Road Trip: Scandinavia and Northern Europe
It all began when we asked my Norwegian friend, Malin, who had been living and studying in Piacenza, Italy for advice on what we should do for the two weeks we had free before we were meeting friends in Amsterdam. “We” being my friend Acacia and I who had been travelling around Italy with for the past 3 weeks! It was here that Malin suggested we join her for a leg of her road trip from Oslo to Piacenza. Within 30 minutes, Acacia and I had our flights booked to Oslo, and so our Scandinavia road trip began.
Scandinavia Road Trip, Day 1: Norway
Lucky for us, Malin had a car already in Oslo so we didn’t have to rent one. We arrived in Oslo on the 3rd of July. We spent the first day in Malin’s home town, Askim, and the second in Oslo. If you’re planning a short trip to Oslo, check out my post on 24 hours in the harbour city!
The next morning, we set off for Copenhagen. In the car we had Acacia and I, Malin, her boyfriend Ruben and their friend Jianni who they’d met at the university in Piacenza who’d also come along for the adventure. Ruben and Malin sat up front, Acacia, Jianni and I were the backseat bandits. Ruben drove the entire way, but we made sure to take regular breaks to stretch our legs or grab a snack. The trip from Oslo to Copenhagen took six hours. We would pass through Sweden on the way, essentially visiting 3 countries in one day. For a girl from New Zealand who is used to having to fly 3 hours just to get to another country, this blew my mind.
Day 2: Crossing the Border to Sweden
As we crossed over the border from Norway to Sweden, we started the tradition of playing the national anthem of the country we entered, as we entered it. Acacia brought along her UE Boom for music playing as the radio in the car didn’t have an AUX output. She was in charge of the music most of the time, but we each took turns requesting songs along the way. About 30 minutes into Sweden, Malin suggested we stop at a big bulk lolly/confectionery/pick’n’mix store called Gottebiten that lets you fill a bag of lollies (candy/sweets) yourself from hundreds of different varieties and pay by weight. The store is famous for being only a few hundred metres across the border, providing Norwegians with sugar tax-free candy. We happily obliged to this small detour and filled up our bags with goodies!
Acacia bought a jawbreaker, which would provide great entertainment in the back seat as she slowly but determinedly made her way through the great big ball of sugar.
We each took bets on which stop on our trip she’d have it finished by. We continued on the road with a toilet stop or two the rest of the way to Denmark. On our way we crossed over the famous Øresund Bridge which connects Sweden and Denmark. Not only was the bridge awesome to see and cross in itself, I was very excited to cross it as I’d recently watched the crime thriller The Bridge where the main murder in the story line occurs on this very bridge! (Great series, although a little disturbing and scary – as most Scandinavian crime thrillers are!)
Scandinavia Road Trip, Days 2 & 3: Copenhagen
We arrived in Denmark and would spend two nights here. I loved Copenhagen. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say they haven’t loved Copenhagen so I’m sure this isn’t a surprising account of the city, but truly I was one of my favourite places I have visited. To read about what we got up to in our time in Denmark, check out the post wrote about it!
Day 4: Hamburg
After Copenhagen, we set off for Hamburg. To avoid the extra cost of taking the ferry across to Germany, we took a slight detour to the west driving through Kolding and Flensburg. This leg of the trip took us about 4 and a half hours, a similar ETA to the ferry route. Crossing the borders into each country was easy. Some borders were so chill, we didn’t even realise we’d crossed until we saw signs in a different language. Again, as someone who’s used to New Zealand – an island in the middle of the ocean – this was definitely noteworthy.
We arrived in Hamburg late in the afternoon.We drove straight to our hostel, unloaded our things and set out to wander through the city. We stayed at the Generator hostel, as we’d stayed in a Generator in Copenhagen and really liked it. The hostel cost around €20 a night each, which got us a 6 person room for us 5 (one spare bed), plus our own bathroom.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time in Hamburg and the weather was rubbish, so we didn’t get the best impression of the place. However, I have heard and seen awesome things about Hamburg since, and think I’ll have to return one day and give it another shot. We did get a chance to wander around the brick warehouse district though, which I was really impressed with. This area is a UNESCO world heritage site and was built from 1883 – 1927. It is so representative of that era, and such an amazing example of brick architecture. You honestly feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
Day 5: Brussels
The next morning, we had breakfast at the hostel, then set off for Brussels. This would be Acacia and my last stop on this road trip. The drive from Hamburg to Brussels took 6 and a half hours and passed through the Netherlands. I had been to Brussels once before with my family about 6 years ago and was excited to go back. We stayed in an Airbnb on the outskirts of the city, located just around the corner from a tram stop that went right into town.
Brussels was just as cool as I remembered it. It’s one of those cities that you can just walk around in and find a great church around the next corner, or streets of bars with people sitting outside chatting and drinking wine. Not to mention the mesmerising town square, which was built in the 15th century (woah!), which boasts some incredibly beautiful architecture which is decorated with statues made of stone and gold.
We also visited the Mannequin Pis statue, and were a bit disappointed by the statue in itself, and even more disappointed when we found out this wasn’t even the real statue. Turns out this one is a replica, the real one is permanently on display in some museum. Unless you happen to wander by it, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see this attraction.
Day 6: Parting ways
The next day we all split off on our separate ways as Acacia’s and my leg of the trip came to a close. The other three continued on into France to visit a friend before continuing on to Piacenza, Acacia went on to The Hague and I took a train to London to visit a friend before Acacia and I met in Amsterdam a few days later.
Overall our road trip was one of the best last minute decisions I ever made. If you ever get the opportunity to do one, jump at it! All up, the trip cost us roughly €400 each, including petrol and accommodation. Also remember, the more friends who tag along, not only the more fun but also more to share the petrol costs with – a win win for everyone!
Stay safe out there and stay adventuring!
P.S. Acacia didn’t finish the Jawbreaker until a few days ago, so we all lost the bet there.
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