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Travelling by train through the Scandinavian countries is convenient and relaxing. Just hop on, find your seat and you’re off. No waiting in queues at the airport or stripping off for security checks. Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen all have modern railways with a choice of tickets depending on your budget and time and beautiful scenery along the way with plenty of opportunity for stop-offs. HostelBookers takes a look at what there is to do along the way on your Scandinavia tour…
What to do in Stockholm
Eating: Opt for a smorgasbord for the Swedish husmankost (traditional fare). Köttbullar (meatballs) are a must, as is an SOS (smör, ost och sill) butter, cheese and herring, and pytt i panna – diced and fried meat and potatoes, adorned with a fried egg and pickled beetroot
Drinking: Swedes love to drink coffee – try the Malarpaviljongen for an open-air fix. If it’s an alcoholic beverage you’re after, head to the water. Selected pontoons and boats have been transformed into bars and restaurants with sleek furniture or gimmicky themes.
Sightseeing: If you’re short on time check out the miniature version of Stockholm in the Skansen. Sweden’s first open air museum and zoo is located on the island Djurgården where you can also see bakers, glass blowers and potters at work. Junibacken has a mini indoor theme park devoted to Pippi Longstocking. Get away from all this childhood fare with a ferry trip to the Stockholm Archipelago. It’s the sunniest place in the country and brimming with summer houses.
Sleeping: There are lots of cheap hotels in Stockholm to choose from. Hotel Dialog is just 20 minutes from the city centre and close to a huge shopping paradise. It has single, double, triple and family rooms, as well as free wi-fi, parking and en-suite bathrooms.
Moving on: The direct train from Stockholm to Oslo takes just over 6 hours and costs from €36, depending on how far in advance you book and the day you travel.
Another option on your Scandinavia tour is to go by bus – this will take around 7 1/2 hours and costs from €41.50.
What to do in Oslo
Eating: If you want authentic food at a great price Norrøna Kafé at Grensen 19 serves all-you-can-eat soup and salad meals for just NOK 69/€9. There’s no shortage of fresh fish with the whole of the nearby North Sea to trawl and the best place to buy it is the area around Aker Brygge in the south.
Drinking: Beer’s available in supermarkets until 10pm on weekdays in Oslo, but not spirits. For spirits you’ll have to visit the Vinmonopolet - the state-run liquor store. Bars in Oslo are notoriously expensive, the best way to enjoy a sip is the local way – get you’re your mates together, visit the Vinmonopolet, then buy a disposable barbecue and head out to one of the nearby islands of the Oslofjord. You can’t beat lying on the sand and eating freshly-cooked fish with a refreshing drink.
Sightseeing: If you’re after a pint with a view, hop along to the Spikersuppa and Studenterlunden area between Parliament and the National Theatre. You’ll find a huge beer tent and in the winter, a skating rink.
Another popular tourist spot is the islands of the Oslo Fjord. You can bathe in the water, admire the scenery and check out the ruins of an old convent at Hovedova. If you’re of the morbid persuasion you’ll enjoy the Akershus Fortress – a large citadel down by the harbour that’s been used for a prison and an execution house.
Sleeping: If you want to save money and stay in a hostel Oslo has some incredible places. Set in amazing woodland surroundings the Oslo Youth Hostel Haraldsheim is perfect for accessing the many hike routes around the area. There’s also a magnificent view over the city and the Oslofjord.
Moving on: The train will take at least 7 hours and you’ll have to change at Gothenberg or Sodertalje Sodra. Both are beautiful and interesting Scandinavian cities that you could make an extra stop in to extend your stay. Direct ticket prices start at £88, but again, you can save money if you book in advance, are a concession or in a group.
You can also take a ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen – it takes 16h 30 and will cost £117. The price includes a 2-berth cabin.
What to do in Copenhagen
Eating: The parks in Copenhagen are some of the best in Europe – grab a picnic and head to Orsteds Park or Vondelpark for a day’s free entertainment.
Drinking: If you like your bars grimy and dark you’ll enjoy hanging out with the arty crowd at Vinstue 90. For a cosy yet sleek cocktail bar try Ruby, and at Barbarellah you can indulge in a haircut while sipping the creamy top off your pint.
Sightseeing: Copenhagen harbour is home to the famous Little Mermaid statue – the character was created by Hans Christian Andersen. You can join a tour to visit his house and walk in his steps around the city, visiting the landmarks as you go.
Sleeping: If you prefer the money-saving and socialising opportunities of staying in hostels Copenhagen will be like a dream for you. Fun backpackers are dotted all over the city. Sleep in Heaven Hostel has a bar, pool table and a beer garden – making it easy for you to meet other travellers. It’s close to Nørrebro so you’ll be in with the cool area and you’re just a short walk from the city centre. There are dorms and private rooms, and free lockers in the rooms.
Moving on: From Copenhagen you can jump on a plane to visit the rest of Europe or carry your train journey onwards on your Scandinavian tour to Finland, Germany or wherever you fancy next!
A few tips on buying tickets
- In Scandinavian countries, if you’re under 26, over 65 or travelling in a group or as a family you can often get a discount.
- It can be cheaper and easier to wait until you’re in the country to book your train ticket.
- Ask about intercity trains – if you’ve got some time it can sometimes be much cheaper to opt for one of these.
- Children can get a heavily discounted rate when accompanied by an adult.