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Our road trip in Scandinavia in a converted vehicle: our complete guide

Tour of Europe in a converted vehicle, camping car in greece

Wondering what to see and do on your road trip in Sandinavia? You’re in the right place!

Having criss-crossed southern Europe in a motorhome, we were keen to explore the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway and Denmark). VisitingNorthern Europe in a converted vehicle (van, camper van, motorhome…) or by car is ideal, as these countries are so vast that you can drastically reduce your budget.

Below, we detail our must-sees in Scandinavia, our itinerary, our budget and all our tips for your stay. It combines picturesque fishing villages with colorful houses, incredibly beautiful national parks and charming small towns.

Our 15 must-haves for a road trip in the Nordic countries

Let’s start with a little definition: which countries are included in Scandinavia? It’s a region in northern Europe, comprising a group of countries with close historical, cultural and linguistic ties. Scandinavia comprises three countries: Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

We’ve been traveling through this incredible region for several months, and here are our must-see highlights – it wasn’t easy to choose!

We’ve placed them on an interactive map so you can easily find your way around and plan your road trip.

  1. Reinebrigen hike on the Lofoten Islands (Norway)
  2. Preikestolen hike in Stavanger (Norway)
  3. Village of Smögen, Bohuslän coast, Sweden
  4. Sonefjord scenic route (Norway)
  5. Cruise on theOsterfjord in Bergen (Norway)
  6. Lofoten’s little sister: Senja Island (Norway)
  7. The island of Værøy in the south of the Lofoten Islands (Norway)
  8. Geirangerfjord (Norway)
  9. Stockholm (Sweden)
  10. Village of Reine and A, Lofoten Islands (Norway)
  11. Offersøykammen hike on the Lofoten Islands
  12. Copenhagen, Denmark
  13. Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden
  14. Gentle Gothenburg in Sweden
  15. Swedish Lapland (northern Sweden)

Why go to Scandinavia? Our Opinion

  • So, why did we fall for Scandinavia in summer? Many travelers rank Norway among the most beautiful countries in Europe. We wanted to make up our own mind, and indeed, we understand why we totally approve!
  • Why travel to Scandinavia in a van or camper van? A second criterion is the horrendously high cost of living in Scandinavia (the cost of living is around 30% higher than in France) we knew that by leaving in a camper van without having to pay for accommodation every night, and by stocking up on food, we would drastically reduce the cost of a trip to these countries.
  • Which country to choose between the 3? Without hesitation, if you’re going away for 2 or 3 weeks, we advise you to concentrate on Norway. In our opinion, it’s the most beautiful country in Europe, with the greatest diversity of landscapes.

Our itinerary on our map: 4 countries and 8,000 kilometers in 4 months

Here are the highlights of our Northern Europe road trip:

We’ve divided our itinerary into stages ranging from 3 days to 3 weeks, so that you can find something to suit your vacation time.

  • 2 weeks on Sweden’s magnificent southwest coast ❤️❤️
  • 3 weeks from Oslo to Bergen: Norway’s fjords ❤️❤️❤️
  • 2 weeks from Bergen to Bodo (+ islands): Norway off the beaten tourist track ❤️❤️❤️
  • 7 days on the Lofoten Islands: the Norwegian pearl ❤️❤️❤️
  • 1 week in Senja, nicknamed the little sister of the Lofoten Islands, Norway ❤️❤️
  • 1 week in Swedish Lapland, in the great Swedish wilderness ❤️
  • 3 days in Stockholm, the not-to-be-missed capital of Northern Europe! ❤️❤️
  • 10 days in Denmark and its colorful capital, Copenhagen ❤️❤️

May: Bohuslan Coast in Sweden

We set off on May 05 from l’île d’Oléron for the start of our trip, which mainly took us through France and Germany, as we wanted to get to southern Sweden as quickly as possible.

D+2 after our departure, we went to the garage in Metz, France, because our engine light was on. A little stress right from the start, when we tell you that going on a trip can be a real hassle.

After a final replenishment of fresh produce and a fill-up of petrol (prices are better) in Germany, we took the boat from the port of Travemünde (north of Hamburg) to Trelleborg in Sweden (a few kilometers south of Malmö).

We then spent 15 days exploring the magnificent Bohuslan Coast (west coast), a must-see in Sweden in our opinion. The coastline is dotted with islands and islets, forming a picturesque archipelago full of cute little fishing villages.

We’ve written a full article with our detailed itinerary to help you plan your road trip, which you can read here.

Smogen port and colorful houses at sunset
Road trip Sweden: visit the Bohuslan coast, village of Smogen

June: Oslo and the fjords of Norway

Oslo

Oslo was the first stop on our journey through Norway. The town is only a few hours from the Swedish border.

We spent 2 days exploring the Norwegian capital. We loved the area around the opera house, with its lovely views over Oslo Bay and floating saunas, the quayside to the Museum of Modern Art and the colorful Grunerlokka district.

Then we headed for the Norwegian fjords on the west coast.

We took some magnificent roads, including our first scenic route, Jæren: from Ogna to Bore. It was a sight to behold. It winds between immense fjord lakes, mountains and forests. We swallowed up the kilometers without realizing it.

Stavanger and the Preikestolen hike

After visiting the colorful coastal town of Stavanger and its Viking swords, we hiked to the Preikestolen, the famous rocky promontory rising 600m above the Lysefjord. The view speaks for itself.

We then took our first ferry to Lake Bondhusvatnet, a pretty lake off the beaten tourist track.

We’re already having trouble finding bivouacs to sleep in at the beginning of June.

Bergen and Trolltunga

We pass many waterfalls on our way, Matthieu motivates us to hike the famous trail to Trolltunga and then we head for the country’s second-largest city: Bergen.

We then took our favorite scenic route, the Aurlandsfjellet: linking Aurlandsvangen to Lærdalsøyri over 47 km, this road offers breathtaking views, particularly from the Stegastein viewpoint, where a footbridge has been built to enjoy a sublime vantage point over the fjord.

Between Bergen and Trondheim

We really enjoyed this part of Norway, which is a little less touristy than the previous area.

We visited two beautiful and little-visited places:

  • Glacier Nigardsbreen a tongue of the Jostedalbreen, Europe’s largest glacier. As you’ve probably gathered by now, everything in Norway is bigger and more impressive than anywhere else.
  • Lovanet: a crystal-clear lake nestled between snow-capped mountains.

Then it was back to the famous Geirangerfjord and the Troll Road, which we recommend you take during your lunch break to avoid the crowds.

We leave central Norway, having visited the colorful and authentic town of Trondheim, our favorite Norwegian city.

July: Lofoten and Senja Islands

The E6, the fastest road linking the north and south of Norway, is magnificent. We pass through beautiful fir forests and along clear lakes.

Numerous ferries enable you to take a break on the magnificent scenic Route 17. It’s on board one of these that we cross the Arctic Circle with great emotion. From now on, we’ll see the sun stay above the horizon and never set. It’s the famous midnight sun.

We made a stopover on theisland of Vega (free ferry), which we recommend!

Before arriving in Bodo, we were lucky enough to spot our first moose and 2 herds of reindeer on the side of the road.

Then it’s on to the incredible island of Vareoy and our favorite Norwegian destination, the Lofoten Islands.

We’ve written a full article with our detailed itinerary to help you organize your road trip to the Lofoten Islands, which you can read here. We also give you plenty of tips on how not to blow your budget in this article.

After an incredible week on theisland of Senja, nicknamed the Lofoten Islands’ little sister, we’re leaving Norway and our travel buddies, Justine and Rénald (hello, if you’re passing by), with whom we spent 6 unforgettable weeks in Norway.

For the record, we met by chance at the marina showers in Stavanger, southern Norway, and we’ve been together ever since!

August: Swedish Lapland and east coast of Sweden

For 3 weeks we explored Swedish Lapland and the east coast of Sweden before heading to Denmark and then France.

It’s a little-frequented territory, and we slept in the middle of the forest and by the sea, all on our own.

Here’s the itinerary we followed to Stockholm:

  • Abisko National Park
  • Jokkmokks: Lapland Museum
  • The city of Umeå
  • Skuleskogen National Park
  • Junibosand a small coastal village
  • Sigtuna
  • Uppsala

We then spent 3 days visiting the Swedish capital Stockholm. The capital of the Nordic countries to do.

August: Denmark

We spent 15 days in Denmark, mainly visiting the city of Copenhagen and the surrounding area, as well as south-east Denmark, including the island of Mon.

We plan to write an article about our trip in the near future.

To finish off, we returned quietly to theIle d’Oléron (where we live), spending a few days around Metz, then on to Lyon.

Our tips for your road trip

We loved our weeks in Scandinavia, we were so impressed!

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your road trip:

1. Preparations

  • Which vehicle to use? We set off in our camper van. We came across travelers in vans (obviously), in cars with tents, as it’s quite easy to camp in these countries, as well as travelers with cars and roof tents.
  • Check your vehicle insurance: Make sure your insurance covers international travel. Countries are noted on your insurance contract
  • Stock up on groceries, especially fresh produce, before you leave if you have room. We took along some good canned vegetables to cook quiches or pizzas with.

  • Equipping your vehicle: we also spent many hours equipping our vehicle for this trip, so we’ve put together a list of our essential motorhome accessories. Some of these may surprise you, so don’t hesitate to share yours with us at the end of the article.
  • Identity papers: Sweden, Denmark and Norway are in theEuropean Union, so you can enter with your valid identity card. We were only checked for the boat.
  • Make sure you have waterproof clothing for all seasons.

2. Useful sites and applications

  • Park4night for the search for bivouacs to sleep in and spots to do the services, we’ve written an article on where to sleep in a converted vehicle, in which we give you all our tips on how to find what you’re looking for.
  • Dirrect ferry to compare ferry fares to and from Scandinavia
  • EPass24 for your ferry journeys in Norway, we registered on the site, so the ticket inspector could scan our plate when we boarded and we were charged directly to our credit card, super simple!
  • Torghatten to find out about the different ferry routes in the Lofoten Islands, some of which are free of charge. Official Torghatten website
  • Windy our favorite mobile app for weather information, wind strength and direction, useful for correctly orienting our motorhome and avoiding being too shaken up on stormy nights.

3. Driving in Scandinavia

Driving is great in Scandinavia. In Sweden, roads are wide and Swedes are respectful. In Norway, speed limits rarely exceed 60km/h. The roads are generally narrow and winding, not always easy to cross.

  • Respect speed limits and local driving regulations. Scandinavia is strict when it comes to road safety.
  • Beware of wild animals on the roads, and ideally drive during daylight hours.

4. When is the right season for a road trip in Scandinavia?

  • In spring and summer, take advantage of the long days under the midnight sun to explore as much as you can, but also be prepared for the possibility of rain. The weather is very changeable. For our part, we had almost 3 months of good weather in May, June and July. Then a very rainy August in Sweden.
  • In autumn and winter, equip your vehicle for snow and ice, and bring warm clothing. It’s also the best time to see the Northern Lights, especially in Norway.

5. Travel insurance

As always for us, taking out good health insurance for our trip was an obvious choice.

We wanted to be covered in the event of a problem or the slightest doubt, and to be able to go to the doctor or consult a vision specialist without hesitation.

We decided to go back to Chapka:

  • Vacations or trips of less than 3 months: Cap Assistance 24h/24, assistance and repatriation insurance (5% discount by clicking on the link).
  • Over 3 months: Cap Aventure package

In our opinion, this is the most interesting offer on the market. It offers a good ratio/guarantees/price.

We wrote an article about our opinion and feedback with Chapka, detailing when we had to use our insurance and whether or not we were covered.

6. Mosquitoes and vampire gnats

From the moment we passed over the Arctic Circle, we started to be bothered by all kinds of critters.

  • Mosquitoes: they didn’t bother us as much as we thought they would, as there are more of them in Finland. Even so, we were invaded a few nights in different places, without knowing where they were coming from… Our worst night was aroundAbisko in Swedish Lapland, with 30 mosquitoes in the vehicle.
  • Vampire midges: you’ve certainly heard of them, these small, aggressive flying insects that feed on our blood. This phenomenon is very localized, but if you’re in the same area as them, they can give you hell. We’ve invested in some nice caps with mosquito netting, but unfortunately they’re just as ugly as they are ineffective, as they manage to get through the little holes.
  • Taons: we didn’t expect to see so many during our stay on theisland of Senja, in the north of the Lofoten Islands, as some areas and hiking trails were invaded. We even had to cut short a hike because we were so surrounded.

Leave us 5 stars if you think Mathieu and our daughter are too classy! We advise you to read the latest comments on Park4night, some travelers indicate the presence or absence of mosquitoes.

What budget for a trip to Northern Europe?

We spent an average of €2,200 per month. In addition to our current expenses, we have included :

  • Pre-start races
  • Our visit to the garage
  • The Netflix and phone subscriptions we kept during this trip
  • Our vehicle and health insurance

In the end, we were surprised to find that we spent the same amount per month as during our trip to Southern Europe.

However, it is important to note that :

  • We’ ve hardly ever been to a restaurant
  • We did very few paying activities: 1 cruise on 1 fjord and museums.
  • We had a large stock of jars, starches, wine… bought in France before our departure…
  • We only slept a fortnight on the campsite.
  • We hardly bought any alcohol.
  • Most service points (water draining and filling) are free of charge.

We haven’t itemized our living expenses, but to give you an idea, our main expense was fuel, and for ferries, we spent around €150 in Norway. For the Lofoten Islands, we opted for the free ferries.

Obviously, this budget can vary greatly from one project to another. In short, there are almost as many budgets as there are travelers.

Our detailed budget for our 4-month Scandinavia tour for a family of 2 adults and 1 3-year-old child


Daily expenses (fuel, shopping, restaurants, visits, campsites, ferries, LPG, parking…)7840 €
Motorhome expenses (garage in Metz)100 €
Cap Aventure Health Insurance400 €
Vehicle insurance152 €
Subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify and phones)308 €
OVERALL BUDGET8800€
Monthly budget 2 200 €

The final word: if you’re hesitating to go to Scandinavia, as we were, because of the weather, we advise you to go for it. In the end, we had quite a lot of good weather and, with the right clothing, we could go out whatever the weather.

In our opinion, traveling in a converted vehicle in these countries can drastically reduce your budget. And with a young child – our daughter was 3 – it’s ideal to travel with all her belongings. She considers the motorhome her second home.

What happens to us? We moved to the island of Oléron for the school year.

We’re planning another motorhome trip for the summer of 2024!

We’d like to thank you for reading all the way through to the end – it’s an article we’ve loved writing, even if we’ve spent many hours on it.

We hope to help other travelers prepare their Scandinavian tour. Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions here or on Instagram.

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Picture of Floriane
Floriane
My name is Floriane, and I've been an adventurer and travel enthusiast since I was very young. More than anything, I love sharing our travel stories and tips with you. We love short getaways as well as long trips. This blog was born after our backpacking trip around the world. We also went on a family tour of Europe.
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