I bought a Volvo through the overseas delivery program. This means that even though I live in the United States, I had a car, my car, to drive around Scandinavia for up to two weeks. I had the privilege of taking this trip with my father and one of my sons. We picked the car up in Gothenburg, Sweden. The possibilities of what to use our time for seemed endless, but we decided the thing we most wanted to experience were Norwegian fjords, so we headed toward Norway to make our Scandinavian road trip dreams come true.
- 1 Day 1: Start in Gothenburg, Sweden.
- 2 Day 2: Drive through western Sweden to Oslo, Norway.
- 3 Day 3: Explore Oslo, Norway followed by an evening drive to Flam.
- 4 Day 4: Explore Flam, Norway.
- 5 Day 5: Drive to Bergen, Norway.
- 6 Day 6: Explore Bergen, Norway and drive to Stavanger, Norway.
- 7 Day 7: Explore Stavanger, Norway and take an overnight ferry to Denmark.
- 8 Day 8: Drive through Denmark to Copenhagen.
- 9 Day 9: Visit Hamlet’s Castle, then take a ferry to Sweden.
- 10 Riding ferries in Scandinavia
- 11 How is it driving in Scandinavia?
- 12 What are the costs of a Scandinavian road trip?
- 13 Possible add-ons to your road trip
Day 1: Start in Gothenburg, Sweden.
This is a bit of a random place to fly into, but we came to pick up my Volvo at the factory. We had 9 days to explore Europe with the car. It is the perfect starting point for a loop trip around western Sweden, central and southern Norway and Denmark.
We stayed the night at the Clarion Post Hotel, lovely and perfectly located for exploring Gothenburg by foot.
You can read more about the first three days of my trip in Exploring the Coast of Western Sweden.
Day 2: Drive through western Sweden to Oslo, Norway.
Our drive up Sweden’s coastline provided stops at an interesting stone burial ship and castle. We especially enjoyed exploring the gorgeous medieval town of Fredrikstad, Norway.
We stayed at the Oslo Thon Hotel which had an excellent breakfast buffet and is located right near the Opera House. (3 1/2 hour drive time)
Day 3: Explore Oslo, Norway followed by an evening drive to Flam.
From our hotel it was an easy walk though downtown to the palace. Most of the museums are farther away from the town center, but are worth a visit. (4 1/2 hour drive time)
Day 4: Explore Flam, Norway.
This was my favorite day on the trip. We stayed at the Flåmsbrygga Hotel right on Norway’s longest fjord.
Day 5: Drive to Bergen, Norway.
We took the long way to Bergen because we wanted to chase waterfalls. We saw some incredible ones… and a pretty unbelievable public restroom. Stay tuned for my post on this day for more details or read about exploring the nearby Waterfalls Valley now. Nowhere did I more understand how Norway became associated with trolls then by hiking though the moss-covered rocks among the brightly colored saxifrage flowers in these mountains. (3 hour drive including a fabulous 10 hairpin road under a waterfall)
Day 6: Explore Bergen, Norway and drive to Stavanger, Norway.
These two seaside towns on the western coast of Norway were fun to explore. Our favorite part was taking the funicular to the top of Bergen. The view was outstanding and there are the sweetest goats at the top! We stayed at the Bergen Thon which was fine and close to town, but if I visited again I would splurge and stay in at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel which is right on the harbor. (4 Hour drive to Stavanger).
Day 7: Explore Stavanger, Norway and take an overnight ferry to Denmark.
We wanted to break up the drive to Stavanger, so stayed overnight at the Grand Hotell in Stord. Stavanger surprised us. It was really just the easiest place for us to catch a ferry, but it has a lot to offer about how Norwegians immigrated to the United States and the petroleum and canning industry. The ferry ride was very convenient, like a cruise ship with hundreds of cars below. After a good night’s sleep, we woke up in Hirtshals, Denmark. (10 hour ferry ride)
Day 8: Drive through Denmark to Copenhagen.
It is a 4 hour drive to Copenhagen and you get a chance to see the farms and forests of Denmark. Read more about our time in Copenhagen including our visit to the view the spring colors at Tivoli Gardens one of the world’s oldest amusement parks.
Day 9: Visit Hamlet’s Castle, then take a ferry to Sweden.
Kronberg Castle is just one hour north of Copenhagen. We stayed at the Stand & Badehotel Marienlyst in Helsingør. Although it was hard to find, the decor in the rooms is among the prettiest I have ever seen and the buffet breakfast right on the water was unbelievable! The ferry back to Sweden only takes about 30 minutes and the drive back to Gothenburg is less than 2 hours.
We are water-loving, boat people who found all the different ferries one of the most interesting parts of the trip. They are deceptive from the outside- they hold so many cars and big trucks. The cafes on-board provide a perfectly timed pit stop and they often saved us hours of driving. Talk about lunch with a view! They all accepted credit cards and only the overnight ferry required a reservation.
Other than there being a lot of construction in Norway, Scandinavia is a delight to drive in. The roads are very well-maintained, wide, single or double-landed highways— really one of the easiest areas in the world I have driven in.
And you will drive through some really cool and long tunnels in Norway. The Lærdalstunnelen right outside of Bergen is over 15 miles long, perhaps the biggest traffic tunnel in the world!
Although Norway produces a majority of the gasoline in the world, Norway’s fuel is the most expensive in the world due to the high taxes! Must be how they pay for the nice roads. Sweden is fourth highest, so will still eat up a lot of your budget.
The Sweden and Norway also have toll roads. The tolls are all taken with cameras, so you need to set up a toll pass online, preferably before you start driving. Volvo paid our tolls in Sweden, you can deal with yours here. Register as a foreign driver in Norway here, which will also pay for your Norway ferry charges.
Possible add-ons to your road trip
I am very happy with the choices that we made for spending our time in Scandinavia. If I had more time, I would do the following:
- Explore Stockholm. I have never been to this capital of Sweden and hope to one day, but it is a 7-hour drive from Gothenberg and I had my sights set in the other direction on Norway!
- Spend more time in Norway and travel north. We waited until the last moment in Bergen to decide not to do this. The main reason we chose to go south was the freak April snowstorm that hit while we were in Flam. By April, I am so done with snow.
- Climb to Troll’s Tongue or Trolltunga. This 5-hour hike to an outcrop dangling high over a fjord is not too far from Stavanger in southern Norway. Neither my 70-year old father or 10-year old son were up for this hike, but I would love to return to do it.
In only over a week we saw stone circles, cute fishing villages on the Norwegian, Baltic and North Seas, snow-covered mountains, fjords and one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. It was definitely one of the best road trips I have taken. I hope this Scandinavia road trip itinerary helps you make your Scandinavia road trip dreams come true!
Where have you taken your favorite road trip? Please let me know in the comments.