The Scandinavian countries are some of the most appealing to tourists in Europe. There are many attractive sites for tourists, and the weather is excellent. You can travel to these countries almost year round. You need to prepare more than appropriate clothing. The culture in Scandinavia is unique, and you should learn some essential things before your trip.
Things to Know Before Traveling to Scandinavia
Go Beyond the Capitals
There is always the temptation to visit only the capital cities and leave. You feel you have already increased your country count and seen some incredible sights, so it’s okay. However, it is not. There is more to be explored in Norway than in Oslo. For example, you can go to Bergen to see Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In Sweden, Gothenburg, Malmo, and Lapland are other cities attracting tourists from Stockholm. Denmark also has attractive spots in Skagen, Aarhus, Odense, and others. The good news is that you can rent a car and drive throughout your stay in the country. This option will allow you to explore at a comfortable pace and many tourists prefer it. You can explore other transportation modes if you do not have a driver’s permit to drive in the country. A simple choice is to book seats on scandictrains.com to travel within these countries.
Cash is Not Widely Acceptable
It is not just Sweden. The economic systems in Scandinavia are gradually moving towards cashless. It is more paramount in Sweden, where businesses reject cash for transactions. So you don’t need to exchange too much money.
That said, your Mastercard or Visa card will be acceptable to do almost any transaction you want. The advanced economic systems also allow contactless card transactions and the use of microchips implanted in a person’s hand. You can still keep some cash for the few places that accept it.
Summer Days are Long
There are various activities you can enjoy during a trip to Scandinavia. However, some of them are dependent on the season you visit. If you want to try several activities, you should visit during the summer when the days are notoriously long. You can have the sun rising as early as 3:30 am and not setting until 10:30 pm.
The extended daylight gives you more time to explore the attractions in the region, but it may be challenging to adjust. However, the opposite is the case during the winter. Winters in Scandinavia are cold, and the days are shorter. The good news is that you can now enjoy some of the best night skies in Europe. The Northern Lights are best on winter nights and will make the cold worth it.
Etiquette is Not Warm
Locals in Scandinavian countries are not as inviting as people in the US. They are not rude, but they do not open up to strangers easily. In practice, a native will answer your question if you ask, but they will not come to you in the first place to offer guidance. If it is your first time in Sweden, Norway, or Denmark, learn some words like “hello” and “thanks” in the local language.
Part of the local etiquette you should learn is that locals are not big on physical contact with strangers. The most many can do is to shake your hands. Anything in the realm of casual hugs is not the norm.
Beware of Pickpockets
Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are some of the safest countries in the world. They have low crime rates, and the standard of living is generally high. However, you may fall victim to pickpocketing if you are not careful on the streets. Therefore, hold your bags close to you and ensure that they are properly closed at all times.
Standard warnings from tour guides also include that you should not put your phone or wallet in your back pocket while walking on busy streets. You should also keep your luggage in sight while in hotel lobbies. There are not many pickpockets around but it never hurts to be careful.
Things are Expensive
The Scandinavian countries have a high standard of living, so, understandably, things are expensive. You need a sufficient budget to cover your accommodation, food, and transportation. Transportation is the cheapest since you can take trains or go on guided tours as a travel package.
If you are traveling alone, check Airbnb websites for an alternative to the expensive hotels in the capital cities. Like the food, drinks, and accommodation, tickets for activities are noticeably pricier than in other countries. Ensure you are within your budget to prevent being stranded during your trip.
Traveling to Scandinavia is an enjoyable experience. The geography and similar cultures make it easy to explore the three countries on a single trip. However, you must be prepared for the practices that may shock you.