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Finland or Sweden

28 replies

geojojo · 12/02/2020 10:03

My in-laws are paying for a big family holiday next year (in summer holidays) and have settled on Finland or Sweden. However they want help organising it. Does anyone have any advice for places to visit? Or has anyone stayed somewhere nice that they would recommend? There will be 8 adults and 6 children ranging from age 1- 10. Likely to be for 2 weeks. Thanks

OP posts:
midsomermurderess · 13/02/2020 08:50

For Sweden maybe have a look into spending some time in the Stockholm archipelago after a day or 2 in the city. Many islands to choose from on which to base yourself with sailing and kayaking opportunities. Vaxholm might be a place to start. For Finland I'd recommend a day or 2 in Helsinki and then Turku and Its archipelago. You could then go to Hanko which is Finland's moth southerly town. Lovely beaches, grand 19th century villas many now hotels. Alternatively you could go to one of Finland's Lakeland areas, so many to choose from, hire a house, swim, sail, cycle. Hard to say which is better as a destination, Sweden or Finland, but personally, I'd go to Finland.

mummymeister · 13/02/2020 10:39

We looked at going to Finland this year and in the end decided against it for a family holiday for a number of reasons. Its very, very expensive in terms of eating out and buying food. the attractions/things to visit are very spread out over a wide area. We like to see and do lots of things so would need to move every few days and personally am not sure I can be bothered to do lots of driving like that. The best way to see lots of different things is by boat but this isnt an option (a cruise) for us. The weather. whilst I dont like it scorchio I would want it to be a bit warmer than home. so we decided to go when its just the two of us and we can hotel it rather than have to book a cottage. If you are happy to stay in one possibly two places then I would pick one on the left and one on the right. Bergen looked OK as did Oslo. so I would go for 2 X 1 weeks in each of these places.

lynsey91 · 13/02/2020 10:52

Me and DH visited Sweden 3 years ago. We knew it would be expensive but still got a shock. We were (thankfully) self catering but food was ridiculous prices - £4 for a cauliflower. We were eating lunches out which again cost a fortune and only ate out twice in the evenings in 2 weeks

geojojo · 14/02/2020 10:07

Great, thanks for your help so far. I did know it was expensive but not as expensive as that! Have fed back to them and they have now opened their choice of destinations to include Switzerland and Netherlands. It's hard as all the different family members have different sets of criteria. Basically needs to be in Europe as some of the children don't like flying far and not too hot. Also quite a few places ruled out as family have already visited them.

OP posts:
SJaneS48 · 15/02/2020 08:58

I think Denmark is supposed to be the cheapest of the Scandinavian countries - but thats all relative! Perhaps look at Austria as well OP and Slovenia? Slovenia in particular won’t break the bank and has the mountains and lakes. I’ve been to Bled and Ljublana many years ago and both were really nice.

No rudeness intended @mummymeister but Oslo and Bergen are In Norway rather than Sweden or Finland (but I’m sure you know that 🙂), Wouldn’t recommend a whole week in Bergen - we went for 5 days in August about 7 years ago and other than the day we landed, it poured down pretty much the whole time. It’s known to be the rainiest city in Norway and while it looks very pretty (from underneath the umbrella!) we did find the weather limiting. It’s also very very expensive! Without alcohol, a supermarket shop for 3 days cost us the equivalent of £90.

midsomermurderess · 15/02/2020 18:54

Slovenia is very lovely and yes, it is pretty inexpensive. You could have a week in the north with the mountains and lakes and then sometime on the Adriatic coast. It's small and very easy to get around. Very relaxed.

KoalasandRabbit · 15/02/2020 19:09

We've been twice to Sweden and twice to Finland and once to Norway. We found Norway very expensive but didn't find Sweden or Finland expensive when we went in summer.

We stayed at this Norrangens Alpacka B&B in Sweden I would recommend if the children like animals though not masses to do in the area so just for a few days. They have alpacas, llamas and chickens on site and the children can feed and walk them, the alpacas not the chickens Grin

Stockholm was nice too - we last visited there a while back. In Finland which stayed at Arola Bears which would also recommend where you can see brown bears in the wild but some of the children would be too young for that. Ruka was also nice and had reindeer including white ones wandering round, summer toboggan, mini golf. We stayed at Sokos Hotel Eden which would recommend in Finland, had beach to ourselves and they have a big pool with hundreds of rubber ducks, sauna etc there and you can buy soft toy squirrels to be there in advance. Not masses in that area but we flew into there before driving to Ruka and Arola Bears. We also stayed at a place in Kussamo which was reasonable and had an Angry Birds park on site. We probably slightly preferred Finland but kids were older. A lot of Sweden was very flat. Norway was by far the most beautiful but about treble the prices we had paid in Sweden and Finland for things sometimes.

KoalasandRabbit · 15/02/2020 19:19

I think for your age group Sweden maybe better than where we went in Finland as activities in Finland where around 1 hour apart and ours were more for 7 plus than 0-5s. We did Sweden when ours were 2 and 3 and also flew from Stockholm to Copenhagen where we went to Tivoli. Flew with Norwegian between two.

theoriginalmadambee · 15/02/2020 20:06

Depends on what you want, if you are going to rent a house and enjoy nature and a couple of days in a big city. Or if you want a big city only.

Sweden has lovely nature, flatish in the south, but they have a lot of mountains (fjeld). If it were me, I would go to Stockholm 3-4 days and then head to the north to the ice hotel and the grand nature. But I like nature Smile.

Long time since I was in Helsinki, but not as big as Stockholm with less entertainment.

And foodwise... Denmark is expensive to visit. I think Sweden a little less so. Norway very expensive.

lynsey91 · 15/02/2020 20:13

Me and DH love the Netherlands and have had quite a few holidays there. Much cheaper than Sweden.

Not sure what there is for children although there is Duinrell which is a holiday site with a large theme park which is free if you stay on site

KoalasandRabbit · 15/02/2020 20:24

We found Swedish prices similar to UK ones, you can compare online here, says Swedish restaurants are cheaper, groceries more expensive.

MNOverinvestor · 15/02/2020 20:31

I'd go for Sweden - while eating out can be more expensive than UK, supermarkets feel roughly the same. Swedish archipelago would allow you to take ferries and head into Stockholm for sight-seeing (don't miss the Vasa museum). Overnight ferries between Stockholm and Helsinki are very cheap and good.

(BTW Swedish schools tend to go back sooner than UK ones so you might get lower rates if you can do late August)

lynsey91 · 16/02/2020 10:10

@KoalasandRabbit we found eating out to be ridiculously expensive and that was 3 years ago. I would have thought prices would have gone up since then.

Even having a sandwich and coffee at lunchtime was costing close to £25/£30 for 2 of us.

I could not believe the price of groceries and that was in Lidl. Other supermarkets were dearer

SJaneS48 · 16/02/2020 10:46

We found eating out in Sweden more expensive than the U.K. too (although I only have Stockholm as a point of reference). Two pizza’s, garlic bread, a half carafe of wine and some orange juice in a bog standard Italian in Gamla Stan was £65 7 years ago and like the PP I would have thought prices since would have gone up not down. Nor was it an especially pricey restaurant and seemed pretty typical price wise of other restaurants in central Stockholm.

KoalasandRabbit · 16/02/2020 11:48

We went this summer and prices were similar to UK but we weren't in Stockholm, Norway was vicious but Swedish supermarkets from similar prices and restaurants similar - £10-£15 for an evening meal per person. It jumped massively in Norway - £35 per person for a very average lunch in a cafe and £15 for a takeaway Thai from a van at a very average supermarket rurally in Norway. Accomodation in Sweden was similar price to UK, £100 a night for 4 of us. Norway had to use AirBNB as hotel prices so expensive and had to eat in all the time as so expensive other than petrol station hot dogs for £1.

KoalasandRabbit · 16/02/2020 11:52

Takeaway = one plate of noodles

lynsey91 · 16/02/2020 15:10

Maybe the exchange rate is a lot different which would explain the difference?

We found transport to be cheaper than London and hotel prices were probably a bit cheaper. We only stayed 2 nights in hotels as we were self catering in airbnb. They were just fairly basic hotels but the rooms were much bigger than we have ever had in UK and both had armchairs or a sofa in unlike here where you are lucky if you get 1 chair and so have to sit on the bed to watch tv

KoalasandRabbit · 16/02/2020 15:40

When we were there it was just under 12 SEK to the pound, August 2017 was around 10.25 SEK to pound and August 2016 around 11 SEK to a pound. Now at 12.86 to the pound so will be partly exchange rate. We also are used to London prices which may make a difference. Looked up a Swedish menu and prices seemed very similar to UK to me except alcohol which was double our prices, we don't drink alcohol with meals out. I think also once you've seen Norway prices or Lapland prices in winter everything else seems like a bargain.

KoalasandRabbit · 16/02/2020 16:07

July / August 2013 was about 10 SEK to pound so exchange has improved quite a bit for us.

geojojo · 17/02/2020 08:48

Thanks for the help so far. My in-laws are usually very frugal but want to give everyone a special holiday so price isn't the biggest factor (although not entirely sure of their budget tbh). They were considering a long haul holiday to somewhere like Canada/New Zealand but other family members won't fly that far so we are now sticking to Europe. I think Sweden is looking a bit more suitable. The plan is to stay in a big self catering place and maybe go on different day trips with some together. We all like different things so that's a factor. We love nature/hiking and also visiting cities/historical sites whereas other family members just want to relax with maybe some gentle nature walks etc, others are concerned about their children getting bored so want a lot of hold friendly activities. So hard to find what's suitable for all!

OP posts:
AlphaHotelFoxtrot · 17/02/2020 09:25

There used to be a ferry between Stockholm and Turku in Finland, through the archipelago. It is a beautiful trip, takes about 10 hours and would definitely recommend including it if possible.

KoalasandRabbit · 17/02/2020 10:24

Hiking is pretty easy to find in almost all Scandinavia, most scenic was by fjords in Norway that we saw. We did the area between Alesund and Bergen but inland a bit, all spectacular. If price isn't too much of an issue and self catering maybe worth considering Norway. We could get AirBNB accommodation quite reasonably there, £100 per night ish for a house for 4 of us for nice places. Food was incredibly expensive, some of it in those areas was 3 times what you'ld pay in UK so we did a lot of cooking. I think groceries were about 40% more than in UK so not cheap but if self-catering manageable.

Fjords are magnificent for hiking and boat trips which would be suitable for all kids ages, Flam railway was good if very touristy, we did a wildlife safari by Alesund, Alesund is so pretty, few viking museums around and quite a few places with animals suitable for small kids. Some places do close when school holidays are over which I think is mid August, same in Sweden. Not so much an issue in the cities but rurally things start to go to weekends only then. If you are going rurally especially if self-catering check there is enough in areas for kids anywhere in Scandinavia, things can be very rural and far apart, part of the beauty of it but not when you have a couple of kids in the back arguing or asking are we there yet. Grin Cities have things to do all year.

MNOverinvestor · 18/02/2020 11:28

Given the differing interests, I think just somewhere on the archipelago outside Stockholm might be best. If on a ferry route, it would be easy for those with kids to head into town for the Vasa/Skansen (outdoor museum) and the Grona Lund funfair (all on the same Stockholm island). Sandhamm might be a good base or Grinda - has a combination of cabins, hotel and a hostel... and there are other similar set-ups on other islands.

scissy · 19/02/2020 18:55

Having seen your latest update I second the Stockholm archipelago. We stayed on Üto which is one of the bigger islands so more there, but it is further from Stockholm so less good for access back for sightseeing. You're probably better off staying on a closer island mentioned above. However the Vasa and Skansen are well worth a visit. If you're feeling adventurous you can also get the train from Stockholm to Uppsala (Swedish version of Cambridge with added Viking history) which is possible in a (long) day.

KoalasandRabbit · 19/02/2020 19:50

If you want a few days rurally as well as Stockholm somewhere like this may work - they do beaver safaris, and links into Wild Sweden wildlife tours for moose, wolves etc. Also has canoeing and lake can swim in on site as well as sheep farm. Not stayed there but has good reviews.

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