“Flashpacking” the Nordic Countries

We recently heard of the term flashpacking, which means traveling while being a bit less frugal (in perhaps a more flashy way) than the average backpacker. We like this term because we’re not always comfortable calling ourselves backpackers, since we stay in hotels and spend more money than a typical backpacker, but we are literally traveling with all of our belongings on our backs. But I digress; for this post, I’ll share our thoughts & quick facts from our brief tour of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland so you can get a better feel for each place and which ones pique your interest!

Copenhagen, Denmark

General vibes: Small & walk-able with tons of bikers, beautiful people and fancy-shmancy restaurants
Main attractions: Tivoli Gardens, The Little Mermaid, Freetown Christiania
Favorite things: Walk-able; great views along the water
Lease favorite things: High prices; nothing too “special” about it
Currency: Danish Kroner
Our expensiveness rating: $$$
Our overall rating: 6/10

Summary: We enjoyed this city as our first stop, but found it a bit boring (nothing stood out) and very expensive.

Stockholm, Sweden

General vibes: Rich in history; coffee obsessed; surrounded by water and beautiful buildings
Main attractions: Museums (Vasa, Fotografiska, Abba), Old Town (Gamla Stan), Djurgarden
Favorite things: Coffee all day err day; princess cake; exploring alleys in Gamla Stan
Least favorite thing: Cold & rainy weather (just bad luck)
Currency: Swedish Kroner
Our expensiveness rating: $$$
Our overall rating: 8/10

Summary: We may be biased because we spent the most time here (4 nights instead of 2) & because Pete’s family was here, but we loved the history, look and feel of this city and its emphasis on coffee breaks! We also loved the ease and organization of its public transportation, even between the islands.

Bergen, Norway

General vibes: Lovely city surrounded by fjords; rich in history; many parks
Currency: Norwegian kroner
Main attractions: Mount Floyen & Ulriken, Old town (Bryggen) – wharf & fish market
Favorite things: Ice cream everywhere; fantastic hike on Mt Viden
Least favorite things: Fairly touristy-feeling; very pricey
Our expensiveness rating: $$$$
Our overall rating: 9/10

Summary: We fell in love with this town the moment our bus passed by the “fish market” and dropped us off at Bryggen, the Old Town strip of Bergen. Although it was even more expensive than the previous cities, the views and the nature made up for it.

Oslo, Norway

General vibes: Big city; the most “Americanized” place we’ve been yet with a pretty bay area and nice parks
Currency: Norwegian kroner
Main attractions: Vigeland museum, Viking ship museum, Vigeland park (Vigelandsparken), Fram polar ship museum
Favorite things: Vigeland Park; Olivia restaurant at Aker Brygge
Least favorite things: Felt very Americanized & touristy; expensive, but without any stand-out qualities
Our expensiveness rating: $$$$
Our overall rating: 5/10

Svalbard, Norway

General vibes: Outdoorsy, adventurous, small town; cold all year-round; mainly Norwegian tourists
Currency: Norwegian kroner
Main attractions: Tours (dog-sledding, hiking & kayaking, walrus safaris, fjord cruises), Svalbard museum, Pyramiden
Favorite things: All day sunlight; the unique feel of the town Longyearbyen
Least favorite things: The cold (although it wasn’t as bad as we were expecting, especially since we went during summer)
Our expensiveness rating: $$
Our overall rating: 9/10

Summary: We highly recommend visiting this unique place that’s not overrun by out-of-the-country tourists. We loved the laid-back & outdoorsy feeling here, and since they don’t pay taxes, the price is right! Try to go on a tour that’s more than one day.

Helsinki, Finland

General vibes: Big city-feel with a hipster flair; not many great attractions
Currency: Euro
Main attractions: Suomenlinna island & fortress, Church in the rock, Esplanadi park
Favorite things: Pale ales from the Suomenlinna Island brewery; cheap dinner options, like Pizza & Kebab restaurants (we recommend Barbarossa)
Least favorite things: Felt a bit dirtier than the above cities & didn’t come with a cheaper price tag
Our expensiveness rating: $$$
Our overall rating: 5/10

Summary: We weren’t very impressed with this city. It was very expensive, didn’t have the same quaint feeling as some of the other cities had, and didn’t have any fantastic attractions to offer.

Again, we only had a few days in each city, so we formed our opinions based on very short stays. Disagree with any of our assessments? Have any questions or want any suggestions? Comment below!

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