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10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
29 Aug 2017 06:44 AM
image-tours-scandinavia

Unless you are a Scandinavia-enthusiast, chances are you probably don’t know a whole lot about the northern European countries that gave us vikings, Thor, and lots of amazing fish dishes. But just because these countries aren’t showcased the same way that the United Kingdom, France, and Germany are doesn’t mean you should write them off.

The Scandinavian countries provide beautiful scenes that look like they are straight out of the movie Frozen (without having to hear that song 1,000 times during your trip!). And using a guided tour to see them is definitely the best way to travel the Nordic countries. In fact, here are 10 reasons why:

 

1. Researching all of the best places to visit (like Denmark’s Hans Christian Andersen House) takes too much time on your own.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

If you’ve never been to Scandinavia, chances are you aren’t too familiar with its history or the best sights to see. An escorted tour ensures you see all of the important monuments, castles, museums, etc., without having to take the time to do the research yourself.

Take the Hans Christian Andersen House in Odense, Denmark, for example. Many of his stories have inspired pop culture hits today such as The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Snow Queen (read up on them all here). You should definitely visit if you’re traveling through Scandinavia, but without a tour operator, you might not even have known it existed.

Everyone has heard of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, but have you ever heard of Gamla Stan? Literally meaning “Old Town,” Gamla Stan dates back to the 13th century and is the birthplace of Stockholm. Walking down the ancient cobblestoned streets feels like you’ve been transported back in time. The colorful buildings lining the roads and water add to the quaint and tranquil atmosphere of this medieval town.

While you may have thought to visit Stockholm, you might not have known about the charming suburb of Gamla Stan. Thanks to guided tours, missing out on beautiful and unique destinations is never a problem.

 

2. Travel through all of the Scandinavian countries and then some.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Imagine planning a trip to a European country. You want to make sure that wherever you go you will see the best of the best, right? Now imagine you are planning on visiting more than just one country. How about more than two? Three?

With a guided tour, not only will you see all the significant spots of Scandinavia, you can also see most of Northern Europe. In fact, it’s entirely possible to see a total of seven countries during your tour of Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Remember that trip you were planning yourself? Do you think you’d be able to cover seven different countries, seeing all that you want to in efficient amount of time? Don’t worry! The expert tour operators will handle all of that for you. All you need to do is pack your bags, hop on a plane, and enjoy Northern Europe!

 

3. Or if you’re pressed for time, stick solely to Scandinavia.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Life is busy. It’s hard to commit to over a week of travel, let alone two! But life is also short. It’s important to live it to the fullest, which means getting away and embarking on eye-opening adventures. And while seeing the majority of Northern Europe is a possibility, it’s not necessarily for everyone.

Can’t commit to being away for more than two weeks, but still want to see the heart of Northern Europe? By dropping the Baltic countries, you can still see all of the superb sights Scandinavia has to offer in only 12 days. This way, you won’t feel rushed while touring all four countries, but will still be home in less than two weeks.

 

4. Enjoy authentic, but tasty, meals all throughout your tour.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Let’s be honest—the best part about any vacation is taking a vacation from your healthy diet. You’re splurging on traveling to Europe, why not splurge on your calories for the trip too? And great news for the foodies—most of your meals are included on a guided tour!

Your tour company chooses hotels that serve daily breakfasts, usually buffet style (foodies rejoice!), that include a selection of breads, fruits, cold cuts, cereals, and more. Lunch is usually on your own, which is a fantastic time to explore the local cuisine for a smaller price than a dinner.

Speaking of dinner, while most are included with your tour, there are optional dinner excursions you can easily add on that also enhance the cultural experience. There could be no better way to immerse yourself in the Scandinavian experience than with a Viking Dinner. Enjoy an authentic, multi-course feast from the Iron Age, when Vikings ruled the seas. Food is prepared with spices that would have been brought to the Nordic countries during that time period, and each diner gets a glass of mead with their meal.

 

5. Nordic country-hopping is no problem when you’re on a guided tour!

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Crossing the North Sea might seem daunting if you’ve never been before—should you fly across or take a boat? If a boat, what ferry system should you use?

Plus English is not the native language of any of the countries you will be visiting, and while it is commonly spoken globally, is it really worth the risk to find a cabbie who has no idea where you want to go?

Let your tour service take care of all of your transportation needs (including airport transfers)! That way, you know you are using a safe and reliable service while abroad to travel through Scandinavia and the Baltics.

 

6. Don’t let the different languages hold you back from the beauty of Scandinavia and the Baltics!

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

There’s a great possibility that if you travel Scandinavia on your own, you could find yourself in a restaurant where all you hear is this. While we all love the Swedish Chef, it might make for a better dining experience if you know exactly what it is you are ordering.

If traveling with a tour company, however, your tour operator will have planned to visit destinations with English-speakers, but if a situation arises where the local language is needed, your tour operator will help navigate any language barriers. It would be a shame to miss out on something spectacular simply because neither you nor anyone you are traveling knows the Nordic languages.

 

7. If you are spending a lot of time and money on a trip, shouldn’t you let the professionals help?

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Let’s face it—traveling to Europe isn’t the same as a domestic trip. You are spending a lot of time and money on your tour of Scandinavia, so shouldn’t you invest wisely and hire the professionals?

Using a guided tour gives you the best value for your time abroad. Tour guides are professionals; they do this for a living. They will ensure you have the trip of a lifetime! How so? Your tour operator will know the history of a particular area, the best places to visit, and how to efficiently navigate the countries.

Don’t risk it—book a guided tour and protect your memories of a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip.

 

8. Feel safe traveling through Northern Europe in a group setting.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

That age-old adage, “safety in numbers,” has stuck around for a reason. Pickpockets, thieves, and others of the like are more inclined to prey on the lone traveler or those traveling in pairs. With a group, there’s a greater chance of the perpetrator being caught or seen before they can even act.

The other good news? With a tour operator, there’s less of a chance that you’ll even be in an area where these sorts of crimes occur. Your tour company will choose reputable hotels in safe areas. If you were to book a hotel on your own, could you truly know that it was the “best” place to stay without ever having been there?

 

9. Ensure access to historical Scandinavian sites and monuments.

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

What could be worse than reaching the museum or monument you’ve most wanted to see and finding out they are about to close or they are too full to allow you in?

Tour groups reserve their spots way in advance to ensure admission to popular attractions—and they dedicate enough time in the schedule for travelers to fully appreciate them. Your tour operator may even be able to get you into these places before or after regular visiting hours for a private viewing! Wouldn’t that be amazing for the fascinating Viking Museum on the Bygdoy Peninsula of Oslo or the marvelous Skansen Open Air Museum in Stockholm!

 

10. Need any help at all? You’ve got it!

10 Reasons Why a Guided Tour Is the Best Way to Travel Scandinavia

Even the most prepared traveler can’t keep errant baggageman from losing their luggage. Should that catastrophe (because let’s face it, lost luggage is a catastrophe) happen to you on a guided tour, you are not alone.

Tour companies give you comfort because you know that if anything goes wrong, you’ve got someone on your side working to fix it. They are full of helpful travel tips and recommended travel insurance coverage for those just-in-case moments. For any need (lost luggage, forgotten toiletry, etc.), simply reach out to your tour operator and they will assist you in making things right! Traveling on your own means having to solve these problems—alone. Wouldn’t it be better to have someone in your corner?

 

Redo att gå? (That’s “Ready to go?” in Swedish!)

If you are ready to broaden your horizons and travel the Nordic and Baltic countries of Europe, be sure to click here to get in touch with us today.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Posted by Mike Kasmauskis
10 Aug 2017 05:50 AM
13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

If we’re being honest, does anyone really need a reason to visit Europe? Of course not! But just in case you’re curious, one of the many reasons that make the Old Continent so special is how easy it is to country-hop!

Once there, you can see so many of Europe’s diverse and noteworthy countries within a single trip! Truly, it’s possible, and not only possible, but incredibly enjoyable.

Here’s the perfect itinerary for an unforgettable tour of seven European countries in just 13 days:

 

Guten Morgen, Deutschland! Good Morning, Germany!

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Finally, after months of waiting, planning, and anticipating, you’ve made it to Europe for the first time—phew! And your first country to see? Germany!

After an easy navigation through Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport (most of the employees know English and can point you in the right direction), it’s time to travel through the tranquil German countryside. Journey southwards to Schriesheim, a small town just north of Heidelberg, and where you will be staying the night.

As you settle in, you may appreciate the definition of the German “Gemuetlichkeit,” which expresses the feeling of comfort, coziness, and leisure you will experience in the days ahead.

Once your things are settled, set out for an afternoon of sightseeing in nearby Heidelberg, famous for its university, castle, and Old Town.

The romantic remains of Heidelberg Castle sit atop a hill, overlooking the city below. In the last 800 years or so, the grand structure was beaten, battered, and bruised, both by man and by nature.

Although many different invaders did their part in destroying the castle, the beginning of its ruined fate began in 1537 when the top floor was struck by a lightning bolt. Just a little over two hundred years later: a lightning bolt would strike the castle again, this time sealing its fate.

Despite its unfortunate circumstances, the castle remains one of the most visited archaeological sites north of the Alps and is truly a sight to behold.

 

Roam the romantic streets of Rothenburg, a town straight out of a story book.

Ever wished you could travel to the past? Well, although you can’t actually visit the 1500s, there’s still a way to feel like you have. Medieval Rothenburg brings the past to the present with its timber-framed houses and fanciful shop fronts; the whole village feels like a fairy tale.

Take time to explore the cobblestone streets, winding your way to Town Hall. There, climb the bell tower for a bird’s eye view of the quaint hamlet. Or, for a more circular view of the town, walk along its borders, atop the city walls.

While Rothenburg’s architecture alone is a sight to see, it’s worth mentioning a couple of sights indoors. The Medieval Criminal Museum exhibits excruciating torture instruments, such as thumb screws, dunking cages, iron maidens, and the ultimate executioner’s axe.

If you’re looking for a lighter point of interest, try Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf where it’s Christmas all year long. Classic German Christmas ornaments, figurines, and other assorted decorations can be bought here to enjoy for holidays to come.

End your day by traveling the Romantic Road to Adelsreid and partake in a well-earned libation while listening to the whimsical accordion.

 

You can’t leave Germany without an Oktoberfest experience!

Munich, the capital of the state of Bavaria, embodies the essence of Germany.

Meander through Munich’s Marienplatz, a pedestrian-only zone, where historical and modern architecture are cleverly combined. The spectacular Rathaus, or town hall, towers over the square. The Glockenspiel clock tower enchants visitors with its 43 bells and melodious music. Shops and restaurants adorn the square for a truly leisurely time.

Before departing from Germany, lunch at the Hofbrauhaus, which boasts an Oktoberfest experience year-round. Even for those who have not acquired a taste for beer, the traditional and festive atmosphere is a treat for all!

Although your time in Germany is about to end, you’ll be back for a final day before your trip is over.

 

Bask in the beauty of the Austrian Alps.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

It’s a new day in a new country: Austria. While you may know Austria best from a certain musical, no movie can do the beauty of this country and its breathtaking mountains justice. You must see it for yourself!

The alpine town of Innsbruck, most famous for hosting the Winter Olympics twice, provides a stunning setting for your first full day in Austria.

The capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck sits amongst the awe-inspiring alps and is bisected by the Inn River. No matter where you look, each direction has a worthwhile view.

No time in the Alps would be complete without a little yodeling. And who doesn’t love a good ol’ dinner and a show? Eat a quintessential Austrian meal of weiner schnitzel (pork) served with french fries and apple strudel; however, the real treat that follows your meal is the Tyrolean show. Delight in Tyrolean folk music, traditional dance, and expert yodeling to cap off your evening.

 

Sip Italian vino while viewing Verona.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

As Monty Python once famously said: “And now for something completely different.” Italy begins a new chapter in your European journey.

Move away from the cool Alps to the subtropical climate of Lake Garda. Due to the unusually warm temperatures for such a high altitude, vegetation flourishes around the water, including citrus trees, olive groves, and grapevines.

Wander around the lakeside or mill through the charming local shops. If it’s a particularly hot day (or even if it’s not!), you might enjoy some refreshing gelato as you stroll beside the stunning lake.

Continue your Italian travels to Verona, William Shakespeare’s setting for his star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. It’s time to indulge in a glass of Italian wine while having your dinner al fresco (that’s outdoors).

Glide through the city of Venice by gondola.

 

When you’re this close to Venice, you have to visit!

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

The city, completely built on waterways, is a one-of-a-kind experience. Grab a gondola and glide around the narrow water channels, under bridges, or to a coffee shop for café.

While famous for its waterways, Venice is also known for its glass and art of glassblowing. Marvel at the skill by artisans or maybe find a souvenir made of Venetian glass to remember your time visiting.

A typical Venetian dinner concludes your evening with your choice of either a crisp white or smooth red wine.

 

See the “Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent” in Switzerland.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Can you imagine both snow-capped mountains and palm trees being within eyeshot? Known as the “Rio de Janeiro of the Old Continent,” at Lake Lugano in Switzerland, you can actually see both. At such a scenic stop, why not have some lunch and soak it all in?

St. Gotthard Tunnel (a whopping 11 miles long!) takes you from the Italian side of Switzerland to the German side. Lake Lucerne and its surrounding towns await on the other side as well.

The monstrous tops of Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Pilatus look down from above, providing a beautiful backdrop for some pictures. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s tasty treats!

 

Sample Swiss chocolate and shop for souvenirs in Lucerne.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

The city of Lucerne may sit at the bottom of Pilatus, but it can hold its own against the towering mountain. Impressive bridges cross over the Reuss River, the most famous of which is the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge).

See the wall of Old Town where eight watchtowers still remain or visit the Lion Monument, a stone carving that commemorates Swiss soldiers, who defended Louis XVI during the French Revolution, but lost their lives.

Sightseeing isn’t all there is to do in Lucerne: Shopping thrives here too! Delicate lace, luxurious watches, and wood-carved music boxes are just a few of the items that can be purchased amongst the various stores. But the real treat to buy while in Lucerne is decadent Swiss chocolate.

What’s the point of a vacation if you can’t indulge just a little?

 

Soak in stunning scenery as you travel from Switzerland into the Wine Region of France.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Time for the fifth country during your first European travels! Leave behind the Swiss Alps for the French countryside. Here you will travel through rolling hills, enchanting villages, and lush vineyards.

France’s wine region of Burgundy overflows with dry “Pinot Noir” red and “Chardonnay” white grapes. Why not sample a glass of your choice with lunch?

Stunning views grab your attention, whisking you to another time and place where life was more simple and relaxing. Enjoy the rest of your trip to Troyes before a big day in Paris tomorrow.

 

From the art to the architecture to the wine—Paris will leave a lasting impression.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

What isn’t there to do and see when visiting Paris? Love art? See ancient and Renaissance works in the Louvre. Or perhaps you’re more of an Impressionist fan? The Musee d’Orsay features the best of the best (Monet is a particular favorite), along with other modern works.

The city’s architecture doesn’t disappoint. From the Notre Dame Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, there are impressive historical structures wherever you look.

Maybe you’re most excited to wine and dine in the City of Light. That’s understandable. French patisseries lure you in as you walk by with their sweet aromas of decadent desserts and flaky croissants.

Don’t forget to grab a glass of sparkling wine: Champagne pairs well with chocolate-anything.

 

Antwerp offers the best of Belgian foods and culture.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Time spent in Belgium is short and sweet—make that very sweet: Belgian waffles and chocolates await! Antwerp is the second-largest city in Belgium (behind only Brussels). Here you may hear people speaking Flemish, which is similar to Dutch.

Saunter around the Grand Square, peek in and out of shops, or simply grab a bench and take in the sights and people to fully embrace the Belgian culture. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Belgium, you will certainly appreciate it.

Traverse across the border into The Netherlands, or Holland. The entirety of the western side of Holland lies below sea level, which is why there are so many of the famous dikes, canals, and bridges.

Windmills are also frequently seen throughout the country, traditionally used to grind up tradeable goods. These days, modern windmills provide wind power for The Netherlands. Rest up for Amsterdam!

 

The best way to see Amsterdam is by boat!

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

Did you know that Amsterdam has more than 60 miles of canals? That’s a lot of area that can be covered by boat. What a relaxing way to see a city!

Amsterdam is built upon a dam on the river Amstel, hence its name. Although it has been around since the middle ages, Amsterdam has become a must-see travel spot in just the past couple of years. Dutch art, such as pieces by Rembrandt (the most famous of which is The Night Watch), can be found in the Rijksmuseum, which opened in the late 19th Century.

Don’t miss out on the amazing shopping available in Amsterdam! Vintage and high fashion boutiques make up “The Nine Streets.” Or if those really aren’t your styles, perhaps you’d be more interested in the Bijenkorf department store, which is sure to have something for everyone. The Kalverstraat offers both fashion and a variety of Dutch souvenirs.

Should fashion not be your cup of tea, per se, you may enjoy the Bloemenmarkt or Floating Flower Market, the only one in the world. Holland’s famous tulips will be there along with many other floral favorites.

 

Finish your journey along the Rhine River.

13 Days in Europe: A First-Timer’s Itinerary for an Unforgettable Tour

After a wondrous journey through the heart of Europe, it’s time to once again visit Germany for the final day. This time, see Deutchland by boat on the Rhine River. As you look out over the water and onto land, you’ll see endearing villages, medieval fortresses, and hillside vineyards as you pass by.

One of your final sights to see: Loreley Rock. Legend has it that a fair maiden’s bewitching chant caused a boatmen to crash into the side of the rock. While that won’t be your fate on this voyage, it’s always fun to appreciate the local folklore.

Get your last glimpse of Germany in the festive wine village of Rüdesheim, your final hotel destination for this trip.

 

Ready to go?

Are you ready to travel through the Heart of Europe? Get in touch to start planning your first (or maybe fifth?!) European adventure.

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