Scandinavia Travel for First-Timers: What to Expect

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Scandinavia Travel for First-Timers: What to Expect?

Scandinavian countries stand among the most perfect destinations for a getaway as they combine all you need for a wonderful vacation: picturesque landscapes, cutting-edge cities, outstanding cuisine and adventurous spirit. If you’ve already made up your mind to explore the motherland of Vikings for the first time, you should know a couple of facts about this marvelous region to avoid some pitfalls and make your Scandinavia travel even more pleasant and memorable.

Copenhagen, Denmark

No money, no honey

The first thing that’s impossible not to mention is that this Nordic region may astound or even shock some visitors with its, at times, skyrocketing prices. Norway, in particular, is the most expensive country in the world with average salaries of 4665 euros per month, so it’s not that hard to imagine that the prices there – and in Scandinavia on the whole – can bite. 

Good news: there are some ways to save money and travel around Northern Europe without breaking the bank. You can cut back on your costs by joining a pre-planned small group tour, buying multi-day transport tickets instead of single fares, saving on accommodation by choosing to stay at hostels, or simply by getting food in local supermarkets instead of dining in posh restaurants. In any case, Scandinavia is not a budget destination, so it’s better to plan the trip carefully and keep an eye on your spending in order not to squander all your money during the first two days.

One more fact about money is that Scandinavia is becoming more and more cashless, thus the most convenient and wise payment method is by card.

Flåm, Norway

Unpredictable Weather

Most people believe that the Scandinavian climate tends to be cold and severe, but that’s not entirely true. Everything depends on the season and region you’re going to explore. If you’re planning a summer trip, you may be pleasantly surprised by mild and warm weather with temperatures of 21-23°? during the day in the southern regions, and by the shiny midnight sun during the night in the north. Polar day is a usual phenomenon in northern Norway and Sweden as some parts of these countries are located beyond the Arctic Circle, meaning the sun doesn’t go down the horizon in the summer months and can be seen 24 hours a day.

Winters are also not that severe in the majority of Scandinavian capitals. For instance, the average winter temperatures in Oslo and Copenhagen are only about -3/-5°? due to the proximity to the Gulf Stream. However, if you want to fulfill your dream-come-true to visit the Santa Claus residence in Lapland, stock up with warm sweaters as you’ll have to travel in the frosty conditions of -15/-17°?.

Weather Islands, Sweden

Unexpected Masterpieces and Hidden Gems

Scandinavia is not only about natural marvels like breathtaking fjords, tiny islands, and frozen lakes. The region boasts fascinating cities and lovely villages that have their own special charms. Green parks of urban Helsinki, Hans Christian Andersen’s heritage in Danish Odense, the majestic Stockholm Royal Palace, numerous museums of Oslo… there’s no end to Scandinavian attractions that are worth visiting. 

But it’s sure that you’ll come across even more hidden gems than you expected to see. A brilliant example of Scandinavian creativity and love for beauty is the Stockholm subway. It’s considered to be the world’s longest art exhibition as 90 of the 100 stations are decorated with fantastic paintings, sculptures, and mosaics, created by more than 150 artists.

Scandinavian cities also have a dense impressive collection of street art. There are even tours on the urban murals that are sometimes painted on the facades of buildings in the city centers. Some of them have deep meaning, some are painted just for fun. Anyway, Scandinavians just love to turn boring structures into real masterpieces.

Scandinavian Design and Decor – Minimalism

Coming to Scandinavia, you can’t help but notice the free and easy spirit of the Viking descendants. The main trend of living is minimalism which pervades every aspect of everyday life: from the clothing they wear to how they decorate their homes to their attitudes toward food.

The inventors of Ikea and H&M, Scandinavians do their best to simplify their lives. It’s unlikely that you’ll come across lots of people wearing sophisticated colorful clothes for the reason that Nordic people put comfort above all. They mainly give preference to basic clothes and comfortable shoes but combine them in a way to look trendy and cool.

The same simplicity can be seen in Scandinavian decor. The typical interior uses light pastel colors diluted with bright accents. They also keep a strong relationship with the elements and nature. Passionate about the idea of harmony and eco-friendliness, Scandinavians employ lots of wooden items in their homes: from furniture to floors and windows.

As for the way of cooking, you’ll be surprised about how delicious simple meals can be. Nordic cuisine boasts an impressive variety of dishes based on fresh organic products. So visiting this region offers a perfect opportunity to savor the taste of healthy foods prepared in the best traditions of local chefs.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Cycling – Scandinavian Obsession

The people of the European North are true nature lovers and put much effort into the protection of the environment. Traveling around the cities, you’ll witness the huge number of cyclists and that’s not a coincidence. The most ‘cycling’ Scandinavian capital is Copenhagen where you can borrow a bicycle for any period of time absolutely for free. Moreover, the citizens ride bikes in any weather conditions, even in winter. The main arguments in favor of bikes are the reduction of emissions in the atmosphere, mobility, and health benefits.

Scandinavia Travel for First-Timers: What to Expect #travel #denmark #sweden #norwayScandinavians also practice a responsible approach to waste processing. For a couple of decades, citizens have been accustomed to sorting garbage: almost near every house, there are containers for paper, glass, metal, plastic, food, and unrecoverable waste which helps these countries to remain in the top of the most ecologically sound countries in the world.

All in all, Scandinavia offers a number of attractions and features to fall in love with. No doubt that the trip to this spectacular region will leave lots of lovely memories and impressions that eventually can become the reason to come back, maybe more than once. 

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Daria Novikova

by Daria Novikova

Daria Novikova is a travel writer for the European tour operator Firebird Tours. Traveling has always been her passion and now she's happy to share her adventure stories and travel tips with the world. Having traveled all Europe, she has done all the way from backpacking to luxury.

5 Responses to “Scandinavia Travel for First-Timers: What to Expect”

Paul Okia


Thank you for the insight about Scandinavia



One note on expenses in Norway.
We have one thing that is called “Allemannsretten” translated to Right to Roam.

Outdoor recreation is an important part of our cultural heritage in Norway. Since ancient times, we have had the right to roam freely in forests and open country, along rivers, on lakes, among the skerries, and in the mountains – irrespective of who owns the land.

We are allowed to harvest nature’s bounty – which means not only saltwater fish, berries, mushrooms and wildflowers, but also our sensory impressions of the whole outdoor experience. The main principles of the right to roam are legally enshrined in the Outdoor Recreation Act of 1957.

That is, if you stay off farmed land, and 150m from any house, you can camp with a tent for two nights in the same place for free.
The same goes for camping cars, you can park everywhere that is not marked as prohibited.
But, don’t go offroad with a car in Norway. That will be fined with $1200…

So, there is a way to travel cheap i Norway. Stay off the toll roads, don’t go to tourist places, and buy food at Rema 1000 or Kiwi. (Stay of alcohol, that’s a money killer)



Thanks, good to know



Informative and well-structured post 😀 I really enjoyed reading this and put me in the mood to explore the region further 🙂

Elaine Masters


I love your explanations for the sparse interiors and trendy clothing. Good to know about the expenses and your tips. I need to visit!

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