Frequently Asked Questions


Where can I find tour prices?

Our tour prices are listed under the tour itinerary page of our web tour. They are listed as a FROM price and it might vary according to the season. Peak summer or Northern Lights season changes the price considerably depending on the property or demand. We also list the single supplement price (solo traveller supplement) and family prices. You need to click the blue + button to see these prices.

Our prices are listed as twin share - this means the prices are listed per adult (15 years or older) sharing a room.

What is the difference between an escorted, a small group and an independent tour?

Independent journeys: Our independent journeys have been created for those who like to move at their own pace. We combine the transport of your choice, be it car hire, private transfers or similar to allow you the freedom of the road. We visit these regions regularly and have a selection of hotels that we think compliment having a stressfree holiday. Let us take care of the mundane tasks, booking accommodation, car hire etc, so that you can concentrate on making your hardest decision of the day; what you would like to see and experience. If you do not see that perfect trip for you in the options already available, then do not hesitate to contact us and we will custom make one just for you.

Small Group and Escorted Tours: Often the best way to experience a destination is to be travelling with an knowlegable tour leader. Certainly when it comes to off-road driving across Iceland or reaching the best spots in Norway, it is not straightforward to do this as an independent traveller. All our small group tour departures include unique activities that can only be experienced with a local guide. The Nordic region lends itself well for a coastal or river voyage. We offer a selection of new and classic small group tours on board new environmentally friendly ships. Escorted tours differ only in that they are hosted by, for example, professional photographers, our own staff or other superheros. They always include a great range of local superior hotels, meals, activities and seasonal inclusions. As local Scandinavians, we include local festivals & cultural highlights; visit undiscovered regions, offering you more than just a holiday.

The vast majority of our small group and escorted tours are limited to 16 or 18 people. Some Iceland tours take 20, and some of our premium tours carry only 10-12. Our small group tours require a good level of fitness.

What sort of fitness do I need to join an escorted small group tour?

All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on our small group tours. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy group travel. Please consider carefully how much luggage you bring as you will be responsible for carrying all the luggage. There is limited portage service in Scandinavia and your tour escorts cannot help you, beyond reason. You will need to be able to walk up to 2-4 hours daily at a group pace on uneven surfaces without using any walking aid. You will also be expected to get on and off various modes of transport, including small boats as well as walk up stairs.

Scandinavia is a fairly accessible destination for people with restricted mobility and other disabilities and is actively working to be more accessible every day. However, please note that our group tours are often not suitable for persons with limited accessibility due to inclusions and pace. 50 Degrees North is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability and we can tailor-make independent itineraries for travellers when needed. Please contact us for further details.

When are the tours available?

Our tour dates are listed under the tour itinerary page of our web tour. These dates vary slightly from tour to tour depending on road conditions, hotel openings and cruise programs. We try to keep this as accurate as possible but depending on factors outside our control, the dates might change slightly when you enquire. Currently availability is VERY LIMITED across our region so even if it is listed as available, the tour may be fully booked.

What is a single/solo traveller supplement?

This is the additional cost you need to add to the tour price if you are planning on travelling alone. This covers the cost of the single room which in Scandinavia, might very likely be a normal double room that you have to yourself.

What does twin room/ twin share mean?

Twin share is the price per adult sharing. Twin room means two single beds per room. It is very common in Scandinavia for a double room to have two single beds pushed together.

For guests wanting multiple people in one room, in Scandinavia, extra beds are either rollaways or a sofa bed that might only fit one adult or 1-2 small children. Unlike American and Australian hotel rooms where often two double or queen beds fit, most rooms will only have enough space for 2 single beds.

What tours are the best for low fitness levels?

Our independent tours are the best for travellers with low fitness levels. Our Destination specialists can then tailor make the tour for you and you can go at your own pace. Whilst you will not have an escort with you at all times, you can include private guided tours in the cities.


What are the common bed sizes?

Bed sizes are quite different in Scandinavia to what you might be used to at home.

Norwegian Single Bed: 30 inches wide, 79 inches length
Finnish Single Bed: 35 inches wide, 83 inches length
Swedish Single Bed: 35 inches wide, 79 inches length
Double: 59/63 inches wide, 79 inches length
Swedish Double: 71 inches wide, 79 inches length
Finnish Double: 79 inches wide, 79 inches length

For guests wanting multiple people in one room, in Scandinavia, extra beds are either rollaways or a sofa bed that might only fit one adult or 1-2 small children. Unlike American and Australian hotel rooms where often two double or queen beds fit, most rooms will only have enough space for 2 single beds.

If you are unhappy with a meal or service?

Honest feedback at the time of service delivery is appreciated by the locals. Scandinavians are honest, direct and straightforward people and work on the assumption you will give them feedback at the time. They welcome direct feedback and are offended if they were not given the chance at the time to satisfy you.

Small differences when in Scandinavia?

Unexpectedly, all forms of Scandinavian accommodation rarely provide tea and coffee facilities in their rooms. If you are lucky, a kettle will be supplied but nothing else. Please ask at reception for some provisions when you arrive or just carry a small selection from home.

Hotel rooms in Scandinavia often only have twin beds - often pushed together to make a double. Rooms are generally always smaller than you expect and extra beds are rollaways or sofa beds.

Please also note that in Scandinavia - in particular, during winter - the included lunch will often be a hearty warm soup with bread.

Scandinavian public toilets are generally not free - we suggest carrying a small amount of change at all times. Please see our comprehensive guide to differences in the hotels and services of Scandinavia here.

Is tipping expected?

Generally, tipping is not mandatory in Scandinavia.

Our small group tour escorts: You may also consider tipping your tour escort for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline EUR5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Often in restaurants and cafes, if you are paying by card, you will be asked to manually add the amount which might make you feel pressured to add a tip. Don't feel like this is an obligation - locals sometimes do add a tip (5% - 10%) if the service was exceptional.

Is alcohol included in half-board or full-board?

Alcohol is rarely included in any of our packages. You may get a small glass of wine or glögg (warm winter wine with herbs) as a bonus in some situations.

What is half-board or full-board?

Half-board is breakfast and dinner, full-board is breakfast, lunch and dinner. Often the lunch will be soup or something pretty light. Hiking lunches are often organised from the breakfast table (i.e. eggs, ham, yoghurt tub, fruit and some rolls all wrapped up neatly).

Scandinavian Food - what to expect?

The food in Scandinavia and Finland could be bit different then what you are used to. Normally traditional meals are quite simple but tasty. Potatoes and other root vegetables have an important role with the cuisine. Before modern days, root vegetables were the only vegetables to be able to storage over a long winter.

During the winter months the dishes could be quite heavy, such as meat stews, game meats, hearty soups and creamy dishes. But you will also find nice and fresh seafood around Scandinavia. You can be sure to find rye bread served with everything, as well as fresh whole grain bread.

You wont find many dishes that have got a lot of strong spices. Cooking is simple while still using the best ingredients to make it tasty.

At the breakfast buffet in your hotels you will have a really good variety of items. You will find a good cold selection with ham, cheeses, salamis, vegetables, pate, herring and sometimes smoked salmon as well. Be sure to fill up!

A typical Scandinavian lunch could consist of a pea and ham soup or meatballs with mashed potatoes.

Something to try in Scandinavia

Korvapuusti - Finnish cinnamon bun.
Karjalan piirakka - A savoury rice pasty that Finns usually eat as a light snack with either just butter or an egg-butter on top.
Fika - A Swedish word for having a coffee or another beverage of your choice together with baked sweets, pastries or sandwiches.
Hot Dog - Hot dogs are known as the first fast food in Denmark. Try a traditional Danish hot dog with either fresh or fried onion on top.
Seafood - Norway is well known for its seafood. If you’re in Bergen, enjoy a visit to the Fish Market, one of Norway’s most visited outdoor markets.

A word of advice about tea and coffee

In Scandinavia you will find that a regular coffee is a filtered coffee that has been standing in it’s pot for a while and is very bitter, but the Scandinavians drink it in masses.

Also note that Scandinavia doesn’t really have a tea culture so if you ask for an English breakfast tea you will probably end up with lukewarm water in a coffee cup and a tea bag on the side. Most hotels do not have a kettle in the room since it’s just not the norm but you can always ask for one from the reception. We also recommend bringing some tea bags with you to be on the safe side if you are a tea drinker.

Do Scandinavian hotels and restaurants cater for a gluten-free diets?

It's very common to have locals and guests requesting gluten-free meals in the Nordic region. In the capital cities, most restaurants will plan the menu around special dietary requirements. Letting the hotel know on arrival that you are gluten free is generally all you need to do in preparation; they will ensure breakfast has a selection of GF bread/knekkebrød and similar for breakfast. If you are celiac, remind the hotel that they need to pre-organise it with the chef/ Kitchen, using a celiac-friendly chopping-board, knives and such.

For some of our escorted tours with extended stays in one location, we are more than happy to let the hotel know before you arrive if you have special dietary requirements.


What is the most appropriate type of luggage to bring? How much luggage are you bringing?

Just note that many of our capital cities have cobblestones which means it can be difficult to pull your suitcases. Likewise, big bulky suitcases are difficult for our transfers and our mini coaches. When booking your tour and transfers, we will only be expecting you to have one suitcase and one carry on. If you are bringing more than this, please let us know as we will need to order larger vehicles to carry this additional luggage with its additional charges.


Will my mobile work in the Nordic Region?

If you want to take your phone with you, there is a good chance that it will work in most major cities. Check with your service provider before you go if they have a reciprocal agreement with the countries you are travelling to, and make sure you remember to turn off international roaming if you are not aware of the costs. We use WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger video calls as a way of keeping in touch as we travel ourselves. Free Wifi is available in most hotels and transportation in the Nordic Region.

What currencies are needed during my Scandinavian tour?

The monetary unit in Denmark (DKK), Sweden (SEK), Iceland (ISK) and Norway (NOK) is the Krone, although each of these hold a different value. These are different currencies, and surplus Krone can be frequently used in border towns as you pass through. Danish Krone (DKK) is the currency in Greenland. In Finland, Euros are used, and in Russia the currency is Ruble.

A good website to refer to before you travel is the http://www.xe.com/ to adapt your currency to the places you are visiting. Perhaps writing a small summary of the different exchange rates will help when you arrive.

If you are visiting the Arctic with 50 Degrees North, you are most likely to be using US Dollars or an account prepared as you arrive on board. This varies with each ship and details will be in the trip notes.

What is the best way to take money with me?

A combination of a small amount of cash, an ATM card and perhaps a credit card, as back-up is good. And remember to check with your bank about using your bank cards overseas.

What happens to my money when I pay for my trip?

When 50 Degrees North receives your trip payment from you or via your travel agent, the funds are deposited into a ‘Client Trust Account’. The money stays in this account until we are obliged to pay our suppliers and hoteliers, which is usually 30 days prior to your trip departure. The reason is that in the unlikely event of 50 Degrees North ever going broke, your money is still safe and you would get it back in full. The 50 Degrees North ‘Client Trust Account’ is independently audited every year in accordance with Australia's Travel Agency standards. Failure to meet financial criteria reflecting the financial viability of a travel agent results in revocation of the agent's licence to trade. 50 Degrees North is licensed under these arrangements. 50 Degrees North Nordic AS has, by law, issued a guarantee to the Travel Guarantee Fund (Reisegarantifondet or RGF), which protects you as the customer in the unlikely event that we should become insolvent.


Border Requirements for entering the Nordic Region?

Please see the latest requirements for entering our region here.

Do I need an international driver's licence for a self-drive tour?

You can generally use driving licences from other countries, providing they are valid, and you are old enough to drive according to that countries age requirements. You should have one of the newest models (EEA plastic driving licence). You will also need to show your driver's licence for snowmobile safaris.


When is the best time to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)?

The Northern Lights can be seen around and above the Arctic Circle during the period between late September and late March, although the experience can be very different in e.g. October vs. February.

In late September to early October you will have stable autumn weather and autumn colours. There will be little or no snow, so this is not a time to do winter snow activities.

During late October to early December the winter settles in with more unstable weather and the occasional autumn storms. Travelling during this time is best in the inland climates of northern Sweden & Finland, as snow conditions on the coast are scarse.

Late December to early January is your darkest time of year, and many travel to experience a white Christmas. The sun will not appear above the horizon, but there will be 3-5 hours of dawn and dusk each day with magnificent blue polar light.

The best winter months are late January to late March with good snow across the region. Weather is stable and conditions for Northern Lights are generally the best of the season. This is also a great time of year to enjoy a great winter holiday with lots of snow activities.

What causes the Northern Lights?

Aurora happens when the sun sends off particles into space. These particles are charged, and form what is called ‘solar wind’. When solar wind hits Earth’s magnetic field in the Polar areas, where the magnetic shield is less powerful, it collides with particles in our atmosphere and creates electricity and light. It is this light that we see as the Northern Light, or Aurora Borealis. An aurora can also occur when the charged particles rip through the electromagnetic field because of their power.

How can I see the Northern Lights?

The best chance you have of seeing the Northern Lights is to put yourself in the right spot at the right time for enough time. Of course, this is easily said - so our job is to help you plan this experience to maximise your chances. Getting above the Arctic circle in a place with no artifical light is your first step. Then allowing enough days for a clear night to occur. As you can see from our Aurora Borealis tours, we position you in the best viewing spot, fill your days with fun winter activities and you watch the skies at night for several days at the minimum.

What is the Midnight Sun?

During the summer season above the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for several months. This phenomenon is caused by the tilt in the Earth's axis. This axis is the imaginary line through the planet between the south and the north poles around which it rotates.

As the Earth orbits the Sun, the tilt makes the North Pole face towards the Sun in summer (keeping it in sunlight even as the Earth spins) and away from it in winter (keeping it dark). Hence the continuous sunlight during the summer. Of course, after a dark winter, the flora, the fauna and the people of this region all go a little crazy in the sunshine with a huge 24 hour a day energy burst.

How can I see the Midnight Sun?

Fortunately, the Midnight Sun isn't as difficult to find as the Aurora Borealis lights. From early June to mid July, Northern Norway and Northern Finland bask in 24 hour sunlight. The higher you travel, the longer the opportunity to see the Midnight sun is. Svalbard for instance has the Midnight Sun for approximately 4 months.

You can sit on the North Cape and watch the sun dip tantalising close to the horizon, only to turn around and head back up again. It is quite incredible to watch. The easiest and most common way to enjoy the Midnight Sun is to board a Hurtigruten Ship along the Norwegian coast. Cruises that depart around the Mid summer can get busy so plan your voyage early. Or if you prefer to self-drive and explore Norway in your own time, our 8 day Journey through Lapland would be our suggested Midnight Sun tour.

Greenland also enjoys the Midnight Sun from mid May to the end of July.

The Scandinavian capitals all enjoy long summer days - Oslo never really gets dark in summer, just a soft sunset glow during the mid summer season. Stockholm likewise has 18.5 hrs of sun in June and as with all cities who enjoy the Midnight sun, celebrates mid summer with festivals galore.


Where is the Nordic Region?

The Nordic region consists of countries in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic, including Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the associated territories of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Svalbard and the Åland Islands.

Where is Scandinavia?

Scandinavia is sometimes used as a synonym for all the Nordic countries (often excluding Greenland), but that term more properly refers to the countries on the Scandinavian peninsula of Northern Europe—Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

And although Finland is not technically considered part of Scandinavia due to its ties to the Baltic countries, it nonetheless shares many of the geographical, cultural and historical characteristics as the Scandinavian countries, particularly its neighbour Sweden.

How do I get to the Nordic Countries?

The Nordic capital cities (Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Reykjavik) are typically the first arrival destinations for our travellers.

The following are major international airports in the Nordic capitals:
• Finland: Helsinki-Vantaa Airport
• Sweden: Stockholm-Arlanda Airport
• Denmark: Copenhagen-Kastrup Airport
• Norway: Olso-Gardermoen Airport
• Iceland: Keflavik Airport

What is the best time of year to travel to Scandinavia, Iceland and Finland?

Weather and seasons are important factors when travelling to the North. The seasons heighten the beauty of the landscape and make everything fresh, different from home and new.

In Scandinavia, the summers are warm and mild and generally it is unusual for it to be windy. Autumn brings spectacular displays of colours and fresher weather. Spring in Scandinavia is awash with wildflowers and the blossoms.

The Gulf Stream plays an influential part in the weather patterns of Scandinavia. Areas on the Norwegian coast, Iceland and Greenland, as with other areas of Northern Europe experience the powerful warmer air moving into these areas, keeping it warmer than it should be. This stream means that you will be travelling into the Arctic with milder weather conditions than in 50 degrees south.

At 50 Degrees North, we believe strongly that it is important to know before you travel the weather conditions you might expect on your trip. Norwegians have a saying about “there is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing”. We have prepared a table below that gives an indication of the daylight hours and temperatures. For more details, please refer to the links below the table.

Don’t be put off by the minus signs before the letters. Your tour guides and the structure of the tours accommodate for these temperatures, cabins are cosy, fires are lit and if you need to buy more clothing during your trip, Scandinavian woollen gear is of great abundance and quality. We have found by experience that prices are also very moderate compared to your typical high quality woollen/cold weather gear in Australia.

On the days that indicate a very short time of actual sun rise, it is important to know that there is a long dawn and a long dusk. The actual time that you can see outside, therefore, is considerably extended.

Good resource for Nordic weather patterns: http://www.yr.no/english/1.2025949

Good resource for Sunrise/Sunset times: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=211

How can I stay warm and comfortable on my Nordic tour in cold regions?

Avoid overdressing to reduce perspiration.

Wear water repellent outer garments that will keep you dry on the outside and still “breathe” enough so that moisture from your body can escape.

Body heat is most likely to be lost from parts that have a lot of surface area in comparison to total mass - namely, the hands and feet. Keep them warm and dry. For hands, mittens are better than gloves.

Another polar maxim is “if you have cold feet, put a hat on!” If the rest of your body is covered, as much as 90% of the heat you lose can come from your head, so be sure to wear a beanie or balaclava. These items can be pulled down to protect your ears, forehead, neck and chin. The neck also needs protection with a woollen or synthetic scarf, which can be wrapped around the face when travelling against the wind.

Dress in comfortable, loose layers. For anyone out in the cold, it is far better to wear layers of relatively light, loose clothing than one thick, heavy item. Between each layer there is a film of trapped air, which, when heated by your body, acts as an excellent insulator.

Wool and silk are superior to cotton because they can trap warm air.

Synthetic fabrics that spring back into shape after compression are also good. When damp or wet, polyester down is a better insulator than goose or duck down. Polar fleece is popular and recommended.

Getting around on ice - any advice?

We suggest purchasing some slip-on crampon style ice cleats. You can buy these online or purchase them on arrival. Be safe & read this guide on walking on ice.

How to walk on ice


How can I give feedback about my tour?

We believe that speaking directly to people is the best way possible to find out about your travels and experiences. If you would like to give us direct or indirect feedback, please either call us or email us through our website, and we can call you back. It would be our pleasure.

We would also appreciate it if you could review us via our Facebook page or a google review if you are comfortable with that.

If you have a Google and/or a Google Plus account, we would appreciate a ‘Google Review’. These reviews add the Stars to our Google listing. The process is to visit plus.google.com/local and search for 50 Degrees North, West Melbourne. Once you are there, you can see the little pencil edit button to add your much-appreciated review.

If you have seen us via an online tour website, such as TravelStride, you can also review us there.

Thanks very much.

What if I have a complaint?

In the unlikely event that you should have a complaint about your tour, expedition or services offered by 50 Degrees North we urge you to bring this up with our staff, the tour/expedition leader or company representative immediately so that we can attempt to rectify the issue. If at the end of the tour or expedition your feel that your complaint as not been adequately dealt with you must notify us in writing no later than 30 days after the end date of the services 50 Degrees North has provided.

How can I apply to work with 50 Degrees North?

We would love to hear from you if you are interested in working with 50 Degrees North. We are a growing company, determined to provide our guests with the best possible experience, one that we would want to have ourselves. We can be contacted via our website page for details regarding current vacancies.