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By Plane

Flying in winter -- Scandinavia's off season -- is cheapest; summer is the most expensive season. Spring and fall are in between. In any season, midweek fares (Mon-Thurs) are the lowest.

The Major Airlines -- Travelers from the U.S. East Coast usually choose SAS (tel. 800/221-2350 in the U.S.; www.flysas.com). Another major competitor is American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300 in the U.S.; www.aa.com), which offers daily flights to Stockholm from Chicago, and excellent connections through Chicago from American's vast North American network. Travelers from Seattle usually fly SAS to Copenhagen, then connect to one of the airline's frequent shuttle flights into Stockholm.

Other airlines fly to gateway European cities and then connect to other flights into Stockholm. British Airways (tel. 800/AIRWAYS [247-9297] in the U.S. and Canada; www.britishairways.com), for example, flies from more than 25 North American cities to London/Heathrow, and then connects with onward flights to Stockholm. Northwest (tel. 800/225-2525 in the U.S.; www.nwa.com) also flies at frequent intervals to London, from which ongoing flights to Stockholm are available on either SAS or British Airways. Finally, Icelandair (tel. 800/223-5500 in the U.S.; www.icelandair.com) has proved to be an excellent choice for travel to Stockholm, thanks to connections through its home port of Reykjavik.

People traveling from Britain can fly SAS (tel. 0870/6072-77-27 in London; www.flysas.com) from London's Heathrow to Stockholm on any of five daily nonstop flights. Flying time is about 2 1/2 hours each way. Likewise, SAS flies daily to Stockholm from Manchester, making a brief stop in Copenhagen en route. Flight time from Manchester to Stockholm is about 3 1/2 hours each way.

By Car from Continental Europe

From Germany -- You can drive to the northern German port of Travemuünde and catch the 7 1/2-hour ferry (www.directferries.co.uk) to the Swedish port of Trelleborg, a short drive south of Malmö. This route saves many hours by avoiding transit through Denmark. If you want to visit Denmark before Sweden, you can take the 3-hour car ferry from Travemuünde to Gedser in southern Denmark. From Gedser, the E64 and the E4 express highways head north to Copenhagen. After a visit here, you can take the Øresund Bridge from Copenhagen to Malmö.

From Norway -- From Oslo, E18 goes east through Karlstad all the way to Stockholm. This is a long but scenic drive.

By Train from Copenhagen or Oslo

Copenhagen is the main rail hub between the other Scandinavian countries and the rest of Europe. Seven daily trains run between Copenhagen and Stockholm, six between Copenhagen and Gothenburg. All connect with the Danish ferries that operate to Sweden via Helsingør or Frederikshavn.

At least three trains a day depart from Oslo to Stockholm (travel time: about 6 1/2 hr.). One of the trains leaves Oslo around 11pm. Three trains run from Oslo to Gothenburg daily (travel time: about 4 hr.).

Rail Passes for North American Travelers -- If you plan to travel extensively on the European and/or British railroads, it would be worthwhile for you to get a copy of the latest edition of the Thomas Cook European Timetable of Railroads. It's available online at www.thomascooktimetables.com.

  • Eurailpass -- If you plan to travel extensively in Europe, the Eurailpass might be a good bet. It's valid for first-class rail travel in 18 European countries. With one ticket, you travel whenever and wherever you please; more than 100,000 rail miles are at your disposal. Here's how it works: The pass is sold only in North America. A Eurailpass good for 15 days costs $796, a pass for 21 days is $1,032, a 1-month pass costs $1,281, a 2-month pass is $1,808, and a 3-month pass goes for $2,232. Children under 4 travel free if they don't occupy a seat; all children under 12 who take up a seat are charged half-price. If you're under 26, you can buy a Eurail Select Pass Youth. For three countries, a Youth Pass costs $328 for 5 days in 2 months; $365 for 6 days in 2 months; $428 for 8 days in 2 months, and $495 for 10 days in 2 months. Travelers considering buying a 15-day or 1-month pass should estimate rail distance before deciding whether a pass is worthwhile. To take full advantage of the tickets for 15 days or a month, you'd have to spend a great deal of time on the train. Eurailpass holders are entitled to substantial discounts on certain buses and ferries as well. Travel agents in all towns and railway agents in such major cities as New York, Montreal, and Los Angeles sell all of these tickets. For information on Eurailpasses and other European train data, call RailEurope at tel. 877/272-RAIL [7245], or visit it on the Web at www.raileurope.com.
  • Eurail Select Saver Pass offers a 15% discount to each person in a group of three or more people traveling together between April and September, or two people traveling together between October and March. The Saver Pass is valid all over Europe for first class only. One adult can travel in three countries at the following prices: $428 for 5 days in 2 months, $474 for 6 days in 2 months, $564 for 8 days in 2 months, and $647 for 10 days in 2 months. Even more freedom is offered by the Saver Flexipass, which is similar to the Eurail Saverpass, except that you are not confined to consecutive-day travel. For travel over any 10 days within 2 months, the fare is $939; for any 15 days over 2 months, the fare is $1,234.
  • Eurail Flexipass allows even greater flexibility. It's valid in first class and offers the same privileges as the Eurailpass. However, it provides a number of individual travel days over a much longer period of consecutive days. Using this pass makes it possible to stay longer in one city and not lose a single day of travel. There are two Flexipasses: 10 days of travel within 2 months for $797, and 15 days of travel within 2 months for $1,049.

    With many of the same qualifications and restrictions as the Eurail Flexipass, the Eurail Youth Flexipass is sold only to travelers under age 25. It allows 10 days of travel within 2 months for $609 and 15 days of travel within 2 months for $803.

  • Eurail Sweden Pass -- If you're traveling just in Sweden, this pass allows you unlimited travel on the national rail system of Sweden from 3 to 8 days in 1 month. You have a choice of first- or second-class travel, with discounts for youths and seniors. Prices are as follows: First class for adults is $389 to $589; youth $262 to $407; seniors $299 to $455. Second class for adults is $299 to $455; youth $229 to $339; seniors $197 to $319.
  • Scanrail Pass -- If your visit to Europe will be primarily in Scandinavia, the Scanrail pass may be better and cheaper than the Eurailpass. This pass allows its owner a designated number of days of free rail travel within a larger time block. (Presumably, this allows for days devoted to sightseeing scattered among days of rail transfers between cities or sites of interest.) You can choose a total of any 5 days of unlimited rail travel during a 2-month period, 8 days of rail travel within a 2-month period, 10 days of rail travel within a 2-month period, or 21 days of unlimited rail travel. The pass, which is valid on all lines of the state railways of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, offers discounts or free travel on some (but not all) of the region's ferry lines as well. The pass can be purchased only in North America. It's available from any office of RailEurope (tel. 800/848-7245) or ScanAm World Tours, 108 N. Main St., Cranbury, NJ 08512 (tel. 800/545-2204; www.scandinaviantravel.com).

    You can choose only second-class rail transport: 5 days out of 2 months costs $173 to $346, 8 days out of 2 months costs $219 to $437, 10 days out of 2 months costs $243 to $485, and 21 consecutive days of unlimited travel costs $232 to $463. Seniors get an 11% discount, and students receive a 30% discount. Check www.scanrail.com.

  • Rail Passes for British Travelers -- If you plan to do a lot of exploring, you might prefer one of the three rail passes designed for unlimited train travel within a designated region during a predetermined number of days. These passes are sold in Britain and several other European countries and can be used only by European residents.

    An InterRail Global Pass (www.interrail.com) allows unlimited travel through Europe, except Albania and the republics of the former Soviet Union.

    Adults purchasing an InterRail global Pass can travel first or second class. In first class, prices are $329 for 5 days in 10 days; $489 for 10 days in 22 days; $629 for 22 days continuous; or $809 for 1 month. In second class, the cost is $249 for 5 days in 10 days; $359 for 10 days in 22 days; $469 for 22 days continuous; and $599 for 1 month continuous.

    An InterRail Global Youth Pass is also sold and is available only in second class. Youth are defined as those travelers ranging from age 12 up to and including 25 years of age. The cost is $159 for 5 days in 10 days, $239 for 10 days in 22 days, $309 for 22 days continuous, and $399 for 1 month continuous.

    For information on buying individual rail tickets or any of the just-mentioned passes, contact National Rail Inquiries, Victoria Station, London (tel. 0845/748-4950; www.nationalrail.co.uk). Tickets and passes are also available at any of the larger railway stations as well as selected travel agencies throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.

    By Ship & Ferry

    From Denmark -- Ferries ply the waters for the brief run from Helsingør, a short drive north of Copenhagen, and Helsingborg, Sweden, just across the narrow channel that separates the countries. The 25-minute trip on a conventional ferry (not a catamaran) runs at 10- to 40-minute intervals, 24 hours a day. Operated by Scandlines (tel. 33/15-15-15 in Copenhagen; www.scandlines.dk), it's one of the most popular ferry routes in Europe. Round-trip passage costs 74€ ($118/£59) for a car with up to nine passengers; the ticket is valid for up to 12 months.

    From England -- Two English ports, Harwich (year-round) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (summer only), offer ferry service to Sweden. Harwich to Gothenburg takes 23 to 25 hours, Newcastle to Gothenburg 27 hours. Boats on both routes offer overnight accommodations and the option of transporting cars. Prices are lower for passengers who book in advance through the company's U.S. agent. For details, call Sea Europe Holidays, 6801 Lake Worth Rd., Ste. 107, Lake Worth, FL 33467 (tel. 800/533-3755 in the U.S.; www.seaeurope.com).

    From Germany -- Stena Line Ferries (tel. 031/85-80-00; www.stenaline.com) sails daily from Kiel to Gothenburg. The trip takes 14 hours and costs £124 ($248) for a one-way passage.

    Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.