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Scandinavia and St. Petersburg: Too Ambitious?


Nov 20th, 2013, 08:48 PM
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Scandinavia and St. Petersburg: Too Ambitious?

My wife and I have three weeks to travel in and around Scandinavia, most likely in September. We have moderate financial resources, certainly not unlimited. Would it be feasible to visit Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg in that amount of time? To answer the question, it might be helpful to know that my wife and I like museums of all kinds, but especially art museums. What other cities should we consider, if any, and what are the best ways to travel between them? Thanks for your input.
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Nov 20th, 2013, 09:24 PM
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I think this trip could be do-able, but with two caveats:

First, Scandinavia is quite expensive. If you book modest accommodations and keep your expenses for food and wine low, you may be able to make this trip within your budget. I would not count on it being so. Good guide books should be able to give you a sense of costs, and I'm sure some other Fodorites who have been to this part of the world more recently than I will provide their input.

Second, I think you are pushing the limits on time. For someone with interests in museums and art in particular (interests which I personally share), I would think reasonable times for these cities include 3 or 4 days for Copenhagen (perhaps including Roskilde), 4 or 5 days for Stockholm, 2 days for Helsinki, and at least 6 if not 7 days for St. Petersburg. I haven't been to Oslo or Bergen yet, and so can't comment on the time you will need for them. So not counting Norway, I would suggest that you would probably want about 18 days plus travel time -- namely about 1/2 day each time you change locations, and, depending on where you are from, a 1/2 day or more "lost" to jet lag. So you've basically covered your 3 weeks without counting Norway. If you can add a few days, great. Otherwise, I think you'll need to trim either a location or your wish-lists for specific locations.

As for what other cities to consider, Moscow is an obvious option, but I would think you would want a least 6 or 7 days there. Many people recommend Tallinn, perhaps as a day-trip.

It's a beautiful part of the world and there are some incredible museums of various sorts (don't miss the Wasa in Stockholm!) and works of art to be seen in these places. Hope that helps!
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Nov 20th, 2013, 09:29 PM
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St. Petersburg is incredible and the Ermitage museums unbeliavable, but consider that Russia is not a very tourist friendly place and getting visas if often a pain.
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Nov 21st, 2013, 07:53 AM
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N.B.: Finland as a nation isn't part of Scandinavia.


You need to detail a budget. Having the equivalent of hamburgers for two at either an actual TGIFriday's or a similar restaurant in Scandinavia and Finland will cost over $50. Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe.

And Russia isn't cheap either. You either pay for quality or get stuck with rubbish.
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Nov 21st, 2013, 08:14 AM
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You are in the early stages of planning so the options are endless. I don't have a problem with your timetable but you are in one of the most beautiful parts of the world in Norway and you haven't mentioned any time outside of cities. But that is up to you obviously.

You can fly very cheaply from Copenhagen to Bergen on Norwegian ($75), then take the train to Oslo. We had to look a very long time to find reasonable accommodation in Oslo. Finally we settled on:


Great location and very close to The Scream:


Love that painting. But there were five of us. A standard hotel room may be affordable for you. If you reserve 90 days out the train to Stockholm is also very cheap ($30). Can't help you past Stockholm as we have yet to get to Finland/Russia.
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Nov 21st, 2013, 08:43 PM
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Thanks to everyone who responded. I agree that maybe I'd be giving certain countries short-shrift to cover five of them in three weeks. My current thinking is to visit Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, leaving Finland and St. Petersburg for another day. Any "must-sees" in the three countries?
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Nov 21st, 2013, 08:51 PM
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Any good guide book should cover the "must-sees." Check your local library or book store to see which are organized in ways that you like and which provide the level of coverage that suits your needs. Also check the destination guides, trip reports, and planning threads on this board.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 01:49 AM
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we travelled from australia to finland...helsinki..day trip to tallinn and then flew from helsinki to moscow...stayed in a great apartment with city views..nice at night especially

then we caught a night train to st petersburg...(cheaper to buy ticket in russia than from home)..again we stayed in an apartment that our agent here booked...but when we go ahead ill book directly with them..now that I know theyre legit...lol

both times ,..in moscow and in st petes we were met with an english speaking driver who also took us to the airport to catch the plane to stockholm

visas arent hard to obtain..your travel agent will do it for you..takes a while..like six weeks...and i was nervous that we hadnt heard for a long time but no dramas in the end
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 06:58 AM
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In Bergen you will probably want to look for a ferry cruise on the Sognefjord, perhaps taking it to Flam. I am not an expert on this trip as we were south in Stavanger where we hiked to the Preikestolen. You can cruise on the Lysefjord and see this rock from the bottom if you want.


This article might help on Oslo art museums:


And you can take a short ferry ride from Oslo to see:


There is a lot to see and do around the Oslo port area.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 02:48 PM
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I think three weeks is more than enough for covering this area. The most economical way to get to all is by cruising. We did Amsterdam-Copenhagen-Stockholm-Helsinki-St. P-Tallinn-Oslo in 12. As far as museums go, St. P is the jewel in this group. Allow 3-4 days. The viking museums in both Stockholm and Oslo are very different and each is outstanding. The sculpture park up in Oslo is outstanding (Vigeland I believe) as well. We cruised this itinerary therefore having most meals on board-- friends just did a similar itinerary but skipped Amsterdam and Oslo -- they flew and bussed segments, but were frustrated with the bus tour scenario and time. I would agree. If you look at a map, it lends itself to cruising. You can add on land segments at beginning or end. Think Oslo is now ranked #1 in cost worldwide. In St. P besides the Hermitage, do not miss the Catherine Summer Palace (Tseloe??) and Peterhof, and wished we were there an add'l day than 3. We loved this, our one and only cruise. We usually travel on our own. Cruise was 6 years ago via Celebrity and a great value in late June.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 05:33 PM
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a cruise will get you yo the most places - but you will see the least.

i am concerned about your budget - you are heading to the most expensive part of europe - figure cosr twicw bug cities in the us.

I would run a budget then decide if you can afford 21 days - then decide which things are most important to sse. In 3 weeks you can see several places - but you need to be sure to count in day trips
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Nov 23rd, 2013, 03:42 AM
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BTW, a major reason for my recommendation that you consult some guidebooks is your expression of interest in museums and art. These are not interests that are shared by everyone who responds on Fodor's threads. In fact, many posters on this board have (in the past) been quite explicit in saying that they are NOT interested in art or museums.

As I mentioned above, museums and art ARE among my primary interests. Because I rely extensively on travel guide books when I plan my trips, I have seen many things that I would NOT have known about had I relied on others' lists of "must sees" because others' "must-see" lists all-too-often omit museums and other repositories of the arts. IME, my investment in multiple guidebooks has served me well in large part because I have learned about a lot of places that aren't seen by those who skim the surface (and who then blithely assure others that you can visit someplace in some ridiculously short amount of time).

Hope that helps!
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Nov 24th, 2013, 12:20 PM
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will give you all your must sees and much beyond for all tastes.
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