here is so much to tell about our month long road trip through Scandinavia, that we really did not know where to start! Here in super hot Brazil, we have decided on warming you up for your very own Scandinavian adventure through our highlights and mostly through our pictures. If there is one thing we remember about Scandinavia it is the continuous visual feast it offered and we hope our pictures reflect that. As we had way too many of them, we decided to split the blog in two parts. This week we will show you Sweden, Finland and Denmark, next week we will put Norway in the spotlight. In future blogs we will also tell you some things you should know about Scandinavia and here we give you some tips on how to travel Scandinavia on the cheap (less than 60 EUR a day for two)!
First we would like to give you an overview of our 8357 km travel route. If you click on the photo, you can see the full details of where we have been.
When we think of our first days on the road in southern Sweden, we think of lots of wind, water and mesmerising coastlines, thousands of sailboats, the colourful wooden houses with little white curtains, loads of cinnamon rolls, apple trees, fresh strawberries, herring buffets and in general great (and pretty affordable) seafood. With fond memories we also look back on the wonderful islands of Tjörn and Orust and the stunning Bohuslan coast.
Of course we can’t forget the prehistoric rock carvings at Tanumsheide, our first moose sighting and more Volvo’s than we have seen in our lifetime. We also visit the city of Lund with its impressive cathedral, cool Gothenburg where we unexpectedly get to experience the atmosphere at the Volvo Ocean Race, and the prettiest village in southern Sweden: cliff-jammed Smögen. The latter is a wonderfully picturesque collection of colourful wooden houses in between cliffs and rocks, surrounded by the sea and swept by the wind.
Sweden is such a beautiful country you might get all poetical about it. We did not only experience the magic of its southern coast and islands, but also the little quaint villages, the impressive Abisko National Park and the Kungsleden trail in the high north of the country.
Furthermore, we explored a bit more of its northern reaches: an old village where locals continue the tradition of fishing with long-handle nets from wooden jetties and the wonderful Gammelstad, the best preserved church town in Sweden with its little houses and a stunning church including a Belgian altarpiece. And we cannot forget the sandy pine covered shores of the Bothnian gulf and more to the south the Hoga Kusten Bridge.
In the centre we dropped by the cozy student town of Uppsala before heading to the stunning capital of Stockholm. Definitely one of the greatest cities in Northern Europe, with possibly the coolest museum: the Vasa museum. A modern museum built around the original 17th century flagship of the Swedish navy, cannons and all, salvaged from the bottom of Stockholm bay. This magnificently carved battleship turned out to be top-heavy and sunk at the very start of its maiden voyage, but did make it into one of the greatest museums of all time. The rest of the city is equally beautiful with its stunning location, grand architecture, and well preserved city centre. However, a day was not enough to take it all in. We will definitely be back Stockholm!!
Moving back to the south we enjoyed the history of lakeside Vadstena and the delicious salmon buffet at its Klosterhotel, the Rök rune stone, the red-white polkagris candies of cutesy Gränna, and as true IKEA fans we visited its homebase in Almhult.
In short, Sweden is a wonderful country where we loved to set up camp next to the water, picnicked at stunning sites and enjoyed the fabulous sunsets.
Northern Finland was a valuable contribution to our roadtrip adventure. We crossed the mountains into Finland at Kilipisjaarvi and headed from the marshy high ground of the fells to the endless expanses of pinetrees, dodging semi suicidal reindeer every few kilometers, but all this only adds to the charm of Finnish Lapland.
You see special snowscooter signage everywhere and even a lakeside public carpet washing station. You get to spot snowy owls in the wild and get to eat some of the best berries in the world, especially the super delicious cloudberries. You can try reindeer meat and feast on some of the best open fire grilled salmon in the world. All the while warding off the most aggressive mosquitoes ever, but luckily you can find some shelter in one of the hundreds of free wooden huts that come with a firepit, grill and wood.
We also visit Rovaniemi, a sovietstyle town, with some great museums and beautiful lakes. We can’t resist visiting the touristy Santa’s village, the official residence of Santa Claus. You can even meet the bearded man in person, as long as you manage to get past the completely bonkers elf impersonators that is. We figure it just has to be done, and go for a meeting with the kind old man. Sadly we can’t take any pictures because the dear old chap has his own expensive photographer (whose snaps and video we kindly decline in the end). He has to earn money for the presents one way or the other doesn’t he? In any case during our chat he has nothing but praise for Maarten’s “beginners” beard. Apparently, hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa arrive here every year, of which 1/3 actually get answered! Worth a try, we would say!
We end our roadtrip in Denmark, but we mainly stay around Copenhagen. Visiting Hamlet’s fictional Castle Elsinore (actually Kronborg Slot in Helsingor) straight from the ferry from Sweden. We visit the Frederiksborg Slot, drive past the posh houses on the nearby coast, and drop by Roskilde. After 30 days on the road we drop of our rental car and end our adventure with a few days in an airbnb property in Copenhagen. Finally a real bed!
In Copenhagen we cruise around the city with the (almost) free electrical city bikes, see the (very) little mermaid, the great city centre, the charming stores and cozy streets. We visit its unique neighbourhoods such as touristy Nyhaven, hipster havens Vesterbro and Norrebro, hippy potselling Christiana, etc. Beautiful architecture, great food markets, (nude) swimmers in the city centre, wonderful spots at the waterside and completely insane cyclists (we call them “cyclopaths”). Whatever the dangers of all this obsessed cycling may be, Amsterdam eat your heart out, this is the cyclist capital of the world. In any case it proved to be a surprisingly charming city, definitely worth a long city trip. One day we will be back with a bigger budget, so we can actually afford doing something here :-).