Denmark, Sweden, and Norway – Ten Days in Scandinavia

Ten Days in Scandinavia


A few summers ago we embarked on a ten-day Scandinavian adventure visiting three countries:  Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. 

We flew into Copenhagen, Denmark, took the train to Stockholm, Sweden, and from there a one way flight to Bergen, Norway.  Once in Norway, we took a variety of trains, busses, and boats on the Norway in a Nutshell route, finally ending in Oslo, Norway where we flew back to the USA.  

Below is a map of our itinerary

Here is our itinerary during our ten days in Scandinavia:

  • Day 1 – DENMARK:  Travel Day; arrive in Copenhagen; check into Airbnb; lunch in Nyhavn; canal cruise
  • Day 2- DENMARK:  Rosenborg Castle; Tivoli Amusement Park
  • Day 3 – SWEDEN:  Train to Stockholm; check into Airbnb, check out Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town; enjoy a cool drink at the IceBar
  • Day 4 – SWEDEN:  Skansen, an open-air museum; Vasa, a museum about a once-sunk warship
  • Day 5 – NORWAY:  Fly to Bergen and check into hotel
  • Day 6 – NORWAY:  Begin the Norway in a Nutshell tour; boat ride to Balestrand where we stayed for two nights
  • Day 7 – NORWAY:  Explore Balestrand, hiking & swimming
  • Day 8 – NORWAY:  Continue Norway in a Nutshell tour to Oslo
  • Day 9 – NORWAY:  Explore Oslo, including the Viking Museum
  • Day 10 – BACK TO THE USA:  Travel home!

Copenhagen, Denmark

Where we stayed

We chose an Airbnb apartment that was close to both the train station and a bus stop.  From here, we caught the train from the airport out to the Airbnb and then took the bus around town.  We loved having space to spread out, a kitchen to cook meals in, and a lovely balcony where we dined al fresco.


After we were settled in our Airbnb, we headed to Nyhavn, a 17th century colorful waterfront area of Copenhagen.   It was every bit as charming as we had expected! 

Nyhavn, a colorful waterfront area in the heart of Copenhagen

After a bit of exploring, we ate lunch at Nyhavn 37, a lovely waterfront restaurant with outdoor seating.  We even tried the pickled herring in keeping with customary fare.  I will admit I was not a fan! 

The herring platter – when in…Copenhagen!

Harbor Cruise 

After lunch, we hopped on a boat tour for a view of Copenhagen’s harbor and canals. 

We listened to the narration and cruised past several interesting sights, including Amalienborg Palace – home to the Danish Royal Family, the Royal Yacht docked in the harbor, and the famous Little Mermaid Statue. 

Amalienborg Palace

The Royal Yacht

The Little Mermaid Statue – surrounded by crowds!

Our first day in Copenhagen was a full one and with jet lag we were ready to head back to the Airbnb.  We ended our first by day grilling dinner and eating outside on the balcony.  It was a great first day in Copenhagen!

Rosenborg Castle

On our second day in Copenhagen we visited Rosenborg Castle, located in the heart of Copenhagen.  We had purchased tickets ahead of time and had a short wait for our timed entry to enter. 

The kids at Rosenborg Castle

While waiting, we enjoyed a snack from the on-site cafe and ate outdoors in the garden. 

Ava tumbling while we waited for our timed entry

Also while waiting, we caught the changing of the guards which takes place at noon daily.

Rosenborg Castle is a renaissance-style castle featuring over 400 years worth of royal treasures as well as the Crown Jewels.  According to legend, the Throne Chair is made of unicorn horns!  In reality, it is made of narwhal tusks.

The beautiful interior of the castle featuring the Throne Chair

During our visit, there was a school group of elementary-aged children excitedly checking out their country’s royal treasures.  Coming from the US, I thought about how lucky these kids were to get field trips like this!  

For the most up-to-date information for opening times and ticket information on the Rosenborg Castle website.  

Tivoli Gardens

After spending a good portion of the day at Rosenborg Castle, we took a bus to Tivoli Gardens.  The kids were really excited to visit here!

Tivoli is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, showcasing flower gardens, amusement park rides, and lovely Biergartens for the adults.  Of course, being in Europe, plentiful delicious desserts and coffee were also available.  Walt Disney also famously got his inspiration for Disneyland after a visit to Tivoli Gardens in 1951.  Disneyland opened four years later!

While at Tivoli, the adults enjoyed the drinks and dessert offerings while the kids enjoyed all the amusement park rides.  It was a lovely way to spend our last evening in Copenhagen.


Overall Thoughts on Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark is a lovely city to explore and not overwhelming in terms of size and things to see and do.  The canal area of Nyhavn was so charming and lovely to walk around and to grab a bite to eat.  The city is a cyclist’s dream, as people here bike more than drive.  Rosenborg Castle was beautiful and Tivoli Gardens was a lot fun for the entire family.

Bikes-a-plenty in Copenhagen

Stockholm, Sweden

How we got here

From our Airbnb in Copenhagen we caught a bus to the Copenhagen Central Train Station and had a little bit of a wait until our train departed.  During our wait we all grabbed breakfast from various restaurants in the station.  The train station was a little seedy – I had a weird situation with a man who seemed very out of it, walking in a zombie-like trance come very close to me and speak to me in what I assume was Danish.  I backed away and told him firmly no.  I don’t know what he was asking and he continued on but we definitely felt like we had to have our guard up and keep a close eye on our belongings after that encounter.  

Upon arrival in Stockholm, we had a bit of confusion as to how to best get to our Airbnb.  We took a bus and got off at where we thought we needed to, but realized later we got off too early.  So we had to drag our luggage along the cobblestone streets and alleyways which was so loud with the wheels running over the bumpy cobblestone but we had a good laugh about it! 

Where we stayed

We stayed in a 500-year-old Airbnb apartment in a cozy alleyway of Gamla Stan, the old town of Stockholm.  This was a fantastic location as we wandered the cobblestone streets and explored shops and restaurants just steps from our apartment.

Right outside our 500-year-old Airbnb in Gamla Stan

Inside, the apartment was modernized except for the stairwell which had old stone walls and the flight of stairs was made of old cut logs, spiraling up to our second floor entrance.

Gamla Stan

The old part of Stockholm, known as Gamla Stan, is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval town centers, dating back to 1252.  Here you’ll find cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, colorful buildings, and charm in every corner.

Cozy Gamla Stan in the evening, lovely for wandering

Besides shops and restaurants, Gamla Stan is also the location of churches and museums, most notable being the Stockholm Cathedral and the Nobel Peace Prize Museum.  The 600-room Royal Palace, one of the world’s largest palaces, also makes Gamla Stan its home.  

We dined out at a few restaurants during our time here and were sure to try some traditional Swedish fare such as Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, and even reindeer!  Exploring in the evening was lovely with its cozy ambiance.   The pointy spires and vibrant colors of the buildings that made up Gamla Stan were so charming.  If you want to feel as though you are in a storybook setting, be sure to visit Gamla Stan – even better, consider staying here during your visit.

Charming Gamla Stan


On our second day in Stockholm we walked a short distance from our apartment down to the waterfront ferry terminal of Slussen and caught a ferry to Djurgarden, one of the many islands that makes up Stockholm.  We had plans to visit two very different types of museums on this day:  Skansen and the Vasa Museum.

Our first stop was Skansen, the world’s largest open-air museum. 

Braden & Ava at Skansen

Skansen is comprised of a zoo featuring various Scandinavian animals, even reindeer!  It also houses reconstructed buildings complete with period history actors bringing history alive, and a funicular railway, 


While in Stockholm this summer, we experienced a heat wave so spending the day out in the hot sun made the walking about quite exhausting.  We checked out the old buildings, from a mansion to a church, visited the animals in the small zoo, rode a very hot funicular train down to the exit, and then headed off for lunch.  

We found a lovely lunch spot near the water.  What I love about dining in Europe, especially outdoors, is how one can linger long after the meal.  We enjoyed relaxing with post-lunch drinks while the kids played cards at their table in the shade long after eating.  

Our lovely view from our lunch break

Vasa Museum 

After lunch we headed to the next museum on our agenda, The Vasa Museum, which is a must-see while in Stockholm.  The Vasa is a warship that sank on its maiden voyage in Stockholm’s harbor in 1628.  The ship was very top heavy, leading to it’s ill fate.  It stayed underwater for 333 years until it was carefully brought up in the 1950s.  The Vasa remained mostly intact due to the brackish water in Stockholm’s harbor.  We all found the Vasa Museum very interesting, not only the ship itself but the informative relics along the way.  

The incredible Vasa war ship

After our visit to the Vasa Museum, we headed back to Gamla Stan to have dinner.  We were all in the mood for some pizza so an Italian restaurant it was.  There was a little bit of a language barrier when ordering.  We also received all of our pizzas uncut!  We asked for a pizza cutter and were met with bewilderment and knives were brought out to cut it up.  It was still a delicious meal, though, even with our jagged edged slices!

Ice Bar Stockholm

Another place we visited while in Stockholm was the very touristy Ice Bar!  We made reservations ahead of time to guarantee our time slot.  When you first arrive you are given parkas and big gloves to keep warm in this cool place.  The Ice Bar in Stockholm is the first in the world.  All of the interior is sculpted by artists who get their water for the ice from the Torne River, the northernmost river in Sweden. 

Staying warm in the cool Ice Bar

The adults enjoyed a colorful beverage chosen from a drink menu as did the kids – they had a variety of non-alcoholic drinks to choose from as well.  We enjoyed walking around, taking photos and then tossing the empty “glass”, made of ice, down a chute where it will be “recycled”.  We also saw Dr. Oz while there, which was a fun surprise!

Overall thoughts on Stockholm

Stockholm, Sweden was a favorite by everyone.  It is a clean, beautiful, and friendly city and we all wished we had more time here.  We especially liked the Vasa Museum and wandering Gamla Stan.  


After spending a few days in Stockholm it was time to head to Norway for the final leg of our trip!

How we got here

We had a one-way flight from Stockholm to Bergen, Norway as it was both the quickest route as well as most economical.  The flight was about one hour and we were soon landing in Bergen.  From the airport, we caught a bus to the harbor area of town where our hotel was located.

Where we stayed

We stayed in Hotel Terminus, Bergen.  We chose this hotel due to its prime location, directly across the street from the train station.  In fact, we could even see the train tracks right from the window in our room!

Once we settled in, we grabbed a quick dinner down in the hotel’s restaurant.  It was already evening time and we were tired from our day of travel.  We also had to get up early the next morning to begin our epic Norwegian Adventure!

NOTE:  If you start planning a trip to Norway, you will most likely come across what is known as “Norway in a Nutshell”.  This is not a guided tour, although referenced as a “tour”, but rather a set of tickets on different types of transportation to take you through some of the highlights of Norway.  One can concoct this trip simply by buying the various transportation tickets individually.  When we went, however, we decided to purchase them from the Norway in a Nutshell website for simplicity’s sake.  One thing to note is that the tickets are not timed.  So you can essentially spend as much time as you like in each destination and get on the next transportation.  We actually opted to overnight along the way, which I’ll get into below.

One can also do this in either direction, starting in Bergen and ending in Oslo, like we did, or vice versa.

Norway in a Nutshell:  Part 1

We started our morning bright and early and grabbed a breakfast in the hotel.  European hotels sure know how to put on an amazing breakfast spread!  Once we finished, we packed up and headed across the street to the train station.  We needed all of our tickets on all the upcoming transportation printed, and there were 9 of us in the group, so this took some time.  We finally got them in hand and quickly boarded the train for the first leg of our journey.

Our train left Bergen and headed to Voss.  Once in Voss we had a short walk to multiple busses waiting to take passengers on a beautiful scenic trip on a very windy mountain road!  The scenery out of the bus window was incredible. 

The views out of the bus window from Voss to Flam

We were soon in Gudvangen where we boarded a boat to cruise one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords, Nærøyfjord. 

The beginning of the cruise through Nærøyfjord

The cruise through Nærøyfjord was epic – some of the most stunning scenery we have ever seen.  Tiny Norwegian villages next to massive waterfalls pouring down the mountains were at every turn.  

One of the most beautiful fjords – Nærøyfjord

The cruise ended in Flåm, where one can continue on taking a variety of transportation onwards, however this is where we opted to end our journey for a couple of days.  We wanted to spend a few days deep in the heart of fjord country so our next stop was Balestrand.


We booked the Norled express boat from Flåm to Balestrand.  It was just a short wait for our boat so we grabbed lunch from a variety of restaurants and enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch in the Norwegian sun right by the water.  While we ate, we were entertained by some brave souls jumping off the bridge in the freezing cold water below.  Soon, it was time to board our boat to Balestrand.  

Our boat from Flåm to Balestrand took about 90 minutes and we were once again in awe of the scenery.  Once in Balestrand, we disembarked and walked to our Airbnb, which was a mere few hundred feet from the boat dock! 

Our Airbnb in Balestrand, I called it Villa Villa Kula (a la Pippi Longstocking)

View from the deck of our Airbnb – watching life in Balestrand go by

That was definitely convenient with all of our luggage!  We settled in to the house and then walked to the grocery store to grab some items for dinner.  We cooked the kids a delicious dinner of hamburgers and then we adults walked down to the waterfront for a dinner at Gekken’s.  It was lovely to get some adult time with the kids safely just a short bit away. 

Gekken’s, a great stop for dinner while in Balestrand

The next day we went on a hiking adventure.  The hike was tough, yet we saw locals run (literally run!) past us as we hiked uphill.  We stopped to breathe in the beautiful nature around us and take a snack break. 

The forest seemed enchanting!

We passed a school on our journey up the hill – how lucky these kids are to attend school in this peaceful fjord town with incredible views below.  They were so friendly and waved as we passed!  The hike was tough but the views were so worth it.  We had panoramic views of the water, distant mountains, and town below.

Perfectly placed logs we passed on our hike in Balestrand

The views of Balestrand from high up on our hike

There is a man made beach in town, which the kids were eager to visit. 

The kids braved the cold fjord waters!

They all finally jumped in after much deliberation into the icy cold waters!  These brave kids can say they swam in Norway!  While the kids were swimming, we even saw an orca out in the distance.  How lucky!

We really enjoyed the slow pace for a few days here in the heart of fjord country. 

Balestrand, Norway, an idyllic location deep in the heart of fjord country

A hike, a swim, and watching the people go about life here made us realize how good they have it!  We didn’t want to leave but it was time for the next phase of our Norway in a Nutshell tour.

Norway in a Nutshell:  Part 2

After two nights in Balestrand, it was time to connect back to the Norway in a Nutshell tour.  We took the express boat back to Flåm where we had a four hour layover. 

Our boat from Balestrand back to Flam

Unfortunately for us, this day in Flåm was not as nice as our time here a couple days prior. 

The kids hanging out in Flam, waiting for our train

It was rainy and chilly so we spent most of our time in shops or hiding under the roof at the train station waiting for our train.

A rainy day in Flåm, waiting for the Flamsbama train

Finally, it was time to board the train.  This train trip is known as one of Europe’s most beautiful and we definitely agree with this.  The train chugged up hills and mountain passes and the views kept getting better and better. 

Some of the incredible scenery via Norway in a Nutshell

The train stopped for one short time and it’s a must to get off to view the Kjosfossen Waterfall.  This is the most majestic waterfall we saw during our time in Norway and the only way to see it is via the Flamsbama Railway.  You’ll probably see a fairy here dancing on the side of the mountain to folk music – sounds interesting, right?!  Well it definitely was!  And absolutely gorgeous.  It definitely added to the ambiance of fjord country. 

See the lady in orange?  She dances on the side of this massive waterfall

The train trip ended at Myrdal, high up in the mountains.  We had a short layover here.  The tiny train station had one restaurant which was instantly packed with all the fellow train guests who wanted some food.  We opted to just grab some provisions from the vending machines.  It was very chilly up here with snow all around at this altitude.  Soon it was time to board our last mode of transportation – a four hour train trip to Oslo.

We arrived in Oslo around 10 p.m. and had a short walk to our hotel, Scandic Byporten.  Once again, this hotel was chosen for its proximity to the train station as we wanted to be able to get to the hotel quickly after getting in late in the evening.  This had the best hotel breakfast ever!  The spread was plentiful and the seating was cozy.

The Viking Ship Museum

The next day, we explored Oslo.  Our first stop was the Viking Ship Museum, which is a must see.

The incredible viking ships at the Viking Ship Museum

There were three viking era burial ships as well as various artifacts from the viking periods including clothes, shoes, a sled, and other items. 

Viking artifacts

A film called Vikings Alive played on the wall and ceiling of a room, taking views on a visual journey of a viking ship.  The museum was the great for kids as it was very interesting yet not overwhelming.  

NOTE:  The Viking Ship Museum is closed until at least 2025.  It will then be called The Museum of the Viking Age, which sounds pretty epic and will likely be worth the wait.

From here, we took a bus into the city and ate a lovely outdoor lunch at Egon.  We enjoyed our long lunch basking in the Norwegian sun.  It was a great last day of an absolutely incredible Scandinavian adventure.

Overall Thoughts on Norway

Norway is a country of unsurmountable beauty.  It’s one of the most beautiful countries we have visited thus far.  Epic fjords, gushing waterfalls of every size, clear glacial waters, snowcapped mountains, lovely villages, and clean cities makes Norway one of our favorite destinations to date.

This ten-day Scandinavia trip took us through charming cities, old towns, a variety of museums, and incredible natural beauty in three amazing countries:  Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.  Each country blew us away in terms of incredible natural beauty and intriguing historical sites.  We highly recommend visiting these countries!

Dietary Notes

As always, everyone’s needs are different.  At press time my husband is grain-free and two of our kids are allergic to nuts and eggs.  Although we seem to encompass a large amount of dietary restrictions, we can only offer advice as to what pertains to our own family, as that is where our expertise lies!

We had a kitchen in all of our Airbnbs in Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Balestrand, Norway.  Local grocery stores were always easy to find and we prepped meals in our apartments.

We found dining out relatively easy in restaurants in all of Scandinavia, whether a large city or tiny town.  The servers seemed knowledgeable about allergies and most of the time the foods we needed to avoid were not present.  Once again, Europe wins for ease of dining out!

For more on traveling with dietary restrictions, be sure to check out our guide:  On the Go with Allergies.

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