Scandinavia itinerary – an eco friendly trip for city, nature and culture buffs

Scandinavia itinerary

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Is Scandinavia on your travel wish list and you don’t know where to start?

I thought I would share our 11 day Scandinavia itinerary taking in three countries, four cities, and the fjords of western Norway to help with your trip planning.

Picture this…

Over a week and a half you visit Norway, Sweden and Denmark. You explore four fascinating cities and experience some of the world’s most incredible natural wonders.

You discover pretty harbors, modern architecture, unique Nordic culture and the waterfalls and soaring peaks of the fjord country.

Ferry to Bygdoy with Oslo card - Oslo Pass

Traveling mainly by train and boat, you are surprised at how relaxing it is to travel without a car, with the added benefit of choosing an environmentally friendly mode of travel.

Along the way you enjoy the delicious seafood and baked goods for which Scandinavia is famous.

Sounds amazing right?

Let’s get planning!

Scandinavia itinerary overview

Bergen (2 nights) – Flåm (1 night) – Oslo (2 nights) – Gothenburg (2 nights) – Copenhagen (3 nights)

This Scandinavian countries itinerary is suitable for all types of independent travelers; from families and couples to solo travelers and was straightforward to organize. Example – All of the booking sites have versions in English so it is hard to get into a muddle.

Responsible travel choices

lighthouse on norwegian fjord

We are trying to be a lot more thoughtful about how we travel so the program was built with responsible travel choices in mind.

The itinerary uses trains and ferries to get around. This mode of traveling is not only much more eco friendly but also incredibly scenic with a few added bonuses such as wifi and a children’s play area thrown in for good measure.

In Scandinavia, the countries and many of the hotel chains are committed to sustainable travel choices. When researching our Swedish stop in Gothenburg I was thrilled to learn that 86% of the hotel rooms in Gothenburg are environmentally certified. So this part of our planning was made very easy for us.

Getting to and from Scandinavia

Norwegian Air flies into Bergen and Copenhagen direct from London and many major cities in Europe. We have flown with Norwegian many times now and like the efficient Nordic service, leather seats and flight schedules. It was difficult for us to find flights at the times we wanted with premium airlines.

Norwegian is a low-cost carrier competing with EasyJet and WizzAir so do not expect luxury. Apart from the efficient service, the difference to those airlines is that Norwegian fly out of higher quality airports and terminals so the experience is more pleasant.

If traveling from the US,  another Norwegian low-cost airline Norse offers flights from several major cities. 

Trip costs

We are not budget travelers, but on this trip were careful keep an eye on our spending as Scandinavia is notoriously expensive. I have added some tips on doing the same towards the end of this post.

Scandinavia trip details

Bergen, Norway - things to do in Bergen

Day 1 – Explore Bergen, Norway

Bergen is known as the gateway to the fjords but you must spend a few days exploring this seaside city and uncover its many treasures.

Today visit Mount Fløyen for panoramic views of the surrounding area, check out the colorful fish market and wander around pretty Bryggen harbor.

Good to know: Bergen airport transfer information

READ: more about beautiful Bergen

Recommended hotel in Bergen

Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Bergen – stylish, great value and just steps from Bryggen harbor – check prices and availability

Day 2 – Bergen and fjord cruise

Bergen fjord cruise

Time to take to the water and join the half day Mostraumen fjord cruise along the beautiful Osterfjord. The cruise takes you past tiny hamlets and through narrow waterways where mountains rise majestically overhead.

The cruise leaves from the pier outside the fish market at 10:00am, 14:00pm each day.  You can buy tickets from the Bergen Tourist Information Office nearby.

Good to know: the cruise is suitable for families and those with a disability. Strollers and wheelchairs are allowed onboard

Use the other half day to explore one of Bergen’s museums and galleries. My pick – the newly opened Norwegian Fisheries Museum.

Recommended dining in Bergen

We devoured all the fish dishes at Bryggeloftet & Stuene in Bryggen

Day 3 – Bergen to Flåm by ferry

Fjords in Norway

The Søgnefjord is known as the King of the Fjords because it is the longest and deepest. From April 1st to October 31st you can take the 5½ hour journey to Flåm along the Søgnefjord from Bergen to Flåm on the ferry express boat. Take this slightly slower option if you like to relax and watch the scenery go by in comfort.

Departing at 08:00am from Bryggen in Bergen, the ferry stops at several towns along the route and slows down for those all-important photo opportunities on deck.

We lost count of the waterfalls we saw along the way and I would rate the journey as one of the highlights of our trip. Many passengers spent the entire journey on deck breathing in the pure fjord air.

Book tickets for the journey on line at Norled

The alternative route is to take the train from Bergen to Voss and then continue by bus to either Gudvangen or Myrdal to transfer to Flåm by boat or the Flåm railway.

Good to know: there is a large luggage storage area, free wifi, clean bathrooms and a basic cafe with hot dogs and muffins on board the ferry

Flåm and a fjord safari

Norway fjords - where Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord meet

The ferry arrives into Flåm at just after 13:00pm. This gives you plenty of time to check in to your hotel and wander around tiny Flåm for an hour or so. If you are feeling energetic there are several walks in the area for all levels of fitness. Pick up this information at the Flåm Tourist Information Office or your hotel.

Or you could take a Fjord Safari. We took this option and loved flying along the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord in a little speed boat, listening to our guide’s tales of the area and looking out for local wildlife.

This unforgettable experience puts you right on the water with the mountain peaks soaring overhead. You can also choose, as we did, to combine the fjord safari with a stop at Undredal to taste the local award-winning cheese.

Good to know: Safety and comfort are priorities on the tour. You are kitted out in warm waterproof suits, hats, gloves and life jackets. in Spring and Summer the fjord safari is suitable for families with small children. Our 3-year-old twins had a great time looking out for ice monsters and seals.

Recommended hotels in Flåm

Flåmsbrygga Hotel – cosy chalet style hotel with good sized family rooms – check prices and availability

Fretheim Hotel – restored heritage hotel with views across the fjord – check prices and availability

Day 4 – Flåm railway | Flåm to Oslo by train

Flam railway

Today you take to the rails and begin the journey east to Oslo.

If you’re organized you could also add in a trip to the Stegastein Viewpoint prior to your train departure from Flåm. The panoramic views from the lookout give another perspective of this incredible landscape.

Take the bus to Stegastein at 10:00am which gets you back to Flåm in plenty of time for the 13.13pm departure to Myrdal on the Flåm railway.

One of the world’s classic rail journeys, the Flåm railway takes you from the Aurlandsfjord to Myrdal mountain station, 867 metres above sea level. Along the way, the scenery is dramatic and awe-inspiring. Waterfalls cascade down cliffs and tumble down to the fjord. It’s an experience not to be missed. Book Flåm railway tickets

TIP: make sure you get out and walk the full length of the platform at the Kjosfossen waterfall stop. Otherwise, you might miss the fjord sirens singing through the waterfall

At Myrdal Station transfer to the train to Oslo for the 5 hour cross country journey across Norway. The scenery changes dramatically as you descend from the mountains and icy lakes, still covered in snow in Spring, to the meadows of central Norway. Though not as dramatic as the Flåm railway, the landscape is mesmerizing and the time passes quickly.

Check timetables and book your train tickets online at Vy – Norway’s train network provider

Good to know: there is a soft play area on board the train for families – this is pure genius! We did not see our kids for hours and they had fun making friends with little Norwegians. The food service on the train is limited so take some snacks. The bakery at Flåm is a good place to grab a sandwich.

Day 5 – Oslo museums and culture

Viking Ship Museum Oslo

Time to take in some Norwegian culture and explore Oslo. Head to the Bygdøy Peninsula, where most of the city’s museums are found, on the number 30 bus from outside the train station or museum ferry from Pier 3 outside City Hall.

You could take a full day to explore the museums on Bygdøy but you must not miss the Norwegian Folk Museum and the Viking Ship Museum when it re-opens in 2026 after refurbishment.

Spend the late afternoon relaxing by the fjord at Oslo’s beautiful Opera House.

TIP: the Oslo Pass city card includes free entry to the museums and public transport in the city – read my post about Oslo and the Oslo Pass for more information

Recommended hotels in Oslo

Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Oslo – central location, great service and stylish decor. Has family rooms – check prices and availability

Comfort Hotel Grand Central – right next to the station, modern decor, perfect for couples – check prices and availability

Day 6 – Explore Oslo | Train from Oslo to Gothenburg

Oslo fjord Norway

It might surprise you that Oslo is great city for exploring the outdoors. Today visit Vigeland Sculpture park in Frogner Park. Just a short ride from the city center or Aker Brygge wharf, you can spend a couple of hours wandering the park and admiring over 200 sculptures by artist Gustav Vigeland.

Enjoy lunch by the harbor and then take a ferry to one of the islands in the Oslo fjord. Disembark and take a stroll around one of the islands. You can even join the locals and go swimming in summer. Read more in our Oslo guide

The ferry drops you back at Akers Brygge, Oslo’s harbourside where you can enjoy the cafes and shops before you go to the train station for your onward journey to Gothenburg.

Next stop, Sweden! Take the train to Gothenburg from Oslo S (Oslo Central Station). The journey takes 3½ hours and before you know it you are in another country. Don’t forget your passport! Book your onward journey to Gothenburg with Vy – check timetables and book tickets online.

Day 7 – Discover Gothenburg – Swedish city by the sea

Things to do in Gothenburg Sweden

Gothenburg is a compact city, easy to explore on foot, bike or using the efficient tram system. But I suggest you get your bearings by taking a paddan boat tour through the city’s canal system and out into the working harbor.

On a sunny day, you must take a trip out to the archipelago and visit some of the islands by ferry. Many of the islands are car-free and perfect for exploring on foot. More about tripping the archipelago in my Gothenburg guide.

Have you visited a Scandinavian amusement park? You should. Liseberg in Gothenburg is Scandinavia’s biggest amusement park with over 40 rides and attractions. We were impressed by the retro and modern rides, short lines and reasonable ticket prices.

TIP: entry to Liseberg is included in the Göteborg city card

Recommended hotels in Gothenburg

Gothia Towers – popular modern hotel with large family rooms opposite Liseberg and with easy links to the main station – check prices and availability

Hotel Pigalle – smart boutique hotel in a heritage building close to the station, best for couples – check prices and availability

Day 8 – Gothenburg | Train from Gothenburg to Copenhagen

Haga Gothenburg

Stroll around Gothenburg’s Haga district and enjoy the ambiance of the cobbled streets and cute-as-a-button boutiques and cafes. If cinnamon buns are your thing you must stop at Cafe Husaren to check out the biggest buns (though perhaps not the tastiest) you have ever seen.

Cross the canal and head on over to the indoor fish market Feskekòrka and enjoy checking out the catch of the day. Continue along the canal until you reach the Botanic Gardens where you can relax on the grass or wander through the themed gardens.

TIP: grab a picnic to eat in the gardens from the wonderful providores at the  Saluhallen indoor food market

Onward to Denmark! Leaving from Centralstation the journey to Copenhagen takes just over 3 hours. The highlight of the journey is feeling like you are flying over water on the 8 kilometer long Øresund cable stayed bridge. Book your rail tickets online at SJ – Swedish Rail.

Recommended dining in Gothenburg

Restaurang Gabriel inside Gothenburg’s famous fish market Feskekòrka is the place to go for the tastiest seafood in town

Day 9 – Copenhagen highlights

Nyhavn Copenhagen Denmark

Wonderful Copenhagen is a relaxed and friendly city that is easy to explore on foot. But you really should hire a bike and do a tour of the city on Denmark’s favorite mode of transport. We did it and you can cover all the major sites easily in a day, stopping to take in the views and atmosphere of the beautiful Danish capital.

But if biking is not your thing, start at the Little Mermaid and stroll along the waterfront to Amalienborg Palace to see the changing of the guard.

Next, visit Copenhagen’s pretty harbor Nyhavn and catch a boat tour around the city’s canals before crossing the pedestrian bridge to Papirøen and the Copenhagen Street Food market.

After lunch take a walk through bohemian Christiania, a unique Copenhagen neighborhood surrounding a pretty lake.

Recommended hotels in Copenhagen

Babette Guldsmeden – friendly, eco-conscious boutique hotel close to Rosenborg Castle – check prices and availability

Copenhagen Admiral Hotel – perfect location on the harbor just steps from Nyhavn – check prices and availability

Day 10 – Copenhagen | Rosenborg Castle | Nørrebro

Rosenborg Castle Copenhagen

On your second day in Copenhagen take a visit to Rosenborg Castle, one of the prettiest castles in the world in my humble opinion. Set in the glorious Kongens Have or King’s Gardens the castle was the summer house of the Danish Royal Family and is home to the Danish Crown Jewels.

READ: more about Copenhagen in How to fall in love with Copenhagen

In the afternoon visit one of Copenhagen’s interesting neighborhoods Nørrebro. Wander through Assistens Cemetery, the final resting place of Hans Christian Andersen until you reach Jægersborggade. This funky street is home to cafés and boutiques and is a great way to soak up the city’s laid-back vibe.

TIP: stop for a delicious ice cream at Istid and watch it appear through a haze of smoke! The ice cream is made using liquid nitrogen

Recommended dining in Copenhagen

Torvehallen – this centrally located food market (near Nørreport station) has more eating options than you can imagine

Manfreds – laid-back dining with a focus on vegetables in Nørrebro

Mielcke & Hurtigkarl – a splurge and one of my all time dining highlights – sophisticated menu in a stunning dining room

READ: more about Nordic cuisine in Discovering New Nordic cuisine in Copenhagen

Day 11 – Copenhagen | Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen

No visit to Copenhagen would be complete without a visit to Tivoli Gardens. So much more than an amusement park, Tivoli has been entertaining the people of Copenhagen since 1843 and has a charming retro feel.

Here you can enjoy fairground rides, walking through the gardens bursting with floral displays or enjoying the scheduled entertainment. The highlight of the daily program at Tivoli is the spectacular Illuminations, a sound and light show on the Tivoli Lake.

Tivoli has something for everyone but we especially loved the sweet Flying Trunk ride that takes you on a magical journey through 32 fairytale scenes.

TIP: start at Tivoli Gardens and walk all the way down Strøtget to the 17th Rundetaarn tower

End your Scandinavian trip on a high with a stroll down Strøtget, Copenhagen’s famous pedestrian shopping street.

Throughout your trip you have no doubt admired the sophisticated yet cozy Scandinavian style. You will definitely find an appropriate souvenir to bring home with you.

Tips for not blowing the budget in Scandinavia

As promised here are our tips for ensuring you don’t go over budget on your trip to Scandinavia.

When to visit, accommodation and food

Scandinavia is no different to any major tourist destination in that visiting during the shoulder season during late Spring and early autumn gives you the best chance of good weather and reasonable prices.

Norway in particular sees particularly high rates over the peak summer months in the fjord regions.

The highest accommodation costs we had was in Flåm where there are only two hotels. For this reason, I would avoid staying in Flåm if you are on a strict budget.

We were impressed with the way Scandinavian hotels have responded to the cost issue. Some offer a buffet breakfast and dinner service included in the room rate or as a small additional charge.

Shopping at the local markets and street food outlets (of which there are many) means you avoid restaurant service charges and uplifts. The standard of food is excellent across Scandinavia so you will eat well regardless.

Alcohol is very expensive in comparison with southern European countries so you can save some pennies here by going on a mini detox.

Transport and attractions

The city cards we used during our trip were great value – especially in Oslo. They include public transport and free or discounted entry into the main attractions of the cities we visited. You can buy city cards for 24, 48, or 72 hours. If you plan your time effectively you can save significantly this way.

Prebook trains well in advance and you will get the best deals. In Norway, there are a limited number of heavily reduced minipris fares, that are non-changeable and non-refundable available to book online.

Family travel tips for your trip to Scandinavia

Kids on fjord safari

Cost is probably one of your major inhibitors of a family trip to Scandinavia. Am I right?

Well, we were surprised to learn that most travel and attractions are free for children under 4 years old with significant discounts for children 16 years and under. Even the fjord safari was free for our 3-year-old twins so I didn’t really mind when one fell asleep in the middle of it.

If you can overcome the cost issue then Scandinavia is wonderful for travelling with children. Public transport is a breeze with easy to enter vehicles and often special designated areas for prams and buggies.


The inter city trains in Norway have specially dedicated family carriages that have a children’s soft play area and tv that runs cartoons. They are understandably very popular so it pays to book early and secure your seats.

The only problem with the train system across Scandinavia was a poor food service. On one leg we resorted to emptying our change into a vending machine and our choice of salted licorice was not a good one!

Accommodation in Scandinavia

We were pleasantly surprised with the accommodation options we found across Scandinavia. Some hotels have drop down bunk beds and play areas for small children. The buffet dining options at dinner are a great option for families looking for convenience after a long day sightseeing or traveling.

Scandinavian Food

Scandinavian cuisine features lots of fish. Our children love fish but some don’t. In this case, you can always turn to kid-friendly favorites like hot dogs, pasta and burgers which you can find everywhere.

Kanelbulle cinnamon bun

We always head to the markets on our travels as they are great places to pick up delicious and interesting local food. I have mentioned these throughout the above itinerary.

Hotel breakfast and dinner buffets are great places to stock up on healthier options like fruit, yoghurt and vegetables. We were very surprised at the quality and variety of dishes on offer. There was always plenty of salad to offset the quite remarkable dessert sections.

The fun stuff

Lastly, you should definitely make time for a stop at the famous amusement parks Liseberg in Gothenburg and Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. With rides and activities for children of all ages at reasonable prices, these parks help mix up the activities on your trip. And who can resist a rollercoaster?

So, when are you booking your trip to Scandinavia?

This itinerary doesn’t cover Finland or Iceland but if you want to add them onto to your trip, take a look at these useful resources:

▪️ Lonely Planet’s Scandinavia guidebook was a great help in planning our trip (use code UNTOLD10 for 10% off)

▪️ How much does it really cost to visit Iceland?

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