Why you might want to visit Sweden instead of Norway

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While Norway deservedly tops many peoples’ top places to visit in Europe, there are many reasons why Sweden warrants a glimpse. The laid back attitude, the stunning scenery and cheap flights are some of the reasons that my Norwegian family visits every year. Here’s why you should, too.

It’s less expensive than Norway

TPG U.K. covered how to travel for less in Norway, but a more natural way to save in Scandinavia is to head over to Sweden. At the time of writing, $1 = 9.72 Swedish krona and costs overall are less than Norway. According to My Life Elsewhere cost of living index, restaurants are 75% more expensive in Norway than Sweden, groceries are 50% more expensive and transportation is 65% more expensive. The expression has been Norway to visit, Sweden to live, because of the cost of living and business opportunities — but I think Sweden is also worthy of a visit if you’re thinking about taking advantage of great fares to Scandinavia.

(Photo by Andrei Troitskiy / Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrei Troitskiy/Getty Images)

Sweden’s airports

Sweden has Stockholm (ARN), Gothenburg (GOT) and Malmo (MMX), all in the southern part of the country. There are often inexpensive fares to get into these three airports, as well as good British Airways Reward Flight Saver availability. ARN is an excellent launchpad for extremely price-friendly business-class fares on airlines such as Qatar. ARN and GOT also have excellent award availability on Scandinavian Airlines.

Related: I forgot I was flying: Qatar Qsuite business class (777-300ER) from Hong Kong to Doha

Airplanes of the Scandinavian Airlines' SAS company park on ground at the Gardamoen Airport during a strike of pilots to contest wages and working hours on April 26, 2019 in Oslo, Norway. - Pilots at SAS walked off the job in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, stranding 70,000 travellers as more than 300 flights were cancelled, the airline said. Domestic, European and long-haul flights were all affected by the strike, it said, predicting that a total of 170,000 passengers would be affected through April 28, 2019. (Photo by Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read OLE BERG-RUSTEN/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo by OLE BERG-RUSTEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Sweden’s attractions are more central than Norway’s

While the remoteness of Norway’s nature, such as the Lofoten Islands, is part of the draw, it can also make for a more complex itinerary when planning your travels. Most of Sweden’s attractions are reachable by public transportation, and the country is more accessible to navigate due to its infrastructure. While Norway is still going to win for the more stunning landscape, you can find fantastic hiking in Sweden such as Kungsleden (King’s Trail).

Hiking through the Tjktjavagge valley on the Kungsleden trail in Lapland, Sweden. (Photo by Cody Duncan/Getty Images)
Hiking through the Tjktjavagge valley on the Kungsleden trail in Lapland, Sweden. (Photo by Cody Duncan/Getty Images)

The public transportation and roads in Sweden mean that it’s much easier for tourists to reach some of its stunning nature, like the Uppsala County on the Baltic Sea that’s just north of Stockholm county.

Oestergoetland, Sweden. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)
Oestergoetland, Sweden. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

Stockholm’s food and bar scene

Stockholm has the best food scene I’ve experienced in Northern Europe. It has a thriving bar and restaurant scene that heats up, especially on the last Friday of the month when the entire country is paid. My favorites include Lilla Ego, Gastrologik and Meatballs for the People, serving Swedish meatballs in a stylish yet delicious way in the Södermalm district.

Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Astrakan Images/Getty Images)
Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Astrakan Images/Getty Images)

Stockholm also has blossoming street food for those looking for more of a smak (small bite) and a great bar scene. The alcohol taxes are still high (although less than Norway) so it’s worth taking in a good view along with your drink at venues such as Pharmarium or Tak sky bar. The 14 islands that make up Stockholm are worth exploring and far surpass the Oslo food and drink scene.

Family-friendly amusement parks

While visiting nature in Norway is wonderful, Sweden offers a nice mix when you have children in tow. Liseberg is Scandinavia’s largest amusement park and located in Gothenburg. For fans of Pippi Longstocking, there is an entire world dedicated to Astrid Lindgren’s fairy tales in Vimmerby, approximately three hours from Stockholm or Gothenburg. If you make it east to Malmo (MMX), make sure to visit the Folkets Par (People’s Park) which is free to enter and has many attractions.

The design culture

The trendy Södermalm neighborhood in Stockholm is home to many small household designers if you’re hoping to see Swedish interiors beyond IKEA. Even its underground stations are fashionable. Over 150 artists enhanced the underground stations with varying mediums, including sculptures, painting, and mosaics. You can also check out the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design or Nordiska Museet to learn more about Swedish design.

Read more: Top travel gear for families on the move

The Aurora Borealis in Sweden. (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
The Aurora Borealis in Sweden. (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Bottom line

While Norway is certainly better for hard-core outdoor enthusiasts, Sweden is a great choice for most people looking to explore Scandinavia for more than stunning scenery. If you want great food, good public transportation and a bit of cash savings, Sweden could be your more suitable option. That said, if given the opportunity, both countries are worth a visit.

Featured photo by Laurie Noble/Getty Images

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