Rick Steves Scandinavia


By Rick Steves

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around July 20, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Experience a smorgasbord of Viking ships, brooding castles, and emerald fjords with Rick Steves! Inside Rick Steves Scandinavia you'll find:
  • Comprehensive coverage for spending a week or more exploring Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia
  • Rick's strategic advice on how to get the most out of your time and money, with rankings of his must-see favorites
  • Top sights and hidden gems, from the Tivoli Gardens, the Viking Ship Museum, and Hans Christian Andersen's house, to prehistoric monoliths and sleepy fjord villages
  • How to connect with local culture: Admire the fjords on a summer day, bask in the hygge of a cozy cabin café, grab a picnic of Nordic cheese and smoked fish from a farmers market, and chat with friendly locals over a glass of avkvavit
  • Beat the crowds, skip the lines, and avoid tourist traps with Rick's candid, humorous insight
  • The best places to eat, sleep, and relax with a cup of coffee
  • Self-guided walking tours of lively neighborhoods and incredible museums
  • Detailed maps for exploring on the go
  • Useful resources including a packing list, phrase books for Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, and Estonian, a historical overview, and recommended reading
  • Updated to reflect changes that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic up to the date of publication
  • Over 400 bible-thin pages include everything worth seeing without weighing you down
  • Complete, up-to-date information on Copenhagen, Roskilde, Æro, Odense, Justland, Oslo, Flåm, Aurland, undredal, Sognejord, Gudbrandsdal Valley, the Jotunheimen Mountains, Bergen, Stavanger, The Setesdal Valley, Kristiansand, Stockholm, Sigtuna, Uppsala, Vaxholm, Grinda, Svartsö, Sandhamn, Växjö, Glass Country, Kalmar, Öland, Helsinki, Tallinn, and more
Make the most of every day and every dollar with Rick Steves Scandinavia.

Cruising Scandinavia instead? Try Rick Steves Scandinavian and Northern European Cruise Ports.


Welcome to Rick Steves’ Europe

Travel is intensified living—maximum thrills per minute and one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is freedom. It’s recess, and we need it.

I discovered a passion for European travel as a teen and have been sharing it ever since—through my tours, public television and radio shows, and travel guidebooks. Over the years, I’ve taught thousands of travelers how to best enjoy Europe’s blockbuster sights—and experience “Back Door” discoveries that most tourists miss.

This book offers you a balanced mix of Scandinavia’s exciting capital cities and cozy small towns. Along with seeing Tivoli Gardens, Hans Christian Andersen’s house, and The Little Mermaid, you’ll take a bike tour of a sleepy, remote Danish isle, dock at a time-passed fjord village, and wander among eerie, prehistoric monoliths in Sweden. And for an exciting Baltic side trip, I’ve added my vote for the most interesting city in this corner of Europe—Tallinn, Estonia.

I advocate traveling simply and smartly. Take advantage of my money- and time-saving tips on sightseeing, transportation, and more. Try local, characteristic alternatives to expensive hotels and restaurants. In many ways, spending more money only builds a thicker wall between you and what you traveled so far to see.

We visit Scandinavia to experience it—to become temporary locals. Thoughtful travel engages us with the world, as we learn to appreciate other cultures and new ways to measure quality of life.

Judging by the positive feedback I receive from readers, this book will help you enjoy a fun, affordable, and rewarding vacation—whether it’s your first trip or your tenth.

Happy travels!


Scandinavia at a Glance




Map: Top Destinations in Scandinavia



Before You Go

Travel Smart

Scandinavia—known for its stunning natural beauty, fun-loving cities, trend-setting design, progressive politics, high latitudes, and even higher taxes—is one of Europe’s most enjoyable and most interesting corners. A visit here connects you with immigrant roots, modern European values, and the great outdoors like nowhere else. You’ll gasp at breathtaking fjords, glide on a cruise ship among picturesque islands, and marvel at the efficiency and livability of its big cities. Yes, Scandinavia is expensive. But, delightfully, the best time to visit—summer—is also the best time to get good deals on the fancier hotels.


Rick Steves Scandinavia is your smiling Swede, your Nordic navigator, and a personal tour guide in your pocket. This book is organized by destination. Each is a mini-vacation on its own, filled with exciting sights, strollable neighborhoods, affordable places to stay, memorable places to eat, and handy survival phrases.

In this book’s chapters, you’ll find these sections:

Planning Your Time suggests a schedule for how to best use your limited time.

Orientation has specifics on public transportation, helpful hints, local tour options, easy-to-read maps, and tourist information.

Sights describes the top attractions and includes their cost and hours. Major sights have self-guided tours.

The Self-Guided Walks take you through interesting neighborhoods, pointing out sights and fun stops.

Sleeping describes my favorite hotels, from good-value deals to cushy splurges.

Eating serves up a buffet of options, from inexpensive eateries to fancy restaurants.

Connections outlines your options for traveling to destinations by bus, train, plane, and boat. In car-friendly regions, I’ve also included route tips for drivers.

Country introductions give you an overview of each country’s culture, history, current events, cuisine, language, and other useful practicalities.

The Scandinavia: Past & Present chapter introduces you to some key people and events in these nations’ complicated pasts, making your sightseeing more meaningful.

The Practicalities chapter near the end of this book is a traveler’s tool kit, with my best advice about money, sightseeing, sleeping, eating, staying connected, and transportation.

The appendix has the nuts-and-bolts: useful phone numbers and websites, a holiday and festival list, recommended books and films, a climate chart, and a handy packing checklist.

Browse through this book, choose your favorite destinations, and link them up. Then have a great trip! Traveling like a temporary local, you’ll get the absolute most out of every mile, minute, and dollar. As you visit places I know and love, I’m happy that you’ll be meeting some of my favorite Scandinavian people.


This section will help you get started on planning your trip—with advice on trip costs, when to go, and what you should know before you take off.


Five components make up your trip costs: airfare to Europe, transportation in Europe, room and board, sightseeing and entertainment, and shopping and miscellany.

Airfare to Europe: A basic round-trip flight from the US to Copenhagen can cost, on average, $1,000-2,000, depending on where you fly from and when (cheaper in winter). Consider saving time and money in Scandinavia by flying into one city and out of another; for instance, into Copenhagen and out of Bergen. Overall, Kayak.com is the best place to start searching for international flights on a combination of mainstream and budget carriers.

Transportation in Europe: For a three-week whirlwind trip of my recommended destinations by public transportation, allow $650 per person. This pays for a second-class Scandinavia Eurail pass (4-country, 8 days in 1 month; offers a 20-40 percent discount on Stockholm-Helsinki or Helsinki-Tallinn boat fares), and the extra boat rides that aren’t discounted by the pass (such as Tallinn-Stockholm).

If you plan to rent a car, allow roughly $300 per week, not including tolls, gas, and supplemental insurance; add about $180 per person for the round-trip boat fare between Stockholm and Helsinki. Ferrying to and from Tallinn adds another $200. If you need the car for three weeks or more, leasing can save you money on insurance and taxes.

A short flight can be cheaper than the train (check www.skyscanner.com for intra-European flights).

Room and Board: You can manage comfortably in Scandinavia on an average of $140 a day per person for room and board. This allows $20 for lunch, $30 for dinner, and $90 for lodging (based on two people splitting the cost of a $180 double room that includes breakfast). Students and tightwads can enjoy Scandinavia for as little as $65 a day ($35 per hostel bed, $30 for groceries and snacks).

Sightseeing and Entertainment: In big cities, figure $10-20 per major sight (Oslo’s Kon-Tiki Museum-roughly $12.50, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens-$17), $5 for minor ones (climbing towers), and $30-40 for splurge experiences (such as folk concerts, bus tours, and fjord cruises). Major cities have cards giving you free run of the public transit system and entrance to many sights for about $50-60/day.

An overall average of $45 per day works for most people. Don’t skimp here. After all, this category is the driving force behind your trip—you came to sightsee, enjoy, and experience Scandinavia.

Shopping and Miscellany: Shopping can vary in cost from nearly nothing to a small fortune. Good budget travelers find that this category has little to do with assembling a trip full of lifelong and wonderful memories.


So much to see, so little time. How to choose? Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographical proximity into account, here are my recommended priorities:

4 days: Copenhagen, Stockholm (connected by a 5.5- hour express train)
6 days, add: Oslo
8 days, add: Norway in a Nutshell fjord trip, Bergen
10 days, add: Overnight cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki
14 days, add: Ærø, Odense, Roskilde, Frederiksborg (all in Denmark)
17 days, add: Aarhus (Denmark), Kalmar (Sweden)
21 days, add: Tallinn (Estonia) and more time in capitals
24 days, add: More Norwegian countryside or Stockholm’s archipelago

The map and the three-week itinerary above includes most of the stops in the first 21 days.


Summer is a great time to go. Scandinavia bustles and glistens under the July and August sun; it’s the height of the tourist season, when all the sightseeing attractions are open and in full swing. In many cases, things don’t kick into gear until summer—beginning about June 20—when Scandinavian schools let out. Most local industries take July off, and the British and southern Europeans tend to visit Scandinavia in August. You’ll notice crowds during these times, but up here “crowds” mean fun and action rather than congestion. At these northern latitudes, the days are long—on June 21 the sun comes up around 4:00 in Oslo and sets around 23:00. Things really quiet down when the local kids go back to school, around August 20.

“Shoulder-season” travel—in late May, early June, and September—lacks the vitality of summer but offers occasional good weather and minimal crowds. Norway in particular can be good from late May to mid-June, when the days are long but the tourist lines are short.

Winter is a bad time to explore Scandinavia unless winter sports are high on your agenda. Like a bear, Scandinavia’s metabolism slows down, and many sights and accommodations are closed or open on a limited schedule (especially in remote fjord towns). Business travelers drive hotel prices way up. Winter weather can be cold and dreary. Days are short, and nighttime will draw the shades on your sightseeing well before dinner. Christmastime activities (such as colorful markets and Copenhagen’s festively decorated Tivoli Gardens) offer a brief interlude of warmth at this chilly time of year.

Before You Go

You’ll have a smoother trip if you tackle a few things ahead of time. For more information on these topics, see the Practicalities chapter (and www.ricksteves.com, which has helpful travel tips and talks).

Make sure your passport is valid. If it’s due to expire within six months of your ticketed date of return, you need to renew it. Allow up to six weeks to renew or get a passport (www.travel.state.gov).


On Sale
Jul 20, 2021
Page Count
760 pages
Rick Steves

Rick Steves

About the Author

Since 1973, Rick Steves has spent about four months a year exploring Europe. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. Rick produces a best-selling guidebook series, a public television series, and a public radio show, and organizes small-group tours that take over 30,000 travelers to Europe annually.  He does all of this with the help of more than 100 well-traveled staff members at Rick Steves’ Europe in Edmonds, WA (near Seattle). When not on the road, Rick is active in his church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger. To recharge, Rick plays piano, relaxes at his family cabin in the Cascade Mountains, and spends time with his son Andy and daughter Jackie. Find out more about Rick at http://www.ricksteves.com and on Facebook.

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