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  1. #1
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    Scandinavia / Baltic Tour

    Hello all,

    My husband and I are finally ready to plan our dream vacation of touring around the Scandinavian / Baltic / Nordic countries. Our top places we absolute must see are Copenhagen, Riga, Tallinn and Bergen. My husband has friends in Helsinki and Stockholm so we were also planning on visiting there as well. Unfortunately since we both work we don't have the luxury or spending months touring around. The longest we'd be able to get away is between 2 and 3 weeks. As of now we were thinking of flying into Copenhagen, catching a flight to Riga, flight to Tallinn, the ferry across to Helsinki, another ferry over the Stockholm and then from Stockholm possibly renting a car and driving from there, through Oslo up into Bergen. Any advice for us as far as our route and trip? Is renting a car the best way to see the countryside and taking in more sights along the way from Stockholm to Bergen, or is there a train that would take us through all this? Are there any places you would suggest we maybe drop and instead go somewhere else? We know this is a lot of places to see in this amount of time but we really want to try to see as much as we can while we are over there. We will be bringing just carry on bags, no checked luggage. We are also thinking of staying in a lot of air bnb's instead of hotels, is this advisable? We will most likely spend the most time in Copenhagen, Tallinn, and Bergen I believe. Any tips or advice or suggestions we are completely open and welcoming of!

  2. #2
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    Sounds like fun, I'm hoping to do the Nordics soon too.

    We did apartments across the continent about 10 years back, it was definitely nice to have the space, and it's a more authentic foreign experience. Does come with drawbacks, as we got quite a mix of century old firetraps with wonky water heaters, to professionally managed apartments with all the laundry facilities we could use. That was before Airbnb, so things have probably improved a lot since.

    I generally try to avoid driving in other countries for the obvious reasons of cultural familiarity (what translates to a middle-finger, do they respect the Pittsburgh-left turn, etc...), but mostly because it is a rather expensive way to make sightseeing difficult, for at least one occupant. Unless I was going somewhere really off the beaten path or it was really, really cheap, I'd find a ride.

    There is definitely a train from Oslo to Bergen, NRK posted on youtube (here) a 7+ hour HD recording of the train transiting from Bergen, even in video it is spectacular. Supposedly transits the areas where the Hoth scenes were filmed for Star Wars Episode V. Google maps is one of the best tools to plan transportation, by car or otherwise; it includes timetables (and in some cases price) from transit authorities and airlines when giving directions to most destinations.

  3. #3
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    Please take a look at Norway in a Nutshell. It is a trip between Oslo and Bergen that includes trains, ferries and a bus. It can get done in a day but I suggest taking at least two. It is a beautiful journey through the mountains and fjords of Norway. A highlight of my travels in Oslo.

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  4. #4
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    Back in my Navy days (fall '88,) we had liberty in Bergen. I made several trip to the museum of natural history, as at the time, you could touch everything! It was so fun to be able to feel the different pelts, horns, etc of the various beasts. We played a lot of pool, probably drank too much and of course, visited McDonalds.

    Our best experience was when we were in a bar and the television was covering an upcoming space shuttle launch. (The first since the Challenger exploded in '86 when I was in bot camp.) We spent the afternoon with the locals talking about the event. We all made plans to come back and watch the launch together. It was just a really neat experience.

    Sorry that I can't comment on travel arrangements since I arrived on a very big, grey boat! I just remember the people being pretty friendly to a bunch of crazy, young Americans.

  5. #5
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    I’d recommend looking at hostels in the places you’re going. European hostels are pretty good actually. Find hostels that are private rooms with ensuite. It’ll be just like a hotel room. And you get free breakfast and wifi and good help on things to do etc. that’s what I did mostly through Iceland and Denmark and Austria.


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  6. #6
    Forum Member Pahs's Avatar
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    Not sure if it helps, but here is the train ride from Bergen to Oslo in real-time: https://youtu.be/z7VYVjR_nwE

  7. #7
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    thank you everyone for the replies! I have looked at the Norway in a Nutshell and it does look very tempting, I'd definitely want to do the longer voyage, I hate feeling rushed and I feel like 1 day to view everything would just be too little for me. My husband is the one wanting to do a road trip on our own, he's lived all over in the UK, Dubia, India...the list goes on so driving in a foreign place is right in his comfort zone, so I have to build my case about taking a "tour" of sorts. I think we are going to go the air bnb route as far as accomodations, we do have points for a few free stays at a Hilton so we may use those as well, but we're also planning a trip to Spain, Switzerland, Germany etc so want to save those. The more I research this trip, the more I'm thinking we will spend a few days in Copenhagen, head over to Riga and Tallinn for a few, and then skip over Helsinki and Stockholm all together and just head straight to Norway and try to experience as much of that beautiful nature as possible. Are there any real draws to Helsinki or Stockholm that you would really recommend not to skip? I've looked up things to do in all the places and it seemed like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki's list was the shortest compared to the rest.

  8. #8
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    In Stockholm I just love walking through the Old Town, especially towards the end of the day. The Vasa museum is fascinating (ancient full-size Viking ship pulled from the water and reconstructed so you can walk through it). On one trip we took a ferry out to one of the harbor islands, Fjäderholmarna, and had lunch there and walked around the artist enclave. (Restaurant was a bit spendy but delicious! - alternately you could probably bring a picnic lunch with you.) Enjoy your trip!!

    Oslo or Stockholm?
    Last edited by haraya; 09-08-2018 at 11:55 AM.

  9. #9
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    Hello!

    Just a few thoughts - I had to chime in being from Stockholm when I saw you were planning to bypass it Wink.

    I think you will have a great time in any of these places - but the key to this type of trip is the timing. Any other time than June/July/August is very risky. I would recommend mid/late June as it is quite nice and midsummer is a great time to be in the nordic region because of the light (and the giant party Wink ).

    A few train websites:
    Norwegian rail website: https://www.nsb.no/en/
    The swedish rail site is Välkommen att boka din tågresa här! ? SJ

    Personally I would do Tallinn OR Riga, not both. I'm not saying they are not worth seeing - they definitely are both beautiful historical cities - but not that unsimilar to me. (I'm by no means an expert - just my feeling from having been in both places for a weekend or so).

    I would - and I am probably only saying this b/c I am a native of Stockholm Wink - I would do Copenhagen - Riga - Stockholm - Bergen, and rent a car for the Stockholm - Bergen bit (driving by Oslo to, and generally miandering).

    The trains work well - but dont always go through the prettiest parts. You could look into taking the train one way/fly and rent a car one way. Renting a car from one place and dropping it off at another is sometimes quite expensive, but if you pick airport to airport there is sometimes no extra fee, as opposed to picking up / dropping of at city locations.

    As far as lodging goes I'd pick hotels when not staying long in a place, otherwise I prefer airbnb or similar. In stockholm a boat trip through the archipelago is a must (to Vaxholm and back, drottningholm perhaps) and the Wasa musem. Also walking around is quite nice.

    I hope you have a wonderful time! Smilie

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