Travelling To Scandinavia Tips

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Scandinavia is one of the regions in Europe where there are too many similarities yet too many differences. Their languages and currencies might sounds and look similar, but the culture in each country are quite unalike in many ways.

In this travelling to Scandinavia tips guide, we will discuss how you can prepare for a trip to this part of the world. From packing, places to see, food to try, the best time to go to Scandinavia, epic routes, and general information about this region.

MUST-READ: Our 3-weeks in Scandinavia itinerary

BASIC THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SCANDINAVIA

TRAVELLING TO SCANDINAVIA TIPS

Before we jump on the juicy parts, here is some basic information about Scandinavia that will help you a long way. These facts will help you prepare for your trip.

Which countries are in the Scandinavia region

There are only three (3) countries in the Scandinavia region; Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Often people assume that Iceland and Finland are part of Scandinavia but that’s not true. However, if we are including those two countries, then we are talking about Nordic countries. Plus the Faroe Islands and Greenland – both are part of Denmark.

Money currencies

Currencies across Scandinavia are easy to remember:

  • Denmark – DKK, which stands for Danish Kroner
  • Norway – NOK, which stands for Norwegian Krone
  • Sweden – SEK, which stands for Swedish Krona

While they sound the same and the value to USD are pretty close to each other, you can’t use the currencies once you cross the borders. I mean, for sure, you can change currencies at the borders or airports or currency exchange shops, however, you can’t use them to pay at the stores or restaurants.

Languages

Languages across Scandinavia are also quite similar to each other. The difference would be the spelling and pronunciation, while the alphabet/characters would be different too. The grammar and the root of words are quite close to each other, if you can speak, read, or understand one of these languages, it can be handy. But don’t worry, the locals speak great English if you come across a person who couldn’t just go for the next one and you’ll surely find one. Here are basic words that will be useful for your trip:

ENGLISHDANISH (dansk)NORWEGIAN (norsk)SWEDISH (svenska)
Thankstaktakktack
Hello/Hihejhallo/heihej
How much is this?hvor meget koster dette?hvor mye er dette?hur mycket är det här?
Where is the bus stop?hvor er busstoppestedet?hvor er busstoppet?var är busshållplatsen?
My name is…Mit navn er..Mit navn er…Mit navn er…

Scandinavian Culture

If you have been in Asia, many people would say “warm culture”, “friendly locals”, etc. It’s quite the opposite in Scandinavian culture. I mean, people are not rude or mean towards tourists or anything like that. The thing is, Scandinavian culture values personal space and privacy very highly which often comes off as “cold culture”.

For example, handshaking is the right way to introduce yourself or you don’t just start small talk to someone next to you on a train, bus, supermarket, or while on a walk – a simple nod of your head is enough or a smile. Before covid-19 made social distancing a trend, Scandinavians are already practising this when outside in respect to each person’s personal space.

If you have this look that you are lost or couldn’t find the place you are going to, the chances that a Scandinavian will come up to you and ask if you need help is quite low (not zero), however, if you politely ask for help, you will receive one.

Visa

Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all members of the Schengen States, which means the visa requirements are similar to the rest of Schengen members. Travellers from Oceania, East Asia, most of the Americas, and Europe are free to enter Denmark. Visa exemption will allow you to stay for 90-180 days. If your country is a member of EU/EEA, you have the freedom of movement in Denmark.

COVID-19

Norway opened its borders to international tourists starting February 12, 2022. Visitors must show a COVID-19 vaccination certificate and a booster shot must have been taken 9 months since the last dose. A test result is not required. If travelling to Svalbard, everyone must take a COVID-19 test unless you are a resident of the island. Wearing masks and social distancing is no longer mandatory. Read for more information.

Denmark is now open to all vaccinated or previously infected visitors. Wearing a mask or showing a vaccination card to enter businesses are also no longer required. Read for more information.

Sweden still has travel restrictions on non-essential travel from travellers who are not residents of the EU/EEA until March 31, 2022. Read for more information.

TRAVELLING TO SCANDINA SCANDINAVIA TIPS

TRAVELLING TO SCANDINAVIA TIPS

Now to the good part! Anyone who plans to go on a holiday in Scandinavia just knows too well how expensive it can be. While we can’t do much about it, since this region have such great infrastructure, efficient services, and easy communication with the local even if you don’t speak their language, travelling here can be affordable if you know what you are looking for.

In this section, we will discuss one-by-one things to expect, finding cheap flights, when to go, places to see, food to eat, and how to get around and plan your trip without breaking the bank.

Packing for a trip to Scandinavia

Well, that depends on when you are going and what you will be doing. Either way, make sure you have a jumper packed since summer nights can still be chilly. If you are thinking to go hiking, I highly recommend you bring nice hiking shoes, since the trails can be slippery even during the hot season.

If you are thinking to ski or doing winter activities, check if the heavy items can be rented at your destination to keep your luggage lightweight. One thing to remind you though about fashion there, Scandinavians loves wearing darker shades and off colour. Wearing bright colours will make you stand out if that’s something you want to avoid.

Cheap flights to Scandinavia

Even though Scandinavia is not the cheapest region to spend your vacation in, you will be surprised how affordable it can be to fly there from across continents. You might even find domestic flights in your own country much more expensive than going to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

The best way to find cheap flights to Scandinavia if you are coming from North America, South America, Africa, and even Asia is to fly to either the Netherlands, Germany, and Iceland for connection then catch a short flight to either Oslo, Copenhagen, or Stockholm. Believe it or not, often, it’s cheaper to chop up your flight than find one that goes directly to Scandinavia or a flight that automatically connects you.

If you are coming from Europe, SAS, Norwegian, and EasyJet are the airlines you want to check. You can also try train or bus but of course, it will take longer and seldom will cost more.

Best way to get around Scandinavia

As I mentioned before, Scandinavia has impeccable infrastructure such as roads, meaning transportation here is fantastic.

The best way to get around Scandinavia is driving if you have an international driver’s license that are recognised in this region, renting a car especially for Denmark or if you are planning to only explore areas not too far from the capital cities.

But don’t worry, taking a bus, train, and domestic flights are also popular and easy to use. Flying will cost a bit more while buses and trains travel often and are quite affordable. There are also websites where you can rideshare with other people especially if you are travelling from city to city or crossing borders.

Hitchhiking is not unheard of, however, it’s pretty hard to get a ride since you can’t get to the main highway on foot plus the speed limit (up to 120km/h) is pretty fast.

Best time to travel to Scandinavia

TRAVELLING TO SCANDINAVIA TIPS

When is the best time to travel to Scandinavia? Depending on the activities you want to do, all year round is not a bad time to visit Scandinavia. If you are thinking to do some skiing or see the Northern Lights in Norway and Sweden, between late fall and winter is a good time.

If you want to enjoy music festivals, enjoy the Scandinavian beach, hiking, camping, and road trip, spring and summer is a good time to travel to Scandinavia.

Is it safe to travel to Scandinavia

Yes, Scandinavia is one of the safest regions in the world. In 2021, Wikipedia’s Global Peace Index listed Denmark in the top 3, Norway in the top 14, and Sweden on Top 15 safest countries in the world. Peace indicator includes but are not limited to internal conflicts, number of deaths from organised conflicts, intensity and number of conflicts, level of criminality in society, political instability and terror, number of homicides per 100K people, number of jailed person per 100K people, ease access to small and light weapons, and level of violent crimes to name a few.

Best food to eat in Scandinavia

I love Scandinavian food, while there are a lot of potato-based or meat-based dishes due to their Viking heritage, there are so many different kinds of food to try. Every time I have a flight that connects to one of their airports, I make sure I pick up some pastry and bread during my stop if I don’t have time to dine.

Here’s a list of the best food to eat in Scandinavia:

  • Rugbrød – Scandinavia have the best rye bread, you can have it in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden
  • Frikadeller – Danish fish and meat-based meatball
  • Smørrebrød – Danish open-faced sandwich with fish, meat, eggs, spread
  • Koldskål/Filmjölk
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Smörgåstårta – Swedish sandwich cake
  • Kjøttkaker – Norwegian meatball
  • Lefse – Norwegian dessert
  • Bergensk fiskesuppe – fish soup from Bergen, Norway
  • Pickled herring – can be tried and found anywhere in Scandinavia

Best places to travel in Scandinavia

TRAVELLING TO SCANDINAVIA TIPS

Travelling to Scandinavia tips is incomplete of we don’t talk about places to see. There are so many places to explore in Scandinavia, I know many people have limited time. Hence, here’s a quick list of things to see and do in Scandinavia to help you write your itinerary or you can check out our 3 weeks in Scandinavia itinerary.

Denmark

In a week, you can visit the following places in Denmark either by car, train, and/or bus. Denmark is such a small country, you can rent a car in Copenhagen then drop off the car in Copenhagen again.

  • Copenhagen – Nyhavn, Christiania, Amalie Garden
  • Odense – Hans Christian Andersen House and Museum, Egeskov
  • Aarhus: Old city (den gamble by), ARoS Museum, Dokk1
  • Skagen – coastal town in the northern Denmark where Skagerrak and Kattegt sea meet

Norway

In a week you can visit the following places in Norway, due to its size, you might have to take a flight depending on the places you want to see:

  • Oslo – Viking Museum, Maritime Museum, The Royal Palace, Akerhuss Fortress
  • Tromsø – Floya Mountain to see the Northern Lights (depending on the season), Arctic Cathedral Southern Beach
  • Svalbard – Longyearbyen, Svalbard Museum. Pyramiden, Barentsburg
  • Begen – Fjords, Bergenhus Fortress, Bergen Art Museum, Nordnes Park

Sweden

In a week you can visit the following places in Norway, due to its size, you might have to take a flight depending on the places you want to see:

  • Gotherburg – Dutch-style canals, music festivals, Kosterhavets Nationalpark
  • Stockholm – art, culture, and history museums, Uppsala, Drottninggatan and Klarabergsgatan
  • Lapland
  • Malmø – Mamohus Slott, Turning Torso,

Travelling to Scandinavia is one of the best ways to spend your holiday. Beautiful architecture, delicious food, easy way to get around, rich culture, fascinating history, and filled with scenic views – there’s no reason not to visit this region.

I hope you enjoyed this list of travelling to Scandinavia tips. I try to cover as many topics as I could. If anything else comes to mind, I’ll make sure to add them. Personally, I can’t wait to visit these places again, it’s definitely one of my favourite regions in the world and I will never get tired of exploring it.

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