Scandinavia is a cultural and geographical region in Northern Europe, which includes the countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark (some sources often include the Faroe Islands, Finland and Iceland in the term “Scandinavia”). It is relatively easy and simple to travel in this part of Europe but spending a week or two in some of its famous cities still won’t scratch the surface. However, by organizing your itinerary in advance, minimizing your travel time and prioritizing which destinations you would really like to see, you can make the most of your 15-day Scandinavia vacation.
Getting to Scandinavia – Flying to Stockholm and returning from Tromso is not expensive. From New York – 800 USD; from Amsterdam – the flights cost about 230 USD; from Moscow – 320 USD; from London – 242 USD; Istanbul – 250 USD, etc.
However, you can lower your travel cost even more if you fly to an alternative airport like Gothenburgh and then hop on a plane to Stockholm (34 USD one-way) and return from Tromso through Gothenburgh. This way you can travel from US East Coast for about 560 USD.
Detailed Itinerary: Best of Scandinavia in 15 Days
Day 1: Stockholm, Sweden
Assuming you had to cross an ocean to get to Stockholm, your first day will be rife with jet lag. Take a flight that arrives in Stockholm Arlanda Airport as early as possible and check into your preferred hotel/hostel. Located 25 miles north of Stockholm City, Stockholm Arlanda Airport is connected to downtown by the high-speed Arlanda Express train, Flygbussarna Airport Coaches and commuter trains. To walk off your jet lag, hit one of the quirky breakfast and brunch spots in Gamla Stan.
Where to stay in Stockholm:
Lydmar Hotel (Sodra Blasieholmshamnen 2, Stockholm 103 24, Sweden)
Grand Hotel (Sodra Blasieholmshamnen 8, Stockholm 103 27, Sweden)
Nobis Hotel (Norrmalmstorg 2-4, Stockholm 111 86, Sweden)
Motel L (Hammarby Alle 41, Stockholm 12030, Sweden)
There’s no better way to get acquainted with the city than taking a historic tour through Gamla Stan’s medieval alleyways. Then, go to the Vasa Museum and marvel at the Vasa Ship, which capsized in Stockholm during the 17th century. Just before lunch time, make your way to Stockholm Royal Palace and do not miss the Vaktavlosning (Changing of the Guard Ceremony), which normally starts at 12 PM and lasts for 30 minutes. After lunch, come to grips with Stockholm’s history by joining a guided tour of the Royal Palace. After your historic tour, make your way back to your hotel and get a good night sleep so you have energy for a whole day of adventure the next day.
Day 2: Stockholm, Sweden
On the morning of Day 2, get set to experience the glories of Stockholm. Start by grabbing some breakfast. A typical breakfast in Sweden is a simple combination of strong espresso and an open-faced sandwich. Oatmeal topped with fresh fruits, boiled eggs and cereals are also some of the well-known Swedish breakfast options. After breakfast, make your way to Drottningholm Palace. Whether you are a history buff or not, its magnificent architecture created by generations of architects, sculptor and landscape architects will surely leave you in total awe. After your palace tour, head to Södermalm district, one of the coolest districts in Sweden.
In the afternoon, join a guided tour through The City Hall of Stockholm (Stadshuset). Guided tours, either private or public, are required as visitors cannot walk alone in the halls. Climb the 365 steps to the top of Stadshuset for a grand view of Stockholm. In the evening, you may watch a ballet or opera in Royal Swedish Opera. For performance schedule and ticket prices, visit their official website.
Day 3: Stockholm, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark
On day 3, go southbound to Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. For visitors on a limited time holiday, consider whether your time would be better spent in the airport or on a train. By train, travel time via the SJ High Speed trains would approximately take 5 hours and 30 minutes which will allow you to enjoy the scenery, relax with a glass of wine or read a good book. One-way tickets start at about 22 USD if purchased in advance. Keep in mind that the price rises closer you get to departure date. By plane, it would approximately take 1 hour and 10 minutes and can be very cheap if booked in advance (Norwegian amd SAS operate direct flights that start from 51 USD one-way). However, you have to consider the time going to the airport, security, check in etc.
Where to stay in Copenhagen:
Avenue Hotel Copenhagen (Aboulevard 29, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen 1960, Denmark)
Bertrams Guldsmeden – Copenhagen (Vesterbrogade 107, Copenhagen 1620, Denmark)
Hotel Kong Arthur (Norre Sogade 11, Copenhagen 1370, Denmark)
Savoy Hotel (VesterbroGade 34, Copenhagen 1620, Denmark)
Hotel Nebo (stedgade 6 – 8, Copenhagen 1650, Denmark)
Depending on your time of arrival, you can either take it easy and soak up the atmosphere in Copenhagen or you can begin your tour of its famous attractions. Assuming you arrived in the afternoon, you can spend your time wandering the streets of Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous commune in the heart of Copenhagen.
Day 4: Copenhagen, Denmark
After breakfast, head to Kronborg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the setting of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. For more information, visit Kronborg Castle’s official website. Do not miss to visit the Maritime and Trade Museum and the catacomb where you will see the status of Holger Danske, a legendary Viking warrior. Just before lunch, make your way to Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk, Denmark) located north of Copenhagen. There are many contemporary and modern artistic delights in the gallery which are worth seeing.
In the afternoon, explore Nyhavn, a 17th century canal district in Copenhagen. It was originally a busy commercial dock packed with sailors and alehouses. Today, Nyhavn is full of old buildings, boats and restaurants. Do not miss to see the Little Mermaid Statue. Spend the rest of the afternoon in Copenhagen Harbour.
Day 5: Copenhagen, Denmark
After breakfast, head to Frederiksborg Palace, a 17th-century palace in Hillerød, Denmark with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. The Museum of National History inside the palace exhibits the fascinating history of Denmark and houses a vast collection of historical paintings and art pieces. Then, make your way to Kastellet, one of the world’s best preserved star-shaped fortresses. Spend the rest of the afternoon at Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world.
Day 6: Copenhagen, Denmark to Oslo, Norway
On day 6, you can start out early and make the most out of this day. You can do a walking tour of Copenhagen’s other famous attractions. The Round Tower (located at Købmagergade 52A), Rosenborg Castle, Christainborg Palace and Visit Carlsberg are some the places you can explore on this day. Then, take one of the overnight ferries to Oslo, Norway. DFDS is the only company the serves the Copenhagen-Oslo route and departure time is at 4:30 PM. Travel time is 17 hours between these two cities. For time table and ferry ticket information, visit Direct Ferries website.
Where to stay in Oslo:
Park Inn by Radisson Oslo (2c Ovre Slottsgate, Oslo 0157, Norway)
The Thief (1 Landgangen, Oslo 0252, Norway)
Thon Hotel Munch (5 Munchs gate, Oslo 0165, Norway – Formerly Tulip Inn Rainbow Munch)
Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Oslo (1 Rosenkrantzgate, Oslo City Center, Oslo 0159, Norway)
Day 7: Oslo, Norway
For one of the most memorable sunrises you’ll ever see, enjoy the views as you sail down the Oslofjord. The famous children’s author Roald Dahl wrote in his autobiography, “Unless you have sailed down the Oslofjord on a tranquil summer’s day, you cannot imagine the sensation of absolute peace and beauty that surrounds you”. From the port, take a local bus or a taxi to get to your chosen accommodation. Look for hostels/hotels in the Old Town (Gamlebyen) or Central Oslo to get access to main tourist attractions and restaurants. Rest and settle in before you start the walking tour.
Before you begin, purchase Oslo Pass, which gives you free entry to more than 30 museums and tourist attractions, unlimited travel on all public transport and other freebies. Start the tour at the Oslo City Hall (Rådhuset), which houses the city administration. Your next destination is Christiania Torv, located in Kvadraturen. One of the most famous history museums in Norway, the Norwegian Resistance Museum is a great educational attraction that will surely give you better understanding of the Nazi Occupation. Do not miss to pay your respect at the Execution Site, where Norwegian freedom fighters were shot. Another attraction you should not miss is the National Monument to the German Occupation. In the afternoon, check out the attractions at Karl Johans Gate until you reach the Royal Palace (Slottet), the official residence of the King of Norway and his family.
Day 8: Oslo, Norway
On day 8, embark on one of the most fascinating day trips out of Oslo by joining a 2-hour Oslo Fjord Sightseeing Cruise. After the tour, continue exploring Oslo’s attractions that you might have missed the day prior. Start with The Vigeland Museum, a sculpture museum featuring exceptional collection from sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Also not to be missed is, the Vigeland Park (Vigelandsparken). In the afternoon, explore the two historic streets of Damstredet and Telthusbakken. End the day at Akershus Castle and Fortress, a medieval castle used as a military stronghold on the Oslo Fjord.
Day 9: Oslo, Norway to Bergen, Norway
Board The Bergen Line for your epic rail journey to Bergen. The train ride is about 7 hours and the train passes over Hardangervidda National Park, Europe’s highest mountainous plateau. A one-way ticket cost 30 USD if purchased in advance (ticket can be purchase online via NSB’s website). This exhilarating train journey will take you past some of Norway’s most magnificent landscapes and dramatic scenery. Upon arrival, make your way to your chosen accommodation. Make sure that you book a hostel right in the heart of the city to get easy access to attractions and restaurants. If you still have time and energy, you may begin your walking tour. If not, have an early dinner at a nearby restaurant and sleep early to prepare for your tour tomorrow.
Where to stay in Bergen:
Clarion Collection Havnekontoret (1 Slottsgaten, Bergen 5003, Norway)
Clarion Collection Hotel No 13 (13 Torgalmenningen, Bergen, Norway)
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Bergen (5 Bryggen, Bergen 5003, Norway)
Day 10: Bergen, Norway
Before you begin the tour, make sure to get a Bergen Card from the Visit Bergen Tourism Office. This card allows you to explore Bergen the inexpensive way by providing free or discounted admission to museums and tourist attractions, free travel on buses and railway. For more information, visit the official Bergen website.
Your first destination is Bergen’s Fish Market (Fisketorget), one of the oldest outdoor markets in Norway. If breakfast is not included in the price of your accommodation, then you can eat at Egon Kjøttbasaren (located at Vetrlidsallmenningen 2), one of the best restaurants in Bergen with large outdoor eating area. Head to your second destination, Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you will find some of the most significant museums in the country like The Bryggens Museum and The Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene.
After lunch, you might want to go back to your hotel to take a quick nap before your afternoon walking tour. In the afternoon, do not miss to visit the Bergenhus Fortress, one of the oldest fortresses in Norway. For dinner, take a quick boat trip to Restaurant Cornelius (Katlavika 14), one of Norway’s best seafood restaurants.
Day 11: Bergen, Norway to Tromsø, Norway
If you want to experience the best of Tromsø in just three days, then there’s no time to waste. Take an domestic flight from Bergen Airport to Tromsø Airport (Wideroe flies once a day and a one-way ticket cost 121 USD). Upon arrival, make your way to your chosen accommodation. Tromsø has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. In the areas surrounding Tromsø, Lyngen and Balsfjord, you will find many nice small hostels, country hotels, guest houses and fishermen’s cottages. In some of the more scenic and secluded locations you will find several camping sites where you can rent your own cabin.
Where to stay in Tromso:
Clarion Collection Hotel With (Sjogata 35-37, Tromso 9291, Norway)
Comfort Hotel Xpress Tromso (Gronnegata 35, Tromso 9008, Norway)
Amalie Hotel (Sjogata 5B | Postboks 14, Tromso 9251, Norway)
Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora (Sjogata 19 – 21, Tromso 9291, Norway)
Scandic Ishavshotel (Fredrik Langesgate 2, Tromso 9008, Norway)
Day 12: Tromsø, Norway
On day 12, visit some of the famous attractions near the city center. Tromsø City Centre is the largest wooden town in Northern Norway and has a rich neo-classical architectural heritage. Begin your walking tour in Tromsø University Museum, the perfect place to learn interesting facts about this Norwegian city’s history and culture focusing on the region’s indigenous people, the Sami. Next, head to the Arctic Cathedral formally known as Tromsdalen Church, Tromsø’s most iconic landmark. Then make your way to Polaria, Tromsø’s unique new museum where main attractions are the bearded seals.
In the evening, you will begin chasing the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights). There are several Scandinavian specialist tour operator where you can book your Northern Lights Tour. It its recommended to check out reviews online before deciding where to book. It is also important to choose excursions which will allow you to chase the Northern Lights. You can do this tour on succeeding nights until you see Aurora Borealis.
Day 13: Tromsø, Norway
Start your 13th day by indulging in a traditional Norwegian breakfast. Guess what can you find on the Norwegian breakfast table? They usually have Smoked Salmon Egg Omelette, potatoes, Jarlsberg Cheese, jams and jellies along with yummy breads of all kinds. After breakfast, you may explore the other attractions in Tromsø such as the Polar Museum and The Perspektivet Museum. You can also drop by the Mack Brewery and go on a guided tour of the production facilities.
In the evening of your second day in Tromsø, join Northern Lights dinner cruise. This cruise is normally being offered together with the Northern Lights trip, so you may inquire with the tour operator beforehand. During the trip you will be served traditional Norwegian fish dinner made from the best available ingredients in the region.
Day 14: Tromsø, Norway
On day 14, join a 5-hour Lapland Whale-watching Tour from Tromsø. This cruise experience will allow to spot Orcas (Killer Whales), Humpback Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals such as seals. Along the way, you will surely marvel at the surrounding fjords and seas of Northern Norway. You’ll also learn many interesting facts about the whales and other animals in this region. In the event that there were no whale sightings, most tour companies provide whale guarantee – which means that you can join another whale watching tour free of charge.
Day 15: Tromsø, Norway
Today marks the end of your adventure in Scandinavia. If your flight is in the evening or late afternoon, explore the city for other attractions you might have missed. Head to the airport in time to check in for your international flight home, or you may opt to continue traveling independently in other parts of Norway, or extend your stay in Tromsø. The decision is all yours!
This is the end of our 15-day suggested itinerary to Scandinavia. The sequence of the activities and attractions above is just a guide and you can definitely change it to suit your interests. There are several alternative routes of travel within the country and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Scandinavia!
Have you been to Scandinavia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.