Journey between vibrant Nordic capitals—from Copenhagen to Helsinki, Stockholm, and Oslo—to experience an intermingling of cosmopolitan life with centuries of rich history. Encounter vestiges of the medieval era, when wealthy financiers developed these grand trading centers, and delve into the region’s seafaring history at Viking museums, seaside fortresses, and waterfront palaces. Witness the modernist mark left by avant-garde designers on city skylines, savor the flavors of the new Nordic culinary movement, and venture just beyond urban limits for a glimpse at the pristine beauty of Europe’s northern reaches.
Meet a National Geographic-sponsored archaeologist to learn about his efforts to study and digitally reconstruct the wreckage of a 16th-century warship near Stockholm.
Explore three UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Finland’s Suomenlinna sea fortress and Drottningholm Palace in Sweden.
Set out on a castle tour across the Danish countryside that includes Kronborg Castle, the setting for Hamlet.
Join adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, Jr. at the Kon-Tiki Museum, and hear about his family’s history-making seafaring expeditions, some of which were chronicled in National Geographic articles and documentaries.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Copenhagen, Denmark
Arrive in Copenhagen and enjoy a tour of the city sites, including the Old Stock Exchange; the Naval Church; and the Little Mermaid Statue, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale. Get to know your fellow travelers during a welcome dinner this evening. Scandic Palace Hotel (D)
Day 2 — Copenhagen
Set off on a castle tour through the Danish countryside. At Frederiksborg Castle, a Renaissance landmark surrounded by stunning gardens, examine royal art and an impressive collection of shields. Continue on to the Baroque Fredensborg Palace for a photo op. Then immerse yourself in the setting of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet at Kronborg Castle, a World Heritage site. Follow the Danish Riviera back to Copenhagen. Tonight, discover whimsical Tivoli Gardens—one of the world’s oldest amusement parks—at your own pace. Scandic Palace Hotel (B,L)
Day 3 — Copenhagen/Helsinki, Finland
See Copenhagen from a different angle on a canal cruise, and then enjoy a traditional Danish lunch on the Nyhavn waterfront, lined with colorful houses and boats bobbing in the harbor. Fly to Helsinki and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Hotel Haven (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Helsinki
Set out on an architectural tour of Helsinki, named the World Design Capital for 2012. Stroll past Alvar Aalto’s marble-clad Finlandia Hall, and step into the Temppeliaukio church, hewn into solid rock. Sample Finnish specialties at Market Hall, then board a boat bound for the island of Suomenlinna, home to an inhabited sea fortress. Built beginning in 1748 across six islands, this World Heritage site has at turns protected the Kingdom of Sweden, the Russian Empire, and Finland. Hotel Haven (B,L)
Day 5 — Stockholm, Sweden
Fly to Stockholm and transfer to our hotel. This afternoon, step back in time on a walking tour amid the narrow alleys and medieval buildings of Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. Visit the cathedral and Royal Palace before a group dinner in the historic center. First Hotel Reisen (B,D)
Day 6 — Stockholm
Learn about the country’s deep maritime traditions this morning. Hear from a local archaeologist about his National Geographic-funded exploration of the undersea wreckage of Swedish King Erik XIV’s legendary 2,000-ton flagship Mars. Using 3-D scanning technology to study the wreck and create virtual reconstructions, he is revealing history while preserving an important maritime battlefield on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Then visit the Vasa Museum, which holds the only preserved 17th-century warship in the world. After indulging in a traditional smorgasbord lunch on the tranquil island of Djurgården, trace five centuries of Swedish history at Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure to explore more of the city. First Hotel Reisen (B,L)
Day 7 — Stockholm
Visit City Hall and take in its glowing spire, as well as the rich mosaics and artwork of its ceremonial halls. Glide across the harbor to the meticulously preserved Drottningholm Palace, home to the Swedish royal family. Enjoy lunch, then amble through the 16th-century salons and Baroque gardens of this World Heritage site. First Hotel Reisen (B,L)
Day 8 — Oslo, Norway
Ride the train to Oslo, and check in to our historic hotel in the city center. Head to the Holmenkollen Ski Jump, which hosted events for the 1952 Winter Olympics. Take in 4,000 years of Nordic and downhill skiing history at the Ski Museum; and, from the observation deck on top, enjoy a spectacular vantage of Oslo and its fjord. Grand Hotel Oslo (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Oslo
Spend the day discovering Oslo, beginning at the medieval Akershus Fortress. Walk amid the brilliant white marble angles of the Opera House, and stroll Vigeland Sculpture Park, populated with 200 works by Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. After lunch, head to the Viking Ship Museum to examine three of the world’s best-preserved wooden longships. Then enjoy a specially arranged meeting with Thor Heyerdahl, Jr. at the Kon-Tiki Museum. Hear about his family’s scientific seafaring adventures, some of which were chronicled in the pages of National Geographic magazine, before viewing the famed Kon-Tiki raft, the papyrus boat Ra II, and other artifacts of seafaring history. Toast our Scandinavian sojourn at a farewell dinner tonight. Grand Hotel Oslo (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Oslo
After a morning at leisure, transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
William Saturno is an anthropologist, archaeologist, and storyteller who has been exploring the cities and ruins of Europe—from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia—since childhood. As a National Geographic Explorer and avid student and scholar of the ancient world, he is an expert at narrating the tales of adventurers, artists, commoners, and kings to bring the past vividly to life. He is equally passionate about Europe's past and present and has taught extensively on how these modern nations continue to build upon their varied Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance foundations.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,400. Airfare to Copenhagen and return from Oslo, and airfare within Europe, are not included in the expedition cost. The group flights within Europe are $275 per person (subject to change).
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.