Europe Trip Planning

Our Scandinavian Adventure: What we learned and what we wish we’d known

Our summer trip to Denmark, Sweden and Iceland was planned in a backwards manner. We saw a great price to Stockholm on Icelandair and booked for the dates that best fit our schedule. After the airfare was set we worked backwards to plan the countries we’d visit and find lodging. Here are some things we learned, what we’d have liked to have known and what we might have done differently.

We learned that we can survive a solid 24 hours of travel. That’s how long it took door to door from our home to our hotel in Copenhagen. The girls were troopers. The long train ride was instrumental in our success. The rocking motion helped lull them to sleep.

We learned that English is widely spoken in all three countries. It was very easy to get around. Signage in the national language only was very easy to decipher. We were able to figure out a lot of Swedish and Danish words phonetically. Bean had a great time figuring out food words. She was delighted to break the code on blåbær/blueberry and lakrids/licorice.

We learned that all three peoples are extremely friendly. We felt safe in all three capitals. The cities were clean and maintained and overall there was a sense of community. Most importantly, they were kid-friendly. Many attractions that weren’t immediately kid-oriented (like museums) had children’s sections. We always felt they were welcome in the palaces, public areas and restaurants.

We wish we’d known that Stockholm is much easier to navigate with a public transportation card. I think we’d have had a better time in the city with it. We certainly would have saved a lot of time getting around.

We learned that we love city cards/passes! Purchasing the cards in both Copenhagen and Sweden more than paid for themselves in the admissions we used.  We were more open to visiting attractions on the way to other places when we didn’t have to pay. They were easy to use and we’d check into them in any city we visit.

We wish we’d known that Hop-on-Hop-off buses are not for us. We thought they’d be an easy way to get to Stockholm’s top attractions. We realized too late they are more an attraction themselves rather than transportation. I would get on one again, but only use it as an introduction to a new city.

We learned that Swedish money expires! My husband’s brother gave us some Swedish kronor from a business trip years ago. We thankfully accepted them and tucked them away in the travel wallet. Yet when we went to spend them, we found out they were no longer accepted as tender. I think we could have gone to a bank to exchange them, but we didn’t. It’s definitely something that will be on my radar with any old currency we collect.

We learned that Airbnb is a great option to have. The  girls love hotels and enjoying the different amenities. But Airbnb really saved the day when we couldn’t find reasonable hotel rates in Reykjavik.

Overall our trip was not without its mistakes. We managed to rally after each one and still enjoy ourselves. One indicator of a trip’s success is how quickly the girls ask to return. They would go back to all three places but really want to go back to Copenhagen. I’d go back to any of these countries again, but would also love the opportunity to explore Denmark a little deeper. We really only scratched the surface. Maybe when another great airfare rolls around!


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