Dive deep into northern Europe's fabulous Scandi culture over three packed weeks. Up first is Helsinki, where you'll get an insider's glimpse into Finland's capital before striking out to the west coast for food tours and luxurious spa sessions. That's a mere appetizer compared to the rest of the journey, which includes hopping around Sweden, Norway, and Denmark as you enjoy epic cycling tours, sunset cruises, beer tasting, and scenic train rides around shimmering fjords.


  • See Finland's historic highlights—and hop the border to Estonia for a day tour
  • Embark on multiday cycling adventures along Sweden's famous Göta Canal
  • Stroll the cobbled streets in historic Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Bergen
  • Enjoy a scenic train ride through Norway's famously beautiful Westfjords region
  • Relax in traditional Finnish saunas and sample Scandinavia's cuisine on food tours

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Helsinki (Finland), Insider's City Tour & Sauna Helsinki
Day 2 Day Trip to Liesjärvi National Park, Freshly-Cooked Lunch by the Lake Helsinki
Day 3 Day Trip to Tallinn (Estonia) Helsinki
Day 4 Train to Turku, Picnic & Aura River Cruise Turku
Day 5 Turku Foodie Tour & Sauna Turku
Day 6 Ferry to Stockholm (Sweden), Guided City Tour Stockholm
Day 7 Stockholm Classic Boat Cruise Stockholm
Day 8 Train to Söderköping, Göta Canal Ride (Day 1), Cycle to Mem Söderköping
Day 9 Göta Canal Ride (Day 2), Cycle to Norsholm, Lake Asplången Boat Trip Ljungsbro
Day 10 Göta Canal Ride (Day 3), Cycle to Borensberg Motala
Day 11 Göta Canal Exhibition, Train to Gothenburg Gothenburg
Day 12 Gothenburg Kayak Tour, Hagabadet Spa Visit Gothenburg
Day 13 Train to Oslo (Norway), Sunset Dinner Cruise  Oslo
Day 14 Half-Day Oslo City Tour Oslo
Day 15 Flåm Railway Journey (Day 1), Nærøyfjord Cruise to Gudvangen Flåm
Day 16 Flåm Railway Journey (Day 2), Arrive in Bergen, Guided City Tour Bergen
Day 17 Half-Day Osterfjorden Cruise, Visit Modalen, Free Afternoon in Bergen Bergen
Day 18 Full-Day Hardangerfjord Cruise Via Rosendal, Explore the Village Bergen
Day 19 Fly to Copenhagen (Denmark), Food Tour & Beer Tasting Copenhagen
Day 20 Denmark Road Trip: Culture & History Tour Copenhagen
Day 21 Transfer to the Airport, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Helsinki (Finland), Insider's City Tour & Sauna

Helsinki's 19th-century green-domed cathedral towers above the skyline 

Welcome to Finland! While not technically Scandinavian, it's a must-visit destination on any epic tour of Northern Europe. Located on the Baltic Sea and bordering Russia to the east, this Nordic country is known as a prime destination for winter activities like skiing. However, you'll arrive in the capital of Helsinki, a world-class metropolis featuring fine museums and galleries, historic architecture, and a thriving restaurant and nightlife scene.

After transferring to your hotel and checking in, you'll meet a local guide and hit the streets for a combined food and sightseeing tour. In the downtown area, admire the city's neoclassical and modernist architecture as you visit landmarks around Senate Square, like the 19th-century Helsinki Cathedral. You'll also see the famous Design District, known for its boutiques, galleries, and design studios. Highlight museums and galleries you can pop in at include the Ateneum Art Museum, the Finnish National Gallery, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.

Also, Helsinki features an incredible food scene. To this end, your guide will lead you to local eateries and markets to discover the country's diverse culinary heritage, which draws from Finnish traditions and international influences. In fact, the last stop of the day mixes both food and relaxation, as you'll visit Löyly, a combined restaurant and sauna on the waterfront. Believe it or not, this is common here—the sauna is such an intrinsic part of Finnish life that it's been nominated for the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List of traditions that inform a place's identity.

Day 2: Day Trip to Liesjärvi National Park, Freshly-Cooked Lunch by the Lake

There are great photo opportunities in the boreal forests of Liesjärvi National Park

Rise and shine! Leave city life behind for the day as you meet your driver/guide early for a one-hour ride outside the capital to the countryside woodlands. Here, you'll find one of the country's natural highlights, Liesjärvi National Park. This unspoiled protected area is famous for its mazelike lake landscapes and pristine shores. 

Upon arrival at the park, you and your guide will embark on a five-mile (eight km) hike along a nature trail. As you make your way through the pine forests, your guide will point out the exotic flora and fauna in this part of the country, including orchids and carnivorous plants like sundews and bladderworts. Part of the hike involves stopping at a traditional fire camp, where your guides will cook up an impressive Finnish-style lunch. Relax on the shores and enjoy fresh berry juice as you await your feast. Afterward, you'll conclude your hiking loop and return to your hotel. 

Day 3: Day Trip to Tallinn (Estonia)

Tallinn's Old Town is filled with charm, color, and character

Finland also happens to border Estonia, a smaller European country featuring outsized beauty and historical wonders. After breakfast, you'll board a ferry and cruise south across the narrow Gulf of Finland to Estonia, where you'll check out the nation's capital, Tallinn, which abounds with wonders.

The first stop on this half-day tour is the enchanting Kadriorg Park & Palace, a 300-year-old park commissioned by Russian Czar Peter the Great. Highlights of this ornate green space include a colorful rose garden and a serene swan pond. Other spots you'll visit include the city's famous festival grounds and Lasnamäe, a historic neighborhood left over from the Soviet era that features iconic block residences typical of communist architecture at the time.

Then you're off to Old Town, the historic heart of Tallinn. As you stroll its cobbled streets, you'll be transported to the days of the Hanseatic League as you marvel at ancient walls and elegant plazas. Famous landmarks include 13th-century St Mary's Cathedral (the city's oldest church) and the opulent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in 1900. The 15th-century Gothic Town Hall graces the main square alongside the world's oldest operating pharmacy (it's been open for business for 600 years). The tour ends at a local café for a coffee before catching the ferry back to Helsinki.

Day 4: Train to Turku, Picnic & Aura River Cruise

Glide along the beautiful Aura River
Glide along the beautiful Aura River on a boat tour of Turku

Say goodbye to Helsinki this morning as you board a train for the 2.5-hour ride to the West Coast and Turku. Finland's oldest city was founded 800 years ago, and many of its historic landmarks, such as castles and plazas, remain to this day. Its impressive architecture and café culture, combined with its location on the Aura River, have led to Turku being christened the "Paris of Finland."

After checking into your hotel, you'll venture out and experience Turku's many virtues on a scenic cruise. Hop aboard a riverboat for a leisurely one-hour ride down the Aura. As you go, you'll snack on treats from a local bakery as the boat glides under stone bridges and alongside waterfront churches. Your guide will be on hand to point out the most famous sites while regaling you with stories from this riverine region's long history—after all, the area's first inhabitants settled here around 6,000 years ago.

Day 5: Turku Foodie Tour & Sauna

Visit the market hall and sample some Finnish classics, like salmon soup

You've seen some of the most iconic landmarks around Turku—now it's time to discover its delicious culinary scene. This three-hour foodie tour begins at the impressive Turku Market Hall, where you'll taste local delicacies and see why this city is regarded as the food capital of Finland. Among the many eateries and vendor stalls, this market is also where you'll find one of the most popular bakeries in the country, MBakery. Among other things, it sells delicious chocolates that are the official sweet of the city.

After indulging your sweet tooth, you'll leave the market hall and head to the lovely Qwensel Café in the courtyard of the Pharmacy Museum, where a decadent afternoon tea (or coffee) service awaits alongside a platter of delights. While tucking into your sumptuous selection, your guide will reveal even more about Turku's culinary history. Enjoy a brisk stroll afterward along the banks of the Aura River, then transfer to a chic rooftop bar, where you can sip a glass of bubbly as you enjoy panoramic views of the city.

The day doesn't end there, however. The final outing is a visit to Forum Sauna, a steamy sanctuary that's been a center for relaxation and rejuvenation since the 1920s. It's another great excuse to kick back in a steam bath as you learn even more about this age-old Finnish tradition. After the sauna session, you'll transfer to the port, where you'll board an overnight ferry bound for Sweden.

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Day 6: Ferry to Stockholm (Sweden), Guided City Tour

Stockholm is another attractive city on an island archipelago

Welcome to Stockholm! After a pleasant sleep in your cabin, the ferry will pull into port early in the morning. A driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the city. After dropping off your bags, you'll meet another local expert for a guided walk around the nation's handsome capital. Prepare to be impressed. If you thought the Paris of Finland was impressive, wait until you get a glimpse of the "Venice of the North."

Spread across an archipelago of 14 islands in the country's south, Stockholm was founded in the Middle Ages but today is a progressive, tech-forward city. You'll visit its most famous historic buildings on a three-hour tour beginning on the cobbled streets of Stockholm's Gamla Stan (Old Town). Highlights include the Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), 13th-century Storkyrkan (Stockholm Cathedral), the Vasa Maritime Museum, and the Nobel Museum. You can also visit the Art Nouveau palace, Centralbadet, which is now a spa center with Roman baths and saunas.

After visiting cool waterfront areas and park islands like Fjallgatan and Södermalm, the tour winds down at Sturebadet. This historic and exclusive spa is a great place to unwind after a few hours of walking and offers top-notch services, making for a luxurious experience in the middle of the capital.

Day 7: Stockholm Classic Boat Cruise

Cruise the waterways around Stockholm's archipelago region
Time to explore this region's gorgeous archipelago by boat! You won't be traveling on just any vessel, mind you, but the M/S Östanå I, a beautifully restored 1906 Edwardian-era ship. During the 2-3 hour cruise, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Stockholm's islands while your guide points out famous landmarks and shares stories about the city. You'll also have the option to extend the trip by booking an additional lunch on board to dine with views of Stockholm's beautiful seascapes. At the end of the cruise, you'll return to the city.

Day 8: Train to Söderköping, Göta Canal Ride (Day 1), Cycle to Mem

Today's cycle takes you to the tranquil harbor village of Mem

Ride the rails once again this morning as you board a train for a two-hour ride through forests and alongside glassy lakes as you pass villages of russet-colored summer homes. Your destination is Söderköping, a harbor town on the east coast, at the edge of miles of nature. In the warmer months, it's a hive of culture, with street performers and festivals regularly popping up. Upon arrival, you can tour Söderköping's cobbled streets and warren of narrow alleyways on a brief tour.

Afterward, you'll pick up your seven-speed bicycle and commence an epic four-day cycling adventure on the famous Göta Canal. This iconic waterway stretches 118 miles (190 km) from ) across the southern part of the country. It was built in the 19th century to provide a navigable route through Sweden's interior—and what a route it is! The scenic canal connects the city of Sjötorp on Lake Vänern to the harbor village of Mem on the Baltic coast, passing through several gorgeous regions in between.

This first day's ride is something of a warmup and serves as a pleasant introduction to the region's beauty. Along with your guide, you'll pedal 3.7 miles (6 km) from Söderköping to nearby Mem, where the canal meets the Baltic. As you go, you'll enjoy pleasant country scenery while passing alongside colorful boats plying the canal waters. Upon returning to Söderköping, check into your traditional spa hotel, where a three-course dinner awaits.

Day 9: Göta Canal Ride (Day 2), Cycle to Norsholm, Lake Asplången Boat Trip

Ride alongside charming boats on the Göta Canal

Eat a hearty breakfast because today's ride is a bit longer than yesterday's. The route covers 33 miles (53 km), but it's a leisurely ride that takes you west through the dazzling woodlands and green fields of Östergötland County to the town of Norsholm. Throughout this section, the canal is lined with towering trees and follows old car-free towpaths. Eventually, you'll reach Lake Asplången, and there, you'll trade the wheels for a leisurely boat ride across the water.

Once you're in the Norsholm area, you'll break for a delicious lunch right on the banks of the canal. At the end of the day's ride, you'll arrive at your guesthouse accommodation. There's a quaint town nearby where you can enjoy a rustic Swedish dinner and, if you like, a nice long soak in a sauna.

Day 10: Göta Canal Ride (Day 3), Cycle to Borensberg

Pass through some of Sweden's most gorgeous countryside on the Göta Canal route

In the morning, you'll hop back on the bicycle for the ride farther west to the colorful canal-side village of Borensberg. During this leg of the trip, you'll ride alongside the canal's famous locks and viaducts. The 11-mile (19 km) route passes even more beautiful Östergötland country scenery, offering enchanting views of rural Sweden with each passing kilometer.

Once in Borensberg, you'll board another boat and continue west down the waterway to Motala, a harbor town on Lake Vättern. The ride takes about two hours, and you'll arrive around 3:30 pm. It's a relaxing cruise, and while on board, lunch will be served as the skipper entertains you with stories about the history of the canal and surrounding region. Once in Motala, you have time to explore the town before dinner, after which you'll retire to your hotel.

Day 11: Göta Canal Exhibition, Train to Gothenburg

Welcome to Göteborg, one of the metropolitan jewels in Sweden's crown

It's a bittersweet morning, as today, you'll bid farewell to the canal. Interestingly, the town of Motala is known as the capital of the Göta Canal, and during your remaining time here, you can visit its fascinating exhibition recounting the canal's history. Afterward, you'll transfer to the station for the four-hour ride to Sweden's West Coast and the city of Göteborg (Gothenburg).

Sweden's second-largest city has quite a history. It started life as an old fishing hub yet evolved to become the birthplace of Volvo cars. It's a progressive place that prioritizes sustainable living (it's highly walkable), featuring a vibrant cultural scene and world-class restaurants. Not for nothing, but you'll find the locals friendly and welcoming, too.

See for yourself when, after checking into your hotel, you can spend the rest of the afternoon exploring on a self-guided tour. Walk along the downtown canals as you feel the refreshing North Sea breeze on your face, admiring the historic buildings as you go. After all, Göteborg was founded in 1621, and plenty of Renaissance, Baroque, neoclassical, and Art Nouveau architectural marvels remain. One historic icon is the 17th-century Skansen Kronan fortress, which you can hike up to enjoy panoramic city views.

Day 12: Gothenburg Kayak Tour, Hagabadet Spa Visit

Why walk along the waterfront when you can paddle?

Return to the water today as you discover the beauty of Gothenburg's southern archipelago on a guided kayaking tour. Suitable for all levels, the 3-4-hour tour takes you between the colorful and charming islands surrounding Gothenburg, with several coffee breaks and opportunities for a swim (weather permitting). Paddle along the rugged slabs, spot seals in the clear water, and hunt for oysters on the shores. 

After your kayaking adventure, head to the tranquil oasis of the Hagabadet Spa. From the moment you walk in, you'll be transported to a world of calm, with its Art Nouveau-style surroundings and serene atmosphere. Rejuvenate with a yoga class, get a massage, participate in cutting-edge treatments like cryotherapy, or bask in the famous thermal baths.

Day 13: Train to Oslo (Norway), Sunset Dinner Cruise 

Take in the views from Oslofjord on a sunset cruise around the bay

Say goodbye to Sweden as you transfer to the station this morning and board a train bound for Oslo. It's a scenic 3.5-hour ride up the coast to Norway's capital, and when you arrive, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Oslo sits on the country's southern coast at the head of the Oslofjord. This city is the center of the nation's finance, trade, and shipping industries, but there's plenty of culture here, too. There's a host of museums, galleries, and world-class restaurants sprinkled along the fun waterfront areas, which you can spend the afternoon exploring on your own.

Later in the day, head to the harbor and board an elegant wooden sailboat for a seafaring introduction to Oslo via its Oslofjord. As the vessel leaves the harbor, you can relax on deck and watch as the cityscape of Oslo, with its modern architecture juxtaposed against historical landmarks, presents itself. After plenty of time to relax and snap photos, dinner will be served onboard. Feast on a classic Norse seafood dinner of sweet and succulent tidbits like shrimp, crayfish, and crab. Complimenting the meal will be the views of the city skyline, which, at dusk, you'll see lit up in twinkling lights. 

Day 14: Half-Day Oslo City Tour

Visit Oslo's most famous architectural landmarks, like the Opera House

Start the day bright and early with a walking tour around sophisticated Oslo. It begins when you meet your private guide at the hotel and embark on an insider city tour. During this half-day excursion, you'll visit the city's famous landmarks and hidden gems. These include the 19th-century Royal Palace, the Gustav Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Kistefos Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Nobel Peace Center, inspired by the lives and works of Nobel Peace Laureates. You'll also stroll the waterfront and see the iconic Opera House, a marvel of modernist design.

Another highlight includes the 13th-century Akershus Castle, whose impressive medieval facade rises over the Oslofjord. Across the water from the castle is Aker Brygge, whose famous pier is lined with upscale Nordic eateries. Nearby is Oslo's newest quarter, Tjuvholmen, a neighborhood and peninsula where modern architecture takes center stage. The tour winds down on the pedestrian street Karl Johan, where several of Norway's vital institutions, such as the Parliament, university, and the National Theatre, are located. A good meal completes the day.

Day 15: Flåm Railway Journey (Day 1), Nærøyfjord Cruise to Gudvangen

There's plenty to see on the shores of Nærøyfjord, including old Viking Drakkar boats

The last leg of this itinerary involves a grand two-day adventure on the famous Flåm Railway. This is one of the most scenic train rides in Scandinavia, taking you high up into the mountains and offering gorgeous views of Norway's vast fjords, cascading waterfalls, and towering peaks. Part of the journey also involves ferry rides across the western fjords on your way up to your final destination: the colorful port city of Bergen.

The day begins with a walk to Oslo Central Station. There, you'll board the Bergen line bound for the western fjords. The first leg of the trip will take you alongside scenic countryside up to a mountain plateau sitting at 4,058 feet (1,237 m) above sea level. Then transfer to another train line, the Flåmsbana, that will take you through mountain tunnels and along fjords with views of plunging waterfalls.

There will be a one-hour stop at one such waterfall, Kjofjossen, to stretch your legs and snap photos. Kjofjossen is located in the Aurland region, one of the most beautiful parts of Norway's fjordlands. From there, continue down to the station in the waterfront village of Flåm. Here, you'll disembark and check into your 4-star hotel. There's one last surprise in store: a boat trip on the stunning Nærøyfjord. It's not for nothing that this fjord has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and at its far end lies the village of Gudvangen, where you'll disembark and return to Flåm by bus.

Day 16: Flåm Railway Journey (Day 2), Arrive in Bergen, Guided City Tour

Walk past medieval buildings on a tour of Bergen's colorful waterfront

Return to the station after breakfast and hop back on the Bergen line. Over the morning, you'll continue west toward the west coast of Norway, enjoying more epic fjord scenery during the rail journey. Around 2 pm, you'll arrive in the Hanseatic city of Bergen. It's one of the oldest port cities in Europe and occupies an enviable location surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords. This includes the Sognefjord, the country's longest and deepest.

After checking into your hotel, you'll meet a local guide for a tour. One of the most famous areas you'll visit is the UNESCO-listed Bryggen Wharf, filled with colorful, historic buildings dating back to the Hanseatic period, primarily from the 14th century. The tour ends at the outskirts of Bergen with a stop at the Edvard Grieg Museum Troldhaugen. This is the former home of the renowned Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg; visitors can see where he composed his most famous works, plus visit the on-site concert hall. 

Day 17: Half-Day Osterfjorden Cruise, Visit Modalen, Free Afternoon in Bergen

Cruise the azure waters of Norway's famous fjords to pint-size Modalen
Start the morning with a scenic fjord cruise. This leisurely three-hour excursion begins at the waterfront in Bergen, where you'll board a ferry headed north. As you leave the Bryggen waterfront behind, you'll pass under bridges as you make your way to the glassy waters of the Osterfjorden. During the ride, you can relax on deck and snap photos of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. There will be a stop to explore these falls and visit rural Modalen, the smallest municipality in Norway. Upon returning to Bergen, you'll have the rest of the day free to enjoy the city.

Day 18: Full-Day Hardangerfjord Cruise Via Rosendal, Explore the Village

Sweeping views of the Hardangerfjord
Today's journey takes you to the colorful hamlet of Rosendal, known for its 17th-century manor house

Get ready for another fun day on the water as you return to the harbor after breakfast and hop on a ferry. This full-day excursion will take you south from Bergen to the waterfront village of Rosendal. Spend a few hours touring this colorful hamlet and visiting its highlights, like a historic manor home dating to 1665. While here, you'll enjoy lunch in a converted greenhouse serving fresh food with ingredients sourced on-site.

From there, continue sailing to the Hardangerfjord, known as the "Queen of the Fjords." Keep your camera close, as you'll see spectacular views of soaring mountains and cascading waterfalls all around you. At the end of the day, you'll cruise back to the harbor in Bergen.

Day 19: Fly to Copenhagen (Denmark), Food Tour & Beer Tasting

A trip to Copenhagen isn't complete without sampling Mikkeller's craft beer 

Say goodbye to Norway as you transfer to the airport in Bergen this morning for the 1.5-hour flight to Copenhagen. Located on a coastal archipelago at the Baltic and North Seas crossroads, Denmark's capital was founded as a fishing village in the 10th century. In the intervening years, it has grown to an impressive metropolis of over 600,000 people—one that's consistently ranked as one of the happiest cities in the world. Upon arrival, check into your hotel and head out for a taste of the city on a food tour.

Along with a guide, you'll spend half a day strolling the city as you immerse yourself in Copenhagen's diverse restaurant scene. It's an authentic tour offering a local perspective as you stop at the Danes' favorite eateries and markets. Throughout, you'll sample various dishes and delicacies, including gourmet cheeses, open rye bread sandwiches, organic hot dogs, craft beers, and organic gourmet chocolate (depending on the season).

Speaking of beer, after the food tour, you'll visit Mikkeller, a pioneer in the local craft brewery scene. It's one of the best places in the city to enjoy a tasting, which is precisely what you'll do. So take a seat at the bar and sample a range of beers with diverse flavor profiles as your expert brewer tells stories and offers tips on the perfect food pairings—there are even nonalcoholic options!

Day 20: Denmark Road Trip: Culture & History Tour

Odense's cobbled streets and narrow lanes are the ideal setting for the Hans Christian Andersen Museum

Start the day with a hearty breakfast at your hotel and a leisurely walk along Copenhagen's romantic canals. Then, a cultural adventure begins as you meet your driver for the 30-minute ride west to Roskilde. Sitting on the picturesque Roskilde Fjord, this hotbed of Danish history features many famous landmarks, like a Viking Ship Museum displaying boats from the 11th century. Another highlight you'll visit while here is the UNESCO-listed Cathedral, which dates to the 12th century and features impressive Gothic architecture, ornate chapels, and beautiful frescoes.

The adventure continues to Lillebælt, a narrow strait separating the island of Funen from the Jutland Peninsula. You'll stop to walk over its iconic bridge, which offers grand panoramic vistas of the strait and countryside. Next up is Odense, a historic city whose medieval Old Town is filled with Gothic architecture, cobbled streets, and half-timbered homes. It's also the location of the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. Here, you can explore the childhood home of the famed Danish author, now a museum dedicated to his life and literary legacy.

The road trip culminates at Broholm Slot, a historic castle surrounded by gorgeous parkland and forests. Dating back to the 12th century, this is one of Denmark's oldest and most well-preserved castles, with a rich history spanning over 800 years. After touring the castle grounds and enjoying a meal at the gourmet restaurant, you'll return to Copenhagen.

Day 21: Transfer to the Airport, Depart

Leave Scandinavia with memories to last a lifetime

It's been one heckuva ride (quite literally, if you count the cycling adventure), and now it's time to say goodbye to Scandinavia. In the morning, you'll meet your driver for the transfer to the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!

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Map of Discover Scandinavia Like a Local: Finland, Sweden, Norway & Denmark - 21 Days
Map of Discover Scandinavia Like a Local: Finland, Sweden, Norway & Denmark - 21 Days