Travel To and Around Scandinavia
Traveling to and around the Nordic countries is easy to do, whether you will tour them all, or visit just one. To help you get started on your travel plans, some introductory information on transportation is provided below, along with descriptions of special fares and discounts.
The following airlines operate regularly scheduled air services from the United States to one or more of the Scandinavian countries. For further information, call them directly, or contact a travel agent.
Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) 1-800-221-2350
American Airlines 1-800-433-7300
British Air 1-800-247-9297
STA Travel (A division of The Council on International Educational Exchange) offers inexpensive student flights to Europe, including the Nordic countries.
Scandinavian Airlines System/SAS: Special youth fares for persons under age 25, available for purchase only in the U.S.
Special Fares for Flights within Scandinavia
Icelandair Discount Fares: Icelandair offers different travel deals over the course of the year on its website. When calling, ask about the 4-, 5-, or 6-sector pass (good for 1 month from the first flight) or the “Fly as You Please” ticket (good for unlimited air travel within a 12-day period).
SAS Visit Europe Air Pass: SAS offers special fares on flight “coupons” (prepaid one-way, direct-flight tickets with flexible dates) for travel within Scandinavia and selected European countries, to be purchased together with a roundtrip SAS flight from the U.S. to Scandinavia. Coupons for specific destinations range from $60 (for domestic flights within Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) to $186 (for international flights within Europe). Max. 8 coupons. It is best to call for details.
Ferry routes connect Scandinavia and England, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries. In addition, cruise ships, ferries and steamers provide links within Scandinavia. There are also a number of sightseeing cruises available, including a coastal steamer cruise along the coast of Norway and numerous boat trips in the fjords. Many railpasses offer discounted or free ferry travel. For further information, contact the Scandinavian Tourist Boards.
Railpasses help to reduce the cost of travel around Scandinavia, and simplify ticket purchase. There are several railpasses designed especially for use in the Nordic countries—these are described below, along with information on the Eurailpasses.
For Senior Citizens, reductions are available for travel on all of the State Railways. The State Railway of Denmark also offer price reductions for groups of three or more adults traveling together; inquire at the countries' railway stations. Note: Iceland does not have a rail system.
Eurailpass: Good for unlimited first-class travel during fixed time periods on the national railways of 17 European countries, including Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. It is also valid for use on certain ferries and private railroads. The time periods are: 15 days, 21 days, or 1, 2, or 3 months.
Eurail Youthpass: For travelers under the age of 26, valid for unlimited second class rail travel for 15 or 21 days, or 1 or 2 month periods. Eurail Flexipass, Youth Flexipass, Eurail Saver Flexi and Eurail-Drive Pass are other available Eurail options.
Scanrail Pass: A range of flexible railpasses valid for first or second-class travel within Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, to be used consecutively or non-consecutively within fixed periods of time. The pass is also valid for free travel or discount tickets on certain ferry lines. The periods are: any 5 days in 1 month, any 10 days in 1 month, 21 days in one month, or one month of consecutive travel.
For further information on Eurailpass options and Scanrail Pass, contact:
Rail Europe, Inc., Bldg. Westchester One
11th floor, 445 South Broadway
White Plains, NY 10601-4421
Tel: 1-800-TGV-RAIL (1-800 848-7245)
The Eurail Group G.I.E. offers Eurail Passes via authorized sales agents outside of Europe and through its own channel, Eurail.Com. The Eurail products (Eurail Global Passes, Eurail Select Passes, Eurail Regional Passes and Eurail One Country Passes) are train passes for a number of countries (chosen) valid for travel during a chosen time of validity in those countries. Visit their website for more information. Europe Rail Tickets
Scanrail pass/Scandinavia: Not to be confused with the Scanrail Pass sold in the U.S., this pass is valid for any 5 days in 15, or 21 days of unlimited first or second-class travel on the State Railways of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, and for free travel/discount tickets on certain other train, ferry and bus routes. Must be purchased locally in Scandinavia; available at the major railway stations. For further information, contact the Scandinavian Tourist Boards.
Finnrail Pass: A 3, 5 or 10 day railpass within 1 month valid for unlimited first or second-class travel throughout the country. Prices vary according to duration and class. The pass can be purchased at Finnish railway stations or through Rail Europe, call 1-800-TGV-RAIL (1-800-848-7245).
In Finland, an extensive network of bus routes makes travel by bus a good alternative to the train. In Iceland, there is no railway system, thus buses are the main form of public transportation. Special bus fares in these countries are described below:
Finland: The Coach Holiday Ticket offers two weeks of travel, up to 621 miles. Available for purchase at bus stations and travel agencies throughout Finland.
Iceland: Two bus passes are available. During the summer, the passes offer special discounts on some campgrounds, highland tours, farm-holiday accommodations, and ferries.
The Full Circle Passport: Valid for travel on scheduled buses along the Ring Road (Iceland's one major roadway). There is no time limit or limitation on the number of stops, but one must maintain a continuous (one-way) direction. A Full Circle Passport which includes the Western fjords, valid in mid June - August, is also available. Also, discounts are available on tours, camping grounds, edda hotels (sleeping bag accomodations) from mid - May to mid - July. Buses are also available for group travel rental.
The Omnibus Passport: Valid for unlimited travel within 1, 2, 3, or 4 week periods, on all scheduled bus routes including the main and secondary roads. Stopovers can be made anywhere along the way, as often as one wishes. The rates are from $250 for one week, $362 for two weeks, $463 for three weeks to $517 for four weeks.
For more information, contact a travel agency in the U.S., or the Scandinavian Tourist Boards.
An inexpensive way to see the sights of Scandinavian cities. City Cards offer free admission to most museums and tourist attractions in participating cities and are good for unlimited free travel on the cities' public trains, subways, trams and buses. Cost and dates of validity vary.
City Cards are available in: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö; inquire at the city's Tourist Office. Note that many smaller Scandinavian cities offer their own city cards or passes, available through the local tourist office.
STA Travel (A division of The Council on International Educational Exchange) offers the popular International Student Identity Card ($22) and, more recently, the International Teacher Identity Card ($22) and GO 25 International Youth Travel Card ($22; this card is for people age 25 and under who are not students). All are good for discounts on transportation and accommodations and reduced admission fees, etc., throughout Europe. The cards also include automatic travel insurance and a 24-hour assistance hotline.
There are numerous hostels in Scandinavia, offering inexpensive accommodations (usually around $15 per night; range $8 (rural) - $15 (urban)). Many have separate rooms for families. To stay in the hostels, you must hold a Hostelling Internation
For more information, contact:
P.O. Box 37613
Washington, D.C. 20013-7613
Tel: (202) 783-6161
Fax: (202) 783-6171
For Further Information
A good place to start when planning your trip is the Scandinavian Tourist Boards, which offer a wealth of practical and general information about the Scandinavian countries, as well as advice on travel and accommodations. You can also contact the tourism office of each country: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden.
In addition, there are a number of excellent and varied guidebooks on Scandinavia, of which a few are listed below:
Fodor’s Scandinavia, 11th Edition, published by Fodor’s Travel Publications, Inc. ($23.00). Complete guide to the Nordic countries, with 15 vacation itineraries. Also look for: Fodor’s Norway; Fodor’s Sweden; Fodor’s Sweden.
Frommer's Scandinavia, 21st Edition, by Darwin Porter and Danforth Smith, published by Hungry Guides ($21.99). The original guide to economical travel.
Insight Guides, distributed in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin Company ($22.95 each). The Insight Guides series offers narrative guides to each of the Nordic countries except Finland.
Lonely Planet Guidebooks, published by Lonely Planet Publications. There are several Scandinavian titles in this series of off-the-beaten path guides: Scandinavian & Baltic Europe 7th edition ($17.95);as well as a guide to each of the Nordic countries ($19.95-$22.99).
Rick Steve’s Scandinavia 2001, published by Avalon Travel Publishing ($17.95). As seen on PBS’ Travels in Europe with Rick Steve.