Scandinavia Trip Report

Old Jun 14th, 2017, 09:17 AM
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Scandinavia Trip Report

DISCLAIMER: despite being part of Fodors Forums since 1999, these are my first travel reports. Basically, I’m going to TRY to convey information that might be useful to travelers who follow in our footsteps. Our family & friends have already seen our photos and know the “we were here & it was fun” info, since we post on Facebook{R} for that. But I hope I can also pass on some tips & warnings to make trips for later travelers a little more enjoyable.

When my wife & I decide on where to travel, we often look at a map and see what places we haven’t been to. As we are now concentrating on Europe, we did (pretty much) just that and noticed that we haven’t been to Scandinavia – a place I FINALLY learned how to spell just this last month (I always thought there was an ‘a’ after the ‘d’).
Anyway, Norwegian Air – a no-frills, low cost, long haul airline – presently has very good fares between JFK Airport (just three hours from where we live) and cities in that area. We decided to fly into any major Scandinavian city, take trains between the others, and circle back to the original one. After a couple hours of searching, I found flying into Copenhagen was the least expensive option.

We left Philly seven hours before our scheduled departure, confident that this would give us plenty of time to get to the airport, get through security, and make our flight. When we arrived at long-term parking 3.5 hours before departure – yes, traffic was THAT BAD – we were a little worried about the fact that we would be arriving at the airport a mere three hours before take-off. One hour later we were at the gate with our boarding passes – yes, JFK is THAT EFFICIENT.

Norwegian Air allows you to pick and choose which “amenities” you want to pay for. We knew we were each going to have a checked bag, and we definitely wanted to pick our seats, so we just paid extra for these “extras” – and still had a good deal. Amazingly, Norwegian does NOT charge extra if you pick seats in the exit rows – meaning we were able to REALLY stretch out during this overnight flight. Because we had decided to concentrate on resting our eyes, we chose not to watch any of the dozen or so films offered on our individual video screens.
is a MUCH better intro to arriving at Copenhagen Airport than I could ever hope to write. One thing the author didn’t mention is that this place isn’t really an airport, but rather an upscale shopping mall that happens to have a lot airplanes arriving & departing. Cartier, Gucci, Burberry, Victoria’s Secret: they’re all here and a LOT more. It can be a bit dazzling for a tired traveler, so just follow the signs for “Udang / Exit” and you’ll be fine.
Note that English is a secondary language throughout Scandinavia; although it NEVER hurts to learn some of the local tongue. If your first words are a bad attempt to say, “Hello” in the nation’s language – even if your next words are “Do you speak English?” – I believe your entire conversation will go a lot better.

There are two rail lines that go from the city of Copenhagen to the airport, and which to take will depend on where your intended lodging will be. The Metro Line goes to Christianhavn, Kongens Nytorv, and Norreport; but NOT to the Central Station. The “Tog” (ie, train) goes to the latter, and that is where you’ll find a lot of lodging – including places for budget vagabonding. The cost from the airport to the city center is the same no matter which mode you choose, so most people will probably take the train. Note that this mode not only goes to the Kobehavn H (ie, Copenhagen Central Station) but also to Malmo, Sweden. Make certain you’re headed the right way before you get on the train!

More importantly, make certain you have a TICKET before you get on your transit mode. The local rail transit of every city we visited on this trip works on an honor system – ie, you don’t need to show a ticket to get on the transit, you’ll need to show one only if asked to do so. The cities have found that the cost of transporting free-loaders is substantially less than the cost of ensuring that free-loaders don’t get on, so they simply have spot checks. I strongly urge travelers NOT to take advantage of this because (1) the fine for traveling without a ticket is VERY high, (2) if you can afford to get to a city, you can afford to pay for transit, and (3) if caught, you’ll confirm the unfortunate stereotype of your nation producing a bunch of entitled free-loaders.

Transit tickets can be purchased (maybe even ONLY) at vending machines – just look for the red machines with the word “billeten.” Like almost everywhere in major Scandinavian cities, these take Visa & MasterCard, and can give instructions in English if you wish. If you have a chip on your card, make certain you have a four-digit PIN to go along with it.
Now comes your decision: you can buy a one-hour pass (24 Danish Kroner, ‘DKK’), a 24-hour (80 DKK) or 72-hour (200 DKK) pass – good ONLY for transit, and ONLY in Zones 1-4 (which covers the city center, including the airport) – or do you buy a Copenhagen Card, which covers transit in all 99 zones AND free admission to 79 museums around the city. The latter must be bought at Service Information (Terminal 3); and cost 389 DKK for 24 hours, 549 DKK for 48 hours, 659 DKK for 72 hours, and 889 DKK for 120 hours. Depending on how many attractions you wish to visit, and how far afield from the city center you intend the travel, the Copenhagen Card may (or may not) be a better deal. Planning ahead – and that includes knowing which days of the week a museum has no admission charge – can allow you to make the best choice.

For the curious, 100 DKK is (as of 2017 June 15) equal to $15.16.
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