Scandinavian Holidays with Kids 2023
Nordic Capitals are well equipped for entertaining children & teenagers.
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6 days - Coastal driving along Sweden's west coast
The coastal route between Oslo to Gothenburg is a delight for nature lovers and foodies. Stay in boutique accommodation, some with sea views and others with 360° forest views from a tree house. Visit beautiful villages nestled along the coast, follow rocky shorelines, walk in deep forests and kayak on tranquil lakes.
The seafood in this region has often been ranked as the best in the world, and you can experience it either on oyster safaris, mussel harvesting and fishing or in the evening, you can enjoy a seafood dinner on the water's edge.
Visit historic world heritage sites such as the Tanum bronze age rock carving & Vitlycke museum, Fredrikstad's old town, Gamlebyen, the Volvo museum and historic Åsle Tå museum.
Finish in Gothenburg, no other Swedish city gives such easy access to nature. Right on the doorstep are wide open spaces and magical islands. From Gothenburg, travelling a little further down to Copenhagen is easily done or join a Gota Canal cruise to Stockholm.
By car - self drive.
Head out of Oslo on the freeway to Fredrikstad. You will pass Norway's premier amusement park, 20 minutes down the road, TusenFryd. Fredrikstad's old town, Gamlebyen is one of Northern Europe’s best preserved fortified towns and was founded in 1567 by King Fredrik II. Fredrikstad is thriving with history, shops, galleries and cafés.
Your accommodation tonight is in the heart of this old town in a small, historic hotel. Small restaurants surround the hotel, head out for a wander and enjoy the peaceful setting of this old fort.
Explore the old town, busy in summer with markets and visitors. If you are keen to explore the beaches of this area, drive down to the Hvaler islands, located just outside of Fredrikstad, the sunniest area in Norway. The islands are an incredibly popular holiday destination and you can go fishing, bathing, paddling, and sailing, sunbathing on polished granite rocks, dining in scenic surroundings, and explore the beautiful Ytre Hvaler National Park.
Just south of Fredrikstad, you can visit Halden, an idyllic small town nestled down by the Iddefjord, just on the border to Sweden. Above the town looms the mighty Fredriksten Fortress. The fortress is one of the most important attractions for tourists who visit Halden, and during the summer months almost 300,000 people come to see Fredriksten. It was constructed in the 17th century, and its walls, bastions, armaments, ammunition tower, dark secret passageways and museums tell the story of the town. The whole site is also lit by an impressive floodlighting.
The west coast of Sweden is a good place to enjoy fresh seafood. The waters of the coast of Bohuslän is a veritable smorgasbord of different types of seafood and visitors can enjoy not only the end product but also the process of catching or fishing for seafood. Stop along the way today to join sea safaris or walk along piers.
If you wish, you can visit Koster Marine Park for a day. You can cycle on the car-free islands of the archipelago and/or paddle a sea kayak. Other activities in this pristine and unique environment include fishing, seal spotting trips, fishing for crabs, and beach combing. More than 6,000 sea creatures, including rare seabirds, brachiopods, sponge and coral larvae, live in the waters of this preserve, which is Sweden's first national marine park. The return boat trip leaves from Strömstad, close to Fredrikstad.
Shortly before you arrive into Fjällbacka, visit the 3,000-year-old Tanum rock carvings, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These Bronze Age petroglyphs, number in the thousands. About 600 panels are included in the UNESCO World Heritage site, once the coastline of a fiord thousands of years ago. Many of the glyphs show boats, humans with bows, spears or axes, rituals and hunting scenes.
Love seafood - you can explore the islands today and be sure to enjoy the seafood stars of the region, when they are in season, locally caught lobsters, oysters and langoustine. The regulars are herring, cod, salmon and a big, fat prawn sandwich.
Love Swedish crime novels - check the schedules for Camilla Läckberg – Murder Mystery Tours. At times during the year, Camilla herself is actually the tour guide!
We suggest visiting some of the tiny villages such as Hamburgsund and Kungshamn, ideally by boat. Visit Ingrid Bergman's favourite island, Dannholmen.
We have some suggestions for longer stays in this area if you wish to stay in remote island accommodation, Weather Islands. Extended kayaking trips are also popular.
Continue your drive along the coast to your seaside hotel, Salt & Sill. Once a sleepy fishing isle and Sweden's largest herring producer, Klädesholmen is now home to your evening's accommodation, a Scandinavian-minimalist “boatel” floating on a pontoon, which means you can jump into the sea for a pre-dinner swim. Be sure to order the excellent pickled herring, paired here with Aquavit (the caraway compliments the smokiness of the fish).
If you plan your trip in spring, we suggest you change this itinerary to see some of the 26,500 cranes that gather each spring at Lake Hornborga. The lake is one of Europe’s most important bird lakes and is very close to your treetop hotel. If you do this, we can accommodate you 6.5 feet up in an old oak, so get ready for a night completely undisturbed with spectacular treetop views. Your breakfast gets hoisted up to you in the morning.
Depending on what you decide to do, you can visit the Volvo factory in Trollhättan or near Falköping, visit the Åsle Tå, Sweden’s largest collection of cottages and a unique historical environment from the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit an elk and bison park, you get the opportunity to closely meet the animals in a natural setting. Along the coast, add a boat tour or kayak adventure as today, there is little driving.
After your treetop breakfast, drive a short distance into Gothenburg. If you are not ready for the big smoke, divert to Marstrand - a beautiful small coastal village 30 minutes from Gothenburg.
Gothenburg is the city where you can go shopping and visit a museum on the same day as you explore the car-free archipelago. The distances are short and public transport brings you from café-lined streets and sights to barren cliffs and deep forests. The city centre is shopping-friendly with lots of small independent shops as well as malls like Nordstan and Arkaden. You can also enjoy opera, theatre, concerts and an array of museums exploring everything from the local maritime history to arts and beyond.
All prices listed are per person, based on two people sharing a room. Prices are indicative due to the current uncertainty across Europe with increasing energy and volatile fuel costs.
Driving in Sweden during the peak season (July - early August):
Europeans love driving in the Nordic Region and during the summer months, the more popular tourist roads becomes crowded with European vans. This can slow the roads down, as it can be difficult to pass these vans. Norwegian country roads are often quite narrow. Having said this, these roads are incredibly scenic and have lots of picnic & photo spots.
Nordic Capitals are well equipped for entertaining children & teenagers.
ABBA, Ikea, Volvos . . . Wilderness? Find the hidden treasures of Sweden.
Shared experiences make lifelong memories and our multi-generational family holidays offer it all.
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Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. The safety of our travellers, staff and operators is a major priority of 50 Degrees North. With an operational office in Norway, 50 Degrees North has access to an up-to-the-minute flow of information regarding the countries we work in. We are also in regular contact with the various operators we use. Their in-depth knowledge and understanding of their various areas is vital.
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!