Scandinavia travel - train or car rental?
December 6, 2012 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Scandinavia travel - two weeks from Copenhagen to Stockholm and back again. Train or car rental?

My wife and I are planning a June trip to Sweden and Denmark (and hoping to make it to Norway to visit friends if possible.) We're trying to decide which is more feasible for getting between Copenhagen and Stockholm and points in between: train vs car rental? Neither is cost prohibitive for us, but obviously we'd like to economize where we can.

I like the idea of the train because, well, it's Europe and I love taking trains in Europe. Such a humane way to travel. But I like renting cars because you have flexibility and freedom and can stumble upon quaint little towns that you wouldn't otherwise see.

It's looking like I can get a two-week rental at the Copenhagen airport for less than $700 (and I realize that gas is way more expensive there - that's already factored into my thinking.) It also looks like a one-way train ticket from Copenhagen to Stockholm is more than $200.

posted by fso to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
In June with no snow? I'd do the car rental. Definitely have a higher chance of stumbling on awesome small towns and other fun stuff while you're driving vs the train.
posted by Grither at 7:46 AM on December 6, 2012

We did a June week-long road trip from Copenhagen to Skagen (which is just about the length of the Copenhagen to Stockholm route) by car and it was so worth it. I love trains too, but there were just so many little towns and scenic vistas where we got off totally unplanned and had an absolute blast. If cost doesn't make a difference to you, definitely go by car.
posted by griphus at 7:46 AM on December 6, 2012

Also, there is some sort of thing where when renting a car as a non-DK citizen, you don't have to pay for mileage on a rented vehicle. I think. It's been a few years.
posted by griphus at 7:47 AM on December 6, 2012

It's a good six-hour-or-more drive each way, so the train will certainly be less tiring. However the roads are generally very good and it'll be 2-or-3 lane divided highway pretty much all the way up if you take the direct route, which should make for a straightforward trip (but then again might lessen your chances of stumbling upon quaint waypoints). A minor plus point for taking the car is the view as you drive over the Öresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden—it’s quite something: the train takes the same bridge but on a lower deck of it, with an obstructed view.
posted by misteraitch at 7:54 AM on December 6, 2012

Check your price difference between renting the car in Malmö as opposed to Copenhagen.
It might well be cheaper to a) stay "in-country" and b) in terms of exchange rate. You could also c) probably leave the car in Stockholm and fly back to Copenhagen if you wanted, flight is about 60 bucks one-way.

Train from Malmö to Stockholm can be had for less, around $120 return, so again, check your prices (it's cheap to get between Copenhagen and Malmö and takes about 20 mins).

The train-ride is not particularly interesting, there's very little to see on the route, so I would go with car.
posted by Iteki at 7:55 AM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Adding to what Iteki said above:

If I remember correctly, the toll for the Öresund bridge is around $30 (one-way, although you may save if you return within a certain amount of time). Might be a good idea to try to rent in Malmö for that reason, as well.

Train ticket across is about $10.
posted by kuanes at 8:03 AM on December 6, 2012

Two comparison sites, prices in SEK for two random weeks in the middle of June, picking up at the airport.

Looks like you can get, say, a Toyota Avensis or VW Golf for about 300 bucks. I don't particularly endorse any of those sites, it's just two random comparison sites.

Don't forget to stop at the Brahehus truckstop outside of Jönköping to buy hand-made polkagris and see Tycho Brahe's house and the lovely view over the lake where, tragically, John Bauer and his family (along with many others) died in a shipwreck.
posted by Iteki at 8:18 AM on December 6, 2012

Road distance between Köpenhamn and Stockholm is 659 kilometer. Some site says that it takes 6 hours 11 minutes. The road is okay most parts. Most of the time top speed is 68mph, sometimes 56, and they're now having some few patches with 74.5 (110km/h, 90, and 120). Traffic is calm here most of the time and June is a great time because the tourists have not yet appeared. It may rain in June, though.

Seconding the suggestion to veer off as soon as you've come to lake Vättern. If you're interested in old stuff you might drive on along the lake to Vadstena, for example, and stay there for a night or so and look at the old town.
posted by Namlit at 11:28 AM on December 6, 2012

I've never been to Scandinavia, and I'm completely jealous of you, but I'm leaning towards the train.

Eurail passes are really a deal, less than the price of the car. I find that cars in Europe can often be a real pain.

The cost of the fuel, road tolls, the cost to park, the availability of parking are all pretty much a hassle. And the expenses can mount up FAST!

Now, the bonus of a car is that it's easier to deal with luggage, you have a lot more freedom to explore off the beaten path, and you get to see rest stops in foreign lands! (My favorite is the one off the Sanyo Expressway in Japan. A spigot with hot, green tea!)

So if you have parking lined up in Copenhagen and Stockholm, and you can factor those costs in, and you still want to do it, then I say go for it, but I suspect that the train will be considerably less expensive (and faster because there's a high-speed train between Copenhagen and Stockholm.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2012

A long, long, long part of that journey is just forest, which is nice for the first hour or so. In the train, you can read a book and walk around. Also, the car will be difficult to park in both cities, and both cities have excellent public transportation.
Or combine the two: take the train up from Copenhagen to Stockholm, maybe stopping at Vättern for a day and night, then rent a car and go along the Baltic coast on your way back, leave the car in Malmö and take the local train to Copenhagen Airport. Actually, suddenly I feel I should do this myself.
You could go to Bornholm, too, on that route.
posted by mumimor at 11:46 PM on December 6, 2012

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