The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, 11 nights' accommodations, local transportation, some meals, and guided sightseeing tours, from $2,699 per person—plus taxes of $195.
When: Depart Sept. 11, 2008; add $100 for May 22; $300 for June 5; $500 for June 10; $300 for Aug. 14; $200 for Aug. 28.
Gateways: New York City
The fine print: Hotel taxes, port taxes, and fuel surcharges are included as are airport-hotel transfers, 10 buffet breakfasts, and four dinners. Maximum group size is 40 people. Airport taxes and fees are an additional $195 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $699. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: March 31; afterward the rate increases by $400 per person.
Contact: SmarTours, 800/337-7773, smartours.com
Why it's a deal: According to a recent search on Kayak, the lowest fare we found for travel in mid-September following this tour's itinerary, with flights from New York City to Copenhagen, Bergen to Stockholm, and Stockholm back to New York City was $1,615 (multiple airlines). For an additional $1,084, the SmarTours guided trip covers not only airfare, but also 11 nights' accommodations, guided sightseeing tours, some meals, and transportation throughout Scandinavia.
Trip details: The Scandinavia Explorer includes round-trip airfare from New York City (JFK) on Finnair, all regional transportation within Scandinavia, and 11 nights' hotel accommodations throughout Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
Your adventure begins with a late-morning arrival in Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, which boasts charming 17th-century houses, cobblestone streets, royal palaces, enchanting gardens—and stories that date back to the age of the Vikings. You'll board a private bus for a three-hour guided sightseeing tour whose highlights include Christiansborg Palace—seat of the Demark's parliament—and Edvard Eriksen's world-famous sculpture of the Little Mermaid, based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen.
In the evening, join your tour director for a welcome dinner and briefing at your hotel, the 403-room First Hotel Vesterbro, located with walking distance of Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen's famous amusement park.
You can choose to spend the following day exploring on your own, or join a Castles of North Zealand tour that includes Frederiksborg Palace, the largest Renaissance palace in Scandinavia, and a view of the famous Kronborg Castle, the setting for Shakespeare's "Hamlet" (approximately $80 per person).
You'll embark on a comfortable overnight cruise aboard a DFDS Seaways ship, crossing the North Sea to Oslo. Onboard amenities include a nightclub, two bars, a swimming pool, a sauna, and several movie theaters, as well as four restaurants.
You'll disembark in Oslo for a guided tour with stops at the Vigeland Sculpture Park and the Holmenkollen ski jump, where a museum situated inside the actual jump illustrates 4,000 years of skiing history. You'll spend the night at the 251-room Hotel Bristol, located in the city center.
Next comes a four-day journey through the breathtaking scenery of Norway's fjord country. You'll travel by coach bus to Balestrand, a small village on the edge of the Sognefjord, Norway's longest fjord. Spend the night at the historic Kviknes Hotel, a 100-year-old family-run inn with 190 guestrooms featuring balcony views of the fjord.
You can explore the spectacular scenery at your own pace, or take an optional sightseeing trip to the mighty Jostedal Glacier, the biggest glacier in continental Europe (approximately $85 per person).
A scenic trip past sheer cliffs and magnificent fjords takes you to Flåm, where you'll board the world-famous Flåm Mountain Railway for an hour-long ride ascending 2,600 feet with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. Continue on to Bergen, the unofficial capital of the Vestlandet fjord region on the west coast of Norway, where you'll spend the night at the 210-room Clarion Admiral Hotel overlooking Bergen's harbor. While there, you'll take a walk to check out Bergen's open-air fish and flower market, where you can purchase handicrafts and souvenirs, as well as raw oysters and freshly boiled shrimp to eat along the waterfront.
A 90-minute flight transports you to Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden founded in the 13th century. (The tour operator chooses from a variety of airlines depending on the best deal at time of booking.) Upon your arrival, a guided tour lets you take in sites like the City Hall, where the annual Nobel Prize banquet is held, and Gamla Stan, Stockholm's old town where you'll find many restaurants, gift shops and museums along its medieval alleys and cobblestoned streets. You'll check into the 200-room Scandic Park hotel in central Stockholm for a two-night stay. Amenities include a bar, a sauna, and a restaurant that serves a variety of classic Swedish dishes and international fare.
You'll have a day to wander the city on your own, and you may want to stop by the Vasa Museum, housing the restored wooden warship, Vasa, which sank in the city's harbor during her maiden voyage in 1628. You'll head home to the U.S. the next day—unless you're tempted to extend your trip. SmarTours offers an optional five-night extension to Helsinki and St. Petersburg for $899 per person, based on double occupancy.