Scandinavian Travel - our suggestions for great reads
Before departure, or while dreaming of a Scandinavian adventure, get your fill of inspiring travel books here.
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8 days - Self Drive - Enjoy the highlights of Northern Scandinavia
Time is yours to experience the amazing scenery and hospitality of the Scandinavian far north. The itinerary starts and ends in the Norwegian town of Tromsø, easy to get to by air.
Wake up to beautiful views of Lule river in a ‘treehouse’ in Sweden, visit Finland’s Santa village, get to know Sami culture and the northern most tip in Norway, see the birdlife & fishing villages of the coast of Norway‚ all accompanied by the famous long Scandinavian summer nights. This is one we would like to do ourselves every year, go on...make us jealous!
All over Scandinavia and northern Europe, some of the best roads in the world await you. Our roads are well signed and our drivers are calm and civilized. Road tolls are automatically put on your bill with the hire company. The very fact that getting your driver’s licence takes a significant investment in both time and effort, and not to mention that driving in snow and darkness for half the year certainly teaches you patience, should be enough to make anyone feel at ease driving in Scandinavia. When it comes to driving and travel independently, most people you meet will speak English and be more than happy to assist you where they can.
Car hire 8 days, Group C manual, including CDW and free mileage.
International flight tickets, meals other than described, travel insurance, visas, gratitudes and any items of personal nature.
If you wish to hire an automatic car, these are 'on request' and can be difficult to obtain. Please seek further advice with us.
Arrive in Tromsø to pick up your car and enjoy the first leg of this trip, a drive through the mountains of Norway to deep pine forests of Sweden. Have a break in Abisko, stretch your legs with a short walk in Abisko National Park before continuing to your destination, Kiruna.
The drive will take you deeper into Swedish pine forests-keep an eye out for elks and reindeer on your way to the famous Treehotel in Luleå. In this award-winning hotel, enjoy the serenity of Nordic nights in one of the “treehouses”.
The Treehotel is an award winning hotel in the middle of the forest, enjoy the serenity in one of the famous ‘tree houses’ penned by leading Scandinavian architects. All the rooms are suspended 4-6 metres off the ground with spectacular views of Lule River.
Let the car rest and spend the day exploring Rovaniemi by foot or take a boat tour on the Kemi and Ounasjoki rivers. Or head out for a short drive, wonder at the marvellous scenery on top of the Ounasvaara fell, visit the Arctic Museum Arktikum or stop by at Santa Claus Village.
You can meet Santa Claus and cross the magical Arctic Circle every day at the Santa Claus Village in Lapland. Send friends and relatives greetings from the Santa Claus Main Post Office with the unique Arctic Circle postmark, shop in the numerous giftware stores and workshops and enjoy lifetime experiences with many different programmes!
Time to hop in the car again and start your journey to the far north. Today you will be crossing the border between Finland and Norway. This is a beautiful drive that takes you through numerous lakes and forests.
Today you will drive south to Karasjok, the home of the Sami Parliament. You have time to discover Karasjok, the birth place of the 50 Degrees North Co_Founder, Tietse Stelma. Karasjok is a small town, home to lots of artisans and interesting folk.
Karasjok, located in the heart of Norwegian Lapland is the birthplace of 50 Degrees North's director and the home of the Sami Parliament. It is a perfect place to experience the culture and history of the Sami people. The very late sunsets (in summer) and spectacular Autumn colours are a sight to behold.
Continue to Honningsvåg.
Enjoy the Nordkap (the North Cape), often referred to as the northern most point of Europe. At 71 degrees north, it’s certainly as far as we can drive today!
The North Cape plateau rises 308 metres above the Barents Sea and has always been an important point of orientation for sailors in the north. The fishing villages, sea birds and a potential midnight hike to the tip of Knivskjellodden are all part of an unforgettable experience in the far north.
After an early breakfast, it is time to leave Nordkapp and drive along the coast to Tromsø. This is one of the longest drives of your journey, but also the most spectacular one. The Norwegian coastline, famous for its beauty, will not disappoint. Upon arrival to Tromsø, it is time to drop-off your car and prepare for departure.
If you would prefer not to drive so far today, please let us know and we can give you other options.
All prices listed are per person, based on two people sharing a room. 2023 and 2024 prices are indicative due to the current uncertainty across Europe with increasing energy and volatile fuel costs.
Family Adventure: This self-drive itinerary would be wonderful for families and we can adapt the price and inclusions to accommodate your budget. Please let us know if you would like further information regarding this.
This trip can also be extended if you wish to have more time to explore. Some of the days include long drives - we can break these up if you have more time. Travelling in summer, there is 24 hour day light.
For a greener option, please ask us about changing your vehicle to a 'green' car; either a diesel or a hybrid.
Before departure, or while dreaming of a Scandinavian adventure, get your fill of inspiring travel books here.
Optimism for travel is slowly increasing. We can allow ourselves to consider turning our dreams into reality and at the same time be cautious. The way we travel might change, and careful consideration of where it is safe to go will be important when choosing a travel destination.
Meeting indigenous Sàmi people in Norway, Sweden and Finland is at the heart of meaningful, authentic and experience-rich travel. Take a look at some of our suggestions for how and where to meet and learn more about the only indigenous people of the European Union.
If you want to commit to a booking please use the Book Tour form below.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. Please ensure that you have this organised as we will need to see proof of this upon issuing your tour documentation. Please contact us for a quote or visit http://www.suresave.net.au/
Norway has a few items that typically surprise travellers when visiting Norway for the first time. Alcohol and luxury items are heavily taxed and therefore prices are higher than you would expect. On the other hand, necessities such as bread and milk, are taxed low and therefore are great value.
We recommend that you bring all the alcohol you’re allowed to bring into the country when you arrive. There are many lovely parks and balconies where you can enjoy your duty free. However, be sure not to bring more than you’re allowed!
As of May 2014, the allowances according to Visit Norway are:
Minimum age: 18/ 20*
1 litre of beverages with more than 22% up to and including 60% alcohol per volume as well as 1½ litre with more than 2.5% up to and including 22% alcohol per volume or three litres with more than 2.5% up to and including 22% alcohol per volume
2 litres of beer with more than 2.5 % or other beverages with more than 2.5% up to and including 4.7% alcohol per volume.
This means that you may for example bring with you five litres of beer provided you do not have any other alcoholic beverages with you.
*For importing alcoholic beverages with more than 22% alcohol per volume the minimum age is 20.
It’s illegal to bring extra alcohol into Norway and can end up costing you. Another thing you should bring and not buy in Norway is razor blades. Good razor blades in Norway are expensive.
Written by Jayde Kincaid, who married a Norwegian, and was happily (albeit with some hesitation) introduced to a world of Norwegian every day food habits.
At 50 Degrees North, we want to encourage our travellers to try local Norwegian food & drink. This may seem difficult in Scandinavia in general without a large budget, and in particular Norway. Some of the more remote villages you might visit have limited restaurants or cafes, some of which can be pretty expensive. There is certainly no street food! One way to get about sampling local food is by self-catering. You will find plenty of friendly locals in the small town grocery stores and supermarkets who will be happy to help you picking out local ingredients. Just don’t be shy – ask! And, don’t rush – make your local small town shopping part of your holiday experience. Read the local notice boards, and enjoy an ice cream out the front when you have finished. It is what the locals do!
Note: Statoil cups - a good idea to save money as you drive around Norway: purcahse a Statoil (petrol station) metal cup and you get free refills of coffee, tea and hot chocolate at the Statoil stations.
Norway has an extensive range of grocery stores, and in most small villages you will find at least one, if not two or three grocery stores. However, they do have limited opening hours, and except for ‘Bunnpris’, they are all closed on Sundays. You will see the weekend hours shown in brackets on the store sign out front. If you are arriving in a larger town, we do suggest you stock up with some staples before you head out into the mountains or on a coastal drive.
A few tips:
• Plastic bags are NOK1-2 and you will always need to pack your own shopping.
• You can recycle your bottles and cans for a receipt that you can cash in. Recycling points are found in all stores.
• Alcohol sold in food stores (mainly beer and cider) is restricted by government regulation to certain hours. This varies slightly, but on weekdays alcohol sales stop at 8pm regardless and on Saturdays at 6pm. Outside these hours and on Sundays you can only buy alcohol in licensed restaurants or bars.
• Any alcohol over 4.7% can only be bought at special government controlled liquor store (Vinmonopolet). These are very rare in smaller remote towns and villages, so stock up before you leave the city.
Meatballs or “meatcakes’: these come in all shapes, sizes and quality. They are generally really tasty and a bit better than what you find at IKEA. Also pick up a packet of dried ready-made brown sauce that goes with them. Be on the look out for Lingonberry sauce/jam, or even fresh lingonberries that you can use to make a fresh sauce (little red circular berries). Don’t add too much sugar, they are served quite tart.
If you want to try to make this brown sauce yourself, buy some ‘brunost’ (brown cheese), the required creams and follow the recipe below.
Hotdogs: known as ‘pølse’ in Norwegian, hot dogs are abundant in Norway. Cheap and cheerful – pølse is THE fast food of Norway. They are sold at service stations, newsagents, corner stores and fast food outlets. Pølse come with a dazzling variety of toppings and bread. Some of the pølse highlights would be the bacon wrapped ones, sprinkled with dried onion, mustards and mayonnaise. You will also find them wrapped in waffles (mostly in and around Fredrikstad) or the Norwegian pancake, ‘lompe’.
Note: there are strict requirements by the Food Safety commission for traditional pølse to be of the highest quality and they have even set requirements for what types of ingredients are allowed.
Like Norwegian beer, you will find seasonal pølse – Christmas pølse (Julepølse) is obviously found only in the lead up to the celebrations.
If you are planning to eat Norwegian style, use boil pølse on the stove and add to meals with potatoes and stew.
Note; steer away from tinned cheap pølse and meatballs.
Fish cakes: these also come in lots of variation and are generally served with a white sauce and lots of parsley. The Norwegians also use a basic white sauce on broccoli with cheese on top. These fish cakes are often found in fish shops, fried or steamed, ready to eat. A great fast snack.
Reindeer: we strongly suggest you try reindeer meat when you are travelling in the far north. It generally comes frozen, so look for finely cut reindeer meat in the freezer section. It is a more expensive option, but absolutely delicious albeit quite gamey. Be sure to get mushrooms, a small amount of brown cheese and rømme (crème fraiche). Fry it all up in a pan - a bit like a beef stroganoff. Serve with boiled potatoes or rice.
Mushrooms: if you are travelling in the chanterelle harvest season (mid/late August), be sure to try them. They are the yellow mushroom found in autumn. Or better still, have a look around the pine forests and pick some. Be sure to image search them before you head out so you know what to pick. They are really delicious with the brown cheese sauce and reindeer.
Salmon, prawns & fish: always be on the look out for a chance to buy fresh fish. Yes, it is possible to smooth talk a fisherman at the harbour. Or look for the local fish-kiosk or fish-shop. Be on the look out for small signs pointing you in the direction of fresh fish sales – ‘reker’ (shrimps, not prawns) or ‘fersk fisk’ (fresh fish) are the words you need.
Norwegians are very proud of their shrimps – and of course completely justified. Their shrimps are small and tasty and harvested from the cool North Sea. Norwegians traditionally serve them with mayonnaise and lemon. Peel them and pop them on a fresh white slice of bread. Mayonnaise is layered on top with dill, pepper & salt.
Smoked Salmon: Norwegian smoked salmon is the best in the world hands down. Be sure to try all the different varieties you see – often, in larger supermarkets or delis, you can try before you buy.
Tubed ‘kaviar’ (caviar): this is a must try. It is cheap and perfect for the travellers pantry. This is what my husband craves like an Australian abroad would crave vegemite.
Norwegian pre-made dips and salads: the Norwegian supermarkets have a large range of premade salads and dips. They last quite a while and are good fillers for sandwiches. Our favourite are the cubed beetroot salad and the potato salads. They come in easy-to-carry and pack-up containers – perfect for picnics. Tubed mayonnaise is also handy for picnics.
‘Leverpostei’ (liver pate) in many variations can also be found in the supermarket. This pate is normally served on brown bread then topped with sliced red onions or sweet pickles. Protein rich and very tasty if you like pate – it is found on most Norwegian breakfast tables.
Yoghurt: now – this is an interesting one. Norwegian yoghurt comes in a variety of styles - some can be very runny, sour and low fat. There are varying names/codes for each sort. You might like to check with a local when you are buying yoghurt to be sure you are getting what you want. Some of the yoghurt comes as though it is milk, in normal milk cartons - sour runny yoghurt is NOT nice in your coffee.
Bread: the Norwegian supermarket bread generally comes un-cut. You can either cut it in the shop – ask for help the first time you do it. They have industrial bread cutting machines near the bakery section. The bread can be quite plain in the main supermarkets so be on the look out for boutique bakeries in the larger towns if you enjoy fancy bread. Also keep an eye out for the Norwegian flatbread, Lefse, which is similar to Mexican tortillas. Usually served with butter and sugar, sometimes cinnamon too. Occasionally made with potato.
Waffles: Norwegian waffle stalls are similar to the sausage sizzle or hot dog stand. It is the most common fundraising or community building food product. Don’t expect sickly sweet jams or whipped cream – you will find these fresh chewy waffles served with sour cream and home made tart berry jams. Never go past one!
Chocolate: we recommend that you try the ‘FREIA’ milk chocolate during your stay. It melts in your mouth.
Berries: if you travel in early autumn (mid/late August) this is berry season. Forest berries that is. Ask a local and head up into the hills or forest in search for berries. You may find; blueberries, lingonberries, rasberries and if you are up north or in the central mountains; the rare yellow cloudberries.
On a self-drive journey, always be on the look out for small farm shops or stands along the road. Things you cannot drive past:
Strawberries: if you are travelling in the strawberry season – you MUST try Norwegian strawberries. They are seriously amazing. Grown in the nutritious earth that has the chance to rejuvenate through a long winter.
_And if you go past a self-pick strawberry farm, put everything else on hold and enter! Norwegians wait all year for this event. _
New potatoes: be on the look out for new season potatoes – they are often sold in little stands beside the road. Often on an honesty basis; i.e. grab a bag and put the money in an allocated tin.
Basic Brown Cheese Recipe – can be used with meatballs, reindeer, with added mushrooms.
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3⁄4 cup light cream
• 1⁄2 cup chicken broth (optional - just use water if you cannot find this)
• 1 cup shredded gjetost or brown goats cheese
• 3⁄4 cup rømme (crème fraiche)
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh dill
Using the meat dish that has been browned off, remove as much oil from the pan as possible and blend in butter and flour. Remove from heat and blend in light cream. Add chicken broth, bring to boil, stirring and cooking until thickened. Mix in Gjetost cheese. Turn heat low.
Blend some of the sauce into the rømme (crème fraiche), then return all to sauce. Add chopped parsley or fresh dill.
Happy shopping and cooking!