Explore Copenhagen like a local and hop on a bike. There is no better way to see the major sites, as well as explore hidden corners of this beautiful city.. Aukstaitija National Park offers unique opportunities for both activity and relaxation. Canoe across pristine lakes, indulge in home-cooked meals and cleanse yourself in a traditional sauna.. Norway’s fjords feature some of the most stunning scenery on Earth. Cruise past waterfalls and snow-capped peaks through the narrow Naeroyfjord. Discover Stockholm’s maritime history at the Vasa Museum, which houses an original wooden war ship from 1628. This impressive vessel gives you a rare glimpse into the naval power Sweden was once famous for.
Explore the highlights of Scandinavia before travelling south into the Baltic states on this epic 32-day adventure through northern Europe. As well as hitting the hubs of Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm, discover the lesser-known but no less fascinating cities of Riga and Klaipeda, as well as Aukstaitijia and Curonian Spit national parks. The countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are a few of the continent’s last true undiscovered secrets – the fairy-tale turrets and cobbled lanes of old Tallinn, the baroque flair of Vilnius and the poignant history of Soviet occupation are not to be missed. This really is a one-of-a-kind itinerary.
Welcome to Copenhagen. If you arrive early, which is highly recommended, why not visit the pastel-coloured waterfront houses in the Nyhavn area. Drop in at an industrial-chic bar for a drink or stroll around the famous Tivoli Gardens, home to the world's oldest rollercoaster. Another area worth checking out is Norrebro, a residential area known for its wide range of restaurants. Meet your group at 6 pm then head out for an optional group dinner if it takes your fancy.
When in Copenhagen, do as the locals do and explore the city by bike, undoubtedly the best way to explore the city's many hidden corners. The bike-friendly streets mean cycling to the city's major sites are a breeze. Venture into the Freetown of Christiania with a local guide, a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood south-east of the city centre. It is regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989, and has been a source of controversy since 1971 when squatters took over a former military area. The afternoon is free for you to further explore this Scandinavian city. Stroll along the harbour or head out to the classicist palaces of 18th century Amalienborg, to this day the main residence of the Danish Royal family. Perhaps pay a visit to Frederik's Church, also known as Marble Church, the Court House on Nytorv Square or check out the facade of the red brick town hall. Alternatively, the National Museum is not to be missed, nor is the Christiansborg Palace in the very centre of Copenhagen.
Malmo / Gothenburg
A morning train ride will get us to Malmo in Sweden, via the famous Oresund Bridge that spans the strait separating Denmark and the Scandinavian Peninsula (approx. 1 hour). Malmo has gone through somewhat of a transformation, or should we say revival, over the past twenty years thanks to the construction of the Oresund Bridge and the opening of Malmo University. Now, a city once reliant mainly on shipbuilding is growing steadily with architecture firms, IT companies, students and start-ups. Just under half of Malmo's population is under the age of 35, so it really now is a progressive city that knows how to have fun. Spend some time checking out the Old Town, the castle and the harbour, then continue on to Gothenburg (approximately 3 hours), where you'll spend the night.
Today is a free day for you to enjoy all that Gothenburg has to offer. Perhaps embark on a cruise this morning through Gothenburg's many waterways, passing the opera house, the famous fish market Feskekörka (literally Fish Church), and the old docks. Or visit the Göteborg City Museum, housed in the former East India Company House and built during the time when Gothenburg's role was that of a major maritime trading centre. Take in the architectural ensemble on Gustav Adolfs Torg, go shopping along the main boulevard Avenyn, check out the iconic Skansen Kronan, stroll along bohemian Långgatan street or sip a coffee in the charming Haga quarter, known for its picturesque wooden houses, 19th century atmosphere and the so-called hagabulle, a cinnamon pastry similar to kanelbulle.
Vrango Island / Gothenburg
Catch an early-ish ferry from Gothenburg to Vrango Island, approximately one hour and 20 minutes away. Vrango is the most southerly island of the Gothenburg Archipelago, with a permanent population in the low hundreds and a strong fishing industry. The island is known for its stunning beaches and protected nature reserves and you'll explore the coastline in an included kayaking activity (summer only). In the afternoon, enjoy some free time strolling around the town or maybe try an optional floating sauna, before returning to Gothenburg for a free evening. Sweden's second city is known as the world's mot sustainable destination and is exemplary of what a responsible tourism destination should look like.
Catch a morning bus across the border to Norway's capital Oslo (approx 4 hours). Your leader will take you on an initial orientation walk so you get a first taste of this quirky, colourful city. It's definitely worthwhile to spend the day perusing delicacies at Maschmanns Food Market, admiring the handiwork of glass blowers at the Hadeland Glassverk, or simply strolling along Karl Johans Gate, the main shopping strip of the city, or head to the National Gallery of Art to glimpse Edvard Munch's famous 19th century painting, The Scream. In the evening say 'skal' ('cheers') to the group over dinner. Why not seek out some traditional Norwegian fare based around cod and mackerel dishes.
Today is a free day for you to enjoy all this city has to offer. Perhaps use your free time for island hopping on Oslofjord, putting the hammer down at the Viking Museum, tasting local flavours at the Mathallen food hall, exploring the immense Akershus Castle & Fortress, or checking out the cool shops in the Grunerlokka district. There's so much to get stuck in to. In the evening at 6 pm, check back in with your group at an important meeting – there may be some new travellers and even a new group leader joining you! Get acquainted (or reacquainted) with an optional dinner afterwards.
Today is another free day to explore Oslo. Perhaps travel to the nearby area of Holmenkollen for a visit to the Ski Museum, housed inside the famous monumental Holmenkollbakken (ski jump), which looks more like a work of art than a sports venue. Highlights in the museum include the history of skiing over the past 4,000 years, of Norwegian polar expeditions, and lesser known glimpses from the Winter Olympics at Oslo and Lillehammer. At the top of the jump tower there are 360 degree views of the city, its fjords and forests. Alternatively stay in town and browse the harbour-front Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art or a host of other worthwhile museums.
Today you'll leave Oslo behind and take the train across the stunning countryside of the Fjell region to Bergen, which will take around seven hours. No other train ride between two cities in Europe is at a higher altitude than this one, and few can match the views passing by your window. Linking Norway's two main cities, this line takes in some spectacular scenery of lush valleys, idyllic villages, dramatic mountains and picturesque lakes as it crosses the Hardangervidda Plateau. As the trip is long and you'll arrive quite late into quirky city of Bergen, there won't be too much time to explore today, but you will have all day tomorrow. There are some great sea food restaurants in town, so possibly venture out with the group for a bite to eat.
After breakfast this morning, head out for a guided walk around the Bryggen area of the city. This is a World Heritage listed area of one of the world’s greatest harbour cities, and is where the settlement of Bergen grew from. Wander through the reconstructed medieval homes and warehouses, visit the beautifully preserved wooden Hanseatic Museum (a former trade building), and explore the old Hanseatic port area – the Hanseatic merchant confederation dominated Baltic maritime trade for 400 years from the 15th century. Then you’ll have free time in the afternoon to do as you wish. Perhaps visit the 13th century Bergenhus Fortress, one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. Also, make sure you journey on the Floy Mountain Funicular, taking you 1,050 feet abve the city in just seven minutes, and offering amazing views of the deep blues of the sea and the pastel coloured houses from the top of Floyen mountain. It you’d like to get active while you’re up there, the summit has a multitude of hiking paths catering to all abilities.
Leave Bergen after breakfast and travel by bus to the fjord region, which should take around 3-4 hours. The journey will take you through epic landscapes and remote regions, so have your camera at the ready. The typical Norwegian huts that you’ll stay in tonight are located in a beautiful setting, surrounded by steep cliff walls with a perfect view of the spectacular crystal clear Kjelsfossen waterfall falling from the top of the fjords. It's humbling to look up and consider these giant and ancient geological formations. Your accommodation is located near the village of Gudvangen.
Today take a boat trip and be captivated by the sight of crisp mountain peaks reflected in the glassy waters of Naeroyfjord, a World Heritage site. The name Naeroyfjord takes its origins from the Norse god of seafarers and the sea, Njord. The fjord itself, formed by glacial erosion of the surrounding bedrock, is 18 kilometres long, only 250 metres wide at its narrowest point, but its depth reaches up to 500 metres. Surrounding mountain peaks rise up to 1400 metres and waterfalls crash down sheer cliff faces – awe-inspiring melancholic beauty and dramatic vistas. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy the scenery of the surrounding area. Perhaps hire bikes and cycle along the shore of the fjord, take to the waters in a kayak or take a bus to the nearby ittle fishing village of Flam in order to ride the famous railway up to Myrdal. This is one of the most picturesque (and steepest) railway journeys in the country. Alternatively explore on foot and discover nearby waterfalls and ancient moraines. Fishing enthusiasts will love the opportunity to throw a line in the crystal waters, sit back and soak up the serenity (a fishing licence is required and costs around NOK 150).