Scandinavia had been on my bucket list for a couple of years. And finally when I got a chance to travel there I decided to visit Copenhagen, Bergen and Stockholm with a short cruise through the fjords thrown in. This was to be a preview for a longer trip to Scandinavia at a later time. I decided to start with Copenhagen.
Copenhagen Airport Is the busiest airport in Scandinavia handling around 60,000 travellers every day.
The Major Airlines with connectivity to Copenhagen Airport are Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, SAS, Finnair, Air India, Qatar Air, Cathay Pacific , Air China etc
The best airline within Scandinavia itself is SAS. So my suggestion is to fly to one of the main European centres like London , Amsterdam or Frankfurt and fly SAS to Copenhagen and other destinations within Scandinavia.
Where to Stay at Copenhagen
NYHAVN and INDRE BY are the main Tourist Hubs for Copenhagen . So I decided to stay at Nyhaven due to the convenience of the location. It is close the the Palace, Opera, Nyhaven Waterfront dining options. Also a lot of the tour operators have pickup points there so it is easy to get onto different tours and daytrips.
INDRE BY is the old City which has beginnings in the 12th century. You will find the famous museums and churches here. It is also close to the Tivoli Gardens. But there are other options for stay too such as INDRE NØRREBRO, VESTERBRO, SLOTSHOLMEN, CHRISTIANSHAVN it depends upon your preference and which area you will be spending more time at.
Nyhaven Options (New Harbour)
INDRE BY Options (old city)
Getting Around Copenhagen
Walking and cycling are real options for exploring Copenhagen. The public transport system in Copenhagen is well developed. For more information on tickets and pricing for the buses and water taxis check out the official tourism site of Copenhagen. You can also hail an Uber or call in a taxi if you so please. There are sightseeing buses which do loops around the city with stops at places of interest so that is a great way to explore the city if time is short.
Places to Visit and things to do in Copenhagen
Copenhagen has something for everyone. From waterfront cafes to Grand Palaces , Museums and Art Galleries. There are too many to list in this blog but here are are few highlights
Visit Rosenborg Castle and Explore the palace grounds and King’s gardens.
Take in the Grandeur of Danish Aristocracy at Amalienborg Palace
Revel in the energy of Nyhavn
Become a kid again at Tivoli Gardens one of the oldest theme parks in the world. Walt Disney himself found inspiration for the Disney World here.
Tivoli, the 170-year-old amusement gardens in central Copenhagen, used to be only a summer pass-time, but since 1994 it is open all year round. With thousands of lights adorning the historic buildings and gardens, and with charmingly themed villages and shops full of tasty treats and dazzling decorations, Tivoli oozes Christmas. Add to that the wonderful restaurants and the many thrilling rides, and you are set for a day’s adventure.
The Little Mermaid and Geflon Fountain
Absorb the Art of Danish and International Masters at SMK - The National Gallery of Denmark
Feel the wind against your face during a Canal and Harbour Cruise
Go Back in time at the Christiansborg Palace.
Frederiksborg Castle is situated in Hillerød, north of Copenhagen. This impressive Renaissance castle was built in the first decades of the 17th century by the Danish King Christian IV.
Frederiksborg Castle has housed The Museum of National History since 1878, when it was established by brewer J.C. Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg. The beautiful decorated rooms with portraits, history paintings, furniture, and decorative art invite visitors on a journey through Danish history and culture from the late Middle Ages to the present. The historical interiors and the splendorous rooms give a sensuous impression of changing styles and epochs. The collection of portraits is the largest and most significant in Denmark, with new works continually added to the collection.
Be moved at the The Royal Danish Opera.
Shop for souvenirs and gifts at the High Street shops.
Stroll around Copenhagen Harbour and enjoy the fresh air as you take in the sweeping views of the sea.
All in all I had a great weekend in Copenhagen and before I knew it it was time to continue on to the second leg of my journey which was to fly from Copenhagen to Bergen,Norway.
Bergen in my opinion is the most beautiful city in Norway possibly even Scandinavia. I decided to start my journey through Norway here as it is the gateway to the fjords and also for its fantastic views.
There are direct flights to Bergen from Copenhagen, Stockholm, New York, Helsinki, Amsterdam , London and many more centers of Europe.
Bergen Airport Flesland is located 18 kilometers south of Bergen. The airport buses depart every 15 - 20 minutes and takes about 30 minutes to the Bergen city center.
Kystbussen has services from Stavanger, Haugesund or Stord (Leirvik) to Bergen. Buses also run between Oslo and Bergen. And, like travelling by car, you get to see a lot of Norwegian scenery en route.The NOR-WAY express bus company's Haukeliekspressen gets you from Oslo to Bergen.
By Cruise or Ferry
Hurtigruten is the main Cruise company that has sailings to Bergen right from Copenhagen or Oslo.
You can also catch one of the many high speed ferries from the ports along the Norwegian Coast. The approach to Bergen from the sea through fjords past charming fishing coastal villages is something special.
One can drive to Bergen from Stavanger or from Oslo. The drive from Oslo to Bergen taken between 7 to 8.5 hours depending upon the route. Driving gives you more freedom to make the journey at your own pace and enjoy the scenery en-route.
Where to Stay at Bergen
I stayed at the Scandic Ornen Hotel which is a modern hotel located a 10 minute walk from City Center and a 15 minute walk from the harbour. But I noticed there were a lot of hotels closer to the city center and the Radisson Blu specially was very well located near Bryggen Harbour. It would probably be my choice if I were to go there again.
Other hotels which have good user ratings are
Dining at Bergen
Bergen being a coastal town has some of the best sea food restaurants. The Bryggen Harbour area is filled with restaurants, cafes and pubs. You can get continental food as well as traditional norwegian food here. There is a TGIF near the city centre which became my favourite spot to have familiar comfort food as i’m not much of a seafood person. There are also tiny hole in the wall type of places for a quick bite. There are a number of Restaurants for Indian and Asian food as well so there is something for all palates.
Bergen Photo Ops
Bryggen Harbour and Waterfront
Bryggen is one of Bergen's and Norway's main attractions. Bryggen was built after the great fire in 1702 and is included on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The very first buildings in Bergen were situated at Bryggen, which has been a vibrant and important area of the city for many centuries.
Bryggen has been ravaged by many fires, the great fire of 1702 in particular. It reduced the whole of the city to ashes. The area was rebuilt on the foundations that had been there since the 12th century, which means that Bryggen is basically unchanged despite the passing centuries.
Bryggen is now part of our common heritage and has a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and the city of Bergen is a designated World Heritage City. The world heritage site consists of the old Hanseatic wharf and buildings, and one of the best known urban areas from the Middle Ages in all of Norway.
In 1360, the German Hanseatic League set up one of its import and export offices at Bryggen, dominating trade for almost 400 years. To stroll through the narrow alleyways and overhanging galleries is to step back into the mists of time and a bygone era.
Bryggen is very much a living part of the cultural heritage that is still in active use in this historical area of the city. Today, there are several attractions in the area, from the Fish Market to Bergenhus Fortress and there are many cafés, restaurants and shops to choose from. Many of the shops sell traditional and unique crafts.
Explore by walking through the lanes of Bergen
Take the funicular up to the Mt Floyen View Point for fantastic views of Bergen and the fjords.
The Funicular station is located right near Bergen Harbour so is a short walk from most places in city centre.
Make sure you keep track of time while the top of the hill because the trains stop at around 10pm so if you miss the last train it is a long walk back down the hill.
Sunset in summer is quite late around 9 pm and it can be quite sunny up at the view point even if you get up there by 6 pm. But its worth the wait and you can ensure you have a good spot reserved to view the Sun set over the fjords.
View from Mt Ulriken
Take the Cable car up to the top of Mt Ulriken for the best views of Bergen and the Fjords.
People Watching at Bergen Center
After 3 days of a fairy tale stay at Bergen and with a promise to return for a longer stay that I set off onto the next leg of my journey which was the cruise on Hurtigruten from Bergen to Alesund and Trondheim.
Hurtigruten has sailings from Bergen to KIrkenes and back via Alesund and Trondheim (Norwegian Discovery Voyage)which is a 11 day voyage. I had only a couple of days and nights to spare for the cruise so decided to sail just the Bergen -Alesund-Hardangerfjord-Trondheim section which was 2 nights and 1.5 days.
You can see more details on the Hurtegruten website.
To explore the fjords and the surrounding countryside further take a day trip or two during the cruise. They are a little pricey but the arrangements are excellent and leaves you free to just take in the scenery.
At Trondheim I parted with the Cruise and rested for a night before flying on to Stockholm.
Where to Stay at Stockholm
Getting around Stockholm
Stockholm's subway is probably the quickest way to get around town.
A single ticket is valid for 75 minutes and you can also buy passes for 24, hours, 72 hours and 30 days. The tickets can be purchased at ticket terminals, SL Centers, newsagent kiosks, SMS or the SL app.
It's not possible to pay cash for tickets on board buses in Stockholm. Failure to show on demand a valid ticket during a control will result in a penalty fee of 1500 SEK.
The same tickets and passes can also be used to travel by bus, tram, commuter trains and the ferries from Nybroviken and Djurgården.
Travelling by local ferries is a fantastic way to experience a city built on islands. Ferries are used by both commuters and tourists wanting to take a better look around.
There are several rental options; City Bikes simply lets you borrow a bike from any of their 140 public-sites via a three-day or season pass, Bike Sweden is both a bike rental service and organizer of bike tours; Rent-a-bike offers both bike rentals both for several days or by the hour.
You can easily get hold of a taxi by calling a taxi company, hailing one on the street or by taking a one from a rank. There is a manned taxi center at Central Station that can help you with finding the right service, e.g. if you need child seats in the vehicle.
Photo Ops in Stockholm
Gamla Stan, the Old Town, is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe, and one of the foremost attractions in Stockholm. This is where Stockholm was founded in 1252.
All of Gamla Stan and the adjacent island of Riddarholmen are like a living pedestrian-friendly museum full of sights, attractions, restaurants, cafés, bars, and places to shop. Gamla Stan is also popular with aficionados of handicrafts, curious, and souvenirs.
The Stockholm Underground Art
Stockholm’s subway system is truly one of a kind. One hundred stations, each with unique art on its platform, walls or waiting hall. Since 1957 artists have played a key role when new stations have been built.
And over time the metro’s older stations – planned and built without any art – have been spruced up with beautiful statues, murals, and installations.
So spending a day in Stockholm’s metro is basically like visiting the world’s longest art exhibition.
Canal Boat Cruises
My Gear for this trip
Canon 5D Mark 3 DSLR
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS Lens
Canon 2x Teleconverter
Canon 17-40mm f4 L lens
Canon G12 Compact Camera
Arca Swiss C1 tripod head