For our dog-friendly travel series, we are taking you from London to Norway’s Lofoten Islands via a road trip, with this guest blog post by Sashikanth Dareddy. In July, he went on 5,000 mile road-trip with his Newfoundland dog Lily, a friend of his and another Newfoundland furry pal, through spectacular landscapes and lots of swimming for the dogs. He put together his travel diary for us, and today he shares it along with some beautiful photos. Without any further ado, over to him.
Scandinavia Dreaming: a 5,000-mile road trip with dogs from London to Norway
Ever since seeing some fantastic landscape pictures of the Lofoten Islands, I always wanted to visit that place and of course take my Newfoundland dog, Lily along with me on a road trip. This was going to be my longest road trip ever – over three times longer than my 1500-mile road trip to the French Alps last December (also with my dog!)
A friend of mine was going to northern Sweden and had the opportunity to combine our journeys if I altered my plans a bit – so, in the end we decided to go in my car: two dogs – Lily & Lexi the Newfoundland dogs – and two adults on an 18-day trip.
The legs of our journey:
- London to Düsseldorf [DE]
- Düsseldorf to Copenhagen [DK] (Ferry)
- Copenhagen to Stockholm [SE]
- Stockholm to Örnsköldsvik [SE]
- Örnsköldsvik to Kiruna [SE]
- Kiruna to Lofoten [NO]
- Lofoten to Bodø [NO] (Ferry)
- Bodø to Örnsköldsvik [SE]
- Örnsköldsvik to Stockholm [SE]
- Stockholm to Herning [Jutland, DK]
- Herning to London
T-minus 20 days
As we would be splitting the driving between the two of us, we had to sort out the insurance. I added my friend as a temporary driver and ordered a Green Card [a Green Card tells the authorities abroad you have the right insurance to drive there; it is currently required for driving outside of EU, but if there is Brexit with no-deal you will need one to drive in EU countries to0] (in order to get one you just need to call up your insurance company and they will send it in the post).
We also had to book the EuroTunnel train tickets well in advance – this was the most expensive crossing in our journey -, as well as making sure our dogs were up to date with rabies vaccinations [in case of Brexit speak to your vet months in advance for the necessary papers].
I drive a SUV and it is incredible how much space the dog stuff takes up – we were packed to the roof, and all that packing takes a lot of time making sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
In the photo it looks more cramped than it really was – once the door was closed they had enough room for both to turnaround and sleep – they have been on a trip to Lake District before, so they are used to each other’s company.
Day-1 – London to Germany
We decided to leave on a weekday hoping to beat the traffic and it kind of worked. We left London around 6pm and managed to catch an earlier train to cross the Channel from Folkestone. Once we arrived in Calais, we drove to Belgium, Netherlands and into Germany [with no tolls]. We were hoping to reach our hotel [a dog-friendly Marriot Hotel I booked about two weeks in advance] in Düsseldorf by 2am so catching an early train meant a bit more sleep. In the end, we managed to reach it by 3:30am.
Day-2 on the road to Denmark
We left for Copenhagen around 10am, catching the Puttgarden (Germany)- Rødby (Denmark) ferry route by Scandalines. The ferry took about 45 minutes to reach Copenhagen. Don’t forget to check out the duty-free shopping at Bordershop (on the German side) – lots of Swedish folks buy alcohol from here as it’s cheaper compared to Sweden. The Ferry from Germany allows you to take your dog on-board as well as to the outside deck.
Day-3 Copenhagen with dogs
When we arrived in Copenhagen, we went to visit the Little Mermaid, but by this time a lot of other tourists had the same idea! We also had to watch out so the dogs didn’t make a beeline for the water only less than 10ft away.
[After spending the night in Copenhagen,] we drove over the Oresund Bridge linking Copenhagen and Malmo in Sweden. We arrived in Stockholm in the evening, and the following day we visited one of the archipelagos in Stockholm – lots of swimming for the dogs in super clean water.
Day-7 preparing for Norway
Before heading into Norway, Lily needed to be given a worming tablet by the vet (at least 24 hours before arriving in Norway and not more than five days beforehand). This is the same worming tablet you need to give before bringing a dog into the UK. So we booked an appointment and go to the vets – which was a very fancy shop, where I also picked up a rain coat for Lily.
Leaving Stockholm for Örnsköldsvik, enroute we stopped to meet someone and they had this nice red door at their house, a typical Scandinavian look and I had to photograph some more dogs by the door.
Day-8/9 Driving North in Sweden
On day 8, we arrived in Örnsköldsvik and had a chance to explore the area – the hut you see in the background is the replica of a Viking settlement discovered here.
Day-10/11 Arriving in Norway and taking the scenic route
We made our way to Norway via Northern Sweden – visiting Abisko National Park on our way – this was shot near a gorge with turquoise coloured water flowing through it. I wouldn’t let Lily go for a swim that’s why she is making that face (although she had been swimming three times earlier in the day).
Later in the day we crossed the Norwegian border – you need to declare to the customs agent you have a dog and present the pet passport showing your dog had the echinococcosis worming tablet.
Just a few meters after the check post we found an area of compacted snow from winter earlier in the year which was yet to melt!
In order to get to Lofoten, the main motorway to take is the E10 – which happens to be one of the designated national scenic routes – this means that there are lots of well-planned lay-bys and rest stops giving an opportunity to stretch your legs and take in the view. Lily swam in many beaches along the way.
Day-12 to 15 Lofoten Islands with a dog
The whole length of the Lofoten Islands is about 250km (circa 155 miles) – so each day I drove about 50 kms (circa 31 miles) – stopping every few kilometres to enjoy the view and let Lily swim in the many beaches around. At the end of each day we found a nice campsite to bed down for the night. [All campsites we found were dog-friendly and] I didn’t plan in advance. I was originally going to book Airbnbs but it was going to turn extremely expensive – camping is by far the cheapest option.
We finally reached the top of the Lofoten Islands chain and decided to bed down for the night at a campsite by the sea. The good thing about camping in this part of Norway is almost every campsite is either right by the sea or by a fjord.
This video is just a few meters from my tent
It was then time to say good bye to Lofoten and catch our ferry to Bodø.
The issue with the ferries from here is that dogs either need to be left in the vehicle or inside a dog kennel as you cannot take them to the upper deck. So I just hung out with Lily for 3.5 hours reading a book.
After arriving in Bodø, I drove for about 3 hours and decided to rest for the night at this campsite called Rognan Fjordcamp right by a fjord.
This campsite also had a nice jetty – photographing my dog on a jetty is my favourite. This is her swimming at 10pm before going to bed.
Day 16-18 Making our way back: Stockholm and Denmark
After arriving in Stockholm, we scheduled an appointment with the vet to get the echinococcosis worming tablet before arriving in the UK. Then we drove to Denmark, where we had an overnight stay. This period was when we had the heatwave, so lots of swimming for everyone!
Our final leg from Denmark to the UK was the longest leg – over 1,200 km/745 miles to drive through the night. We finally reach London at 9am.
Thoughts about my dog-friendly London-Norway trip
I feel very fortunate to have made this trip – it makes me very happy to see my dog swimming in some of the most picturesque locations and making memories that will last a lifetime. I found the trip surprisingly easy to navigate with a little bit of planning – particularly with accommodation when you have accommodating friends and great locations for camping.
Top tips for a London-Norway trip with a dog by car
- Don’t leave your dog behind and drive off! This almost happened to me in Lofoten – I stopped my car on the side of a road in a small village, took Lily out for a toilet break and put her back in the boot. I had my breakfast inside the car and was about to drive off – but just before I did that I forgot I left my charging cable in the back seat, so as I open the driver side door to get to the rear of the car – to my shock & horror I find Lily sitting outside the car by the door without her leash. Till this day I still can’t understand how she managed to get out and don’t even want to think how things would’ve have turned out had I driven away (mind you I was going to join a motorway!).
- Ticks – always carry a tick removal stick especially when travelling in summer to areas like Sweden/Norway or even Scotland. I found three ticks attached to Lily’s face.
- Plan your journey in small manageable sections – especially if you are driving by yourself. If you can, have a co-driver to minimise driving fatigue.
- Carry an all weather camping tent especially when traveling in Sweden/Norway during summer – this can help to keep your costs down compared to Airbnb.
- I got the worst mpg driving on the autobahns in Germany – stay in the slow lane doing about 70mph – to get good mileage. I experienced a 25% increase in consumption when doing more than 80mph.
The Londog’s comment
I hope that Sashikanth’s dog-friendly trip has inspired you for your travels. His travel diary definitely left us with a dream! If you want to see more of what Sashikanth gets up to, check out his pet photography work/follow him and/or Lily on Instagram.
If you have any questions about his trip, you can drop Sashi a line @sashikanthdareddy