A journey through Northern Europe: Stockholm

A Journey Through Northern Europe

It all started with an idea. Last year, after visiting Oslo, I was hooked on exploring more of Northern Europe, so I looked at Wizz Air’s interesting destinations map and saw direct flights to MalmΓΆ, Sweden, so I figured our next holiday will be to MalmΓΆ and Copenhagen. Over the coming months, we realized we can’t visit Sweden and not go to Stockholm, so we added the Swedish capital on our itinerary as well. Of course, it all changed when a friend told us the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki is really cheap. Just when we thought our plan was complete, a cancelled flight had left us with a 36 hour layover in Riga.

Two weeks, four new countries, countless memories and roughly 26 Gb of photos. Curious to see how it went? If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you saw that I’ve decided to put a little twist on the usual tourist shots, but here’s the whole story.

Plane from Bucharest to Riga

Our first flight was supposed to be on Monday at noon with a five hour layover, but we were notified two months in advance that it was cancelled and we were given two choices: change both flights to Sunday, thus resulting in an extra night in Helsinki or change only the first flight, thus having to spend one night in Riga. With a four against two vote, we booked a night in the largest city from the Baltic countries. I need to thank Air Baltic for their excellent customer service, they replied quickly to all my emails and tweets whenever I had a question about my reservation.

Although we were at the airport at an ungodly hour (flight was at 3:50 am) and flew with the noisiest plane ever, I don’t regret for a second the choice we made.

Riga

A journey through Northern Europe: Riga

“What the hell can we do in Riga at 8 am?” This is what we asked ourselves when we found out we couldn’t check in at the hotel until 2 PM. We were excited about how chilly it was, but soon realized that everything was closed and the only people on the streets were drunken Brits who partied all night. Luckily, the time passed quickly, the clouds disappeared and I was surprised by how much I loved the city. The Old Town of Riga is gorgeous and it should definitely be on your wish list.

Plane from Riga to Helsinki

This one was uneventful, it was late at night and only took one hour, arriving in Helsinki after midnight. Getting into the hotel was fun however, because they had an entire system to find your key, it almost felt like we were in a spy movie. πŸ™‚

Helsinki

A journey through Northern Europe: Helsinki

Helsinki was….nice. It’s not a city that dazzles you with its beauty, but you definitely won’t be bored if you spend a few days in the capital of Finland. I ate more berries than I can count, hiked more kilometers than I can bear, seen some breathtaking landscapes and dipped my feet in the Baltic Sea. So there were definitely a lot of fun times involved.

Cruise ship from Helsinki to Stockholm

Cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm

“Look, a cheap way to get from Helsinki to Stockholm, how convenient! Let’s do it!” The cruise was an interesting experience, none of us was ever on one, so we were excited about the idea. We quickly realized that anything cheap on that ship came with a catch. Our first shock was when we took the elevator two levels below the car deck to our cabin which was small even for a family of mice, let alone four people and their luggage. Never mind that, we set out to explore the ship, but realized our options were limited and that isn’t the place to be when you are on a budget. After we’ve had enough of slots and drunk people, we went back to our swinging cabin.

Stockholm

A journey through Northern Europe: Stockholm

Oh, Stockholm, I loved you from the first minute. <3 Stockholm is a city that all other cities should aspire to become when they grow up. It’s definitely the nicest I’ve seen in Northern Europe (sorry Oslo!) and possibly the whole Europe. The stunning archipelago, the picture perfect buildings, the friendly and relaxed people, the interesting sights, the sunny weather, all lead to me having the bestest time and now I definitely want to go back. Sooner rather than later! (Eurovision 2016 anyone?)

Train from Stockholm to Copenhagen

Train ride from Stockholm to Copenhagen

Who would have thought that a five hour train ride can pass in what feels like five minutes, when you have AC, WiFi, enough legroom and stunning scenery outside. Sweden, you’re perfect!

Copenhagen

A journey through Northern Europe: Copenhagen

Without doubt Copenhagen is one beautiful city. But I’m not sure if it’s because we visited after Stockholm or if it’s because it was towards the end of the trip and we were a little tired, but Copenhagen didn’t wow me as much as I was expecting. After a disappointing hotel and a terrible lunch, my enthusiasm wore off, but this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy all the sights, the canals and wandering on its streets.

Bus from Copenhagen to Malmo

Bus from Copenhagen to Malmo

I was hoping to cross the Øresund bridge by bus on our return, but since the train station was close to the hotel and our luggage was heavy, we settled on the convenient option. After we got the tickets, we found out that the trains to MalmΓΆ didn’t operate that day and we could take a replacement bus from the airport. Obviously, there was chaos at the airport, with a lot of people trying to find a spot in one of the buses. One long queue, bus and taxi later, we finally got to our last stop.

Malmo

A journey through Northern Europe: Malmo, Sweden

I don’t know where MalmΓΆ was hiding, it’s too pretty for its own good, even if you don’t see many places open after 5 PM. I loved wandering on its streets without any direction,Β  eating a delicious meal and drinking port wine. You can be sure there will be a post about this city soon enough.

Plane from Malmo to Bucharest

Waking up at 5 AM to catch a flight is never fun, unless you’re going on a trip. Waking up at 5 AM to go home is not fun at all. Waking up at 5 AM to go home to 39C after two weeks of 25C temperatures is the worst.

I admit I feel a little smug feeling whenever someone asks how we managed to plan this whole trip. Truthfully, with a little organization and devotion, anyone can do it! In the following weeks there will be more stories, tips and funny stories, so make sure you follow me on Facebook to be the first to read them,

Have you ever been to Northern Europe? What were your favorite moments?

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  • Wow, a love affair with Sweden, huh? I am hoping there will be more detailed stories about Swedish men in particular, KTHANX.
    Photo of nighttime Riga is STUNNING.

    • Well maybe next time I visit I can just take photos of the Swedish men, totally casual. πŸ˜‰

  • Knowing that you are a crazy planner as I am, I can only imagine how much work you put into organizing this trip!!
    I knew you would love Stockholm <3 it's impossible not to… and I am sure that you didnt fall in love with Copenhagen because you saw Stockholm first… the same happened to me. I am now afraid of visiting Oslo and Helsinki because of my love for Stockholm hahaha… but I certainly plan to!
    Your itinerary was pretty awesome, and I can't wait to read more posts about this trip πŸ˜€

    • You will definitely love Oslo, it’s like a smaller Stockholm! πŸ˜€ There will be definitely a lot more posts in the next weeks πŸ˜€

      • Really??? I am so curious, I need to go there!! Maybe next year after TBEX (if this works out too) πŸ˜€

  • So proud of you managing to pull all this off! πŸ™‚ Looks like it was an awesome trip, can’t wait to read more about it! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, it was indeed a great trip πŸ˜€

  • WellWornSuitcase

    What unbelievably gorgeous cities! I love them!

    • They are all wonderful, Stockholm was my favorite though! <3

  • Lucy Dodsworth

    Some great-looking destinations to add to my wishlist there – and some impressive organisation to fit it all in! I’ve got to get out to Stockholm soon – I have had a couple of potential trips out there this year already but none have worked out yet, though that might be the universe telling me to go for Eurovision instead!

    • Let’s all go to Eurovision! I’m sure you would love Stockholm, it’s a very beautiful city <3

  • Ruth Rieckehoff

    Vlad, great to see you had a blast during your trip! I followed everything thru Instagram. I am ready to read all about it. BTW, I have a minion almost identical to yours.

    • I have a bunch of minions from when the last Despicable Me came out but when I saw this one with the coat, I knew it’s perfect for Scandinavia πŸ˜€

  • Laia

    I love northern Europe! I lived two years in Sweden and managed to go around a bit (on a low budget, I was a student!). I visited all these places except Riga, and my favorite was Stockholm. Your post brings me such good memories! You took wonderful photos too πŸ™‚
    #MondayEscapes

    • I’d love to go and visit more parts of Sweden, it’s a beautiful country, isn’t it?

  • You took beautiful pictures. πŸ˜‰

    I have wanted to visit the Nordic countries for a long time, but always when I am just about to book a flight, I somehow end up in the Balkan countries. ;-D BUT: I really want to make it to Riga this year. And.. Romania. πŸ˜€

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ If you make it to Romania, let me know if I can help you with tips and suggestions πŸ˜€

      • That would be great, I will definitely drop you a note. πŸ˜€

  • Dannielle

    This looks like an ideal trip, I’ve always been interested in Northern Europe but to be honest I’ve been put off by reading about how expensive most of these places are. Perhaps you could do a post agreeing or overturning that idea?!

  • Dannielle

    This looks like an ideal trip, I’ve always been interested in Northern Europe but to be honest I’ve been put off by reading about how expensive most of these places are. Perhaps you could do a post agreeing or overturning that idea?!

    • It’s no doubt an expensive region, but it is possible to visit on a budget. I’ll definitely have posts about this in the future.

  • Looks like you did A LOT in two weeks. No wonder you were tired at the end. Same thing happened to me with Salvador de Bahia, maybe it was the fact that I was there right after Rio or maybe that I was exhausted, I felt a bit disappointed at the end. Anyways, I’ve never been to Northern Europe so now I know who to ask for advice πŸ™‚

    • It was the good kind of tired πŸ˜‰ In fact, after a day of work I’m more tired than after this whole trip. It was a good way to charge my batteries. πŸ˜€

  • Amanda & Brian

    Wow, your photos are stunning! We have never been to Northern Europe but it is on our list. You have certainly inspired us to ensure we add Riga to a future itinerary!

    • Thank you! Riga is truly charming, you’ll want to wander on its streets for hours and hours πŸ™‚

  • Northern Europe is on my bucket list for next year. I really want to go to Copenhagen and Riga.

    • They’re both two beautiful cities, I actually liked Riga more than Copenhagen, even if it’s way smaller.

  • contented traveller

    What an amazing itinerary and one we fully intend to do.

    • I’m sure you would love it. πŸ˜€

  • Hahaha! Your trip planning sounds a lot like mine. I have one destination in mind and then realize I can get to 5 other places from there quite easily and the next thing you know, I have planned a trip that will take me through 7 different countries! It kinda droves my husband crazy!

    • With the cost of plane tickets being so expensive sometimes, I usually say we should see as much as we can in one area, because who knows when we’ll be back πŸ˜€

  • Wow, what a trip, Vlad! I’ve never been in Northern Europe, so thanks for sharing this post. There is a lot of information I could use for reference. Next summer we may go to Oslo.

    • I’m sure you would love Oslo, Anda, it’s a lovely city. If you have more time, you should take the train and explore Bergen and the fjords as well πŸ™‚

  • Visiting Northern Europe is a dream of mine. Your great photos definitely make me even more keen.

    • Thank you, I hope you get to go soon, it’s a wonderful part of Europe. πŸ™‚

  • DeafWanderlust

    My travel partner and I actually planned to go to Northern Europe last summer but realized that we didn’t save up enough money for that and went to Asia for two months instead. We are hoping to go there one day after saving up enough money. Sounds like you really have a great adventure! Did you hiked somewhere in Oslo?

  • This sounds like a great trip! I’ve been wanting to do a Scandinavia trip for a while and this sounds awesome and very well planned. It’s such a shame though that the ferry didn’t live up to expectations as i’ve always thought that would be fun!

    • It was pretty fun, though I wish I had more money. I had spent all my euros in Helsinki and I didn’t want to start spending the Swedish krona so my options were limited, haha. Next time I go on a cruise though, I’ll choose a room for 2 instead of 4!

  • Great itinerary! Shame about the cruise. It is annoying if you pay so much money and then you have to live in a shoe box.

    • It was actually quite cheap to travel one way from Helsinki to Stockholm, around 25 euros. And it wasn’t that bad, I quickly fell asleep and when I woke up and went on a deck I had a lovely view of the Stockholm archipelago. πŸ™‚

  • John Pilkington

    Great post, but I’m so disappointed you didn’t fall in love with Copenhagen like I did. In fact, our thoughts on Copenhagen and Stockholm are pretty much reversed – I landed in Stockholm exhausted on en-route to the North of Sweden. I only had a day or two and as much as I liked the city, I didn’t love it instantly.

    • Maybe one day we can revisit them and change our minds. I know that had I visited Copenhagen alone, like the initial plan, I would have loved it a lot more.

  • Marc @ The Migrant Expats

    Absolutely loved this post, Vlad! You know I’m super fond of the north and now I’m sad that it’s been way too long… I especially miss Sweden! πŸ™

    • Thanks, Marc! I miss Sweden already too, I’d love to go back! πŸ™‚

  • Connie Reed

    Wow, that sure was a whirlwind adventure. Sounds like great fun.

    • It was very fun indeed and I wish it didn’t have to end! πŸ™‚

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  • Amazing pictures! Great eye!

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  • Darshan

    Loved all your pictures !! Europe is a small continent, but having lot to explore. I have been to London, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal, but after looking at your blog it seems I haven’t even scratched the surface. Happy exploring !!!

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