Hi, we are planning our first Rick Steves tour and have decided on the Scandinavia 14 day tour. I am interested in other travelers experiences on this tour, and if you would recommend this trip and what time of year is best. Also any helpful hints are appreciated. Thanks
Have you read all that Rick offers on Scandinavia? It's an easy area to tour on your own, in my opinion, and have done so. Careful research is required to travel as economically as possible given high prices. As a side note, too many folks are scared of the costs associated with travel in Scandinavia and plow onward suffering high prices in Switzerland. Oh well....both are marvelous.
I assume you have read the reviews on the tour page?
Surprisingly few people who go on Rick Steves tours participate in this forum, so you won't get much response--and the people who do respond have probably posted on the review page. 😀
“Surprisingly few people who go on Rick Steves tours participate in this forum, so you won't get much response.” Hmm. Don’t know the statistics, but count me as a having taken a number of Rick’s tours, although predominantly travel independently.
My comment is based on how few people I have seen here from my 5 tours, and the small number of responses to this type of question. Just wanted to offer a newbie some help.
My husband and I took this tour in May 2016 and we had a fantastic time! We arrived a week early and visited Helsinki and Tallinn on our own. After a week on our own it was really nice to join a tour. The hotels were in great locations and most had delicious buffet breakfasts. The bus rides were comfortable and we took several ferries where the bus rode on the ferry with us.
The time spent in the capitol cities is nicely broken up with stays in smaller towns. My favorite part was visiting Aero Island and riding a bike during free time.
Hello sbaker. I took this tour in June, 2017
see my trip report here
I loved this tour and I especially fell in love with Sweden.
Let me know if you have any questions about the tour.
I did this tour last June. I wanted to be in Bergen for the Summer Solstice, so my tour dates were Sun, Jun 10, 2018 — Sat, Jun 23, 2018. I arrived in Stockholm on Jun 8, staying 2 extra nights before the tour started, and departed Bergen Jun 25, staying two extra nights there after the tour ended.
I highly recommend that you arrive early enough to get over jetlag before the tour starts. If that arrival point is Stockholm, you can make reservations with the tour hotel and keep the same room for the Stockholm tour dates. Likewise, you can stay extra nights after the tour at the Bergen hotel and keep the same room.
Whether clear or sunny or rainy or windy, it was cold the whole tour. My goal of being in Bergen on the longest day of the year was not met since it was very heavy skies and rain the whole time I was there. There's a pattern here. Fortunately, I was prepared for the weather, but I wasn't inclined to scamper out of the bus to take pictures in the area we went where there was snow and summer cross country skiing.
According to the weather graphs toward the bottom of the tour information, July is the warmest month. And there seem to be vacancies on those tours for this year.
I found the tour delightful and I learned a lot. One good thing about RS tours is that there's typically extra time for you to do things on your own. Another is that you can opt out of some activities. I'm more of a visual than an auditory learner, so I have a tendency to wander off on my own a bit, especially when the discussion is covering things I already know or have no interest in. You will have a tour buddy who is not in your traveling group. So long as you tell him or her, this is okay.
As for riding on the bus, there's plenty of room because the tour group is about 1/2 the bus's capacity. We stopped so frequently that I don't think anyone had to use the onboard toilet. As with any trip, if there's a toilet at a stop, use it!
Why did we stop? Sometimes just for a coffee break. Sometimes for a meal. Sometimes to visit something special.
Explore the tour itinerary thoroughly and the places where you will have free time. The folks on my tour did lots of different things during their free time. You will need to choose how to spend yours which might or might not be the same as anyone else's.
I loved learning about the government and culture of the Scandinavian countries and about the differences among them from our Swedish tour guide and the other local guides we had along the way.
Spoiled by the Euro, I thought dealing with the 3 different currencies was going to be a big hassle. All three countries are almost cash-free. I got and used minimal cash in Sweden. I got minimal cash in Denmark specifically for the laundry machines on AErø that only took coins. I used no cash at all in Norway. Managing the currencies was not a problem.
I should also say that I did not find any of the 3 countries outrageously expensive, but I don't drink alcohol and I didn't eat anywhere fancy on my own.
Seeing the Viking ships in all the places we saw them was my favorite thing on the tour. Close seconds were the stave church and the castle at Kalmar. You'll have your own.
As with any RS tour, there is a lot of walking and standing, but with a couple of notable exceptions, there were few stairs or steep slopes to go up and down.
Thanks Lo for your info. This trip is on our radar for aug 2020.
Thanks for all the responses and the info, we are booking the trip!
We did this tour last August and loved it. Scandinavia was having a heat wave and the first half of the trip was quite warm though very tolerable. The longer days and warm evenings made walking nice in Stockholm. Halfway through it got much cooler though only cold up in the mountains in Norway. I packed for warm weather with a couple light sweaters and a down vest and it worked well. Definitely need rainwear though.
I loved the larger cities much more than I expected and would go back to Oslo or Copenhagen any time. The country side was beautiful too and our tour guide was fabulous.
I was nervous about the currency but had no problems with charging everything pretty much. Scandinavia can be expensive but not that bad. We don’t eat fancy. Transportation on our own was more than in much of Europe —we did Norway in a Nutshell from Bergen to Oslo at the end of th tour—not cheap but worth it. We flew from Oslo the next day, but wished we had stayed longer.
Would I recommend this? Yes. Weather in July and August great. (Last year July was unseasonably warm). We got to Stockholm 2 days early and were not bored. Loved the NIN at the end too.
My wife and son did the Scandinavia tour last year. It was our first RS tour and will not be our last; we are hooked due to the very positive experience. Many of the tour members had been on multiple RS tours and stated that it was their best yet.
Pros: Everyone speaks great English. Good mix of urban and rural locations. Great scenery in the latter half of the trip. Experiencing Scandinavia's social/economic situation provides a perspective on our own that can't be as easily attained by books and videos.
Cons: Costs are a bit higher; budget accordingly. Dependent upon your location, a couple of plane changes may be required on departure/return.