How to Travel Scandinavia by Train with Interrail

scandinavia by train

Exploring Scandinavia by train is arguably the best way to see these beautiful countries simply because you can sit back and watch them unfold outside your window on a more stunning (and less stressful) route than driving and without skipping it altogether (like you would on a plane). These Scandinavian countries have a green reputation and what better way to honour that by travelling more eco-friendlier aka by train. If your heart is set on railing Scandinavia (which I assume it is because you've been brought to this blog post for a reason), then the easiest and thus, in my opinion, best way to do it is with an Interrail pass. I myself explored Norway, Sweden and Denmark this way and am happy to report that the whole experience was smooth sailing (railing? lol), and with the time and annoyance I saved with not having to go and buy train tickets each time, I was able to explore even more of these cool countries.

Where Is Scandinavia?

First things first, and so we're on the same page - where actually is Scandinavia and which countries does it include? I'm addressing this first because there is often a bit of confusion between Scandinavian countries and the Nordic countries. Well, it turns out that Scandinavia is a subset of Nordic countries with the Nordic countries including Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, and the Scandinavian countries just being those without the Iceland and the Finland - aka just Norway Sweden and Denmark.

travel scandinavia by train

Now it would be nice and simple if those three Scandinavian countries were the three long 'finger' countries you can see on a map of northern Europe, but that's not the case. The 'finger' country on the far right is Finland and although it is geographically close, and was once even a part of the Swedish kingdom, Finnish is not a Scandinavian language by any means. In fact, Finnish is on a completely different language tree from all of the Indo-European languages - meaning that technically, Slavic, Germanic, Romance, Indo-aryan and Indo-Iranian languages all have closer ties to each other than Finnish (the most well-known language relatives of theirs are Estonian and Hungarian).

scandinavia by train

Denmark, on the other hand has its language (Danish) snuggled very close on the tree to Swedish and Norwegian, and although Denmark isn't technically on the Scandinavian peninsula, it's definitely a part of Scandinavia, thanks to the aforementioned language ties, and the fact that Denmark used to rule a lot of Sweden. So yeah, long story short Scandinavia equals Denmark, Sweden and Norway and that's what this blog post means from now on when we say Scandinavia.

How to Travel Scandinavia by Train using Interrail

I think that the easiest and thus best way to travel Scandinavia by train is by using an Interrail pass (for Europeans) or an Eurail pass (for non-Europeans). I wrote about train travel in Hungary with Interrail, which tells you about the different passes, whether it's worth it, explains reservations and so on because it might be worth you only getting a pass for the Scandinavian countries, or it might be worth you getting a European pass (which actually doesn't cover all of Europe but that's a different blog post).

Scandinavia Example Rail Itinerary:

Copenhagen Denmark --> Stockholm Sweden --> Oslo Norway --> Bergen Norway

This is your essential Scandinavia rail itinerary, in my opinion. It can of course be explored backwards depending where you're arriving into Scandinavia from. For example, if you're coming from Northern Germany like I was it makes more sense to start with Denmark. If you're flying in from the UK you'll probably fly into Norway and start there but there's no specific order you have to go in. If you're strapped for time (and let's face it, it's Scandinavia and Scandinavia is expensive) you can do this route quite comfortably within a week with two nights in each of the capitals and one night in Bergen.

interrail scandinavia

You can of course add extra steps along the way - I recommend exploring Kronberg and Aarhus in Denmark, hopping over to Gothenburg in Sweden or even going up to find 'Santa' and reindeers in northern Norway and Sweden. Whatever your path or budget, I think it's advisable to not miss the four hot spots of Scandinavia: the three capitals Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo and added bonus Bergen. Okay, maybe capitals aren't your thing and you don't need to go there but as this was my experience and thus what I can advise you on, that's what I'll be writing about in the rest of this blog post:

#1. Things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen was originally a Viking fishing village in the 10th century. Nowadays it's the capital of Denmark and I was surprised to find out was my favourite capital of the three.

scandinavia by train itinerary

Here are some of the must-see sights in Copenhagen once you've hopped off the train in the conveniently located, truly central station.


Christiania is an anarchist district. It's kind of like the Amsterdam section of Copenhagen: there's graffiti, tourists, squatters, souvenirs and over-priced pot.

interrail scandinavia route

I personally liked it, but I do wish I'd have had the chance to see it back in the day before it became a tourist hot-spot.

Little Mermaid Statue

The Little Mermaid Statue is probably the most famous landmark in Copenhagen. The artist was inspired by the Little Mermaid fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen who, as it turns out was Danish (not German like I thought lol).


Nyhavn is a 17th century canal district and on my first trip to Copenhagen was my favourite spot because (and I quote from my old diaries) 'the colourful buildings are just so damn pretty and make for perfect Instagram shots'. Oh to be a travel blogger obsessed with Instagram.

I was also recognised here by some people who had seen me on YouTube - which no doubt influenced my mood positively about this spot.

Where to Stay in Copenhagen

I stayed at the Copenhagen Ibsens Hotel and thought it was great: they offer a free happy hour with real Danish beer and real Danish apple juice and a real Danish band playing (plus snacks like peanuts and crisps) and I noted at the time that their staff were so nice and funny too! In terms of location, it's very close to the tube station and as we're Interrailing, it's worth noting it is only a 20 minute walk to the central station.

best way to travel scandinavia

I did work with this hotel (which means that I received a two night free stay in return for writing about them on Instagram) but I can honestly say here that in my experience there was nothing bad about them and I would, with clear conscience, recommend them to a friend.

#2. Things to Do in Stockholm, Sweden

The Old Town of Stockholm was built around 1000 CE by Vikings. Nowadays Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and, as you'd probably expect from the Swedish, balances well-preserved history with modern modern touches.

rail scandinavia

Here were my favourite things to do after Interrailing into Sweden:

Ice bar

A post shared by @icebarstockholm on

Embrace the coldness and get a cool drink at an Ice Bar. Maybe I'm cliche (read definitely) but when I'm in Sweden I want to do something ice cool, and nothing says ice cool like an ice bar.

Get high (pun intended)

rail pass scandinavia

Stockholm looks great from up high. Right next to the hotel Hobo is a roof-top bar that offers perfect views of Stockholm.


Like Nyhavn in Copenhagen, Stortorget is the place to go if you want an Insta-good photo of some cute houses. Stortorget is actually a normal square in the middle of Old Town.

Where to Stay in Stockholm

We stayed at Hobo and At Six when we were in Stockholm and loved both of them. They are two very differently styled hotels in the same great location. Hobo is more ikea-y and hipstery, At Six is sexier and more elegant. We slept really well at both of them, but At Six gets a special mention for its breakfast which was the best we had in Scandinavia. It was so good.

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Seriously, I'd go back just for the breakfast. It included fresh fruit, vegan yoghurts and milks, cereals, cooked breakfast, Mediterranean vegetables, vegan nut-roast, roast potatoes... all my favourites and more. Again, I worked with both of these places and again there's nothing that was secretly bad about them. If you can afford to stay there, why not?

#3. Things to do in Oslo, Norway

scandinavia by train

Oslo was founded around 1049 by the last Great Viking King. Nowadays Oslo is the capital of Norway and has a reputation of being full of museums and green spaces.

Oslo Opera House

Eat your heart out Sydney, there's a new Opera House in town (well in Oslo), and it's super cool - you can walk on top of it for the best views in Oslo. It was opened in 2008 as part of a strategy to redevelop the waterfront.

Explore the museums and galleries

Oslo has an abundance of cool museums (like the Viking Ship Museum) and quirky art galleries (including the National Museum which is the current home of the 'Scream' by Munch). The Scream has always been one of my favourite pieces of art, but unfortunately the day we went to see it (Monday) is the day in the week that the museum is closed :(

So please live my dream and go and see it for me. I also recommend getting your hands on an Oslo Pass - it's the easiest and cheapest way to explore all of the galleries and museums and includes public transport too. (Unless of course you're not interested in galleries and museums, then you don't need it lol).

Where to stay in Oslo

We stayed at the Clarion Collection and loved it - this was because not only do they offer a complimentary breakfast with lots of great options, they also offer a daily complimentary 'light' dinner.

interrail scandinavia

I say 'light' because it's advertised as 'light' but I found it easy to eat so much that it was definitely not light and I definitely didn't need to eat anything else (another money saving hack for expensive Scandinavia). There was even a sign that said something like "eat as much as you like, the more you eat, the less we throw away". And there were avocados!

Fjord Spotting in Bergen

Last but not least on this Interrail Scandinavia route is Bergen - the perfect spot for fjord spotting. Bergen is surrounded by fjords including Norway's biggest fjord: Sognefjord.

The fjords and the mountains make Bergen the best place to hike. But it's not all fjords and mountains, like Copenhagen and Stockholm, Bergen has it's own colourful houses: Bryggen.

Wrap Up: How To Travel Scandinavia By Train

Scandinavia is the perfect place to go Interrailing. The views from the train window are absolutely incredible and something you're not going to forget any time soon. Scandinavia is a really safe, fun place to travel to and is beautiful in both winter and summer. Let us know what you'd like to add to this list!

P.S.: If you're interested in a way of travelling and getting accommodation cheaply, you might wanna check out house sitting. was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount, feel free to click on the link to use it :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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