Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen or Helsinki for weekend getaway?
January 13, 2015 6:27 AM   Subscribe

It looks like I'll be spending March in Iceland. I'd like to take two weekend trips to Europe while I'm there - departing Friday morning, returning late Sunday evening. If I can only visit two of the cities listed above, which two would you recommend (in order of priority), and why? What one to two places or experiences should I not miss? Also, is there anyplace within about 3.5 hours' flying time of Reykjavik I have overlooked?

To keep travel time to a minimum, I'm thinking of going to Scandinavia. I'm particularly interested in museums and historic sites, but there isn't much I wouldn't want to do. March weather may limit outdoorsy activities.
posted by ADave to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of Northern Europe is within 3.5 hours flight from Reykjavik - Paris, London (and several other cities in the UK), Brussels, Amsterdam...
posted by mskyle at 6:42 AM on January 13, 2015

Those are all great cities. I'd throw in Edinburgh. A dramatic city and one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Otherwise, my first choice would be Copenhagen. Great, lively, food city. Louisiana Museum. Kronborg castle. But really its a pretty city for just walking or bicycling.
posted by vacapinta at 6:43 AM on January 13, 2015

Best answer: I'm biased, considering I live in Stockholm, but I'd go for Stockholm: you have the archipelago which is beautiful (and if we get an early spring, even better). There's tons of museums (don't miss the Vasa Museum) and the Old Town has buildings dating back to the 17th century. The outdoor museum Skansen has both animals commonly found in the Nordics (wolves, bears, moose, wolverines among others) and architecture from all over Sweden, where one building is from the 14th century.
posted by kazarnowicz at 7:06 AM on January 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

March can be a really dreary time in oslo... The snow is pretty much gone and if there has been a lot of it then all the trash and sandwiches and people chucked into bushes all winter is starting to thaw and it smells... I recommend you visit a place known for being a great city ie- great shops and restraunts and has a fantastic buzz... Like Stockholm and Copenhagen... Oslo is a little boring in comparison.
posted by catspajammies at 7:19 AM on January 13, 2015

Oslo is smaller and less touristy. It is a great city but I fear you may run out of things to do there.

I highly recommend Stockholm. There are enough museums there to occupy you for at least a month.
posted by Twain Device at 8:42 AM on January 13, 2015

Definitely Copenhagen and Stockholm (or vice-versa). Both Oslo and Helsinki have great things to see, but a lot of other cities with direct flights from Reykjavik would come before them on my wish-list, for instance London or Amsterdam. Specially in March.
posted by mumimor at 10:15 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Consider adding Munich to your list. Wonderful city, and much cheaper than any of the Scandinavian countries listed.

For what it's worth, though, we spent a week in Copenhagen for Eurovision (woo) and had a great time just wandering about.
posted by area.man at 1:37 PM on January 13, 2015

Best answer: I visited Stockholm, Helsinki, and Copenhagen last year, and I would say Copenhagen and Stockholm (and maybe do side trips to someplace(s) else from Copenhagen, too). I truly enjoyed Helsinki but a lot of what I enjoyed there was stuff that you wouldn't really see in March - like open air markets, and wandering the fortress islands in the harbor.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:32 PM on January 13, 2015

Oslo is the most expensive city I've visited. And it's kind of boring. If you're set on Norway, I'd recommend Bergen. It's a beautiful city and is a fine starting point for the excellent Norway in a Nutshell tour.
posted by sixpack at 2:55 PM on January 13, 2015

Best answer: Berlin is 3 hours 25 min according to Rome2rio. It has all the museums (including my favourite, the German History Museum), and a huge amount of recent history.
posted by kjs4 at 4:41 PM on January 13, 2015

I really liked Helsinki when I went. I went in late March to early April, so perhaps around the time you're thinking of going.

As my SO was sick when we were there, I spent a bit of time wandering round and took the ferry out to Suomenlinna, a former fortress on an island, and spent time sitting looking out onto the archipelago having a cinnamon bun and looking at the former Orthodox church. You'll sadly miss Easter, when kids wander round dressed in costumes collecting eggs all over the island. Stockholm is bigger and has more to do in terms of museums and galleries, but something about Helsinki really clicked with me. Omenahotelli chain has a few central hotels for about 50EUR a night (the cheapest I found in the city by a long way that weren't a hostel, but you can also stay in the hostel at Suomenlinna) which are nice basic places to stay.

You can also get a boat right from the centre that gets you to Tallinn in a couple of hours, which is a gorgeous city.
posted by mippy at 3:43 AM on January 14, 2015

All those cities are similar (from an American standpoint) and lovely for a weekend getaway. I'd vote Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Oslo, in that order, unless you are interested in spending a day in Estonia --- I have never done it, but Tallin is only a few hours by ferry from Helsinki. Estonia plans to open up e-citizenship soon, which might be fun to get, and which will require a visit to Tallin.

You may find cost is an as-good differentiator as distance: IIRC the UK would be very cheap, as well as Berlin, Amsterdam, and maybe Gdansk. Maybe take a look at Kayak Explore for ticket prices.

But all the Nordic cities are really fabulous, particularly for aimless poking around as a solo traveller. Personally I like wandering around the major department stores -- the quality of everyday objects is very high, and I take a lot of pleasure in well-made things. The design museum in Copenhagen is great too.

They are all very safe and walkable. Cheap hotels will be clean and friendly. Wandering around by yourself at night is fine, etc. Oh and they also all have that weird northern Europe anti-jaywalking thing. You will be scolded if you cross against the lights ;)
posted by Susan PG at 9:38 AM on February 17, 2015

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