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Sweden vs Denmark: How to choose between Denmark and Sweden

Sweden vs Denmark: Which should you choose? Today, we’re going to help break down some of the differences between Demark and Sweden, so you can make the right choice.

Scandinavia is a pretty big deal these days. Virtually every Nordic country, from Finland to Norway, promises an amazing experience for visitors and expats alike.

Whether you’re keen to party in Sweden with a bucket full of crayfish, or you’re looking to explore the Danish concept of hygge, there’s something for everyone in Scandinavia.

The question is — which location is best?

Choosing between Sweden or Denmark isn’t as easy as it seems.

Both countries have a wide range of benefits to offer, and each could even be the ideal location for someone thinking of moving to a new home.

So, let’s take a closer at Denmark and Sweden…

Sweden vs Denmark: The major differences

Let’s start with the basics.

Denmark is a place brimming with vibrant cities, wonderful nature, and happy people. In fact, Denmark is one of the happiest places in the world, consistently ranked for its great work-life balance and community.

Denmark features the Jutland Peninsula, as well as a wide selection of other islands, and covers around 17,000 square miles in total.

There’s about 5.6 million people currently living in Denmark today. Although the location holds onto its Nordic and Viking roots, it’s also growing increasingly modern, with a wide range of new architecture sprouting up all the time, and high-speed internet.

Sweden is a lot larger than Denmark, coming in at around 174,000 square miles. Despite this, the resident count is still relatively low at around 10.1 million. Whether you visit Sweden or Denmark, you won’t have to worry too much about crowds.

Both Sweden and Denmark have a lot in common — including very similar languages. However, Sweden tends to be a more common choice for outdoor enthusiasts who love exploring wide-open spaces.

Denmark is more likely to appeal to you if you want a unique Scandinavian experience, and a chance to interact with the locals.

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Denmark or Sweden: What to expect from Sweden

Sweden sits on the stunning Scandinavian Peninsula.

In recent decades, the country has experienced significant development, making it one of the most modern and opportunistic countries in the world. High quality of life, a wide range of outdoor sights to explore, and a great culture make Sweden a wonderful place to visit.

If you’re looking for beautiful villages, cities, and landscapes, then Sweden has you covered. For history buffs, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn at places like the Sigtuna Viking town, and Abisko National Park.

You can even visit Mount Nuolia for a chance to see the Northern Lights.

If you’re looking for the quintessential Swedish experience, it’s definitely worth taking a trip to Stockholm, where you’ll find beautiful museums, magical markets, hip boutiques and plenty of cafes.

While you’re visiting the region, make sure you check out some of the delicious food and drink, or stop off in a coffee shop for a brief break and “Fika”.

Sweden vs Denmark: What can you do in Sweden?

There’s no shortage of things to discover in Sweden.

Head over to Sodermalm to taste a wide range of famous Swedish meatball flavors or check out Gothenburg for an insight into unforgettable architecture. Malmo is another must-visit destination if you’re looking for an overview of Sweden’s more modern attractions.

Sweden is also home to a huge selection of castles you can visit if you’re looking to see how the royals live. Put some extra time aside if you’re going to visit the Swedish Royal palace so you can explore the small island where it’s located (Gamla stan).

This is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, and it’s also a great place to snap some pictures.

You’ll also be able to visit the wonderful Vasa Museum, which is the must visited museum in Scandinavia, and the best-preserved 17th-century ship in the world.

If you’re looking for something to do outside of the city centers, the best way to spend your time is simply exploring the natural attractions of Sweden. Geologic formations, waterfalls, beaches, national parks, canyons, and hiking trails are absolutely everywhere.

There are tons of activities to consider, including fishing, hiking, rafting, kayaking and cycling.

If you’re planning on visiting Sweden in winter, you’ll have even more ways to explore the natural landscape, with things like snowmobile rides, alpine skiing and more.

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Sweden or Denmark: What to expect from Denmark

So, what can you expect from a place like Denmark?

When it comes to choosing between Denmark or Sweden, Denmark is famous for its happy people, thousands of miles of coastline, and wonderful food. There are more than 400 islands making up Denmark, so you’ll have plenty of chances to explore.

For lovers of Viking lore, Denmark is a must-visit destination, with tons of museums and history to discover. Danish people are extremely proud of their Viking roots, and you can even set up a trip on a Viking ship if you feel like it.

Denmark also has beautiful beaches and parks, which are perfect if you’re visiting in the summer. The coastline is considered to be one of the cleanest natural areas for swimming in Europe, and the low number of locals should mean you’re not too overwhelmed by crowds.

You can spend days being inspired by the National Museum of Denmark, checking out the Hans Christian Andersen little mermaid statue, and more. Denmark also has plenty of beautiful and colorful buildings to check out when you’re taking strolls through cities and towns.

If you really want to experience life like a local, we recommend hiring a bike, because cycling is virtually everywhere in this country.

Sweden vs Denmark: What can you do in Denmark?

There are plenty of great things you can do in Denmark, regardless of whether you’re looking for history, or modern experiences.

Copenhagen, the capital city, is often the most-visited destination for travelers, with a multitude of tourist attractions, including the world’s oldest theme park, Tivoli Gardens. The carousels and rollercoasters here are truly legendary.

If you’re looking for a taste of Danish life, you can check out some of the local cheeses, or stop by a café for a delicious drink and some pastries, as you soak up the sense of hygge in the region.

Another must-see is the historic waterfront of Nyhavn, which sits next to a 17th century canal. You can even still spot the old wooden ships.

Discover the Viking roots of Denmark by heading over to Roskilde, where you can check out the Roskilde Cathedral, the final resting place of around 38 former Denmark rules.

Aside from learning about Vikings here, you can also check out the home of legendary F1 driver Kevin Magnussen.

For those who really like soaking up the sunshine during the summer months in Denmark, visit the “Sunshine Island” of Bornholm.

No matter where you go, Denmark will reward you with a treasure trove of modern art, cutting-edge technology, museums, and natural sites. If you’re keen to learn more about a new culture, or you just want to enjoy some new flavors and experiences, then Denmark has plenty to offer.

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Sweden vs Denmark: Which is better to visit?

As you can tell at this point, no matter whether you visit Sweden or Denmark, you’re going to get a wonderful experience. Both Denmark and Sweden are amazing locations, primed for any bucket list.

However, they both have their own unique benefits to offer.

Denmark is more densely populated than Sweden, and it’s a lot smaller, making it easier to explore if you don’t have as much time.

Sweden’s capital city is bigger than Copenhagen, and it’s not as easy to get around major attractions in one day. Visiting every site on-foot would be pretty tiring in Sweden, but you can always rely on public transport too.

Denmark is a little easier to cover in a few days when the weather is good. You can hire a bike and cycle around some of the major attractions in no time. Denmark also has an excellent public transportation system, which is pretty easy for non-locals to use.

In terms of attractions, both Sweden and Denmark have a lot to offer. Denmark is more likely to be the place to go if you’re looking for historical attractions like The Little Mermaid, and Tivoli Gardens.

Sweden has destinations like City Hall and the Royal Palace, but you may be more likely to spend your time checking out the natural environment instead.

If you’re just looking for sights to see when you’re strolling through city streets, you’ll get plenty of great architecture from both Sweden and Denmark. Baroque architecture is common in Sweden, while Copenhagen is brimming with Renaissance buildings.

For night life, both countries have similar vibes. Prices of alcohol are higher, and the Swedish government regulates the sale of booze heavily. This means you need to buy your alcohol from specific stores and bars. Most alcohol won’t be available on Sundays.

Denmark doesn’t have the same restrictions as Sweden, and alcohol is available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and various other locations.

For food, both countries have a fair share of delicacies to explore. Sweden loves meatballs, fish, and lots of outdoor eating festivals, while Denmark has a passion for things like cheese.

Denmark does make it a little more expensive to eat out than Sweden, so expect to save some extra cash aside if you’re planning on chowing down in restaurants every night.

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Sweden vs Denmark: Which is better to live in?

If your interest in Sweden or Denmark goes beyond simply visiting these destinations, then you’ll have an even more complex decision to make. Both countries are extremely popular as places to live, thanks to the overall high quality of life in Scandinavia.

Whether you’re moving to Sweden or Denmark, you’ll find a warm, welcoming culture waiting for you. Although there are new languages to learn in both locations, most people find Swedish and Danish to be a little easier to grasp than other global tongues.

Both Sweden and Denmark are excellent at delivering fantastic work/life balance. In these countries, you work to live, rather than living to work.

Sweden can be a little easier to move to than Denmark, simply because the larger country means more potential jobs. It’s also worth noting a lot of Danish employers are happy to find local talent from the highly educated country.

The good news is if you can move to Denmark, then you should benefit from one of the best quality of life experiences in the world. Denmark constantly ranks at the top of the global happiness index, for a range of reasons, including high feelings of safety and security in the country.

The Danes are extremely friendly people, who trust each other inherently.

In Denmark, you’ll also find a lot of people who already speak English, so when you’re learning how to understand the local tongue, you won’t be completely alone.

Aside from a beautiful location to explore whenever you choose people in Denmark will also have access to a very human-focused environment. The emphasis here is on culture, social development, and education.

Although taxes are a lot higher in Denmark than elsewhere in the world, you can also access things like healthcare and education for free.

Sweden follows the same Nordic structure for taxes as Denmark, with higher costs on living, and higher taxes on your income.

In exchange you get tons of maternity benefits, free education, excellent social care, and so much more. In Sweden, you’ll have care from the country from the moment you’re born until you die.

Living in Sweden vs Denmark

Equality, freedom, and community are all important pillars of life in either Denmark or Sweden. If you’re looking for a place where governments actually care for their people, then you’ll feel right at home in either country.

If you lived in Sweden instead of Denmark, you would:

  • Live up to 1.2 years more (life expectancy wise).
  • Be 23.1 % less likely to die during infancy.
  • Enjoy a wide range of natural scenery.
  • Be part of a much larger community.

If you lived in Denmark instead of Sweden, you would:

  • See 56% more coastline and enjoy more beach time.
  • Be 17.5% less likely to be unemployed.
  • Be 11.9% less likely to live below the poverty line.
  • Enjoy one of the happiest countries in the world.
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Is Denmark more expensive than Sweden?

In terms of taxes, both Denmark and Sweden are a lot more expensive to live in than locations like the UK and US. However, this can even out when you consider the free healthcare, education, and other social benefits of the countries.

In both locations, you can work in high-paying roles, and get a decent income doing a job you love.

However, for budget-conscious individuals, Denmark is up to 46.3% more expensive than Sweden.

When living in Denmark, you’d pay:

  • 57% more for food and restaurants.
  • 10.8% more for groceries.
  • 23.4% more for transportation.
  • 52.6% more for home costs.
  • 2.6 times more for childcare.
  • 5.6% more for entertainment.
  • 11.5% more for clothes.

If you’re just visiting Sweden, you can usually get a week of vacation for less than $1000, while a week in Denmark would bring you closer to the $1,500 mark.

You’ll also have to spend more on things like entertainment and food when you’re in Denmark. Remember, there’s a lot of Michelin star restaurants in Denmark too.

Accommodation is also a lot cheaper in Sweden compared to Denmark, and you’ll have a lot of options to choose from, including hostels and guest homes.

Notably, just because Denmark is more expensive than Sweden in a lot of areas, doesn’t mean Sweden is necessarily cheap. If you’re planning on moving to one of these destinations, you should expect to pay more than you would in some other parts of the world.

The Scandinavian region has some of the highest costs of living in the world, largely because of the higher tax requirements.

Sweden and Denmark are quite expensive when it comes to transportation too. While the public transport system is wonderful, you’ll pay a lot to get around regularly, particularly if you’re travelling to and from regions in Denmark and Sweden.

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Choosing between Denmark and Sweden

Ultimately, both Denmark and Sweden offer an excellent experience for visitors and expats alike. The decision of whether you should move to or visit one of these countries over the other will come down to your personal preferences.

If you’re just trying to decide on Denmark vs Sweden for an upcoming trip, there’s no need to choose one over the other. The regions are so close, you can easily jump between both countries by travelling over the bridge connecting the two.

Why not divide your vacation into two and explore both countries at the same time?

If you’re planning on moving to one of these countries for life, then you’ll probably be better off considering Denmark for its high quality of life — but only if you have the budget and skills required to get a Danish job.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for more affordable living and a wider range of job opportunities, Sweden might be the right choice.

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Now read these:
The pros and cons of living in Iceland
The pros and cons of living in Denmark
The pros and cons of living in Sweden
The pros and cons of living in Finland
The pros and cons of living in Norway
Norway vs Sweden, the key differences
Choosing between Denmark and Norway
Iceland and Greenland, how they differ
What is Denmark famous for?

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