station in country. Grand and very well preserved. Note carved wooden beam-ends.

  • Tradgardsforeningen, Slussgatan 1: Park with manicured gardens and paths. Magnificent Rosarium and Palm House.

  • Stora Nygatan: Nice walk with neoclassical buildings to W and park (across canal) to E.

  • Paddan sightseeing boats: 50-min Stromma tour from Kungsportsplatsen bridge to inner harbor.

  • Rohsska Museet: Fantastic museum of design and applied arts.

  • Konsthallen: Exhibitions of contemporary Art.

  • Konstmuseum, on hill above city: Very good museum; Nordic art and Hasselblad Center for photography. Sweden’s best collection of 19C-20C French art.

  • Varldskulturmuseet: Unusually interesting museum of world cultures with temporary exhibitions on interesting topics.

  • Botaniska Tradgarden: Sweden’s largest botanical garden. SSW of center of town; accessible via tram or via bus.

  • Canal cruise.

If you want to substitute a smaller place for Gothenburg, I'd suggest Visby (requires a ferry trip and has very expensive lodging, with availability likely to be an issue) and the mainland towns of Lund, Ystad or Uppsala.

I'm sorry to have no recommendation for science museums. I'm an art and 20th century history person rather than a science person.

Posted by
6519 posts

in terms of what we want to do we are looking to do a mix of nature,
culture and family cultural activities. My kids are really into
science museums so will love some recommendation. Upon further
thinking we are dropping Finland on this trip and would like to stick
to Sweden and Norway.

Dropping Finland might be a good idea as it will give you more time and a less stressful trip. Regarding science museums, I can recommend The Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm, The Natural History Museum in Stockholm, Universeum in Gothenburg and Tom Tits in Södertälje.

In Sweden we are thinking of Stockholm and Gothenburg but the jury is
still out on Gothenburg and can spend more time in Stockholm instead.
Are there other destinations other than Gothenburg we can make as a
second Swedish spot, at a reasonable train distance.

Gothenburg should very much be on your list. And by a coincidence this video popped up on my social media today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgC8qcEOct4 A Scottish person discovering Gothenburg for a day. It's 30 minutes, but I found it interesting. Maybe because I like Gothenburg and it was interesting to see the city through another person.

Also any recommendation for things to do and see in Stockholm.

Since you mentioned nature, I'd suggest a day in the archipelago.

In Norway we were thinking of traveling to Oslo spending around 4
nights there and then taking a Norway in a Nutshell tour west to
Bergen. That will give us some flavor of Fjord cruise. Planning to
spend around 4 nights in Bergen. Is it too much ?

It is certainly possible to do the Norway in a Nutshell in a day, but since you mentioned nature I'd recommend that you spend a night somewhere along the way.

this will leave us 4 nights which we are open to spend either in
Scandinavia or travel to another European city either Amsterdam or
Geneva

I'm probably biased, but I think you should spend them in Scandinavia.