Scandinavia & Shetlands

14 Jul - 4 Aug 2023

This tour will show you – in spectacular fashion – how innovative and hardy farmers are successfully growing crops and livestock in some of the world's most challenging (and stunningly beautiful) regions.

The Netherlands offers a very refined start to this itinerary with its rich culture and hi-tech farming before we then venture into Scandinavia with its very "orderly" mixture of high yield farming, Viking rampages and the troll roads in the stunning Norwegian fjord lands. Then we're off to the remote reaches of the Shetland Isles giving this tour an unforgettable mixture of cultures and landscapes.

The end of this tour has been designed to neatly coincide with the opening weekend of the spectacular Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Tickets and accommodation (2 nights) are as scarce as bagpipers' underpants so you need to be quick. We have managed to reserve some tickets and hotel rooms, so first in best dressed. 


View or Print Itinerary

Day 1

Fri 14 Jul

Tour leader: Lloyd O’Connell 0428 724 615

The tour departs various Australian capitals for Amsterdam.

There is the option to leave a day or two earlier to break this long journey with a stopover on the way or to arrive in Amsterdam (or somewhere else in Europe) ahead of the main group.

In Transit

Day 2

Sat 15 Jul

On arrival in Amsterdam, you are met and transferred to our wonderful canal-side boutique hotel. After a well-earned freshen-up and a chance to stretch your legs with a walk around some very nearby sights, we will have a welcome reception to meet up with your fellow travellers.

The Netherlands

Hotel Estherea
Amsterdam view website

Day 3

Sun 16 Jul

This morning we enjoy a private canal tour of Amsterdam, with lunch on board, before a free day to do your own exploration of some of the many museums and art galleries etc Amsterdam has to offer.

Hotel Estherea

Day 4

Mon 17 Jul

This morning we are up early to visit the world's biggest flower auction at Aalsmeer, on Amsterdam's outskirts. The auction building is the fourth largest by footprint in the world, covering 518,000 square metres. We then travel southwest about 50 km to Leiden, a beautiful town nestled at the confluence of the Old and New Rhine Rivers and home of the oldest university in the Netherlands. It is also the birthplace of Rembrandt. This is a lovely town without the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam.

We will visit Leiden's Hortus Botanicus (Botanical Gardens) for lunch and a brief guided tour. Established in 1590, Hortus Botanicus was the site of the planting of Holland’s first tulip bulbs in 1593.

Then it's some free time to do your own exploration of the Old Town.

On our way back to Amsterdam we will visit an intensive horticultural glasshouse operation. The Netherlands is ranked second in the world (behind the US) in the value of farm exports. This is largely due to their "under glass" flower and horticultural industries.

We return to Amsterdam for a free evening.

Hotel Estherea

Day 5

Tue 18 Jul

We check out of the hotel this morning and travel to the north via the 32km Afsluitdijk – the dyke constructed in 1932 to cut-off the North Sea from the Dutch Southern Sea – and through vast areas of reclaimed land (the polders). We will visit a world-leading high-tech machinery manufacturer exporting their technology to Australian farmers before crossing into Germany for overnight in the Oldenburg area.


Patentkrug Hotel
Oldenburg view website

Day 6

Wed 19 Jul

We continue to the border region of Germany and Denmark and visit a family farming operation – with wind turbines as a lucrative "sideline" – before crossing into Denmark and the southern end of the Yutland Peninsula. The peninsula is home to some of Denmark’s best farming country.

Our overnight stop for the next two nights is the magnificent Kolding fjord.


Hotel Koldingfjord
Kolding view website

Day 7

Thu 20 Jul

This morning we travel north further into Yutland and enjoy some of the wonderful sights of the region as well as an arable farm visit where high-input, high-yielding crops are expertly grown.

We return to Kolding for overnight.

Hotel Koldingfjord

Day 8

Fri 21 Jul

We head eastwards this morning and onto the island of Fyn. Here we will visit the 450 years old Egeskov Castle and farming estate. Egeskov is famous for being the best preserved moat castle in Europe. For the past 130 years the Estate has been a model of agricultural innovation including the building of its own power station and railway track to nearby Kværndrup to deliver its produce. Innovations such as these over many years has formed the economic basis for the large, modern farm that Egeskov is to this day.

In 1967, the Veteran Car Museum was opened in the Castle grounds. Over the years, the museum has been extended to include several of the surrounding farm buildings and now showcases an amazing collection of vintage cars, motor bikes, aircraft and farm machinery – doesn’t every farm have these little extras?

We continue further to the east and cross onto the island of Zealand, via the The Great Belt Bridge. The bridge consists of several structures – a road suspension bridge; a railway tunnel; and, a box girder bridge for both road and rail traffic.

Our destination this afternoon is Skaelskor, a small town on Zealand's west coast. Historically Skaelskor was an important harbour for maritime traffic between Zealand and Fyn. Today the town is home to one of Denmark's largest breweries – Harboe. Barley and other crops grow very well in this corner of Denmark.

After a visit to a farm just to the north of Skaelskor, which happens to be owned by a very good farmer who worked a few harvests in southern Qld in his youth, we are joined by our new-found Danish friends for dinner.

Hotel Postgaarden
Skaelskor view website

Day 9

Sat 22 Jul

We continue to the northeast and into the heart of the island of Zealand, the biggest of Denmark’s 400 plus islands. We have another farm visit this morning near Roskilde. Dating from the pre-Christian Viking Age, Roskilde's UNESCO-listed Gothic cathedral, now housing 39 tombs of the Danish monarchs, was completed in 1275, becoming a focus of religious influence until the Reformation.

Our destination this afternoon is Copenhagen, the Danish capital which regularly tops world ‘liveability’ lists. This is a vibrant, modern city with a fascinating past which co-exists with the very latest trends in architecture, design and fashion. And it’s one of the globe’s greenest, cleanest and most sustainable urban centres with a beautiful and squeaky clean harbour. Urban planners over the centuries have maintained a compact and accessible design making it an easy place to explore.

On arrival, we will check into our downtown hotel and then have a guided walking tour to stretch our legs.

Day 10

Sun 23 Jul

Since the turn of the 21st century, Copenhagen has seen strong urban and cultural development, facilitated by investment in its institutions and infrastructure. The city of more than 800,000 is the cultural, economic and governmental centre of Denmark. It is also one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe with the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.

Copenhagen's economy has seen rapid developments in the service sector, especially through initiatives in information technology, pharmaceuticals and clean technology.

Since the completion of the Oresund Bridge in, linking Denmark with Sweden, Copenhagen has become increasingly integrated with the Swedish province of Scania and its largest city, Malmo.

We see the Copenhagen's main sights including the Queen’s Palace of Christiansborg, the Rosenborg Palace, the Amelienborg Palace (with a bit of luck, our Mary might be home) and of course, the famous Little Mermaid sculpture, before time to do your own exploration of this wonderful city.

Absalon Hotel

Day 11

Mon 24 Jul

We checkout this morning and cross into Sweden via the Oresund Bridge. Completed in 1999 at a cost of nearly 3 billion euros, the nearly 8 km bridge is the longest in Europe with both roadway and railway combined in a single structure. Two railway tracks are supported beneath four road lanes in a horizontal girder extending along the entire length of the bridge. The two pairs of free-standing cable-supporting towers are 204 m high allowing shipping to pass through. The bridge experiences occasional brief closures during very severe weather, such as the St. Jude storm of October 2013.

We continue north to Goteborg for overnight.


Hotel Riverton
Goteborg view website

Day 12

Tue 25 Jul

This morning we continue north to Oslo, the capital of Norway where we begin some guided touring – and there's plenty to see. We will visit the world-famous Viking Ships, the Polar exploration ship Fram (the ‘strongest ship in the world’) and the Holmenkollen Ski Jump with a panoramic view over the city and fjord.


Hotel Bristol
Oslo view website

Day 13

Wed 26 Jul

This morning we visit the magnificent Frogner Park where the world-famous Vigelandsparken is situated. The park contains amazing fountains and sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland who worked on the sculpture park from 1924 until his death in 1943. This is a ‘must-see’ for all visitors to Oslo.

Then it's a free afternoon and evening in Oslo.

Hotel Bristol

Day 14

Thu 27 Jul

Today we head north to Hamar on the shores of Norway's largest lake, Mjosa, and then Lillehammer, the site of the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Lillehammer also has a world-class open air museum (Maihaugen) where we will enjoy a glimpse into the rural and agricultural history of Norway. The many sunburned buildings were the homes of farmers, craftsmen and local officials. Their histories are preserved in the large and small farms, the vicarage and crofts. The founder of Maihaugen was of the opinion that it was important that the culture of the old villages was preserved for future generations.

We then continue through rolling farmlands and onto the village of Lom, our gateway to the magnificent fjordlands of Norway. This region has idyllic river valleys, fringed by towering mountains, with quaint villages many with elaborately carved wooden stave churches.

We overnight at Lom.

Fossheim Hotel
Lom view website

Day 15

Fri 28 Jul

This morning we travel through the Valley of Gudbrandsdalen – a part of the Old King’s Road to Trondheim. The valley is encircled by mountains up to 1800 metres high and contains many small mountain farms with sheep and other livestock. We then have an unforgettable descent (and views) to the village of Geiranger at the head of the Geirangerfjord – a jewel among the world’s fjords.

There is free time to explore the village before our ferry departs at 2 pm. There are of course many shops and restaurants to tempt you. Lunch is at your own leisure and arrangement.

We (along with our bus) enjoy a magnificent hour long cruise as Geirangerfjord cuts inland between snow-clad peaks, precipitous rock walls and cascading waterfalls before arriving in Hellesylt.

After disembarking, we re-board our coach and continue on to the village of Stryn for overnight.

Stryn Hotel
Stryn view website

Day 16

Sat 29 Jul

The Stryn district is the transition area between the great fjords and high mountains creating the barrier to eastern Norway. The region has deep valleys, towering mountain passes and includes the northern part of the Jostedalsbreen glacier, the largest glacier on the European mainland. We learn more about this glacier today as we continue onto the spectacular farming village of Fjærland which happens to be also home to the Norwegian Glacier Museum.

This excellent interactive museum describes how flowing ice has sculpted the local landscape, the fjords and the mountains. There is also a fantastic multi-screen presentation on the Jostedalsbreen glacier. Lunch is at the Museum cafe.

We continue onto the village of Laerdal for overnight.

Laerdal Hotel
Laerdal view website

Day 17

Sun 30 Jul

Up early this morning to travel to nearby Flam via a road built by the tunnel-loving Norwegians which created a ferry-free connection between Oslo and Bergen.

At 24.5 km, the Lærdal tunnel is the world's longest road tunnel and links Aurland and Lærdal.

Half an hour later we are all aboard the world-famous Flam Railway between Flam and Myrdal. The 20 km long railway encapsulates spectacular views, an amazing history and extreme engineering skills.

On our return to Flam we meet up with our bus again and travel on to the beautiful port city of Bergen, on Norway’s west coast. The city occupies a sheltered position between a string of islands along the coast and steep sided mountains inland. With its distinctive brightly painted wooden houses and old fishing harbour, it is one of Norway’s most attractive cities.

On arrival we will have a guided city tour of Bergen including the World Heritage listed Bryggen (the wharf area). Bergen grew up around its colourful harbour – it was the hub of commerce, seafaring and craftsmanship. The city was a member of the powerful Hanseatic League which dominated trade across northern Europe for centuries.

Clarion Hotel
Bergen view website

Day 18

Mon 31 Jul

This morning we will leave town and travel along a spectacular peninsula to the Oygarden Coastal Museum. Here we learn about the challenging environmental and economic conditions confronting the lives of the local coastal inhabitants dating back to the last Ice Age through to the present day.

We also visit a nearby floating fish farm. Trout and salmon farming are major industries in Norway. Aquaculture in Norway demands millions of tonnes of feedgrain every year – and most of it is imported. We enjoy a guided tour of this modern, full-scale commercial operation before heading back to Bergen for a free afternoon and evening.

Clarion Hotel

Day 19

Tue 1 Aug

Free morning in Bergen before heading to the airport for our 5.25 pm direct flight of just over an hour, to Shetland. We are met at the airport and transferred to our water-side St Magnus Bay hotel in the Hillswick area of Shetland's northwest. Shetland (formerly Zetland) – is a subarctic archipelago in Scotland lying between Orkney, the Faroe Islands and Norway. It is the northernmost region of the United Kingdom.

Home to 22,000 people – and 12 times more sheep – Shetland’s economy is centred around agriculture, fishing, oil and tourism. The capital of Shetland is Lerwick, and for BBC crime drama buffs, this is where "Shetland" is set.

With a total area of just under 150,000 hectares spread across about 100 islands and 2700 km of coastline, there are plenty of rugged sights to see. With an oceanic climate (temps will range from about 9° to 15°C when we're there), a complex geology and many low, rolling hills, Shetland has provided a home for humans since middle stone age times around 14,000 years ago.


St Magnus Bay Hotel
Shetland view website

Day 20

Wed 2 Aug

Over the next few days we will enjoy guided touring of Shetland which will provide a unique insight into how this island community ticks from an economic and social perspective. We will visit scenic and cultural highlights as well as a range of agricultural enterprises.

One such enterprise we will visit is Uradale Yarns where knitting yarn is grown from organic native Shetland sheep. The sheep are naturally multi-coloured, so the yarns reflect the natural colours of the flock. The Uradale wool is unbleached when scoured and spun.

Today we will also visit the island's main town and port - Lerwick – with time to do your own exploration of this historic location. We also call in on Fisheries College, the hub of fisheries research and tertiary training on Shetland.

St Magnus Bay Hotel

Day 21

Thu 3 Aug

This morning we will visit Bigton Farm. The Budge family have been farming at Bigton for generations. They produce premium quality beef and lamb in one of the most scenically spectacular areas Shetland has to offer. Their sheep graze on beautiful St Ninian’s Isle for most of the year, while their cattle spend the summer over on the east coast of Shetland, grazing a healthy mix of wildflowers and grasses.

We then call into the nearby and quaint village of Hoswick for lunch with free time to explore the local knitwear and jewellery shops. We then visit the Crofthouse Museum to gain a wonderful insight into the significance of "crofting", a system of landholding unique to Scotland.

We will also visit the spectacular Sumburgh Head and the resident puffins before heading north to Busta and our farewell dinner.

St Magnus Bay Hotel

Day 22

Fri 4 Aug

Transfer to the airport this morning for our flight to Edinburgh. For those not opting to spend a few days in Edinburgh and attend the Military Tattoo, you join your connecting flights home to Australia or continue on with other travel plans.

OPTIONAL TATTOO ADD-ON: Tickets and accommodation (2 nights) for the fantastic EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO are as scarce as bagpipers' underpants so you need to be quick. We have reserved some tickets and hotel rooms (over the opening weekend) so first in best dressed.

Cost of this ADD-ON is $795 per person for 2 nights accomm (with breakfast) at the excellent Ten Hill Place hotel, a Premium-seat Tattoo ticket and airport transfers.

And of course, there are plenty of options available for additional travel in Europe – or Asia – before heading home.