Let me take you on a journey around the Northern countries in Europe. Traveling by bus is much more sustainable than by plane and you will be able to explore much more cities in one trip and if you book in advanced it is really cheap too. I traveled by bus from Amsterdam to Bremen and Hamburg in Germany and continued my road trip by bus to Copenhagen in Denmark and ended up taking a train to Malmö, Sweden. Keep reading how I did it, how much it costs and find all my travel tips for these cities.
Traveling is one of my favorite things to do and exploring the world makes me the happiest. But let's face it: Traveling is not the best for the environment. We have all seen the news reports about the more extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Emissions from airplanes, cars, buses and other means of transport amplify the greenhouse effect. The least you can do as a traveler is doing your research for more sustainable travel options.
Therefore, international bus services try to make their trips as sustainable as possible. Traveling by Flixbus for example is climate-friendly, but not 100% CO2 neutral. You can therefore choose to make your trip CO2 neutral, with 75% of your environmental contribution being used to fully offset the emissions associated with the trip. The remaining 25% goes to the “Future of Mobility Fund”.
But making your trip more sustainable is not the only advantage of traveling by bus. If you buy a ticket far in advance, it can be really cheap. Prices can’t be compared with, for example, airplane tickets. Although the travel time may sound longer to you, it will often take the same amount of time if you count the waiting times at the airports and the time to go from the airport to the city center. The bus stop is often in or around the city center, while airports are located outside the cities.
Another very pleasant and sustainable way of travelling is by train, but the train was way much more expensive when I was booking this trip (3 months prior to departure) in comparison to prices of the international bus services. Therefore, I decided to go on a city trip from Amsterdam to Germany, Denmark and Sweden using busses, in my case Flixbus.
Stay connected when traveling to Europe and don't waste money on high roaming charges. You can buy a sim card in every country in Europe, but it is easier if you pick one from my list of the best prepaid sim cards and e-sim cards for traveling in Europe and stay connected without borders and free EU roaming.
Part 1: Bus from Amsterdam to Bremen
Travel time: 5.5 hours. Price: €14.99.
Sit back and relax. After enjoying a city trip in Amsterdam, it's time to head to a new destination. The bus will take you in just over 5 hours to Bremen Hbf. This bus station is a 10-15 minutes’ walk away from the city center and right next to the main train station of Bremen. During my visit to Bremen I stayed in the Vienna House Easy Hotel, which is two minutes away from this bus station. I really enjoyed my stay in this modern hotel and can definitely recommend it including the breakfast.
What to do in Bremen
I stayed in Bremen for 2.5 days (3 nights). The city center is not so big and very easy to explore by foot. But on this small surface is already so much to see and so much to do! These are my six favorite things to do in Bremen:
- Hang out in the beer gardens on the boulevard along the Weser
Along the boulevard of the Weser are multiple beer gardens located where you can enjoy the sun while chitchatting with your friends and sipping your pint.
- Stroll through the narrow alleys of Schnoor
Schnoor is in many opinions the most cozy neighborhood of Bremen. You can stroll through the narrow alleys and visit the tiny shops and cafes that are spread over the neighborhood.
- Get a view over Bremen by climbing one of the towers of Bremen Cathedral
On the grand marketplace, where you can find the "Bremer Stadtmuzikanten" statue, is the beautiful Bremen Cathedral. Entrance of the cathedral is free, but for a small fee it is possible to climb all the way to the top of one of the towers to get a view over the city center.
- Enjoy a culinary world tour at Markthalle Acht
Just around the corner of the marketplace is the food hall Markthalle Acht. On Tuesday till Saturday you can try here food from all over the world.
I can tell you from my own experience: the Ghana food stand will not let you down.
- Get away from the hustle of the city in the Botanical garden
Botanika is just outside the city center but easily accessible by tram/bus and definitely a recommendation to visit when traveling to Bremen. Entrance to Botanika is free.
If you want to visit the butterfly garden and greenhouses, you need to pay a small entrance fee.
- Take the train to Bremerhaven for a day trip
In 45 minutes by train you'll be in the harbor area of Bremen. A completely different atmosphere, but with also very nice things to visit, such as the zoo, the Submarine (U-boot) Museum and the Klimahaus Museum.
If you want to know more about things to do in Bremen and the details of the things listed above, you can read my other blog for Traveltomtom: 10 things to do in Bremen.
Part 2: bus from Bremen to Hamburg
Travel time: 1.5 hours. Price: €6.99.
The next destination is just 120 kilometers away and is the second largest city of Germany. I'm talking about Hamburg.
During my visit to Germany's main port city I stayed in the Adina Apartment Hotel.
This is a modern chique hotel with spa in the Speicherstadt neighborhood: a beautiful area with old warehouses.
What to do in Hamburg
I stayed in Hamburg for 1.5 days (2 nights), but I could easily extend this because of the countless things to do in Hamburg. These are my four favorite things to do in Hamburg:
- Walk from Speicherstadt to the St. Pauli-Elb Tunnel
I immediately fell in love with the Speicherstadt neighborhood, because of the old warehouses. You can walk through this area, along the Elbe on the Elb promenade, all the way to the Elb Tunnel.
This walk will approximately takes you 35-40 minutes.
Via the Elb Tunnel you can cross the river and get to the viewpoint on the other side of the water.
- Admire the Hamburger City Hall
This is one of the most beautiful city halls I've ever seen. Not only the exterior is beautiful, but also the courtyard and the inside of the building are worth a visit.
Check the opening hours for guided tours prior to your visit, because unfortunately there is not every day a guided tour.
- Take a boat tour through the harbor area
Multiple boat tours are showing you the harbor area of Hamburg. You can choose between a short 1-hour trip and a big 2-hour boat trip. I booked the second one and can definitely recommend it! This tour will not only give you a big tour of the harbor area, but will also show the canals of Speicherstadt.
- Walk in the "Planten un Blomen" park
Hamburg has a lot of green parks that belong to "Planten un Blomen". The park stretches out all the way from Emplanade street to the Elb promenade.
Part 3: bus from Hamburg to Copenhagen
Travel time: 6 hours. Price: €21.99 (ferry included).
This is the longest trip from this itinerary, but from my experience it is still a very easy and relaxed bus trip. Time flies when you see the landscape rushing past you. The journey will also be interrupted halfway by a ferry trip of 45 minutes which gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs. So let's go to the next country in line: Denmark. That means a different language, currency and list of things to do!
What to do in Copenhagen
I stayed in Copenhagen for 3.5 days (4 nights). Because of this amount of days, my time in Copenhagen gave me a lot of rest moments after the fully scheduled days exploring new cities. A very important thing to keep in mind during traveling is that all the exploring will take a lot of energy and therefore it is a good thing to plan moments to process all the new impressions.
The hotel I booked was extremely suitable for this: Zoku Copenhagen. This apartment hotel has a beautiful top floor with such a laid-back vibe and the apartments are also stunning.
Definitely a recommendation to stay here during your city trip to Copenhagen!
Despite taking it easy these days, I did see a lot of the city, of which these are my four favorite things to do in Copenhagen:
- Grab a coffee at The Van
Copenhagen has a lot of cute coffee places, but this converted old van is one of the best I came along. It's located on Langebrogade 1 and has a terrace with a very good view and most important delicious coffee.
From here you can walk via Frederiksholms Kanal and Nybrogade all the way to Nyhaven, which is one of the famous hotspots of Copenhagen. If you want to know more of my recommendations for restaurants, bars and cafes, not only in Copenhagen, you can look me up on Urban Journalist (Margot van der Linde) to see my favorites all over the world.
- Have fun in the Tivoli amusement park
Yes it is expensive, yes it is crowded, yes it is one of the most touristic things to do in Copenhagen... but it's worth it! This amusement park is the world's second-oldest. You can buy an entrance ticket and pay separately for every ride, or you buy an entrance ticket and ride pass for all the rides at once.
Keep in mind: Just walking around costs about €20, which makes this absolutely an expensive activity in Copenhagen.
- Take a break into the nature in the Botanical garden and Kongens Have
I'm a biology teacher from origin... is that enough explanation why this is the second botanic garden in this blog? But also for people without great love for nature, this is a wonderful place to walk around.
On a 5 minutes-walk away is the Rosenborg castle with it's beautiful gardens, which is also worth a visit.
- Be amazed in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Museum
This museum is a-ma-zing. Right behind the entrance is the Wintergarden with palm trees and a fountain, which makes it already a beautiful rustique atmosphere.
Especially on a sunny day, the lighting is magical. From the Wintergarden you can enter multiple halls with countless marble and copper statues. I wandered around here for hours and was not even done yet.
Part 4: train from Copenhagen to Malmö
Travel time: 40 minutes. Price: €12.
Another trip, another country. In 40 minutes you can go from Copenhagen to Malmö by train and just like that visit Sweden.
I stayed in the Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance, which is a beautiful hotel in the city center. This hotel has breakfast and dinner include in the price!
What to do in Malmö
I stayed in Malmö for 2 days (2 nights) as the final destination of this itinerary. These are my five favorite things to do in Malmö:
- Wander around the Slottsparken
- Get the yummy yummy in your tummy in Malmö Saluhall
Are you starting to notice that, besides botanical gardens, I'm always looking for fantastic food halls? Well, I found another gem! Not so hidden, because this place is the favorite lunch/dinner spot for many.
- Follow the promenade along the Øresund
Close to the Turning Torso you can walk on the promenade along the Øresund. You can deside whether you want to follow the water all the way or that you want to deviate from the route to the Slottsparken. During a sunny spring- or summer day, everyone is loving their lives on this route with picnics, ice cream and coffees to go. I loved the Slottsparken and I've been reading there the whole afternoon after the walk on the promenade.
- Visit the Sankt Petri Kyrka
This church is definitely worth a visit. The entry is free. Especially on a sunny day, the interior is so bright and beautiful.
- Go on a boat tour on Malmö’s canals and harbor area
A city looks so different when you see it from the water, so it’s definitely worth it to join a boat tour in Malmö.
The captain will tell you the stories of the harbor area, but also the tails about the Castle of Malmö and the secrets of the city.
- Have lunch in the sky bar of the Clarion Hotel Malmö Live
The view will not let you down, especially not the bathroom view. I had my lunch in this sky bar on my last day, so I could see all the highlights I had been to from a great height.
But I am also not a saint when it comes to traveling in a sustainable way. For the return trip from Malmö to Amsterdam I took a plane to Amsterdam Airport... So, with this article I don't want to lecture you. I just want to let you consider your way of transportation when traveling, because there are more options then you'll probably think of, but it is and remains your own choice of course.
This blog was written by Traveltomtom team member Margot van der Linde. She visited Bremen and Hamburg with her father, Copenhagen with her boyfriend and Malmö solo. The plan was to travel solo on this 10-day itinerary, but my dad and boyfriend got so excited about my plans they wanted to come along!
I hope all the above travel tips are helpful for your visit to Bremen, Hamburg, Copenhagen and/or Malmö! I’m sure there is way much more to explore in these cities, but at least you’ll know where to start now.
Thank you so much for reading! May you have any questions please leave us a comment below.
Enjoy your road trip in Northern Europe!