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Backpacking North in Winter

Travel Forums Europe Backpacking North in Winter

1. Posted by meganjane03 (Budding Member, 46 posts) 21 May '13 04:47

meganjane03 has indicated that this thread is about Scandinavia

Hi all!

I was wondering if any could provide any advice or comments about a trip my partner and I are thinking of doing. We finish up a vodkatrain through Russia on the 11th of December and since we will have lots of cold weather gear and since the Northern Lights are supposed to be amazing this year, we thought we'd like to go backpacking through Scandinavia.

My main issues are with the following:

1) Is backpacking through Scandinavia easy/hard? Can it be done independently (we'd love to go off the beaten track to smaller local areas)

2) Is it worth visiting all these beautiful countries in winter? (i.e is it just going to be too dark and gloomy?)

3) Is there much to see and do in winter (obviously skiing is one, but what else?)

Would love any sort of advice from locals or those who have travelled there in winter. We were thinking of doing Finland, Sweden, Norway, possibly Denmark, and hopefully Iceland too. Our back-up plan is to just do a week over Christmas in one of the countries for the Northern lights and then head south-east to Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey (any info on these would also be appreciated!)

Cheers!

Megan

2. Posted by budgeteurotrip (Budding Member, 38 posts) 24 May '13 02:31

thats odd.
if u like freezing cold, dark and snow, scandinavia is defenetly the place u should go.
i'm not even sure they skii a lot, there aren't very big mountains over there, alps are in italy, france, austria and switzerland, not there

i'm a backpacker too, be aware that the most expensive hostels are in scandinavia (I paid almost 40€ for an hostel in Oslo last november...) and I think hitchhiking is not very common there.

scandinavia is beautiful in summer (of course depends on personal tastes).
to visit fjords by ferry and explore forests and lakes in finland and sweden, to see the noordkap, sun at midnight and such.

for your backup plan about balkan, feel free to navigate my website and contact me if u need more info, i'm in love with balkans :)

3. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru, 1730 posts) 24 May '13 08:40

Scandinavia has an indoor culture because of their very bad winters. What to do at night? Try and keep warm. The nights can be very long and the days short, especially if you go right up north.

I would not count on seeing any other hitch hikers in winter. Which means that some accommodation will be shut till warmer times.

In July when it is really hot in southern Norway, my father drove some distance up north and said there was snow and ice ten foot high either side of the roads before he turned back. I would hate to think what such places are like in winter.

I saw the Little Mermaid statue in Denmark one year and local postcards showed it in winter, with the sea behind it frozen as far as the eye could see.

From Helsinki you can get a train north to Lapland in winter, where many go to see Santa Claus, so other travellers, and maybe even stay in an ice hotel there?

Or from Helsinki you can get a train to St Petersburg and see all the ice you want there in winter. I was in Moscow one January twenty years ago and though the days were a little below zero, the nights reached -26C. I didn't stay out in that long.

Even Germany can see similar temperatures in mid winter, though ice and snow which can leave you stranded somewhere for days is the biggest menace.