Scandinavian countries always had a special charm for me. That’s why, when my cousin Amir came to visit me during my Erasmus semester in Norway, we decided to travel through Scandinavia and managed to see the four great capitals – Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo- all in one week! If you want to get the most out of your experience in Scandinavia, make sure to check out some tips we learned on saving money on the go and making the most of our time.
TIP 1: DON’T LET MONEY STOP YOU
Keep in mind that these are the most expensive countries in the world. However, don’t miss out on events, trips and adventures solely because you don’t want to spend any money. You’re here for one semester – seize all the opportunities! You can save some money throughout the year on daily things such as food and alcohol, get a summer job, and take advantage of student discounts -which are offered in most museums, castles, exhibitions and on public transportation.
TIP 2: NEVER PAY FOR HOUSING
Make a Couchsurfing account, write to people in advance and crash on their couches for free! Not only would you save money, but you would also meet inspiring people that will share their stories with you. If you are travelling in a big group, it might also be a good idea to look for some apartments on Airbnb. Worst case scenario? Sleep at the bus station or at the airport. Some of them turned out to be quite comfortable (speaking from personal experience here).
TIP 3: BE ALMOST LATE
“Last-minute” is the perfect adjective to describe our trip. My cousin received his visa about 18 hours before his flight to Norway. We managed to get accommodation last minute, took the last available train every single day, and almost missed a flight. Spend those extra 10 minutes contemplating paintings, admiring a sculpture or choosing the prettiest postcard, and not waiting at the bus stop. You can have a great workout by running after transportation in the great Scandinavian capitals!
TIP 4: DO YOUR RESEARCH
Make sure you don’t end up in a situation where people ask you if you’ve seen the main tourist attractions of the city and you haven’t because you didn’t know that you had to look for it. You don’t have to have a certain schedule – the best discoveries are spontaneous – but it’s good to have a list of things you would like to do.
TIP 5: MEET THE LOCALS
Whether it’s before or during the trip. Before going to Copenhagen, I talked with a Danish guy who strongly recommended me to try their hotdogs, whilst a guy from Helsinki suggested us to go to the top of a certain hotel to enjoy the beautiful panorama of the city. Locals know better than anyone else, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and hear what they have to say.
TIP 6: SAVE MONEY, BUT TREAT YOURSELF ONCE IN AWHILE
When we were in Stockholm, I was always so tempted to try the appealing desserts that peaked in the bakeries windows. Expensive? Hell yes. Delicious? God-like. I broke down after seeing a delicious strawberry-topped vanilla cake, and didn’t regret a single bite – and euro – spent on it.. Sometimes, if you really want to buy something, you should just go for it.
I could go on about tips and advices, but it’s better that you learn your lessons on the road as well. It was a crazy, quick, spontaneous and absolutely beautiful adventure that took us from the Oslo airport to the main street of Christiania in Copenhagen, from the glorious ship in the Vasa museum, in Stockholm, to a cosy café in Helsinki. We found ourselves always busy doing something, and that is the pace of life that I love.