One of my favourite areas in Europe to visit – especially during the summer months – are the Nordic and Scandinavian countries. (That’s primarily Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland – we’ll save the Nordic vs Scandinavian discussion for another day.)
One common complaint about travel to this area is that it is exorbitantly expensive. And there is some truth to that, but I’m here to tell you that isn’t entirely true – a holiday in Northern Europe isn’t always budget-busting expensive. Here are a few tips to help you stretch your pounds and maybe have a few notes left when you get home.
The Euro hasn’t worked its way up north, not entirely anyway. So if you’re going to be in Sweden or Denmark, I suggest you get a currency pack at your local bank before you travel, as I’ve found the rates better than by using a cash machine or the currency exchange in country. It is worth spending a few minutes to check the rates before you go, or maybe even keeping an eye on shifts and getting yourself some currency in advance while the rates are in you favour.
I might add that many banks don’t charge fees here for cash withdrawals, it was just my bank had an unfavourable exchange rate. Your mileage may vary so please check before you leave home.
Some say that everything is expensive in Scandinavia, which just isn’t true. There are two things that are seriously overpriced: alcohol and cigarettes. If you smoke, bring some with you. If you drink, er, bring some with you as long as you watch those travel limits.
Drinking in a restaurant, similar to anywhere else, is more expensive still, so if you want a binge drinking holiday, then I’m afraid Scandinavia is not a good place for you. Having said that, a trip through the alcohol stores here, with their piles and piles of interesting vodkas and locally produced liqueurs is an interesting stop – and perhaps worth grabbing a souvenir to celebrate the trip.
Remember, in northern Europe, daylight lasts for about 20-23 hours in summer! It is incredible and is one of the reasons to come up here. It can be hot and sunny as well – certainly a far cry from your visions of reindeer and piles of snow, for sure. Because of all that sunlight, when it is sunny out, your body will have a hard time adjusting and you’ll want to be outside. And all of these countries have amazing parks, bike/walking paths, and other outdoor spaces to enjoy the daylight. Best part? It’s free.
I have found that even low-star hotels in this part of Europe are very nice. Clean, plenty of amenities – the only complaint perhaps is that the rooms are a bit small, but I’m usually not there to sit around my hotel.
But when summer comes to this part of the world, a lot of new accommodation options open up – think about apartment rentals, self-catering units, or trying out accommodation that isn’t as central – you can get a good deal and these countries all have superb public transport options.
Have you been to Scandinavia or the Nordics? How did you save ££?
Posted : Friday, June 10th, 2011 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.