Exploring Southern Scandinavia
Starting in Northern Germany, this circular route through Sweden, Norway and Denmark takes in many of Southern Scandinavia's key destinations. Stopovers include Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Oslo and Bergen and before ending your journey back in Germany in the historic port of Hamburg.
Here is the Alan Rogers suggested itinerary through the south of Scandinavia, we would suggest a minimum of a week per country for this circular route. Suggested stopovers for your route from the UK to the start, or back from the end of this tour can be found at the bottom of the article.
Scandinavia is ideally suited to those in motorhomes or campervans, though this journey can be completed by confident drivers towing smaller caravans.
From Germany to Denmark
Your Scandinavian adventure starts on the Northern German island of Fehmarn. The Puttgarden to Rødby Ferry operates 24 hours a day and runs every half an hour. There is a campsite next to the ferry port in Puttgarden, but it is somewhat tired, and we would suggest starting your journey from the south of the island at Camping Wulfener Hals, which is around 30 minutes drive from the ferry port.
By taking the Ferry, you save covering the same ground through Southern Denmark on the return leg of your trip and about 130km. You can often purchase a combi ticket covering both the Ferry and the Øresund Bridge, though you should check with the operator Scandilines about any restrictions.
Camping Wulfener Hals
Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, Wulfen auf Fehmarn
This is a top-class, all year-round site suitable for a stopover or a base for a longer stay. Attractively situated by the sea, it is large, mature (34 hectares) and well maintained. A separate area has been developed for motorhomes. It provides 60 extra-large pitches, all with electricity, water and drainage, and some with TV aerial points, together with a new toilet block.
Burg auf Fehmarn
A popular destination for Danes taking advantage of the lower prices in Germany, Burg auf Fehmarn supermarkets can be busy at weekends when boatloads of Danish visitors hit the shops to stock up on Alcohol, Chocolate and when we last visited, Pistachio Nuts! Many visitors to Scandinavia are shocked at the cost of living, so take the opportunity to stock up on your essentials before making the crossing.
U11 Museum: Found just south of the town, this is a fascinating museum if you have an hour to spare. U11 was the only underwater training target for submarines, surface ships, and aircraft within NATO when it was operational.
Denmark - Copenhagen and surroundings
Famous as the home of Hans Christian Andersen, Carlsberg and the best restaurant in the world, Noma; Copenhagen is the perfect place to start your Scandinavian adventure. You can not help but notice the influence of the sea on this historic city, from the colourful buildings of Nyhavn to the pickled herrings on top of your Smørrebrød; the name is descended from the Old Norse for 'merchants' harbour.
- Rundetårn - Former observatory with a ramp rather than steps to reach the top, Peter the Great ascended the tower on horseback!
- Church of Our Saviour - Gothic church with impressive spiral tower, gives impressive views over the city and beyond to the Øresund Bridge.
- Nyhavn - Most Instagramable location in Copenhagen, pay over the odds for a Smørrebrød or Frikadeller (Meatballs)
- Kødbyen, the Meatpacking District - Hipster spotting is easy in this gentrified industrial area. Loads of restaurants and bars to choose from, just look for the crowds.
- Tivoli Gardens - Second oldest theme park in the world, the most famous attraction in Denmark ... probably.
(The Carlsberg Museum is undergoing renovation at the time of writing!)
DCU Camping Absalon
Denmark, Sjælland, Rødovre
The site is on the edge of Copenhagen with good traffic connections to the inner city by bus and train (timetables available from reception). Absalon has 475 pitches (all for tourers) with 13A electricity on pitches that vary in size.
Before heading East to Malmo, take some time to head North of Copenhagen and visit Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Frederiksborg Castle.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is located in the grounds of a historic villa, with architectural additions in the '50s and '90s; the museum is home to works by Warhol, Lichtenstein, Hockney and more.
Frederiksberg Castle is an impressive renaissance castle with attractive formal gardens. Home to King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway, a serious fire caused major damage in 1859, with the castle being rebuilt using the original plans and designs.
You arrive in Sweden by the impressive Øresund Bridge, a 16km long road and rail link between Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo in Sweden and eponymous star of the hit Nordic-Noir "The Bridge".
Around half of the crossing is made by tunnel before popping out and heading above the waves at Peberholm, an artificial island built during the construction of the Bridge.
Before we head North to Gothenburg, take a quick diversion into Malmö to admire Scandinavia's tallest skyscraper, "Turning Torso." Completed in 2005 and at a relatively modest 190m tall, the structure is thought to be the first twisted building in the world.
Head north on the A6, following the shores of the Kattegat, the 30,000km2 sea that laps Sweden's western coastline. The city of Helsingborg is noted for its impressive 35m tall castle, the Kärnan, offering views of the city and the sea beyond.
First Camp Mölle
Sweden, Skåne Län, Mölle
FirstCamp Mölle is a family campsite with a fine location at the foot of the Kullaberg, marking the point where the Atlantic divides into the Kattegatt and Öresund. There are 250 pitches, generally of a good size and 220 with electrical connections. The site is open all year.
Sweden is synonymous with ABBA, IKEA, and Volvo, and a trip to Gothenburg wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Volvo Museum. Exhibits include iconic Volvos throughout the ages, including the C303 truck that won the 1983 edition of Paris-Dakar, the iconic 'wardrobe on wheels' 850 touring car and a unique trailer that could convert into a caravan.
Feskekörka or 'The Fish Church' is an indoor market in central Gothenburg, named after its distinctive neo-gothic design. The market is the ideal location to pick up some smoked salmon before heading to the nearby Kungsparken for an afternoon picnic.
Dating back to the Bronze Age, the UNESCO heritage rock carving sites of Vitlycke, Aspeberget, Litsleby, and Fossum are centred around the village of Tanum.
With around 600 locations to discover, we recommend the Vitlycke Panel, which is just 200m from the Vitlycke Museum and Fossum, where the carvings are visible from the road. If you have a little more time available, the 'Spear God' is an impressive 2.3m tall and can be found at Litsleby.
Fun Fact: The practice of painting the carvings red was initially done to make the petroglyphs more appealing and attract tourists to the area; thankfully, the UNESCO protection has ended this practice.
Sweden, Västra Götalands Län, Strömstad
This extremely high quality, family campsite, with a strong pirate theme, is beautifully situated on the west coast, 5 km. south of Strömstad. A very large site, terraced in parts, has both shady and open areas. In total there are 650 pitches with around 300 for touring, all with electrical hook-ups.
Our loop around Southern Norway takes in the city sights of Oslo, the capital of Norway, the mountains and fjords of Western Norway and countless bridges and ferry crossings as you wind your way down the stunning North Sea coast.
Norway, East, Østfold, Trogstad
Break your journey north at this attractive working farm. Close to Lake Øyeren and within 70 km. of Oslo Olberg Camping has around 40 large, level touring pitches all with 10-16A electricity connections, on neatly tended grassy meadows with trees and shrubs.
- Oslo Opera House - A stunning white granite building with a sloping plaza roof, home to Norwegian National Ballet and Opera. Don't forget to see the unique waving wood wall inside the atrium.
- The Fram Museum - With its rich maritime history, a visit to Oslo wouldn't be complete without a visit to see the Fram. Both Nansen and Amundsen used the ship on their polar expeditions.
- Kon-Tiki Museum - Continuing the nautical theme, the Kon-Tiki museum is next door to the Fram Museum and charts the adventures and expeditions of Thor Heyerdahl. The museum houses exhibits from his Kon-Tiki and Ra expeditions.
- Holmenkollen Ski Museum - Towering over Oslo is the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum. If you want to know more about the expeditions of Nansen and Amundsen, the oldest ski museum in the world is the place to go. If you have a head for heights (and deep pockets), it's sometimes possible to zip-line down the ski jump.
- Stovnertårnet - Norway's 'longest' tower, the path to the top winds its way over 265m to a height of 215m above sea level.
Norway, East, Østfold, Trogstad
Located in the pleasant suburbs about 15 minutes from central Oslo, TopCamp Bogstad is an attractive site to use as a base for exploring the historic city. A bus service frequently serves the campsite, so there is no need to tackle parking in the city centre.
For much of the next 500km, our route follows the E16 through the increasingly dramatic and typically Scandinavian countryside. Think pine forests, lakes and fjords. Break your journey North at the pleasant lakeside site at Aurdal before continuing on to the Stave Church at Borgund.
- Borgund Stave Church - The traditional, Middle Age construction technique of using wood preserved with tar gives stave churches a black exterior. Combine this with a dramatically pitched shingle roof with dragon head gargoyles, and the church takes on a magical air. Only 28 stave churches remain in Norway, and the 800-year-old church at Borgund is a fine example.
- LærdalTunnel - Taking five years to construct, the Lærdal Tunel became the longest road tunnel in the world when it opened in 2000. At over 15 miles long, the tunnel features unique caves every 4 miles, designed to break up the monotony of the 20-minute journey. Sure, you could take the old snow road over Aurlandsfjellet, but you would miss out on one of Europe's finest engineering projects.
- Stegastein Viewpoint - With panoramic views over the Aurlandsfjord, the Stegastein viewpoint is perched over 650m above the fjord below. An Instagrammers paradise! Designed by Saunders Architects in 2002, the outlook was commissioned by the Norwegian Highway Department.
- Flåmsbana - The Flåm Railway curves through 20 tunnels from the popular cruise ship destination of Flåm to the windswept plateau at Myrdal. At just over 20km long, stunning views abound, and a somewhat eerie interpretive dance performance halfway up the mountain breaks up the journey.
- Sognefjord - The deepest and longest fjord in Europe. at over 1300m deep and extending 205km from Bergen on the coast to the inland village of Skjolden. Dramatic scenery, relaxing cruises or adventures by electric powered RIB are all on offer here.
Lærdal Ferie & Fritidspark
Norway, Western Fjords, Sogn og Fjordane, Lærdal
This site is beside the famous Sognefjord, the longest fjord in the world. It is ideally situated if you want to explore the glaciers, fjords and waterfalls of the region.
The pretty little village of Laerdal, only 400 m. away, is well worth a visit. A walk among the old, small wooden houses is a pleasant and exciting experience.
Continuing along the E16 to Bergen. Campsites are pretty limited in the Bergen area, and the Bergen Camping Park is a reasonable compromise. Whilst the site lacks the rural charm of many others in this article, access from the campsite into the town is good.
Fighting Denmark's Nyhavn for the most photographed harbourside in Scandinavia, the old town of Bryggen is a picturesque mix of old wharf buildings, narrow cobbled alleyways and wooden clad boat houses. Watch your step as you travel back in time along medieval passageways, but don't be fooled; many wooden buildings were rebuilt in the 1950s after the originals were destroyed by fire.
Travel through the suburbs of Bergen aboard the Fløibanen funicular railway. Starting in the heart of the city, this 6-minute journey whisks you through the suburbs of Bergen before reaching the peak of Mount Fløyen, where you can enjoy woodland walks and search for Trolls in the forest.
The next leg of your journey takes you along the North Sea coast, characterised by countless bridges and multiple ferry crossings.
You don't need to book any of the short inter-island ferries, they run a very regular timetable. Our advice is to generally ignore the timetable and just show up at the docks.
You can pick and choose your route south depending on the weather, your time limitations and how many ferries you fancy catching.
Our highlighted route uses the Halhjem to Sandvikvåg ferry, which operates about every half an hour and takes 45 minutes to an hour to make the crossing.
This is followed by the Arsvågen to Mortavika ferry which runs every 15 minutes through the day and every half an hour at night with a 25 minute crossing time.
Norway, South, Rogaland, Haugesund
Haraldshaugen Camping is an attractive campsite with fantastic sea views and interesting historic surroundings, yet only 2km from the centre of Haugesund.
The site is large and airy with direct access to the "Haraldsstøtten" National Monument that was erected in memory of Harald Hårfagre, the first king of Norway.
You can break your journey at a number of points, Haugesund is a fairly modern town with an authentic harbourfront and an attractive campsite next to the Haraldshaugen National Monument.
Alternatively head inland to Preikestolen Camping and the impressive Pulpit Rock, consistently voted one of the most impressive viewpoints in the world. Be prepared for a long hike and changeable weather as the journey can take around 4 hours to reach the top.
Norway, South, Rogaland, Haugesund
Taking its name from one of Norway’s best-known attractions, the Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) cliff formation, Preikestolen Camping is situated in the beautiful region of Rogaland, surrounded by high mountains and deep fjords.
This is a site where you could easily stay a few days to explore the beautiful region. The friendly owners are happy to help with maps and guidance.
Our time in Norway concludes with a journey along the southern coast, through the main town of Kristiansand. The town is proud of its zoo and is home to a number of summer festivals, including the annual anarchist, protestfestival.
An intriguing stop off en route is the aptly named 'Under' restaurant. The restaurant can be found over 5 meters beneath the waves, off the coast of Lindesnes. There is a long waiting list for a table at the world's largest undersea restaurant, so you'll need to plan well ahead to be in with a chance of dining at this architecturally unusual restaurant.
Continue along the coast, towards Oslo and take the ferry to the north of Denmark from either Kristiansand, Langesund or Larvik to Hirtshals. All crossing options are between 2 to 3 hours and can be expensive, so it's better to book this ahead and worth shopping around for the best deal.
Returning to Denmark after visiting Sweden and Norway, you'll be surprised at the comparatively cheap cost of living (though still very high compared to the UK)
We start our time in Denmark with a visit to Grenen; the most northerly tip of Denmark is a long sandbar jutting out between the Strait of Skagerrak and the Kattegat Sea. The sea in this area is often rough and swimming is forbidden where the two seas collide, but seals can be seen lazing on the pristine beach. A tractor operated by Sandormen takes visitors out to the end of the spit from early April to late October.
Whilst you're in the Skagen area a walk across the dunes to Skagen Old Church (Den Tilsandede Kirke) shouldn't be missed. This 14th-century chapel kept being buried by the encroaching dunes and had to be dug out by the congregation several times before they finally abandoned it in 1795.
The attractive fishing harbour of Skagen is worth a visit, with a number of good quality fish restaurants available.
Bunken Strand Camping
Denmark, Jutland, Nordjylland, Aalbæk
Ideal for families, Bunken Strand is located in natural surroundings between forest and sand dunes, by the safe, gently shelving sea.
Most of the 700 pitches are arranged in tree-lined avenues and bordered on three sides by mature hedges and trees, providing peace and privacy for each unit.
- The Aalborg Maritime Experience Centre is found just a short walk from the campsite and without doubt, the most interesting attraction is the Submarine Springeren, a 54m long Delfinen Class submarine which operated between 1964 and 1989.
- Aalborg Streetfood is a permanent street-food market 5 minutes walk from the campsite. With around a dozen different vendors offering food from around the world, don't miss our favourite, the pulled duck and duck fat fries!
- It's hard to miss Aalborgtårnet, a 55m tall observation tower that offers unparalleled views over the city. The cafe/restaurant isn't the greatest, but the views make the cost of a coffee and cake worth the short lift journey up to the observation deck.
- The "Singing Trees" of Kildeparken make for an unusual diversion and a good picnic spot. Visiting musicians were invited to plant a tree and donate a song. Visitors can hit a button on the plaque next to the tree to hear tunes by 90 artists from André Rieu to ZZ Top!
Denmark, Jutland, Nordjylland, Aalborg
Located in the quiet suburbs of Aalborg, this attractive site is a short cycle (or a long walk) from the city centre. Overnight stops are available for campervans/motorhomes, the facilities are excellent.
En route to Aarhus, stop off at Rold Skov, the second-largest Dutch National Forest. Walk amongst heather-covered hills and admire the recently restored Gravlev Lake. The Cold War nuclear bunker at Regan Vest is scheduled to open as a museum in 2022.
Verdenskortet is a little further along your journey and here you can visit every country in the world in just a few minutes. tonnes of rock and soil were moulded over the course of 25 years, single-handedly by Søren Poulsen, a geography enthusiast with an eye for detail. A popular tourist attraction with paddleboats and mini-golf!
ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum - A world-class public art museum. Previous exhibitions include works by influential Danish artists Bjørn Nørgaard and Ingvar Cronhammar. Don't miss a trip to the roof to experience Your rainbow panorama by Ólafur Elíasson.
Denmark, Jutland, Århus, Højbjerg
This attractive terraced campsite overlooks the Bay of Aarhus and is around 8km from the city centre. Transport links are good in the high season with the bus journey taking around 15 minutes.
If Sweden is synonymous with Volvo and Ikea, Denmark is probably best known for Carlsberg and Lego. If you have young ones in tow, a trip to Denmark wouldn't be complete without a visit to Legoland in Billund. Visit Lego Ninjago world and experience life as a ninja, or head to Miniland, a world in miniature and the place where the Legoland experience first began over 50 years ago.
Lalandia describes itself as a 'fun tropical holiday centre with a waterpark'... we like to think of it as the Danish version of Center Parcs; think waterslides and rapids, bowling and adventure parks. Some attractions are beginning to look a little dated, but it's still an excellent option for a rainy day. Day tickets are available in advance.
Givskov Zoo offers three experiences: a safari drive through enclosures with lions, elephants and zebra, a dinosaur park with over 50 lifesize replicas, and a classic zoo.
Fun Fact: Legoland opened its doors in 1968, the same year that Alan Rogers published his first edition of the Camping Europe guide.
Denmark, Jutland, Vejle, Give
Riis Feriepark is a good quality touring site ideal for visiting Legoland, Lalandia Billund (18 km), and Givskov Zoo (3 km). It is a friendly, family run site with 150 large level, grass touring pitches which are sheltered and surrounded by trees and shrubs.
The following sites are great for breaking up your journey either on your way out to Denmark or on your return journey:
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This excellent and spacious, family-run site is set on the grounds of a 19th-century château. It is a great campsite when you’re travelling via Calais...
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Camping Groenpark is a popular wooded campsite in the heart of the Scheldt region of eastern Flanders. Between Antwerp and Ghent, it is only 1...
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Recreationpark De Boshoek is a spacious, family oriented campsite, which forms a part of a large leisure park which includes bungalows to rent and private...
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This is a very large site close to the Dutch border and based around a lake, with a sandy beach area where youngsters like to...
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This is a large site, part of which directly borders the River Elbe, with 500 pitches, of which 200 are for touring (all with electricity...