Scandinavia is Western Europe's most prosperous, pristine and progressive corner. Starting in Sweden, your Rick Steves guide will treat you to the top sights, including Stockholm's impressive Vasa Ship Museum, historic Kalmar Castle, Copenhagen's fun-loving pedestrian center, Denmark's charming Ærø Island, Oslo's proud maritime museums and whimsical Frogner Park sculpture garden, a nostalgic Norwegian open-air museum, and a waterfall-filled fjord cruise — all ending with a harborside walking tour of ruddy-cheeked Bergen. Join us for the Best of Scandinavia in 14 Days!
You'll get all this!
- A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
- Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Scandinavia come alive for you
- All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 20 group sightseeing events • Walking tour of Stockholm including historic Gamla Stan • Vasa Ship Museum • Stockholm City Hall tour • Kalmar Castle tour • Copenhagen walking tour • Roskilde Cathedral tour • Roskilde Viking Ship Museum • Ærø Island coach tour • Oslo walking tour • 24-hour Oslo Pass covering transportation and entry to nearly every major sight • Norwegian Resistance Museum • Frogner Park sculpture garden • Bygdøy Viking Ship Museum • Norwegian Maritime Museum • Kon-Tiki Museum • Fram Museum • Maihaugen Open-Air Folk Museum tour • Jotunheimen scenic drive • Sognefjord cruise • Bergen walking tour...and more
- All group transportation from Stockholm to Bergen
- 13 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels (two-bunk cabins on the overnight cruise)
- All breakfasts and half your dinners
- All tips for guides and driver
- Free stuff including Rick Steves' Scandinavia guidebook, map, moneybelt and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
Daily Activity Key
- Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
- Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
- Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.
Day 1: Welcome to Sweden
We'll meet at our Stockholm hotel at around 4 p.m. for a Välkomna till Skandinavia get-together, followed by dinner and an orientation walk around our neighborhood. Sleep in Stockholm (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.
Day 2: Stockholm's Old City and the Vasa
This morning we'll enjoy a walking tour through the cobbled alleyways of Stockholm's Gamla Stan (Old City), learning about its historic Stortorget Square, Cathedral and Royal Palace. After free time for lunch, we'll board a boat and cross the harbor to visit the Vasa Museum, where we'll marvel at the remains of the 200-foot warship Vasa, which sank here on her maiden voyage nearly 400 years ago. Your late afternoon is free to explore more of this cosmopolitan city. No bus. Walking: strenuous.
Day 3: Modern Stockholm and Cozy Kalmar
This morning we'll tour Stockholm's City Hall, home of the Nobel Prize banquet and striking mosaic murals celebrating humanism and the ideal of people working together in community. Then, after stopping along the Göta Canal for a lunch break, we'll drive through beautiful birch forests on our way to the seafaring, bridge-and-water-laced town of Kalmar, where we'll sleep (1 night). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 4: Kalmar Castle and Copenhagen
Today we'll explore what may be Sweden's most striking, historically-significant building: bay-and-moat-ringed Kalmar Castle. As we tour the castle's interior and beautiful grounds, we'll learn about Sweden's 16th-century struggle for independence from the Danes. Then, to reach Copenhagen, we'll drive across the awe-inspiring five-mile Öresund bridge and tunnel connecting Sweden and Denmark. We'll get to know our neighborhood by strolling up to the lively Strøget pedestrian center, followed by dinner together at one of Denmark's oldest restaurants. Sleep in Copenhagen (2 nights). Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: moderate.
Day 5: Playful and Progressive Copenhagen
This morning we'll dive into the sights and sounds of Copenhagen's historical center on a walking tour with a local guide. The rest of your day is free to enjoy Europe's best people-watching on the Strøget, tour the Renaissance Rosenborg Castle, visit the fanciful Tivoli Gardens or experience the counterculture of Christiania. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 6: Viking Ships and Ærø Island Charms
After breakfast we'll drive to Roskilde to prowl through the evocative Viking Ship Museum, where we'll learn about the rough-and-tumble, yet surprisingly sophisticated, Viking culture of a thousand years ago. We'll also tour Denmark's venerable Roskilde Cathedral, the resting place of 38 kings and queens of Denmark, and the first Gothic church ever built of brick. Then a scenic ferry ride will take us to the nostalgic little island of Ærø and the old windjammer port of Ærøskøbing. Tonight we'll enjoy a traditional Danish feast together. Sleep on Ærø (2 nights, groups may be split between two B&Bs). Boat: 1½ hrs. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 7: All Day to Explore Ærø Island
You'll have the morning free to relax and savor this epitome of small-town Denmark, or get Ærø-dynamic and pedal a rented bike past thatched cottages, tidy farms and windswept bluffs. We'll regroup just before noon for a bus tour of the island, stopping en route to enjoy a tasty smørrebrød lunch together. We'll return to Ærøskøbing to learn about island life from a local resident, then be free for dinner and the rest of the evening. The pub by the harbor is a fun place to meet the locals. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).
Day 8: Overnight Ferry to Oslo
Today we'll drive back to Copenhagen. After some free time for lunch, we'll hop aboard an overnight ferry for Oslo. It's a big boat; choose to dine at a buffet fit for a Viking or grab something smaller at the ship's café. After dinner, you can dance the night away in the nightclub, linger in the tax-free shop or enjoy the scenery as we cruise to Norway in style. Sleep on ferry (1 night). Boat: 18 hrs. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 9: Historic and Artistic Oslo
We'll greet the sun as we glide up the Oslofjord — one of the most scenic parts of our tour — and into Norway's capital. Once ashore, we'll take a walking tour around the harbor and through the heart of Oslo. We'll learn about Norway's history and politics, including an inspiring visit to the WWII Norwegian Resistance Museum. After lunch, we'll visit the popular Frogner Park, home to Gustav Vigeland's whimsical, lifelike sculptures, and then share dinner together. Sleep in Oslo (2 nights). Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.
Day 10: Norway's Seafaring Past
Today we'll cruise across the harbor to Bygdøy peninsula for a treasure trove of nautical history. We'll tour the Viking Ship Museum to learn about Scandinavia's best collection of Viking vessels and artifacts. Nearby, you'll also have time to see the impressive Maritime Museum — as well as special museums devoted to the innovative Fram polar explorer and the ocean-crossing rafts of adventurer Thor Heyerdahl (Kon-Tiki and Ra II). Inspired by Norway's seafaring history, you'll be free to sail back to Oslo's harbor. From there, armed with your Oslo Pass (giving you free admission to most museums and public transportation), you'll have the rest of your afternoon and evening free in this vibrant city. Boat: ½ hr. No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 11: Lillehammer and Giant's Country
Driving northwest from Oslo, today we'll learn about daily Norwegian life and traditions. We'll tour Lillehammer's beautifully-situated Maihaugen Open-Air Folk Museum, including its array of sod-roofed houses and remarkable 12th-century stave church, constructed entirely from wood. After a scenic afternoon drive through farmland and forests, we'll settle into our rustic, creaky mountain hotel, located in the heart of Giant's Country. We'll share a traditional dinner together, and sleep in Elvesæter (1 night). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 12: Fjord Country and Bergen
Make sure your camera is charged-up: today is scenery day! After breakfast our bus will climb the highest road in northern Europe (4,600 ft.) to the windswept Jotunheimen for a panorama of glittering snow and 8,100-foot peaks. We'll then take a dramatic corkscrew-drive down to sea level and hop aboard a ferry for a 2½-hour scenic Sognefjord cruise between cliffs and waterfalls (part of the "Norway in a Nutshell" route). Then we're back aboard our bus for one more scenic stretch of highway before you're free for dinner and the rest of the evening in ruddy-cheeked Bergen, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Boat: 2½ hrs. Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: light.
Day 13: All Day in Charming Bergen
A local guide will walk us through the salty history of this seafaring town, starting at the Bryggens Museum and through the enchanting old Hanseatic wharf area, where wooden warehouses lean together and recall their glory days as a center of North Atlantic trade. Your afternoon is free to explore more of Bergen, ride a funicular to the top of Mt. Fløyen for a thrilling view, or buy one of those hand-knit wool sweaters that caught your eye back at the wharf. This evening we'll gather for a hearty Norwegian feast to share travel memories and toast new friends. Skål! No bus. Walking: moderate.
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
Those returning home can catch a short flight from Bergen to Copenhagen, London or other European cities for your direct flight home. Farvel!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of Scandinavia in 14 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- Sleep in a cabin with no window on the overnight ship from Copenhagen to Oslo.
- Be content with sharing bathroom facilities at your Ærø B&B.
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
If you arrive in Stockholm before your tour begins, use Rick Steves' Scandinavia guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Swedish (although many locals speak English well), and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Here are suggestions for sightseeing in Stockholm that we will not be doing as a group (see your guidebook for details): Royal Armory; Skansen; archipelago cruise; Millesgården sculpture museum; Drottningholm Palace; Royal Palace Museums; day trips to Uppsala or Sigtuna; overnight trips to Helsinki or Tallinn.
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaws" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). Stockholm and Bergen are transportation hubs, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy.
Flying within Europe can be reasonable. Ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air travel websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Read Rick's Guide to Eurail Passes and decide if your plans merit a pass (or contact our Rail Department for advice at email@example.com or 425/771-8303, ext. 214).
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
For specific details about traveling in Scandinavia, please see Rick Steves' Scandinavia guidebook. If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
While it is important to pack light, there are two items we'd like you to consider when packing for this tour. Scandinavia is known as the "Land of the Midnight Sun" due to its long spring and summer twilights. We recommend that you bring an eye shade and earplugs for easier sleeping.
For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Tour Guide Raves
"Åsa was fantastic! She was totally engaging, extremely knowledgeable, animated and fun! During our bus days, she provided us with lots of info (and treats) and balanced that perfectly with 'down time'. I was totally in awe of her speaking anything from Danish to Swedish to Norwegian to English to SPANISH and making it look so easy! I honestly can't say enough about her. Skål!"
— Cynthia in Orinda, CA
"Ylva was fantastic: knowledgeable, always available, personable, responsive to suggestions, and incredibly open about her own life and her views of Scandinavia. Although this was my first Rick Steves' tour, I can't imagine having a better guide."
— Kristine in Woodinville, WA
Favorite tour memories from recent alums:
"There was a lot of 'wow' in the magnificent fjords of Norway, the calm charm of Ærø, and the beautiful cities of Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, et al. However, I think I was most moved by the Resistance Museum in Oslo. Learning the stories of the sacrifices made by the teachers and other groups in Norway during WWII was something I could never forget."
— Doug in Mission Viejo, CA
"The whole trip was terrific, but for a 'wow' moment I have to choose the ride from Elvesæter through the mountains, down to the fjords, and the ferry ride to Bergen. The views were absolutely fantastic."
— Stephen in Bryan, TX
"The most stunning moment was the majestic fjords of Norway. It was almost sensory overload to sail for two hours with such magnificent scenery to observe."
— Dwight in Coupeville, WA
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- The Heroes of Telemark (1965)
- Fanny & Alexander (1982)
- Babette's Feast (1987)
- Pelle the Conqueror (1987)
- My Life as a Dog (1995)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves Audio Europe™
- Classical: Carl Nielsen, Edvard Grieg
- Opera: Jussi Björling, Jenny Lind,
- Pop/folk: ABBA, Annbjørg Lien, Boot, Groupa, Hedningarna, Secret Garden, Sissel, Väsen
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- Rick Steves' Scandinavia
- Sweden: The Nation's History — Franklin Daniel Scott
- A History of the Swedish People — Vilhelm Moberg
- The Vikings — Else Roesdahl
- Conquered, Not Defeated: Growing Up in Denmark During the German Occupation of World War II — Peter Tveskov
- Kon-Tiki — Thor Heyerdahl
- Scandinavia from 1500 - Byron J. Nordstrom
- Culture Shock! Denmark; Sweden; Norway
- Kristin Lavransdatter — Sigrid Undset
- Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales
- A Doll's House; Hedda Gabler — Henrik Ibsen
- Sophie's World — Jostein Gaarder
- Journey in Blue — Stig Dalager
- Smilla's Sense of Snow — Peter Hoeg
- Before You Sleep — Linn Ullmann
- Hanna's Daughter's — Marianne Fredriksson
- Hash — Torgny Lindgren
- Popular Music — Mikael Niemi
- The Millennium Trilogy ("The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" Trilogy) — Stieg Larsson