The Coolest 2 Weeks You'll Ever Spend in the Nordic Countries

If you’ve recently obtained a Schengen visa, Europe is your oyster. With the ability to cross through 26 European countries without border checks, you can finally plan that Nordic vacation you’ve always wanted to take. Or, you can let us plan it for you.


Your Two-Week Nordic Travel Itinerary

Here is your itinerary for traveling through Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland in 2 weeks.

Map of Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland

But first, here’s the best time to go:

Depending on what you want to do in these Nordic countries, you can either travel during the summer or during the winter. Summer travel is ideal for experiencing the midnight sun, while winter travel is your best bet for spotting the Northern Lights and experiencing a winter wonderland. 

Keep in mind, peak tourist season for all of the Nordic countries is summer (May-August), so hotels and activities may be more expensive.


First Stop: Iceland

Time to Spend: 3 Days

northern lights, Iceland


How to Get There:

There are multiple airlines that offer flights to Iceland year-round, and InspiredbyIceland.com provides a handy list of all the airlines that fly to Iceland.

You’ll most likely fly into Keflavik International Airport, which offers easy connections to the rest of Reykjavik. You can easily hail a taxi, rent a car, or take a bus – such as Flybus or the Airport Express Bus – to get to Reykjavik in about 45 minutes.


Where to Stay:

Iceland is a pretty isolated country with only 2 major cities. For most travelers, Reykjavik is the prime Icelandic destination. If you’re more adventurous and plan on exploring the northern part of the island, you’ll most likely stay in Akureyri. 

  • Luxury options: Icelandair Hotels offers luxury hotels in both Reykjavik and Akureyri. Prices start around $140/night.
  • Midrange options: Airbnb’s in Reykjavik and Akureyri range from about $80-$140/night.
  • Budget: Laekur Hostel is a top-rated hostel in Reykjavik, with dormitory accommodations priced at around $40/night. The hostel is close to public bus stops, bakeries, and the coastline. Additionally, the Flybus from Keflavik International Airport stops at the hostel.


What to Do:

Day 1:

First on the list of things to do in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland


While it is a popular tourist attraction, it is not one to be missed. Only 50 minutes away from Reykjavik with direct transport from Keflavik International Airport, the Blue Lagoon offers spa amenities such as mud masks, steam rooms, and in-water massages.  Prices range from $70 to $500 for luxury experiences. The ultimate relaxation destination, the Blue Lagoon is a must-do.

If tourist attractions aren’t your thing, you can check out the secret Seljavallalaug pool. Hidden in a valley near Seljavellir, this pool is heated by hot spring water from Eyjafjallajokull. Two hours southeast of Reykjavik, the only way to reach the pool is by driving and taking a short, 15-20-minute hike into the valley. 

Day 2:

After relaxing in the Blue Lagoon or the Seljavallalaug pool, it’s time to enjoy more of the natural beauty that Iceland has to offer. Take a trip to Thrihnukagigur for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience – a hike INSIDE a volcano.

Available during the months of May-October, and only a short 26-minute car ride from Reykjavik, hiking into Thrihnukagigur entails a 50-minute hike (about 2 miles each way) to the crater. You will then descend 400 feet into the crater, where an open-cable lift will take you down into the volcano.

The whole experience takes about 5-6 hours to complete, so this is the perfect adventure for day 2 in Iceland.

Day 3:

You’ll probably be tired from your volcano hike, so whale and puffin watching is the perfect leisure activity to enjoy your last day in Iceland. After your 3-hour whale watching cruise or your 1-hour puffin-watching cruise, take the rest of the day to enjoy some of the local restaurants in Reykjavik.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Where to Eat:

Iceland offers a variety of culinary delicacies, such as horse, puffin, and minke whale (maybe avoid these after your whale/puffin cruises). While there’s debate over the ethical implications of eating whale and horse, expect them to pop up on the menus in Iceland.

Fishmarkadurinn, otherwise known as the Fish Market, boasts a 4.5/5 rating on Trip Advisor. Its menu includes Icelandic delicacies such as grilled minke whale and smoked or grilled puffin breast.

For a more low-key option, try out Café Loki (see what I did there). It offers options like homemade rye bread, cured shark, and a plethora of Icelandic pastries.

How to Get Around:

For the most part, Reykjavik is fairly accessible by foot, local buses, and taxis. To get to excursion locations, rental cars are an option. For further distances, buses and domestic planes are available. Ferries are also available for guided tours and travel.

If you're from one of these countries, you'll need a Schengen visa to visit this Schengen-Area country. Discover everything you need to know about the Schengen visa!


Second Stop: Denmark

Time to Spend: 2 Days

Canal in Denmark


How to Get There:

It is easy to get from Iceland to Denmark. Icelandair offers a 3-hour flight from Keflavik International Airport to Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen.


Where to Stay:

A popular tourist destination, there are plenty of accommodation options throughout Denmark. Copenhagen offers the greatest number of hotel and hostel options, but Aarhus is another popular destination with lots of accommodation options.

  • Luxury options: Villa Provence, in Aarhus, offers a romantic charm in contrast to “Scandi minimalism.” Villa Provence is within walking distance of train stations, bus stops, and various site-seeing attractions. Rooms start at around $180/night.
  • Midrange options: Cabinn Aarhus Hotel offers rooms starting at around $100/night. Located near the Cathedral, the Cabinn Aarhus Hotel is a short walk to cafes and shops along the Aarhus River.
  • Budget options: Hallo Hostel Aarhus, located close to the Aarhus River, offers beds in mixed dormitories starting at about $40/night.


What to Do:

Day 1:

A short 12-minute walk from Cabinn Aarhus Hotel and Hallo Hostel Aarhus is ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. Famous for its Rainbow Panorama, the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum currently features exhibitions on American pop art, Egyptian contemporary art, and more.  

After spending an hour or two at the museum, hop on an hour-and-a-half train ride up to Aalborg for a melodic stroll through the Park of Music, otherwise known as the Singing Trees. Trees in the park have been planted by famous musicians, and the music of each plays under their designated tree.

Day 2:

No trip to Denmark would be complete without a visit to the nation’s famous capital. From Aarhus, you can hop on a 3-hour train ride to Copenhagen.  Indulge your inner tourist and visit sites like Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s theme park and gardens. If you’re a literary fan, the Little Mermaid is the perfect stop for you. It was inspired by the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, and was gifted to the city of Copenhagen by Carl Jacobsen.

A short walk away from Tivoli Gardens, you can visit Selma, a Danish restaurant famous for its Smorrebrod. This traditional, open-face dish consists of rye bread, fish or meat, vegetables, and sauce on top.

Where to Eat:

If Smorrebrod isn’t your thing, Denmark offers a number of other delectable delicacies. While in Denmark, you can visit Beyti for durum shawarma, made popular thanks to Turkish and Pakistani refugees in the 1960s and 1970s. For those who’ve never had it before, shawarma is a traditional Middle Eastern sandwich made from meat (usually chicken or lamb) that is spit-roasted and shaved onto the sandwich. There is a wide array of toppings for shawarma, like hummus, tahini, and tabbouleh.

If you happen to be visiting during Christmastime, Flaekesteg, or roast pork, is a local favorite. You can find it throughout Danish Christmas market stands.

Finally, if you’re looking for a place to dine while exploring Aarhus, you can check out Mefisto. Top-ranked on Trip Advisor, Mefisto places emphasis on fish and seafood, offering delicious dishes like prawns and lobster.


How to Get Around:

Denmark is well connected, with trains, buses, and bicycles readily available to take you to your next destination.

Train travel in Denmark consists of local trains and regional trains. In Copenhagen, the train system is known as the S-Tog, and stations are marked with a large red sign featuring a white “S” in the middle. While in Copenhagen, you can also take the metro to get around.

Bus travel in Denmark is also well-organized. Buses can take you across town, and they also connect to train stations throughout Copenhagen. There are major bus services in Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg, Odense, and Southern Denmark. Keep in mind that buses only stop at stations when passengers hit the stop button, or when someone is waiting to get on.


Third Stop: Norway

Time to Spend: 3 Days

Hamnoy, Norway


How to Get There:

You can take a ferry from Hirtshals, Denmark to Kristiansand, Norway. The ferry operates 3 times a day and the trip takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes. From Kristiansand, hop on a train for a 4-and-a-half-hour ride to Oslo.


Where to Stay:

As the nation’s capital, Oslo has plenty of accommodations options.

  • Luxury options: The Thief Hotel is a luxury hotel in Oslo. Located in the middle of downtown Oslo, the Thief Hotel offers rooms starting at around $350/night.
  • Midrange options: Self-described as being “for anyone who wants a cheap, urban, and efficient hotel in the center of Oslo,” the Comfort Hotel Express in Young Town Square, or Youngstorget, offers budget-friendly accommodation with shops and restaurants around the corner. Prices start at around $140/night.
  • Budget options: The Anker Hostel offers beds starting at $30/night, with single, private rooms costing about $65/night. The Anker Hostel is located in the city center, with bus, tram, and taxi accessibility right outside the hostel lobby.


What to Do:

Day 1: 

Start things off in Norway by knocking out the touristy attractions in Oslo. A popular destination in the nation’s capital is the Oslo Cathedral. First established in 1697, it was restored in 1950 with its original baroque interior. The church is used for weddings and funerals by the Norwegian Royal Family and the Norwegian government.

After your tour of the Oslo Cathedral, take a short, 8-minute walk to find the National Museum. The National Museum in Oslo is home to many of Edvard Munch’s paintings, most famously including The Scream. The museum also has a sculpture garden located outside.

Day 2:

After your touristy day in Oslo, visit Beito Husky Tours for the ultimate dog sledding adventure. The company offers an inclusive, full-day experience from Oslo, including an 8:35am bus ride from Oslo’s bus terminal to the site. The experience includes a visit to the husky farm, a dog-sledding tour, and a wilderness meal. At the end of the day, the tour will drop you back off at the bus station to get you back to Oslo around 10pm.

Day 3:

In a land famous for its fjords, it’d be silly not to visit one of these stunning inlets during your Norwegian vacation. A short flight from Oslo will get you to Alesund, where you can hop on a bus to Geiranger. Spend the day sightseeing Fjord Geiranger by boat or climb the 327 steps of the waterfall walk for breathtaking views.

Alesund, Norway


Where to Eat:

For a truly authentic Norwegian meal, head over to Kaffistova, in Oslo. It offers traditional Norwegian foods like Norwegian meatballs, Reindeer meat paddies, and salmon.

If you’re visiting during the Christmas season, be sure to try Pinnekjott. Pinnekjott consists of cured, cold air-dried lamb that is steamed with birch branches and served with sausages, mashed potatoes, and pureed swedes. You can try this local delicacy at Restaurant Schroder in Oslo.


How to Get Around:

Norway has a comprehensive public transport system consisting of trains, buses, and ferries. The trains in Norway link Oslo to Stavanger, Bergen, and Trondheim. Buses in Norway connect almost every corner of the country. Finally, ferries in Norway are either car ferries or passenger express boats. There is also a network of small airports to make travel throughout the country easier.

 

Need a Schengen visa to visit Norway? Visit our "Schengen Visa FAQ" or walk through the Schengen visa application process!


Fourth Stop: Sweden

Time to Spend: 2 Days

Snowy Swedish mountains


How to Get There:

From Oslo, Stockholm is a relatively easy, 5-hour train ride away.


Where to Stay:

A major city and Sweden’s capital, Stockholm offers a plethora of hotels and hostels for your stay.

  • Luxury options: The Grand Hotel, located on the waterfront overlooking the Royal Palace and Gamla Stan (Stockholm’s Old Town), offers 5-star accommodation. Rooms start at around $500/night.
  • Midrange options: If a 5-star stay is out of your budget, think about staying at Connect Hotel City Stockholm. Rooms start at around $170/night, and the hotel is located close to the Historical Museum of Wines and Spirits, the Jewish Museum of Stockholm, and Sven-Harry’s Art Museum.
  • Budget options: To cut costs even further, check out the Castanea Hostel in Stockholm. Situated right in the middle of Old Town, Castanea Hostel is within walking distance to public transportation and some of the city’s main attractions. Beds start at around $30/night.


What to Do:

Day 1:

Take advantage of your hotel or hostel’s proximity to Old Town and spend the day exploring. You can visit the Royal Palace, take a tour through the Stockholm Cathedral, and visit the Nobel Museum.

After spending your morning exploring what Old Town has to offer, take a quick walk to Fotografiska, a museum entirely dedicated to contemporary photography.

Day 2:

After a full day exploring the nation’s capital, take a 3-hour train ride over to Gothenburg for a day of exploring flourishing gardens, historic sites, churches, and museums.

You can visit the Goteborg Natural History Museum, the Aeroseum, the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the Garden Society of Gothenburg, or the Gothernburg Botanical Garden. With so much to do, the possibilities are endless.

Stockholm, Sweden


Where to Eat:

Stockholm is home to a blend of culinary influences, though it’s most famous for its perfection of cooking seafood. Eating in Stockholm revolves around lunch and fika, which involves a “social cup of coffee” and accompanying sweets.

For a traditional fika experience, try out a place like Barista. With pastries like scones, pancakes, and croissants on the menu, it’ll be the perfect place to enjoy this Swedish custom.

For classic Swedish fare, try out Tradition. It offers traditional foods like smoked reindeer, Baltic herring, Swedish meatballs, and moose patty. Located next to the Royal Palace, this is an easy stop for your Old Town excursions.


How to Get Around:

Trains, ferries, and planes are all readily accessible to take you around Sweden. Ferries can take you to Sweden’s islands and archipelagos, while planes can take you to the northern parts of the country to explore. Plus, Stockholm has an extensive public transportation system consisting of buses, underground trains, commuter trains, trams, and ferries.


Fifth (and Final) Stop: Finland

Time to Spend: 3 Days

Helsinki, Finland


How to Get There:

Stockholm to Helsinki is an easy, 55-minute flight. Flights are usually operated by Scandinavian Airlines or Finnair, and they only cost around $90.

It is also possible to get from Stockholm to Helsinki by ferry. The trip is a bit longer – around 16 hours – but ferry rides can be a tad cheaper than flights (around $60-$80).


Where to Stay:

Helsinki has plenty of accommodation options. However, for a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can stay in Finnish Lapland for an epic view of the Northern Lights and a taste of a magnificent winter wonderland.

  • Luxury options: The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is a truly magical place located in Finnish Lapland. About 250 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, Kakslauttanen offers accommodations like glass igloos perfect for the viewing of the Northern lights. Igloos start at around $500/night.
  • Midrange options: If an Arctic vacation isn’t in the cards, consider staying at the Scandic Park Helsinki Hotel. Located right next to the city center and transportation connections, rooms are priced at around $165/night.
  • Budget options: For your Arctic getaway, check out the Hostel Café Koti in Rovaniemi. Located in the center of Rovaniemi, prices start at around $31/night. If Helsinki is where you’re heading, check into Hostel Diana Park, with a central location and prices starting at $35/night.


What to Do:

Day 1:

If you’re staying in Helsinki, start your day off with a tram tour of the city. Lasting about 3-4 hours, the tram tour takes you to places like the Cathedral of Helsinki, Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, the Parliament buildings, the Comic Opera of Helsinki, Olympic stadium, and Design District Helsinki. The tram tour of Helsinki is the perfect way to get the lay of the land for the rest of your trip!

If you opted for the Arctic vacation and are staying in Rovaniemi, this just so happens to be the official town of Santa Claus. Visit Restaurant Kotahovi in Santa Claus Village for traditional Lappish dishes. Once night falls go on a reindeer-led Northern Lights safari!

dogsledding in Finland


Day 2:

Back in Helsinki, use day 2 of your Finnish vacation for rest and relaxation. Visit the saunas at Loyly for a spa day to treat yourself. Once you finish up in the sauna, head over to Loyly’s restaurant, where they serve specialties like elk meatballs.

In Rovaniemi, spend the second day of your visit exploring the Arktikum science center. This museum has exhibitions that highlight northern life and Arctic change.

Day 3:

On your last day in Helsinki, visit the Puu-Vallila wooden houses district, accessible by tram or bus. The wooden districts were built to improve the lives of industrial workers in the early 1900’s by providing garden plots for all tenants.

Your last day in Rovaniemi, try something completely unique with a Northern Lights ice float. Protected by a floating rescue suit that keeps you warm and dry, you can take a dip in a frozen lake for a truly thrilling experience.  


Where to Eat:

Food in Helsinki is focused on local ingredients and fresh fish. Check out Fisken Pu Disken, which offers a seafood bar and plenty of fish options, like braised whitefish and salmon.

For some more traditional Finnish food, try karjalanpiirakka. These traditional Finnish pies are made of rye, rice, and boiled eggs, and can be found in most Finnish bakeries, like Ekberg.

For food in Rovaniemi, check out this list of restaurants serving traditional Lappish food, such as reindeer served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.


How to Get Around:

Planes, trains, and buses are the main forms of transportation throughout Finland. Trains can take you from places like Helsinki to Lapland. You can also fly domestic flights in Finland through Finnair, Norwegian, Flybe, and Scandinavian Airlines.

If planes and trains aren’t enough to get you where you’re going, Finland has an extensive coach network that covers more than 90 percent of public roads.

In Helsinki, you can use trams, metros, buses, and taxis to get around the city.

airplane-icon   

Did you know Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland are part of Europe's Schengen Area? Discover everything you need to know about getting a Schengen visa for your trip!

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