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.
We had a little over a week to explore Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, so we made our plan for a 9-Day Scandinavian road trip. We concentrated on Norway since that was the county that most intrigued us. Enjoy planning your road trip around Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Start in Gothenburg, Sweden
Gothenberg was a bit off of our radar, but we came to pick up my Volvo at the factory. We were delighted that we had a chance to experience the waterfront of this western Sweden city. We had nine 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 ideally located for exploring Gothenburg on 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 exciting stone burial ship and castle. We especially enjoyed exploring the gorgeous medieval town of Fredrikstad, Norway.
We then drove on to Oslo, where 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 through 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
Our time exploring around Flam 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. Read about exploring the nearby Waterfalls Valley. Nowhere did I more understand how Norway became associated with trolls then by hiking through the moss-covered rocks among the brightly colored saxifrage flowers in these mountains. (3-hour drive including a fabulous ten 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 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, viewing 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 exciting 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 in which to drive.
And you will drive through some neat 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! It must be how they pay for the excellent roads. Sweden is the fourth highest, so it will still eat up a lot of your budget.
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.
Look for your rental car here: Compare Car Rental Rates in Norway.
Possible add-ons to your road trip
I am pleased 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! When in Stockholm, I would love to explore the Stockholm City Hall and learn more about the government there.
- 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 nor 10-year old son was 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 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.