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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Holidaying in Scandinavia:Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki

Lands of fjords and the midnight sun, Scandinavia is a realm where ancient sagas spring to life, stave churches cling to hills on forlorn shorelines, and the legacy of the Vikings still lingers.

Oslo

Capital of ruggedly beautiful Norway, Oslo is a laid back city with plenty to see and do.

Transport:getting there and getting around

Oslo is well connected my air from Europe and North America. The international airport is located in Gardermoen, 30 miles north of the city. Bus services connect Oslo with other Scandinavian countries, Germany and Russia. There are ferries between Oslo and other Scandinavian countries along with the UK and Germany, and trains link Oslo with Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg and London.

Getting around Oslo is a snap due to its efficient subway and a range of buses, streetcars, taxis, and ferries on the fjord. Oslo is a compact city so walking is a fine option.

Climate

Compared to the rest of Scandinavia, Oslo weather is relatively benign. May to September offers long sunny days with temperature of around 16 C and up. Its coastal location make it prone to rains, however. Winter is a time of deep freezing cold with the mercury hitting 1 C in the south though the Gulf Stream keeps the coastal areas from icing up. In winter, Oslo is shrouded in snow and gloomed in perpetual twilight.

Accommodation:from cheap stays to luxury resorts

Check on the internet for the range, location and cost of Oslo hotels

Events:what's on and what's hot

*Constitution Day (17 May) is the big bash of the year. Norwegians enjoy dressing up in traditional folk costumes.
*Midsummer's Eve is another biggy. This is celebrated with beach bonfires.

Stockholm

Stockholm is a dream city of parks and waterways, churches, gardens, museums, palaces and castles. It's a lively place too with a maritime cast and a cosmopolitan feel owing to a high immigrant population.

Transport:getting there and getting around

Stockholm's Arlanda airport is 28 miles north of the city. Long-distance buses use Cityterminalen which is situated adjacent to Centralstationen. From here, direct trains link Stockholm with Copenhagen, Osla, Storlien (for Trondheim) and Narvik. Ferries are available too to Helsinki and Turku.

Climate
Sweden's northern location results in a cool temperate climate. Rain is frequent all year round. Summer is delightful in Stockholm with an average of nine hours of sunshine daily between May and July. Winters are far less pleasant being, chill dark and often snowy. Temperatures average -1 C between January and March and 16 C from July to August.



Accommodation:from cheap stays to luxury resorts

Check on the internet for the range, location and cost of Stockholm hotels

Events:what's on and what's hot

*The Summer Music Festival held at the Drottningholms Court Theatre lasts from late May through August. Enjoy performances of opera, classical music and ballet.
*A Taste of Stockholm in early June showcases the countries cuisine. The city's restaurants set up in the central Kungstradgarden to offer food, drink and entertainment.
*Mid July is the time for the Stockholm Jazz Festival blows and the gay and lesbian Stockholm Pride event is held in early August.
*The Stockholm International Film Festival is held in November. It's one of the few existing 24-hour film festivals.

Helsinki

Helsinki is an elusive entity. It emanates touches of Sweden and of Russia but nevertheless manages to remain very much iteself. It's an open city of parks and waterways fresh with winds blowing in from the sea.

Transport:getting there and getting away

You can reach Helsinki by air or train from Russia or by ferry from Sweden, Germany or Estonia. Helsinki Vantaa International Airport (HEL) is situated about 12 miles from the city centre.

Helsinki has one of Europe's best public transport systems with the metro, trams, buses and ferries all accessible with a single ticket. It's a company city, too, so walking is a pleasure. Plus there are extensive cycle trails with bikes for rent from coin machines.

Climate

Winds from the Gulf Stream and the Baltic Sea gives Helsinki enjoys a more benign climate than most of Finland. Nevertheless, winters are dark and freezing with temperatures ranging from -3 C to -5 C. The summer months from are June through September are very pleasant with temperatures of around 25 C.

Accommodation:from cheap stays to luxury resorts

Check on the internet for the range, location and cost of Helsinki hotels

Events:what's on and what's hot

*Vappu, the May Day festival is a time for alcoholic overindulgence.
*Helsinki Day on 12 June celebrates the city's anniversary.
*The summer sees free classical and pop concerts every Sunday in Kaivopuisto park.
*The crowning event of the year is the Helsinki Festival from late August through to early September which celebrates the arts 


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