Lately, I have become obsessed with the idea of a road trip around Scandinavia.
We have been to Stockholm twice and the city left a wonderful impression on all four of us. However, we never really had the time to go beyond the city limits and I would love to expand our knowledge of the area exploring more of Sweden and even venturing across the border into Norway.
Travel planner than I am, my daydreaming has soon turned into travel research: this are some of my notes about the Scandinavian road trip I’d love to take.
Discovering rock art with a Scandinavian road trip experience
I have always known Sweden and Norway to be famous because of their rich, incredible natural scenery. However, until recently I hadn’t realised they are also home to some important archaeological gems such as the prehistoric rock carvings of Tanum, now listed as UNESCO World Heritage site.
These rock carvings date back to the Bronze Age and are said to be unique for their unusually high quality, variety of themes depicted and chronological unity.
They are in the South West of Sweden and I believe they would make a perfect stop between Oslo and Gothemburg as well as one of the cultural highlights of our trip. This is how I would get on to organise our Scandinavian road trip.
Create an itinerary ahead your trip
My best ally when planning a road trip is Google Maps. I have issues with their GPS (in some locations it got us awfully lost) but I do find the maps great to gauge distances and driving times.
For our Scandinavia road trip, I am looking at an itinerary that includes Oslo, Bergen, Pulpit rock in Norway and then would head South of the border to explore the rock carving and finish our trip in Gothemburg, Sweden.
If the distances are accurate, I believe this would allow us to mix some longer driving days with quieter times and allow to visit some of Scandinavia’s most interesting sites.
Choose a starting point and explore it first.
For ease of access, the first stop on our road trip would be Oslo.
I have always been interested in it but I hadn’t appreciated how family friendly it was until I read how many activities and family friendly museums there are.
The city seems compact enough to be visited with ease even just with few days and it seems to offer very easy access to nature, which is always a plus. I think this would be a lovely first stop and could ease us and the kids into the beautiful scenery of the area.
Hire a car for a convenient and independent experience
From Oslo, I would hire a car. Experienced friends recommended www.holidayautos.com and it sounds like a great choice: it offers several different options, the chance to choose the pick-up and return date and place and, most of all is really easy to use – you can hire a car from any part of the world with a single click from your phone.
With it, we would first head to Bergen and then we would drive South toward Pulpit Rock: the drive down is quite long but the road is supposed to be scenic and having our own car would mean we could stop along the way and even break up the drive with an overnight stay.
From there, we would then get into Sweden and head South towards Tanum.
Exploring the Tanum UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Area
Rock carvings apparently exist in several parts of the country, but Tanum is exceptional in terms of variety and historical significance.
The rock carvings in Tanum were added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994 and they are unique. The most ancient carvings date back to 3000 years ago and they depict scenes of daily life and religious practices.
The two I would most dearly like to see are the Vitlycke Rock Carvings and Fossum carvings. Vitlycke Rock Carvings depict a holy wedding with a bridal couple representing a male deity of fertility and a woman, probably a ritual celebrating agricultural and animal prosperity.
The Fossum carvings, on the other hand, depict a more elaborate scene. They are said to be the most striking of all and are likely to have been created by the one person: they are a sequence of scenes which suggest this was a full on story developing over the rock face! They represent people and ships and close to the Fossum panel there is also a carving that seems to me overly fascinating: the image of a cart pulling the sun!
Visit Vitlycke Museum and Bronze Age Farm
The Tanum site is also home to the Vitlycke Museum and Bronze Age Farm. This museum is within the main archaeological area and seems perfect for families. Apparently, for the kids you can book the Archaeology School and the whole family can visit the reconstructed Bronze Age farm to see how people lived 3,000 years ago: I think this would be an incredible experience and a great complement to our visit to the very different but equally ancient sites in the Boyne Valley in Ireland.
After our archaeological fix, we would be ready to get back into the car and head own to Gothemburg, which is said to be beautiful, dynamic and family friendly, the perfect last stop on out family road trip.
I believe this itinerary, with cities, scenery and these incredible pre-historical sites would be a real treat for a family. Have you been to Scandinavia? How would you visit it?