Lemmenjoki Park Finland
Lemmenjoki Park Finland

How to Choose Between a Trip to Denmark and Finland

Denmark and Finland are commonly bunched together as part of Scandinavia. But while Denmark forms a part of this region, Finland – by most definitions – does not. Many people also assume that the two countries are the same regarding cultural experiences, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

While Finland and Denmark share many similarities, they’re also very different. The two countries speak different languages, have other currencies, and offer unique experiences for visitors of all kinds of interests. 

If you don’t know whether you should visit Denmark or Finland first, this guide will help you out. 

Turku Finland
Turku Finland

What to Expect From Finland 

Finland is far away from many tourists’ radars, with a lot of individuals choosing a trip to Norway or Iceland when visiting the Nordic countries – at least from a nature perspective. Finns also value personal space, so you probably won’t feel too suffocated on your trip. 

Despite not having a huge population, Finland is quite a large country – and where you go will determine the kind of experience you have. Going to Helsinki will be nothing like spending a week in Lapland or on the Åland Islands. 

Denmark has a lot more in terms of well-known tourist attractions, with Legoland in Billund and Tivoli in Copenhagen being two examples. If you go to Finland, you’ve got a better opportunity to participate in more authentic local experiences. 

Aarhus Museum Denmark
Aarhus Museum Denmark

What to Expect From Denmark

Many people only visit Copenhagen on their trip to Denmark, but not venturing further afield is a huge mistake. The Danish capital is certainly worth visiting, but the country has several other interesting urban areas – such as Aarhus, Helsingør, and Odense. 

Denmark is well-known for being a flat country, and cycling is the main mode of transportation in its major cities. And while you won’t find Norway’s grandiose fjords and mountains, Denmark has plenty of forests, beaches, and national parks worth exploring. 

If you spend a bit of time traveling around Denmark, you’ll notice that Jutland – the largest part of the country – feels significantly different from Sjælland – the island that Copenhagen is on. Jutland feels a lot more rural, and distances are often greater when traveling between different cities. 

How Do Denmark and Finland Compare? 

Now that you know a bit more about what you can expect on a trip to Denmark and Finland, let’s look at how the two countries compare in different areas. 

Avoiding Crowds

Copenhagen has gained a lot of attention in the last 10 years or so, and that has led to significantly larger crowds in the touristy parts of town. The good news, however, is that you can avoid most of the tourists by going anywhere outside the city center – even in nearby districts like Østerbro and Vesterbro. 

Once you leave Copenhagen altogether, you’ll also leave most of the crowds behind. For example, a trip to the country’s second-largest city – Aarhus – will feel like being in a different world. You will also notice fewer tourists if you go to the likes of Aalborg and Odense. 

Even when you’re in Downtown Helsinki, you’ll notice a significant decrease in the number of tourists compared to Copenhagen. Many of them hang around Senate Square, which is where you’ll find the iconic Tuomiokirkko cathedral. 

Elsewhere in Finland, you will notice more tourists in the Lapland region – particularly in Rovaniemi, which is the starting point for many Northern Lights tours

Nyhavn Denmark
Nyhavn Denmark

Hidden Gems  

Copenhagen and Helsinki are both rewarding weekends away, but they aren’t the only places worth visiting in Denmark and Finland. Both countries have countless hidden gems worth checking out. 

We’ve already discussed Aarhus, which is very much worth a detour from Copenhagen if you’re spending a longer period of time in Denmark. However, the country has other places worth exploring – such as beautiful Ribe, which is also Denmark’s oldest town. Danes also love to spend time on scenic islands such as Bornholm, Ærø, and Læsø. 

Finland also has plenty of unique experiences away from the tourist trail. The Swedish-speaking Åland Islands are a great summer destination, and the cities of Tampere and Turku are also both well worth a visit. 

Elsewhere in Finland, the Eastern region – close to the Russian border – offers a great chance to potentially spot bears. 

Inari Finland
Inari Finland

Northern Lights 

Many people visit the Nordics for a chance to glimpse the fabled Northern Lights. Finland is by far the better option out of these two countries for that; you can see the Aurora Borealis in many parts of Northern Finland throughout the fall and winter. 

Sometimes, on rare occasions, you can also see the Northern Lights in more southern parts of Finland. 

Although it’s unlikely that you’ll see the Northern Lights in Denmark, displays are sometimes strong enough that you can view the phenomenon. In January 2022, the Northern Lights were visible over Tisvildeleje – a coastal town around an hour north of Copenhagen. And in February 2023, you could even see the Northern Lights in the Danish capital.

You can sometimes also see the Northern Lights in areas of North Jutland, but you’re often better off going further north. 

Lemmenjoki Park Finland
Lemmenjoki Park Finland


Technically, you can ski in Denmark. CopenHill, which is on top of a renewable energy plant, lets you try your skills on an artificial surface. Other than that, though, Denmark’s landscape isn’t really ideal for skiing – and many Danes either go further north or to countries like Austria, France, and Switzerland to ski. 

Finland, on the other hand, offers superb skiing opportunities – and sometimes, you can ski as late as April or May. Levi is one of the most popular places to ski in Finland, but you’ll find other resorts – such as Yläs and Pyhä. You can also ski year-round in the Vuokatti Ski Tunnel. 

Ease of Getting Around 

Despite Finland being a relatively large country, getting around is simple. The country has efficient train and bus networks that operate between many of its major cities, and getting around each city is also quite simple. 

Even during the winter, when almost all of Finland is covered in snow, roads, and trains are well-maintained – though you should still beware of potential ice and other problems. Moreover, you should avoid traveling if extreme weather warnings are issued. 

FinnAir also operates numerous flights in Finland; you can fly from Helsinki to Rovaniemi and several other cities. However, getting around the more rural parts of the country may require a car. 

Getting around Denmark is quite simple, and DSB – the country’s train operator – will take you from Copenhagen to almost everywhere, including the likes of Aalborg in Northern Jutland. You can also fly if necessary to Bornholm, Aalborg, Aarhus, and other regions. 

If you want to get to one of Denmark’s many scenic islands, you’ll typically find a good network of ferries during the summer. Moreover, bus operators can take you around – though, like in Finland, using a car is smart if you’re going to more rural areas, such as Møn. 

Ease of Getting to Each Country 

Besides getting around Denmark and Finland, you should think about how you’ll get to each country. The easiest way to reach Denmark from abroad is by flying to Copenhagen, which serves flights from Europe and other continents. From April 2023, you can also fly from Newark Airport to Aalborg. 

Billund and Aarhus are also useful airports if you want to visit Jutland specifically. From Sweden, direct trains operate between Stockholm and Copenhagen – and you can also take the train to Gothenburg. Malmö, which is just on the other side of the bridge, also has frequent services daily. 

You can also reach Denmark by train if you’re traveling from Germany, and bus services go as far as Norway. One scenic way to visit Denmark is by taking the ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen

Getting to Finland takes a bit longer if you’re traveling from other parts of Europe, but Helsinki Airport still serves numerous destinations. You can also fly to Tampere from London, Copenhagen, Munich, and a handful of other European cities. 

From Sweden, you can take a ferry to Finland from Stockholm. It first stops in the Åland Islands before continuing to Turku and Helsinki. 

If you’re visiting from Estonia, the journey from Tallinn is around two hours by sea. St. Petersburg is also reachable by sea or train – but services between Helsinki and Russia’s second-largest city are currently suspended. 

Two Countries Offering Very Different Travel Experiences 

Regardless of whether you visit Denmark or Finland, you’ll have a fulfilling trip. Both countries offer a wide selection of experiences, from skiing to hiking and more. Realistically, you could visit both – but knowing what to expect from each country will be much better for helping you plan your trip.

Now that you’ve read this guide, you should have a better idea of what you want to do when visiting Finland and Denmark. You’ll also know which is a better option for you to visit first. 

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