Scandinavia – comprising Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and often extended to Finland, Faroe Islands and Iceland – is one of the most beautiful areas in the world and certainly a major attraction in Europe. But Scandinavia is also home to the world’s most expensive city (Oslo) and traveling here is not a cheap affair.
Try to take advantage of free walking tours in cities and free museum entrances by doing some research in advance. Also, book your train ticket in advance, as you’ll be able to find better fares than if you booked them upon arrival in the area. It’s also a good idea to use bikes to explore Copenhagen and Oslo.
This itinerary visits Copenhagen –with a day trip to Odense -, Oslo – with a day trip on the mountain train line ‘Flambanen’-, Narvik, Kiruna and Stockholm.
- Fly into Copenhagen and fly out of Stockholm
- Taking the trains and buses to travel between cities and countries is preferred over flying
- Staying in budget hostels is preferred over hotels
Day 1 -2 Copenhagen , Denmark
A simple and efficient way to check out Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital is by bike. There are free public city-bikes which you can find in stands near major places. Just insert a 20 kr coin and use the bike in the inner part of the city (there’s a map on the bike).
Copenhagen is not a cheap city – neither is the rest of Scandinavia. So, try to cut down costs. For example, museums have one day a week when they offer free admittance. It’s usually Wednesday but it’s worth it to check in advance on the websites and plan your visit accordingly.
Start the first day with a free walking tour of Copenhagen . It starts at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Town Hall Square. The tour takes 3 hours and visits , among other places: Copenhagen Town Hall, The Marble Church, Strøget shopping mile, and the Royal Danish Theater.
Climb the unique Rundetårn (the Round tower) to get to the viewing platform. If you want to go higher, climb the steps of the Church of Our Saviour (standing about 100 m high).
Check out Rosenborg Palace, a small renaissance palace with its lively King’s Garden .The palace features the catacombs which are home to the crown jewels. And there’s also a Royal history museum on site.
Should you visit Copenhagen in June to August, head to two interesting beaches: Copencabana and Havnebadet.
Take some time and walk (or shop) on Strøget, a pedestrian mall starting at the City Hall. Or you can do some shopping in the Nørrebro Flea Market.
Day 3 Odense
Take the 9 a.m. train to Odense. It takes 1 ½ h and the fare starts at 116 kr / US$19.50 one way. (Orange ticket). The Standard fare starts at 288 kr / US$48.30 one way.
Odense is the largest city on the island of Funen and the third largest city in Denmark. Most of the attractions are easily accessible on foot. The main hostels and hotels are located close to the city center.
If you are passionate about photography, don’t miss the Museum of photographic arts. Also interesting is the Danish Railway Museum which features old trains, carriages and a large model train landscape. It’s a good choice if you travel with kids. The Hans Christian Andersen’s Garden is an ideal stop for a picnic and is located in the city center.
Egeskov Castle is one of Europe’s best preserved Renaissance water castles, dating back from 1554. It’s located about 30 km from the city.
Day 4-5 Oslo , Norway
Go back to Copenhagen and take the overnight ferry to Oslo . You can book the ticket here . Single cabins start at £112 one way. It’s advisable to book in advance. The travel time is 17 h. The ferry departs Copenhagen at 4:45 pm and arrives in Oslo next morning at 9:45 a.m.
Oslo has been ranked (in 2010) as world’s most expensive city, so you’ve already got a clue what you’d be facing here. A good option is to get a bike for the day (80NOK at the tourist office) to explore the city. Don’t miss visiting the Royal Palace (if you want to book a tour , you need to do that in advance at the post office), Oslo Cathedral, the City Hall (Rådhuset), and the old bazaar (Kirkeristen). You should also consider visiting The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, an open-air museum featuring typical buildings from various periods in Norwegian history. A fun museum – for children and adults- is Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology & The Norwegian Telecommunications Museum.
Frogner Park is a good option for some time spent in nature or for a picnic.
>>read about Getting from Copenhagen to Oslo
Day 6 Day trip :the mountain train line ‘Flambanen‘
It’s a 20 km scenic ride on one of the world’s steepest railway lines on normal gauge tracks. The mountain station of Myrdal is located 865 meters above sea level.
To board the train at Myrdal station, take a train from Oslo at 8:11 a.m. and you’ll get to Myrdal by 12:53 p.m. (4 h 42 min). Catch the 1:27 p.m. scenic train from Myrdal to Flam. A return ticket on the scenic railway is 360NOK/US$61.90 for adults.
Try to catch the 6:28 p.m train back from Myrdal to Oslo. Book in advance and you’ll be able to find tickets as low as 299 NOK/ US$51.40 one way.
Day 7-8 Narvik, Kiruna and the Northern Lights
Take the train from Oslo to Fauske . It takes between 16 and 17 h, depending on the transfers but fares start at 199 NOK / US$34.15 one way if you book in advance. To maximize your time spent traveling catch the night train (leaving Oslo at 11:05 p.m.). From Fauske take a bus to Narvik.
Spend the rest of the day in Narvik, checking out the museums or do some shopping. In the morning, catch the 9:35 a.m. train to Kiruna. The journey is 3h 21 min and the single non-rebookable ticket starts at 95 SEK/US$14.45.
During winter, you can visit the Icehotel (It functions as a museum from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m). Also during winter enjoy a northern lights tour or a dog sled tour. In the summer you can go hiking or kayaking.
Day 9-10 Stockholm , Sweden
You can travel to Stockholm by train (5 changes, 19 h, from 1014 SEK / US$154). Catch the night train to maximize your time spent traveling or the day train if you want to see the scenery along the way.
In Stockholm, start with a free walking tour http://www.freetourstockholm.com/ (of the city or of the old city). Explore the Gamla Stan (Old Town), take a guided tour of the City Hall (Stadshuset), the most well-known landmark in Stockholm and visit the Cathedral. You should also consider visiting the Vasa Museum , which is a salvaged ship , restored to its former beauty.