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Scandinavia Travel Tips: 5 Ways to Enhance Your Trip

June 20, 2018 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

Majestic fjords, fairytale castles and fortresses, Viking legends… it’s all about beautiful Scandinavia. The vast Nordic region includes the Kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as Finland and Iceland and represents an incredible concentration of gorgeous natural views and well-arranged prosperous cities, placed in bizarre landscapes. 

However, not every traveler is brave enough to conquer these wild lands, being terrified by the tales about skyrocketing prices and the cold, cutting right into the bones. Well, some of the stories are fairly true, but if you still can’t throw away your dreams about Scandinavia travel, here are some handy tips that can enhance your getaway.

Make up your mind beforehand

The first thing before setting off on a Scandinavian journey is to decide what experience you desire to get, as trips in different seasons have their own peculiarities.

If you long for seeing northern lights, visiting the Santa Clause residence or doing some winter sports, you should go from November to March. The only drawback is the small duration of daylight. For example, Finnish Rovaniemi usually has no more than 4-5 hours of light per day in the winter time. However, it won’t be a problem for practicing sport activities as artificial illumination of most local tracks and sports grounds is impeccable.

Summer months are best for yachting, hiking, kayaking, going on a fjord cruise, city sightseeing tours, and exploring the untouched Scandinavian nature. A perfect way to experience the region is a car trip. Norwegians, for instance, have already taken care of the auto travelers, making a map of 14 routes with exceptional views. The roads are equipped with convenient parking spaces with toilets, tables and observation platforms.

It’s generally believed that Scandinavian countries and beach vacations are incompatible. That’s not entirely true. The beach season in Scandinavia lasts from July to August. The water temperature at the beginning of the season is about +18-19°C while in August the sea warms up to +20-21°С. The most famous Swedish beaches are located in Gotland, Stockholm and Skane, Denmark boasts a long coastal line with beaches in Hals, Aalborg and the Isle of Falster. Here you will find a quiet family vacation without rattling bars and blinding neon lights.

Autumn and spring months are considered to be “off season”. The weather is cold, wet and rainy. However, it is the time when independent tourists usually come to Scandinavia, as there’s a chance to get discounts at hotels and for excursions.

Note: In general, the earlier you book the accommodation in Scandinavia for your upcoming trip, the better choice and rates you get. Availability of hotels and other fixed arrangements, such as excursions, may be low, especially when visiting small villages and destinations far from large cities are part of your plans.

A cool mouth and warm feet live long

All in all, Scandinavia is almost always going to be colder than the place you’re traveling from. The weather is unpredictable, so you need to go fully armed. In summer, be sure to prepare comfortable windproof and waterproof clothing and shoes, especially if you are planning some outdoor activities like climbing mountains or exploring hiking trails. To be on the safe side, take at least two comfortable pairs of shoes in case one gets wet. As for the rainy days, an umbrella is unlikely to help you because the rain is usually accompanied by a strong wind. Therefore, it is best to have a raincoat for such occasions.

Note: The following recommendation can be quite surprising but it’s better take sunscreen with you as, despite the temperature, you can burn your nose walking in the mountains.

It’s not a secret that Scandinavian winters can be quite severe, especially in the northern regions. If you have skiing, snowboarding or some extreme activities on the agenda, your winter trip won’t do without warm clothes and full equipment.

Cardholder’s paradise

The reality is that each Scandinavian country has its own currency, so the most convenient and universal approach to payment is by card. Scandinavia tends to be almost cashless so you’ll come across ATMs on every step of your trip. Using your card, you can pay in shops, including the smallest ones, get a snack in a vending machine, and even pay for a tour to the fjords as guides often have portative terminals in their cars.

Note: Some small businesses can provide discounts for those who pay in cash, which means you’d better keep some small amount of cash handy.

Though using cards doesn’t usually cause any trouble due their widespread acceptability, it’s recommended to take a debit card as some establishments can reject credit cards. One more issue you may face while travelling around Scandinavia is foreign transaction fees. American credit cards tend to come with 2 – 3% fees, which is charged from each purchase you make outside of the USA. However, you can save your purse from extra expenditures, handling it in advance while at home and obtaining a card with no foreign transaction fees.

A bit about prudence

Tip to eliminate troubles and make your Scandinavian experience as good as it gets. The thing is that the vast majority of hotels in Scandinavia have a deposit system which envisages freezing a certain amount of money for the period of a traveler’s stay in case something is broken or damaged. How thoughtful of Scandinavians, huh? Of course, the unblocking or refunding is to be made within 24 hours after you left the hotel, but it’s not convenient at all if you have a saturated route and travel from one point to another almost every day. You can find yourself in a situation when a new hotel has already frozen the deposit while the previous one hasn’t managed to unblock it. When it comes to the number of cards you take with you, it’s definitely better two than one. So if something like that occurs, another card will put you out of unnecessary concerns.

Some etiquette in Scandinavia

And the last but not the least, here are a couple of things about customary behavior you should know about before your Scandinavian trip. The descendants of Vikings are rather reserved people, so the first rule that immediately follows from this fact: to behave and express your emotions loudly in public places is considered a bad tone.

Strangely enough, but it is not acceptable to give place to the elderly people in public transport, as it can offend them.

Local people take much care of the nature and demand the same from foreign tourists. So apart from garbage sorting (which is prefered), you are required to keep it clean outdoors as well, so don’t even think about throwing away a bottle of water somewhere on a hiking trail or on the street, unless you have a will to supply the state budget by paying a fine. Thus the least you can do while traveling in a foreign country is doing as the locals do and respecting the anti-litter rules.

To sum up, Scandinavia is a fascinating region that is able to astound even the most demanding travelers with it’s breathtaking landscapes and the charm of the cities. So if you are still in two minds whether to depart for a Scandinavian tour or not, the answer is definitely ‘yes’ and hopefully the tips above will help to avoid some pitfalls and enjoy the experience of a lifetime.

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