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Travel Notes Scandinavia 2011 PDF Printable Version E-mail


Based on a Scandinavian Journey by Sprinter Van, Caravan and Bicycles

Margaret and Barry Williamson
November 2011

Related Links:

In Norway May-June 2011

In Norway July 2011

In Norway August 2011

In Sweden September 2011

Return to the UK 2011 

NORWAY: Basic Data

  Distance:                                 4,660 miles       7,455 km
  Time:                                       84 days            12 weeks (3 months)
  Average:                                  55 miles/day     88 km/day
  No of Overnight Stays:            32
  No of Ferries:                          19
  Cost of Ferries:                        £475                 €545
  Average Ferry Cost:                £25                    €28.75
  No of Tolls:                             18
  Cost of Tolls:                           £45                   €51.75
  Average Toll Cost:                   £2.50                €2.87
  Toll Cost/mile:                          £0.9/mile           €0.69/km

SWEDEN: Basic Data

  Distance:                                 1,650 miles       2,640 km
  Time:                                       30 days            4 weeks (1 month)
  Average:                                  55 miles/day     88 km/day
  No of Overnight Stays:             13
  No of Ferries:                           0
  No of Tolls:                              0

Approximate Exchange Rates in November 2011            

£1 = 8.7 Danish Krone (DKK)    
9.1 Norwegian Krone (NOK)   
10.7 Swedish Krona (SEK)
     = 1.16 Euro in Finland 


Norway is undeniably expensive but, to put it in perspective, you'd have to travel to New Zealand or Alaska to experience any comparable scenery and Norway is on a much larger scale. We could not put a price on the experience of visiting the Norwegian mountains, fjords and islands. When you've gone as far north as you wish, or can afford, cross the border to Sweden for your return journey. Finland, using the Euro, is the Scandinavian bargain –once you get there.


Norway is the most expensive, so stock up in Germany and Denmark at stores like Lidl, Aldi or Netto. The main Norwegian supermarkets are ICA and Coop (pronounced coop!) with Bunnpris, Rimi and Rema costing a little less. Lidl etc have been kept out. We never found long life milk and fresh milk was very expensive. Even so, there were one or two bargains.

The uncut brown loaves (Kneipbrod) are a staple, much cheaper than rolls or sliced bread, and they can be put through a slicing machine in the supermarket (though they keep longer whole). Or take a bread-maker and bake your own. A hot roast chicken from the Coop cost less than a frozen one to cook yourself. The Coop had some discounts with a loyalty card but the card cost 300 NOK, so not worth it for a short visit. Bunnpris had a good discount on certain products on weekdays (mince, frozen salmon, chicken pieces, sausages or pork cubes, depending on the day of the week) and there were special offers, such as a free packet of bacon with a dozen eggs. If you fish, there's plenty in the sea and rivers. If not, befriend anglers on the campsite! We were given delicious haddock, cod and herring by German and Welsh neighbours.

Sweden was slightly less expensive (Norwegians near the border go over to shop). ICA and the Coop dominate but there were a few Lidl stores in the southern half of the country. Again the Coop sells a loyalty card.

Finland was cheapest (bordering Swedes shop there). Lidl is fairly common, reaching above the Arctic Circle to the world's northernmost branch in Sodankyla.

There are no problems shopping in Denmark, with Lidl and Netto costing slightly more than in Germany.

Eating Out

Apart from the usual fast-food at McDonalds or Burger King (which also have the cheapest coffee), dining out is a luxury. The best deals are always on weekday lunchtimes, including supermarket cafes. For a treat, try the mid-day set lunch or an 'all-you-can-eat' self-service buffet at a restaurant or hotel. Especially in Sweden and Finland, this can cost under £10 each, including drinks and coffee.


Petrol and diesel are most expensive in Norway (despite their North Sea oil) and cheapest in Finland, where it costs less than Germany. But it's a major and unavoidable expense of touring Scandinavia. Note that LPG is rarely seen at filling stations. Finland has none, Sweden and Denmark only a few and Norway about 125. See the list of POI sources below for more information.


POIs (Points of Interest) are useful within a GPS receiver or a SatNav. The device may come with some ready loaded and others can be added via a computer. There are a number of websites which provide lists of POIs, usually free of charge although some sites ask that you 'register' with them. These lists vary in their accuracy and in their coverage; here are some sources that we have used for Scandinavia:

http://poiplaza.com/index.php?p=dc&c=31  (Norway, including 125 LPG stations)

http://poiplaza.com/index.php?p=dc&c=39   (Sweden including 18 LPG stations)

http://poiplaza.com/index.php?p=dc&c=14&lpg=&d=&pg=2 (Denmark including 8 LPG stations)

http://poiplaza.com/index.php?p=dc&c=16  (Finland including 0 LPG stations)




There are no road or motorway tolls in Denmark, Sweden or Finland. Norway has an Autopass system on some highways, though with an average toll of £2.50 it costs less than, say, French motorways.  Basically, you log on to www.autopass.no to register a credit card and create an account, in which you deposit 300 NK if you are under 3.5 tons. This is valid for up to 3 months. Then road tolls (not just on motorways) are paid from this account when you drive through an automatic toll point, or 'Automatisk Bomstasjon' which reads your number plate. This includes some tunnels, but a few bridges, tunnels and all ferries are extra.

You must register in advance, or within 14 days of passing your first Automatic Toll. Should you stay for more than 3 months, you have to repeat the process. The promise that 'any remaining amount on your account is credited to your credit card 3 months after the agreement period is concluded' was kept. Motorhomers need to know that the tolls are higher (often double) for vehicles over 3.5 tons. Travelling with a caravan, we eventually discovered that caravans (or any other trailers) are free, so we were charged as a car/vehicle under 3.5 tons.

The ferries charge by length and are paid on board or as you board, by cash or credit card. You could plan a route to avoid most of these ferries if you must, but taking the coastal road 17 with its many short ferries (rather than the busy E6 highway) was an experience we wouldn't have missed. Although some tunnels charge a toll,  the world's longest tunnel (24.5 km = 15 miles) was free!

Credit Cards

There is no need to carry a large amount of cash. Debit and credit cards are widely used throughout Scandinavia for everything: shops, fuel, cafes, campsites. In fact they are generally preferred to cash! A very few campsites demanded cash. However, in Denmark (and occasionally in Sweden) campsites added a percentage for card payment, so be aware!


Savings can be made here, as there is plenty of opportunity to overnight away from campsites. Water and dump points are often provided in rest areas along the highways (except in more crowded Denmark) and free-camping is tolerated. Some of the Norwegian towns have dedicated motorhome parking, costing less than a campsite.

When you do need a campsite, they provide excellent facilities including kitchens equipped with free cookers, microwaves (and even a dishwasher on some). This all saves precious gas. Laundries always have tumble driers or, sometimes, a free heated drying room. Some sites had a fixed fee for using the laundry room for a set time, which was good value if you could wash and dry 2 or 3 loads at once. Camping prices were no higher than say Western Europe in the high season. Most sites have coin-operated showers, typically charging over £1 for 5 minutes. Use your own if possible! Also, the season in the North is short, with many campsites closed by the end of August, when school holidays finish.

You'll need a 'Camping Card Scandinavia', valid for 1 year, bought for around £10 at your first campsite. Printed campsite guides to each country are freely available at campsites and Tourist Offices. See also www.dk-camp.dk, www.camping.no, www.nafcamp.no, www.camping.se and www.camping.fi. Denmark has many campsites in the ACSI Card discount scheme www.campingcard.co.uk, though there are very few such sites in the other Scandinavian countries.


We had excellent weather through May to September, dry and ideal for walking and cycling. Not for sunbathing, perhaps, but better than in the UK! The Norwegian coast was sometimes windy and too cool for swimming, but the lakes in Sweden and Finland were warm enough. The snow does not usually arrive until October in the far north, November in the south, and lasts till April. We saw none, except that still lying on very high ground in early May.

Getting There

There are currently no ferries from England to Norway and we regret the loss of the Newcastle-Bergen boat. The possibilities include:

Take a ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg on the west coast of Denmark, the furthest north in mainland Europe you can now go by ferry from the UK. A one-day drive then takes you to Hirsthals at the top of Denmark, where regular ferries cross to Kristiansand near the southern tip of Norway.

Cross the North Sea to the Hook of Holland, or to Zeebrugge, Ostend or Dunkirk, and then drive north through Germany into Denmark.

Cross the Channel to Boulogne or Calais and drive north through France, Belgium, Holland; then as above.

Whichever way, Norway is a long drive and not suitable for a short break (unless you fly!)

Sweden is accessible by ferry from Denmark or Germany, or by (toll) bridge from Denmark. Finland is reached via Sweden, or by ferry from Estonia if driving via the Baltic Republics.


Was it expensive? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would you go again? We certainly hope to return to Sweden and Finland, a favourite summer haunt. Maybe not Norway, as this was our sixth visit (including 3 journeys to Nordkapp), though our first time in the magnificent Lofoten and Vesteralen islands. If you have yet to venture to Norway - go if you possibly can!