Scandinavia Explorer Trip Notes

Scandinavia Explorer

Last Modified: 02 Sep 2016
Scandinavia Explorer
Trip code: BMSH
Validity: 01 Jan 2017 to 31 Dec 2017
Tour Scandinavia and discover the many charms and delights on this two-week adventure through Norway, Sweden and Finland. Travel through some of Europe's most stylish capitals and be wowed by some of the world's biggest fjords. Visit Norway's uber-cool Oslo, travel to Sweden's vibrant Stockholm and explore Finland's hip Helsinki. Along the way, uncover a Viking past, learn of a maritime heritage and get swept up in Olympic fever. Whether it's walking along charming streets in Bergen or sailing through vast fjords, you'll undoubtedly be left with a multitude of picturesque memories from this once in a lifetime Scandinavian adventure.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinish point description
ThemesAccommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapTransportWhat to take
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining pointResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeJoining point instructionsFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinish point
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- As there are cobblestones in many Scandinavian cities, it's recommended that you leave any wheelie bags or cases at home and bring a backpack instead.
- The areas visited on this trip can be very cold at night throughout the year, especially at the start and end of the season. Please bring appropriate clothing for adverse weather conditions, including base layers, hat, gloves, scarf, coat and anything else that you think may be applicable.
- As accommodation on this trip is twin share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same gender. The exception are the cabins in the Norwegian Fjords area where rooming may be mix-gender multi-share, and the overnight ferry to Helsinki, where accommodation will be quad-share. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. However, if you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge (some exceptions may apply). Please ask your travel consultant for more details. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart. Some accommodation on this trip may also have shared bathroom facilities.
- This trip is designed to give you a fair amount of free time so you can explore each destination at your own pace. We will, however, take you on regular orientation walks, so you'll be on your feet quite a lot. While this may be tiring for some, it’s the best way to get your head around a place and to set yourself up for further discoveries.
Why we love it
- Norway's fjords feature some of the most stunning scenery on Earth. Cruise past waterfalls and snow-capped peaks through the narrow Naeroyfjord
- Discover Stockholm's maritime history at the Vasa Museum, which houses an original wooden war ship from 1628. This impressive vessel gives you a rare glimpse into the naval power Sweden was once famous for
- Lakeside Mora's mix of landscapes proves just how darn stunning Sweden can be. Be charmed by tiny countryside villages, red cottages, pine forests, rolling meadows and sparkling lakes
- Wind up your adventure in Helsinki for one last Scandinavian culture binge. Senate Square, the market hall, the sea fortress of Suomenlinna and the Design Museum are just some of the highlights of this amazing city
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Oslo
Welcome to Norway, where you’ll discover the irresistible charm and eccentricity of Oslo. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. With so much to see and do in Oslo we recommend that you plan to arrive a few days before the trip begins, so you can see as much of the city as possible. Why not head to the National Gallery of Art to glimpse Edvard Munch's famous painting, The Scream. Tonight why not seek out some traditional Norwegian fare, dinner based around cod and mackerel dishes.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the welcome meeting. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Oslo
After breakfast, travel to the nearby area of Holmenkollen for a short hike on the plateau. Head out on an included visit to the Ski Museum, housed inside the famous monumental Holmenkollbakken (ski jump), which looks more like a work of art than a sports venue. Highlights in the museum include the history of skiing over the past 4,000 years, of Norwegian polar expeditions, and lesser known glimpses from the Winter Olympics at Oslo and Lillehammer. At the top of the jump tower there are 360 degree views of the city, its fjords and forests. Perhaps use your free time in the afternoon for island hopping on Oslofjord, putting the hammer down at the Viking Museum, browsing the harbour-front Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, tasting local flavours at the Mathallen food hall, exploring the immense Akershus Castle & Fortress, or checking out the cool shops in the Grunerløkka district. There's so much to get stuck in to.
Included Activities
  • Oslo - Holmenkollen Museum
    Optional Activities
    • Fram Museum - NOK100
    • Akershus Castle & Fortress - NOK70
    • Island Hopping on Oslofjord - NOK90
    • Viking Ship Museum - NOK80
    • Museum Edvard Munch - NOK100
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast
      Day 3 Bergen
      Today you'll leave Oslo behind and take the train across the stunning countryside of the Fjell region to Bergen, which will take around seven hours. No other train ride between two cities in Europe is at a higher altitude than this one, and few can match the views passing by your window. Linking Norway's two main cities, this line takes in some spectacular scenery of lush valleys, idyllic villages, dramatic mountains and picturesque lakes as it crosses the Hardangervidda Plateau. As the trip is long and you'll arrive quite late into quirky city of Bergen, there won't be too much time to explore today, but you will have all day tomorrow. There are some great restaurants in town, so possibly venture out with the group for a bite to eat.

      Note: Although a global ban on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, approximately 1,000 whales are still being killed every year, as Iceland, Norway and Japan ignore the ban. We strive not to visit places that serve whale on any of our trips, however often this is unavoidable and there is a likelihood that you will come across whale meat on a menu or at a market stand.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast
      Day 4 Bergen
      After breakfast this morning, head out for a guided walk around the Bryggen area of the city. This is a World Heritage listed area of one of the world’s greatest harbour cities, and is where the settlement of Bergen grew from. Wander through the reconstructed medieval homes and warehouses, visit the beautifully preserved wooden Hanseatic Museum (a former trade building), and explore the old Hanseatic port area – the Hanseatic merchant confederation dominated Baltic maritime trade for 400 years from the 15th century. Then you’ll have free time in the afternoon to do as you wish. Perhaps visit the 13th century Bergenhus Fortress, one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. Also, make sure you journey on the Floy Mountain Funicular, taking you 1,050 feet abve the city in just seven minutes, and offering amazing views of the deep blues of the sea and the pastel coloured houses from the top of Floyen mountain. It you’d like to get active while you’re up there, the summit has a multitude of hiking paths catering to all abilities.

      Note: It might be a good idea to purchase a 24 hour Bergen Card. It gives you free and discounted access to a range of attractions and museums, as well as included travel on light rail and buses. You can book this online before you arrive.
      Included Activities
      • Bergen - Museum and Bryggen Walk
        Optional Activities
        • Mt. Ulriken Cable Car & Shuttle - NOK250
        • Vidden Trail Hike - Free
        • Bergenhus Fortress - Free
        • Aquarium - NOK250
        • Floy Mountain Funicular - NOK85
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 5 Norwegian Fjords
          Leave Bergen after breakfast and travel by bus to the fjord region, which should take around 3-4 hours. The journey will take you through epic landscapes and remote regions, so have your camera at the ready. The typical Norwegian huts that you’ll stay in tonight are located in a beautiful setting, surrounded by steep cliff walls with a perfect view of the spectacular crystal clear Kjelsfossen waterfall falling from the top of the fjords. It's humbling to look up and consider these giant and ancient geological formations. Your accommodation is located near the village of Gudvangen and has electricity, running water and a kitchen. Some rooms have private and some have shared (mixed) toilets/shower facilities. Please note, rooming may be mixed gender multishare here. Linen and towels are provided.
          Optional Activities
          • Fishing Licence - NOK150
          • Hiking Options - Free
            Accommodation
            Cabin (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 6 Norwegian Fjords
            Today you'll take a boat trip and be captivated by the sight of crisp mountain peaks reflected in the glassy waters of Naeroyfjord, a World Heritage site. The name Naeroyfjord takes its origins from the Norse god of seafarers and the sea, Njord. The fjord itself, formed by glacial erosion of the surrounding bedrock, is 18 kilometres long, only 250 metres wide at its narrowest point, but its depth reaches up to 500 metres. Surrounding mountain peaks rise up to 1,400 metres and waterfalls crash down sheer cliff faces – awe-inspiring melancholic beauty and dramatic vistas. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy the scenery of the surrounding area. Perhaps hire bikes and cycle along the shore of the fjord, take to the waters in a kayak or take a bus to the nearby ittle fishing village of Flam in order to ride the famous railway up to Myrdal. This is one of the most picturesque (and steepest) railway journeys in the country. Alternatively explore on foot and discover nearby waterfalls and ancient moraines. Fishing enthusiasts will love the opportunity to throw a line in the crystal waters, sit back and soak up the serenity (a fishing licence is required and costs around NOK 150).
            Included Activities
            • Naeroyfjord - Boat Trip
              Optional Activities
              • Bike hire - NOK250
              • Kayak hire - NOK600
              • Flam Railway - NOK680
                Accommodation
                Cabin (1 nt)
                Day 7 Lillehammer
                There will be another long bus journey of around six hours after breakfast today, as you journey to the town Alpine playground of Lillehammer. Cross vast high plains, remote valleys, and drive through the Lærdal Tunnel, the world's longest road tunnel at 24.5 miles. The tunnel is divided into four sections, broken up by ‘mountain caves’. These caves are 6 kilometres apart and equipped with special lighting to help drivers concentrate by giving off the illusion of driving into daylight. Lillehammer, which held the Winter Olympics in 1994, is picturesquely situated on Lake Mjøsa. Upon arrival perhaps head out for a brief walk to find your bearings in the laid-back 19th century town centre, along the main pedestrian street of storgata (Big Street), lined with wooden houses, boutiques and restaurants, and enjoy dinner with the group.
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Day 8 Lillehammer
                Join an orientation walk this morning and get to know Lillehammer. Your leader will take you on an included visit to the Maihaugen Open Air Museum, which tells the story of people in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley over the last 300 years. This brilliant museum includes timber-built farms, a town and a big residential area that gives you an insight into various eras of Norway's history. As a town famous for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics, Lillehammer has a great Olympic Museum where you can hear tales of heroic feats, and is also an ideal spot for outdoor activities such as wheeled bobsleigh. Alternatively head to the Olympic Ski Jump Arena where in summer a special surface is laid out that allows professional ski jumpers to practice even though there is no snow. You can head to the top of the ski jump via chairlift and enjoy excellent views across Lillehammer and Lake Mjøsa. You could also decide to conquer misty mountains on a hike. You'll have a good amount of free time today, so keep your options open.
                Included Activities
                • Lillehammer - Maihaugen Open Air Museum
                  Optional Activities
                  • Wheeled Bob Sled - NOK240
                  • Sigrid Undset's Home at Bjerkebæk - NOK110
                  • Olympic Ski Jumping Arena & Chairlift - NOK55
                  • Olympic Museum - NOK130
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 9 Swedish Lakes
                    Travel for around five hours by private bus today and cross the border into Sweden. Head to the lakeside village Mora, a laidback town that encapsulates the most Swedish of Swedish landscapes, and which sits right in the middle of the Swedish lakes. Settled between the northern shore of Lake Siljan and the southern shore of Lake Orsasjon, Mora is a location steeped in history and culture that's ready to be discovered. Dalarna county is in the heart of the Sweden and is famous for the national symbol of the wooden Dala horse and Mora knives. Check in to the hotel on arrival and relax for the evening, before your day of exploration tomorrow.
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 10 Swedish Lakes
                    Be charmed by tiny countryside villages with deep-red log cottages, towering pine forests and rolling meadows on an included bike ride this morning, a great way of getting to know the area and the beautiful Swedish country side. The rest of the day is free to explore the area of Mora and its lakes. Perhaps take a leisurely boat trip across the lake, sink a line to partake in a little fishing or hike around the gentle rolling surrounds. Admire the work of a meteorite that crashed into the Earth millions of years ago, forming what is today Lake Siljan. Mora is also the home of the world’s biggest cross-country ski race, the 90 kilometre Vasaloppet, and one of Sweden’s most famous artists, Anders Zorn. Here you can visit his former home and a museum gallery of his art.
                    Included Activities
                    • Swedish Lakes - Bicycle Tour
                      Optional Activities
                      • Zorn Museum and Zorn House - SEK160
                        Accommodation
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Meals
                        1 breakfast
                        Day 11 Stockholm
                        Leaving the Swedish lakes behind, head to the country's cultural, political and economic capital of Stockholm by bus (approximately 4 hours). Often referred to as the 'Venice of the North' and arguably Scandinavia 's most beautiful city, Stockholm is packed full of amazing architecture, pristine parks and clear waters. Use the rest of your day to settle into your accommodation and explore the area around you. You can perhaps head underground for the world’s longest art exhibition. Connecting the fourteen islands of the city and blasted through hard rocky ground, the subway (Tunnelbana) system's 100 stations are like the longest modern art exhibition in the world, featuring artwork from over 140 different artists. The bedrock of the cavernous stations on the Blue Line for example has been left exposed and artists given free reign to express themselves on the walls.
                        Accommodation
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Meals
                        1 breakfast
                        Day 12 Stockholm
                        Today leave the city behind for a few hours and see the skerries of the Stockholm Archipelago on a cruise past tiny islets and along narrow waterways. Our destination is the small island of Vaxholm, with its impressive castle sitting just offshore. During your free time consider a trip by train to pretty Uppsala, take a self-guided Millennium Walking Tour of Stockholm or visit the Abba Museum. Alternatively you can take a trip to Drottningholm Palace, the residence of the Swedish royal family. There's plenty of sights and attractions to keep you busy here in this great Scandinavian city, so plan your activities wisely. Tonight perhaps head to Stockholm's Sodermalm district, the inner-city island with the best nightlife. Or maybe sit down at one of the city’s top-notch restaurants, such as the latest venues opened on the cobblestoned islet of Gamla Stan, or in the cool fusion restaurants of Kungsholmen.

                        Note: We recommend you book your tickets to the Abba Museum in advance at: http://www.abbathemuseum.com/en/
                        Included Activities
                        • Stockholm Archipelago Boat Tour to Vaxholm Island
                          Optional Activities
                          • Millennium Walking Tour - SEK130
                          • Daytrip by boat and train to Uppsala - SEK200
                          • Drottningholm Palace - SEK120
                          • Chinese Theater - SEK60
                          • Skansen Open Air Museum - SEK180
                          • Moose Safari - EUR70
                          • Abba Museum - SEK195
                            Accommodation
                            Hotel (1 nt)
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast
                            Day 13 Stockholm / Overnight Ferry
                            After breakfast, go on an included visit to the Vasa Museum on the inner-city island of Djurgarden. The 17th-century warship, Vasa, sank in 1628 on her maiden voyage in the harbour of Stockholm and was salvaged only in 1961. As one of the most visited sights in Sweden, the Vasa Museum collection consists of the Vasa itself and all of the objects that were found within the ship. In the evening, you'll be boarding an overnight ferry for Helsinki, Finland. Your cabin for the night is quad-share, which are usually bunk beds, and each cabin has a private bathroom.

                            Note: Depending on the make-up of the group, quad-share on the ferry may be on a mixed gender basis.
                            Included Activities
                            • Stockholm - Vasa Museum
                              Accommodation
                              Overnight boat (1 nt)
                              Meals
                              1 breakfast
                              Day 14 Helsinki
                              After your morning arrival into Helsinki's port you will transfer to your hotel. Before this Scandinavia Explorer comes to an end, discover a wealth of historical sights and gastronomic wonders in Helsinki. Today is completely free and you'll be able to explore Helsinki in your own time. A few options to consider during your time here are the Open-Air Museum Seurasaari, a visit to the city's cathedral or the interesting Design Museum. Don't miss the harbour-side market for local oddities, and make sure you take a short ferry ride to the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, sometimes referred to as the Gibraltar of the North, a World Heritage-listed site that was once an important point of defence for the city. Surrounded by the sea, Helsinki is a modern European city that offers an endless array of options. Throughout its 450-year history, the city has often been the buffer between the east and west. This is shown in their cuisine, with a mix of root vegetables, berries and fresh fish. Perhaps head out in the evening to sample some traditional dishes on a final celebratory meal with your group.

                              Note: Upon your morning arrival, check-in at our hotel in Helsinki may not yet be possible. In this case, you will store your luggage at the hotel and head out for an orientation walk.
                              Accommodation
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              Day 15 Helsinki
                              Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. There are no more activities planned and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you would like to extend you stay in Helsinki we are happy to book additional accommodation for you, subject to availability. Please speak to your travel consultant at the time of booking.
                              Optional Activities
                              • National Museum of Finland - EUR10
                              • Cathedral - Free
                              • City Museum - Free
                              • Suomenlinna Sea Fortress - EUR6
                              • Design Museum - EUR10
                              • Open-Air Museum Seurasaari - EUR9
                              • Mannerheim Museum - EUR10
                                Meals
                                1 breakfast
                                Itinerary disclaimer
                                ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                                OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

                                BOOKING MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE: To avoid disappointment we have outlined (where applicable) some important information on some of the major museums and attractions in Europe. Some of our groups have experienced long lines of up to four hours to visit some of the major sights, while some sights are so popular they are booked out completely months in advance, making it impossible for you or your leader to arrange a visit while you are on the trip. Please note that many museums and attractions in Europe are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where possible. If applicable we've given you information in the day-to-day itinerary which outlines which day of the trip is a suitable time to make your reservations, as well as any other information that may help with planning your visit.
                                Physical rating

                                Included activities
                                Oslo - Holmenkollen Museum
                                Bergen - Museum and Bryggen Walk
                                Naeroyfjord - Boat Trip
                                Lillehammer - Maihaugen Open Air Museum
                                Swedish Lakes - Bicycle Tour
                                Stockholm Archipelago Boat Tour to Vaxholm Island
                                Stockholm - Vasa Museum
                                Important notes
                                SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
                                A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. The price of the Single Supplement doesn't include the following nights where single rooms may not be available. If a single room becomes available at check-in for these nights, there may be the option to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night:
                                - Days 5 and 6 - Norwegian Fjords
                                - Day 13 - Overnight ferry

                                Group size
                                Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                                Your fellow travellers
                                GROUP TRAVEL
                                As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                                SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                                Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                                Accommodation
                                Hotel (11 Nights), Cabin (2 nights), Overnight ferry (1 night)
                                OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
                                The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                                TWIN SHARE BASIS
                                Accommodation on this trip is on a twin share basis (unless noted otherwise in the day-to-day itinerary). Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

                                CHECK-IN TIME
                                Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                                PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
                                If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

                                FACILITIES
                                Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.
                                Meals introduction
                                While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each others company. There's no obligation to do this though.

                                There are some basic breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar).
                                Meals
                                11 breakfasts
                                Transport
                                Train, Public bus, Overnight ferry, Private vehicle, Tram, Metro

                                TRANSPORT IN EUROPE
                                Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a train in Spain, cycling past a historic chateau in France, or encountering the world's most extravagant public transport system on the Moscow Metro. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action.

                                LONG TRAVEL DAYS
                                As we cover lots of ground on this trip, expect some long travel days on local trains and buses. This is an opportunity to mix with the locals and enjoy the scenery out the window. Travel schedules are known to change with little notice. Not all transport may have air conditioning.
                                Money matters
                                CURRENCIES:
                                The currencies of the countries visited are the Norwegian Krone (NOK) and the Swedish Krone (SEK), with the Euro (EUR) being the legal tender of Finland.

                                CASH
                                The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money in Europe is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can withdraw local currencies easily at airports, major train stations and most city centres, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. We recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services.

                                SPENDING MONEY:
                                When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                                BUDGET
                                Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest EUR 675.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

                                TIPPING
                                If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: In local markets and basic restaurants and cafes - round your bill up to the nearest €1. In more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides. You may also have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers. You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €2-€4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

                                EMERGENCY FUNDS
                                Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                                Group leader
                                All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                                Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                                Safety
                                Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                                We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                                Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                                For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                                FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                                Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                                TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
                                Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                                PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                                While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                                BIKE HELMETS:
                                Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.
                                Joining point
                                Anker Hotel
                                Storgata 55
                                Oslo
                                NORWAY
                                Phone: +47 22 99 75 00
                                Joining point description
                                Anker hotel is located in the city centre, a few minutes walk away from Akerselva and Grünerløkka where you can discover numerous little cafés, restaurants and bars. Grünerløkka is also a popular shopping district, with original design shops and many vintage and second-hand stores. Hotel facilities include a hotel bar, a gym and a spacious Lobby with free Wi-Fi. All rooms have private bathrooms, wireless Internet access, telephone, TV, hair dryer and working desk.
                                Joining point instructions
                                The airport express train runs from Oslo Gardermoen Airport to Oslo S (Central Station) every 10 minutes. The journey time is 20 minutes. Once at the train station it is an easy 15 minute walk to the hotel. Alternatively, you can take a taxi directly to the hotel. Check-in time is after 2:00pm.
                                Finish point
                                Hotel Arthur
                                Vuorikatu 19
                                Helsinki
                                FINLAND
                                Phone: +358 09 17 34 41
                                Finish point description
                                Hotel Arthur is located close to the railway station in the heart of Helsinki. The main sights, shopping district and theatres are just a short walk away. The recently refurbished rooms are cosy and brightly coloured. All rooms have a private shower/toilet, telephone, TV, and hair dryer - some also have a minibar. If you choose to arrange additional accommodation at this location you may be required to change rooms for the nights which are not included as part of your Intrepid itinerary.
                                Finishing point instructions
                                If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.

                                Pre booked departure transfer: If you have pre booked a departure transfer, you will be collected at the hotel reception 2 hours before your flight departure time. In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able find the driver, please contact the emergency phone number: +358 50 545 5454.
                                Emergency contact
                                While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                                We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                                You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                                For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                                In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Office can be reached on the number listed below:

                                Peak Europe: +49 8677 9186 657
                                Visas
                                Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                                Visas for Norway, Sweden and Finland are not required for passport holders of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. All other nationalities should check with the relevant authorities.

                                CROSSING BORDERS
                                With the so called "Schengen Agreement" border controls between many European countries have been abolished. However in special situations passports may still be checked. Passport stamps are no longer issued.
                                What to take
                                PACKING
                                On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                                TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT
                                It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

                                WATER BOTTLE
                                Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

                                CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
                                The climate in this region is extremely varied. From October until May you can expect temperatures close to and below zero, while from June until September temperatures can reach well above 30 C. For departures October to May you'll need to bring a warm windproof jacket, scarf, gloves, warm hat and waterproof footwear. On all other departures it can still get quite cool at night especially when in the countryside, so we recommend that you bring a warm jacket or fleece.
                                Health
                                All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                                You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
                                Travel insurance
                                Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                                When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                                If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                                A couple of rules
                                Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                                Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                                Responsible Travel
                                We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                                WHALING
                                Intrepid Travel is a big supporter of the protection of endangered species around the world. Although a global ban on commercial whaling came into effect in 1986, approximately 1,000 whales are still being killed every year, as Iceland, Norway and Japan ignore the ban. We strive not to visit places that serve whale on any of our trips, however often this is unavoidable and there is a likelihood that you will come across whale meat on a menu or at a market stand.

                                DRESS CODE
                                In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches, monasteries or other religious sites modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted, for both men and women.

                                The Intrepid Foundation
                                Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                                The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                                http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                                Feedback
                                After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback