Norway vs Sweden

In this article

Norway and Sweden are two major Nordic countries commonly visited by many for tourism or to experience Scandinavian history and culture. These two countries offer so much cultural sensation. Therefore, I assure you, it is okay to be stuck between which of these countries to visit.
If you are looking towards visiting the Scandinavian countries for a short trip, tourism, or even relocation, then you are on the right track. In this battle, Sweden vs. Norway, this article will take you on a journey of discovering which one is best for your visit.

Norway vs Sweden: The Overview

There are nine Nordic regions, of which Norway and Sweden are part. Of these nine, there are three Scandinavian countries; Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Of these three countries, the most traveled and toured are Sweden and Norway.
Although there are geographically only three Scandinavia countries, there are culturally six of them. However, both Norway and Sweden are spectacularly rich in culture and history. Both countries have breathtaking sceneries and beautiful coastlines that people travel far distances to see. Little wonder both countries are top tourist destinations.
Over the years, these countries have developed while also preserving their heritage; this is why both have urban and rural aspects.

Which One Is Better for Nature Lovers?

When it comes to natural beauty, both countries do not fall short. However, Norway has been known to take the cup in delivering breathtaking sceneries. Norway's majestic and beautiful coastlines will leave you mesmerized. Many countries worldwide have fjords, but Norway arguably has the best and the most, with over one thousand of them.
The West Norwegian Fjords are specially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage. These fjords are the only world heritage in Norway highlighted based solely on natural criteria. UNESCO described these fjords as "exceptional natural beauty". Most of Norway's coastlines are made of dramatic fjords that offer a captivating view of nature in another dimension.
Sweden is also a very beautiful country, offering its unique beauty. While Norway is laden with fjords and mountains, Sweden is filled with forests and lakes. The lakes in Sweden are over 100 000 and offer enough serenity and beauty for outdoor lovers. There is a lake for every mood, from majestic gushing lakes to gentle angelic trickles; you will find them all in Sweden.
Exploring the country's magical wildlife should also be on your to-do Sweden list. Sweden also offers a lot of green land, thanks to its beautiful landscapes and forests. Because Sweden has fewer fjords, it is easier to travel between towns and cover more tourist locations like national parks where you can interact with nature first-hand.
Norway may appear better for Nature lovers than Sweden. However, both offer different but unique views of nature. While Norway is more famous for its dramatic scenery, Sweden offers you a view of nature in its green form. But countries are great for nature lovers, depending on what aspect of nature you intend to explore.

Which One Is More Expensive?

Although both countries share many similarities, one area of divergence is the cost of living. This is because Norway is more expensive than Sweden. Norway is even more costly when it comes to restaurants and, generally, feeding. If you are visiting both countries for a short stay, your major financial concerns will be accommodation, feeding, transportation, and tourism.
The price of what you eat in both countries depends on the quality of the restaurant you visit. However, eating in Norway is, on average, 35% more expensive than in Sweden.
While accommodation in Norway is more expensive, it can vary based on where you decide to live, in Sweden or Norway. For example, living in major cities like Oslo and Stavanger differs from living in Hedmark or Telemark. The area of the city you live in will also affect the accommodation price, whether for a short or an extended stay.
In totality, when the costs of utilities are added, the price also differs. Comparison statistics between Norway and Sweden show that Norway, on average, is 67.5% more expensive than Sweden. It is then safe to say that, generally, Norway is more expensive than Sweden.

Capital & Other Cities Compared

It is interesting to note that many of the major Scandinavia cities are in Norway and Sweden. The capital city of Norway is Oslo, and the capital of Sweden is Stockholm. Stockholm is a city with all the modern charms and every bit of Scandinavian charm available. In this city, you will get both modern civilization and Scandinavian history and culture in their unique forms.
This city offers a very comprehensive experience for tourists. This is why most people who travel to Sweden actually travel to Stockholm. Not only a beautiful city, but the fantastic lifestyle it has is also a significant drawing point. This is one of the reasons it is the most populous city in Scandinavia. The city is usually appreciated throughout Europe as one of the greenest cities.
Many of the city parts are also covered in water, with about 57 bridges connecting the waterways. If you are an aquatic enthusiast, Stockholm is specifically suitable for you. You have enough water activities to keep your blood pumping.
Stockholm is also filled with many wonderful restaurants where you can taste inter-continental and local Swedish dishes. The city's heart has many museums and tourist centers, so much to keep you busy throughout your stay. Stockholm is also great for kids as it has many attraction centers explicitly designed for them. Even if you decide not to go beyond Stockholm, you can be well assured you can get your fill of the Norwegian lifestyle.
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is another wonderful Scandinavian city. Although not as big as Stockholm, this city delivers first-class natural beauty. This city is also appreciated as a green city with admirable green views, forests, and coastal shores. One significant attribute Stockholm and Oslo share is the retention of nature in its undiluted form.
Oslo is a city big on outdoor activities. This is one of the reasons many of Oslo's residents are healthy. Biking, hiking, walking, swimming, and skiing are all normal daily activities in Oslo. You should not visit Sweden without getting a first-hand experience of Oslo, taking in all the city has to offer. There are so many attraction centers in Oslo, so much that they cannot all be mentioned.
To experience and see most of the city, you can take a city tour or even go on a fjord cruise. While in Oslo, you can visit the Royal Palace, where Norway's royal family resides. You can also visit Akershus Fortress as well as other exciting attraction centers.
Other top Norwegian cities are Trondheim, Stavanger, and Bergen, which holds a world UNESCO Heritage site. All the cities are popularly known for being rich in history and culture, each one owning its own story and a major landmark.
Other major cities in Sweden are Uppsala, a good place for a lover of arts and architecture, Malmo, also notable for architecture and history, and Gothenburg, a city with a Scandinavian-Dutch feel because it was built by the Dutch during the 1600s.

Sweden vs Norway: Where to Go for Outdoor Sports?

The two countries uniquely offer their outdoor sports experience. Generally, both Sweden and Norway are great for outdoor sports. Norway, however, takes precedence when it comes to highly thrilling outdoor activities. This is because of its dramatic landscape, which constitutes towering mountains. Consider Sweden if you want lakeside camping, forest adventures, or you want to go kayaking.
When it comes to hiking, both countries are good. However, in Norway, you'll find more thrilling hiking sites, which are a bit more dramatic than what you will find in Sweden. You'll find steep and high hikes like the pulpit rock in Norway. In Sweden, you will find long lakes such as Kingsleden, connecting you through long stretches of the Swedish landscape.
When it comes to skiing, both countries are also excellent choices. The two countries have good skiing resorts that will help you experience jolly skiing.
Despite these similar features, it is safe to say that Norway and Sweden are good for outdoor sports. This does not mean you cannot get a little bit of both in either of the countries. However, if your area of fun is more with water, Sweden is your choice, and if you are a mountain person with a great interest in skiing and hiking, you should visit Norway.

Which Is Safer: Sweden or Norway?

Scandinavia countries are known for being relatively safe. However, Norway is safer than Sweden, with Norway ranking 17th on the global peace ranking and Sweden ranking 26th. Over the years, Norway's crime rate has even been decreasing. High-level crimes are rare in Norway, and you will only find more petty crimes.
Likewise, terrorist attacks and political and civil unrests are also rare. However, to avoid being victims of minor crimes, you must be extra cautious in public spaces. This means you must pay particular attention to your belongings and the people around you. When on public transport, the streets, or in bars and restaurants, ensure you hold your belongings close to you and within your sight.
While Sweden is not as safe as Norway, it is also relatively safe. Just as in Norway, high-level crimes are not so frequent in Sweden. However, it is advised that you be very careful. Petty crime rates are especially high in Stockholm, the capital city. You should avoid lonely paths and dangerous late-night walks.
Some parts of the city have been specifically highlighted as risky, such as Rinkeby. When you see street fights or any form of public unrest, you should exit that place and find the nearest safe place. It would help if you also watched out for your belongings in Sweden, especially in tourist-swamped centers.

Norway vs Sweden for the Northern Lights - Which Is Better?

For many tourists, the peak of their travel to Scandinavia is to see the northern lights, a dramatic and captivating display of green, purple, blue, and yellow colors dancing in the sky. Norway and Sweden are in the arctic circle and are famous for their northern lights. However, seeing the northern lights in Norway is more beautiful.
To see the northern lights in Norway, you'll have to head up to Northern Norway. Here, you will get the stunning scenery you are looking for. One is the city of Tromso. Many tours and activities are available to guide you through seeing the lights at the right time and from the best angle.
The best time to visit Norway for the northern lights is winter. Otherwise, aim for September to October.
In Sweden, you must also head to the North to catch the magical view of the northern lights. From the north of Jokkmokk, Lapland, you can see the clear view of the sky, being assured the light will appear all through winter. Abisko is another place in Sweden where you can watch the northern lights, with Abisko's aurora sky station offering a spectacular view.

Entertainment & Cuisine: Who Takes the Win?

When it comes to entertainment, it is hard to decide which country offers better entertainment. This is because the two countries have their unique entertainment spec. In Norway, your entertainment is more intertwined with nature and stunning scenarios. The list of things to do in Norway is endless. There are many outdoor activities to keep you occupied in Norway.
From visiting Lofoten islands to see the midnight sun of the northern lights, or sightseeing the mountain villages, admiring the fjords and the majestic mountains. You can also visit museums and national parks, such as the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo, or see the over 200 sculptures in Vigeland Sculpture Park.
The two countries are highly entertaining, depending on your choice of entertainment. While Norway offers a spectacular view of nature, Sweden is richer in culture and history. Touring Sweden is like walking the pages of history. While in Sweden, you can visit the Vasa museum, Gamla Stan (the old town), Stockholm city hall, Liseberg Theme Park, and Sarek national park, amongst others. With this, it would be unfair to say one is more entertaining than the other.
Swedish delicacies are spectacular and signatory. You can get an iconic taste of their signatory meatballs, shrimp sandwich, falu sausage, pickled herring, and many other excellent meals. While in Sweden, remember to take your tastebuds on an adventure! Sweden most definitely takes the cup for the best cuisine. Norway, however, still has its spectacular meals.

Sweden vs Norway: Which Is Better to Visit?

Both Sweden and Norway are great countries to visit. Although very similar, Norway and Sweden have areas where they stand out. You can see either of these countries based on what lifestyle attracts you the most.
Whichever countries you decide to visit, rest assured you will not be losing out on anything. Culture, history, tourism, and fantastic delicacies, these countries have them all.

Should you Live in Norway or Sweden?

While Norway pulls the crowd for its stunning scenery, Sweden might be a better choice if you consider a long-term stay. As mentioned, one significant difference between the two countries is the cost of living. Sweden has a lower cost of living than Norway for tourism and residence. In Sweden, you can ball on a budget. However, this might be different in Norway. However, you should bear in mind that your cost of living depends on what part of the country you stay in.
In the aspect of well-being, both countries perform very well. When it comes to security, Norway is more secure than Sweden. In terms of health, however, Sweden's average life expectancy is 83.18, while Norway's life expectancy is 82.79. All the Scandinavian Countries are on the top five on the list of the best countries to raise children. Both countries also have very similar climates, which means warm south and arctic north.

Norway or Sweden for Expats: What's the Difference?

Life for expats in these countries is practically the same apart from the cost of living and the varying lifestyle. Sweden and Norway are very welcoming and hospitable. They have an outstanding work-life balance. There is also ample access to healthcare, security, and education. Although Norway has a higher cost of living, it also has higher salaries.
In terms of the economic size of the countries, Sweden has a larger economy than Norway. This can be partly due to Norway's population being lesser than Sweden's. Sweden's gross domestic product (2021) is 627.4 billion USD, while Norway's GDP (2021) is 482.4 billion USD. However, according to statistics from 2021, Norway's employment rate is higher than Sweden's. Norway has an employment rate of 69.28%, while Sweden's is 67.35%.
Also, Norway has been voted as one of the best European destinations for expats due to its safe and modern-welfare state. Its stunning landscapes shouldn’t be disregarded either. It’s important to mention that Norway introduced digital nomad visa , so it is easier for non-EU remote workers to live and work in this country.
Whether you decide to live in Norway or Sweden as an expat, both are excellent choices. The two countries have many infrastructures to make life easy for you as a foreigner. The two countries have great expat communities and digital life.

Visa & Entry Requirements for Norway & Sweden

Although Norway does not belong to the European Union, it is officially a part of the Schengen zone. Visitors will need either a Schengen visa or an ETIAS authorization to enter Norway or Sweden. This will be based on the ETIAS visa waiver program.
The ETIAS will become mandatory in 2023. It was introduced to ensure the safety of Europeans and keep a proper record of visitors entering the country. This authorization can be obtained through an online application form that is very easy and quick. You can get a response in about 10 minutes. Eligible applicants will be granted the ETIAS, valid for three years or less if your passport expires before then.
If you do not qualify for the ETIAS, you can apply for the Schengen visa. The type of visa you will get depends on the purpose of your visit.

The Verdict: Norway vs Sweden - Which Is Better?

It will be unjust to say Norway is better than Sweden or vice versa. Both countries offer their unique taste, lifestyle, and entertainment. They both have stunning scenery, great tourism, and hospitality. Norway has its perk on nature and mesmerizing views, making it a haven for outdoor activities. While Sweden also offers a beautiful view of nature, it takes you deeper into the Scandinavian culture and history. Both countries are uniquely incredible!
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.


  • 1. Is Sweden better than Norway?

    Deciding whether Sweden is better than Norway is a tough choice. Sweden is appreciated for its incredible views and dramatic scenery. Norway is globally recognized how its beautiful lakes and preservation of culture and history. Both countries are great tourist locations.
  • 2. What is the difference between Swedish and Norwegian?

    Although the two countries are very similar, they have their differences. In terms of geography, Sweden is bigger than Norway and more inhabitable. Most of Norway's surface area is covered with fjords and towering mountains. Sweden is more populated and bigger than Norway.
  • 3. Is Norway richer than Sweden?

    Yes, Norway is richer than Sweden. Norway is currently the 7th richest country in the world, richer than the United States. While Sweden's GDP is higher than Norway's, Norway has a higher GDP per capita.
  • 4. Is Sweden cheaper than Norway?

    Sweden is cheaper than Norway. However, visiting both countries will still have to be done on a budget. The amount of money you spend will depend on how luxurious your travel is and how extensive your tourism is.

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