15 most popular Scandinavian cities

*Editor’s Choice Rating. About the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement, nor is it a sales pitch. Specialist consultation required before purchase.

Scandinavia is a historical and cultural region in the north of Europe. It includes three countries – Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Some researchers also include Iceland in Scandinavia, but the citizens of that state themselves refuse to be part of this cultural and historical region for little-understood reasons.

Whereas Scandinavia used to be a very warlike region where the culture of battle axes flourished, today these three countries are “exporters” of a special lifestyle involving minimalism and simple pleasures of life. Much to thank for this is the Swedish company IKEA, which has spread throughout the world and offers laconic in design interior and household items. Also, the Scandinavian way of life is known for its respectful approach to the environment (including the concept of “zero waste”) and the ability to enjoy the simple little things. This is where the concept of “hygge,” an essential element of Danish culture that implies comfort and a feeling of contentment in everyday life, came from.

The Scandinavian way of life, from minimalist interiors to satisfying conformist hobbies, is quite interesting. And of course, many want to immerse themselves in it, because a “toxic” environment is unlikely to help achieve that same “hygge. And for this it is worth a trip to Scandinavia.

For those who want to enjoy the minimalist Nordic comfort and simple pleasures of life, we’ve compiled a list of 15 most popular cities in Scandinavia. For this selection we used the Internet. The more often a city is mentioned, the higher its place in the rating.

NominationplaceThe cityRATING
Rating of the most popular Scandinavian cities15Fleckfjord, Norway4.1
14Uppsala, Sweden4.2
13Skagen, Denmark4.3
12Stavanger, Norway4.4
11Tromsø, Norway4.5
10Aarhus, Denmark4.5
9Trondheim, Norway4.5
8Gothenburg, Sweden4.6
7Geiranger, Norway4.7
6Lillehammer, Norway4.7
5Bergen, Norway4.7
4Malmö, Sweden4.8
3Oslo, Norway4.8
2Copenhagen, Denmark4.9
1Stockholm, Sweden5.0

15th place: Fleckfjord, Norway

Rating: 4.1

Fleckfjord, Norway

The small Norwegian municipality of Flekkefjord, located in the south of the country, is far from a tourist mecca. And for nothing. If you want to experience Scandinavia as it is, you’ll want to get off the beaten track and head for the hinterland.

With its Atlantic coastline, Fleckfjord is almost always a comfortable place to live. The only thing you have to be cold is in winter, when cold winds blow in from the ocean. The small town is surrounded by Norwegian fjords – carved cliffs on the shore of the sea which are small “bays. There are also many islands around, but they are not too tourist friendly.

The city lives primarily off its fishing industry. That is why you can smell freshly caught herring even at a distance from the ports. There are several white sandy beaches, but the sunbathing on them is possible only in summer.

And there is one more “but” worth considering for tourists traveling to this part of Scandinavia. Hardly anyone here speaks English. The official language of the municipality of Flekkefjord is bukmol, one of the standards of Norwegian.

Fleckfjord became popular partly due to the song of the same name by the Russian rock band Leap Year. True, it’s only mentioned there – in the first stanza – and plays no further role.

Place 14: Uppsala, Sweden

Rating: 4.2

Uppsala, Sweden

The city of Uppsala is located very close to the Swedish capital. Just drive 70 kilometers north of Stockholm and you’ll find yourself immersed in a totally different atmosphere of science and students.

The fact is that the city of Uppsala is built around Uppsala University, one of the most famous and popular academic institutions of Scandinavia. Every third inhabitant of this settlement is either a student, a teacher or a researcher. Uppsala University has left an important mark in world science – the naturalist Carl Linnaeus lived and worked here, and in the local observatory a huge number of celestial bodies were discovered.

However, the popularity of Uppsala University at the dawn of its existence was not due to its scientific contribution to the world knowledge. This institution has formed a powerful student community, whose members were entitled to a place in the dormitory, to participate in competitions and to drink drinks at a discount.

Virtually all of Uppsala’s major attractions are connected with the University. Here you can see a museum with an anatomy theater, a library with a collection of ancient manuscripts, and a botanical garden named after Carl Linnaeus, which “grew” on the site of the Apothecary Garden. Also popular with tourists is the gothic Uppsala Cathedral with its 118-meter spires – the highest in Scandinavia.

Place 13: Skagen, Denmark

Rating: 4.3

Skagen, Denmark

The Danish town of Skagen is known for two “things” – the enormous sand dunes that are completely different from the usual Scandinavian landscape and the watch factory Skagen, now owned by the American company Fossil.

If you go to this city in northern Denmark, it is in the first half of summer. At this time, the local population celebrates the Solstice Day, which has now become a full-fledged tourist festival. During this time, songs are sung on the beaches and bonfires are lit, mimicking the Midsommar celebration that was celebrated in Scandinavia in ancient times.

And after visiting the Summer Solstice, you can go to the old church, now outside the city. A few centuries ago, it was covered by those very sand dunes. They literally mothballed the building, which is now called the “Buried Church”.

Another reason to visit Skagen is the huge number of small cafés with fish and seafood specialties that are caught right here in the city. However, these restaurants are small and full of tourists, so you should reserve a table in advance. And then you can go to Cape Greinen, where the two seas – the North Sea and the Baltic Sea – meet. Their waters do not mix and so form a visible border, which can be admired from the lighthouse. But you can not swim – it is cold and the currents are strong.

Number 12: Stavanger, Norway

Rating: 4.4

Stavanger, Norway

Norway prospers economically from two fisheries – fishing and oil. And while seafood is extracted practically all along the country’s coastal territory, hydrocarbons are extracted from the ground in the city of Stavanger.

Around Stavanger there are many oil producers and refineries. That’s why the city is thriving and growing economically. But tourists probably won’t be too interested in seeing the pipes of the refineries – and so Stavanger offers plenty of historical sites and entertainment venues for them.

For example, one of the largest entertainment centers in Scandinavia, Konserthus, opened in 2012, is located here. If the rides don’t appeal too much, you can go to one of the many museums: of the sea, canning, archaeology or oil. And in the city is located the oldest religious institution in Norway – Stavanger Cathedral.

Stavanger is also known as the “capital of gothic metal. It was here that groups such as the Theatre of

oristania. The city also hosts an annual international chess tournament, which has twice been won by Russian grandmaster Sergei Kariakin.

11th place: Tromsø, Norway

Rating: 4.5

Tromsø, Norway

If you want to see Norway as it is often portrayed – cold, unfriendly country – then it is worth to go to the city of Tromsø, located 400 km above the Arctic Circle. But despite the frosty weather, it’s a lively place. Tromsø occupies the island of Tromsø (where its center is located) and the area around it.

Tromsø is home to many of the world’s most northern facilities: botanical gardens, a planetarium, a soccer club, and even a brewery (the locals have to keep warm somehow). But the city is also worth a visit for those who want to touch the religious sites. The Virgin Mary’s Cathedral is the most northern cathedral in the world; the Cathedral is the only one entirely made of wood in Norway.

As in many other Scandinavian cities, Tromsø has produced many world famous musicians. The founders of the duo Röyksopp, an ambient singer with an “arctic sound,” Lene Marlin, are all from here.

Tromsø is also known for its multiculturalism. In addition to the Norwegians themselves, more than 100 other nationalities live here. The strongest diasporas are Saami, Finnish, and Russian.

Number 10: Aarhus, Denmark

Rating: 4.5

Aarhus, Denmark

The Danish city of Aarhus, the second largest in the country. Its population exceeds 250,000. It is also one of the oldest cities in Scandinavia, first mentioned in historical documents dating back to 948.

In the Middle Ages Aarhus was the Catholic center of Denmark, Scandinavia and Northern Europe as a whole. Since the 13th century, however, religious figures left it, which led to the decline of the city. And a century and a half later it was devastated by a plague epidemic. The city was practically abandoned until the 19th century, when a railroad was built through it, resulting in sharp economic and demographic growth.

In 1928, they established Aarhus University, which quickly became an important science center in Denmark. It also has a large botanical garden, which has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. In the Old Town you can visit a lot of ancient Gothic cathedrals, and a museum of the same name, showing how architecture in Denmark developed in XVI-XVII centuries.

In addition, in Aarhus there are many interesting museums to visit: art, Viking, women’s, history of science and medicine, even the fires. Also popular with tourists is the Fountain of Pigs, built in front of the town hall in 1941.

9th place: Trondheim, Norway

Rating: 4.5

Trondheim, Norway

Trondheim is one of the oldest cities in Norway. Even its name refers to the ancient times, when the local population was represented by the culture of fighting axes (and this is the official name of the archaeological culture). “Trondheim” in the local language means “House of the Strong”.

In the XI-XII centuries, Trondheim was the capital of Norway. However, with the development of trade, it ceded its status to the city of Bergen. First buildings of Trondheim were made of wood – and as a result in the history of the settlement there are no less than 15 large-scale fires. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the locals got tired of it all, and the city began to be rebuilt – stone buildings began to prevail in it.

Trondheim is especially interesting for its enormous Nidaros Cathedral – the most important monument of Scandinavian Gothic. This religious building was erected on the burial site of St. Olaf. Nidaros Cathedral hosts coronation ceremonies for monarchs of Norway. In addition, tourists should visit the House of Rock – something between a museum and a concert hall dedicated to heavy genres of music.

In Trondheim, in principle, they love music. In addition to the House of Rock, you’ll find the Ringve Museum. It displays more than 2 thousand musical instruments from all over the world.

8th place: Gothenburg, Sweden

Rating: 4.6

Gothenburg, Sweden

Gothenburg is the second largest (and often the most important) city in Sweden. It is a port gateway of the country – the majority of European passenger and cargo ships arrive here. And it was founded precisely to ensure Sweden’s access to the North Sea – for this purpose, it was founded in the XVII century by King Gustav II Adolf.

Gothenburg is one of the most recognizable Swedish cities. Wide avenues are lined with classic Scandinavian-style houses and occasionally interrupted by stone-bound canals. Often there are also examples of modern architecture – amazing and impressive. Gothenburg is beloved by local and out-of-towners alike with its many cultural centers and fashionable restaurants.

And in summer, Gothenburg is transformed as tourists from all over Europe come here. Some people admire the flowers and rare plants in the two botanical gardens; others go to the huge natural-science museum, where live sharks live and the hot tropics are recreated; still others get here for the huge entertainment park Liseberg with dozens of extreme rides.

Gothenburg is also famous for being the birthplace and home of YouTube blogger PewDewPie, who was the longest-serving video platform (and the most subscribed) until he was overtaken by the Indian T-Series channel.

7th place: Geirangerfjord, Norway

Rating: 4.7

Geiranger, Norway

Surprisingly, one of the most popular cities in Scandinavia in general and Norway in particular, has only 300 people. It’s essentially just a small village around a large port. And it exists only because of tourists.

The fact is that Geiranger is located in an incredibly picturesque place – at the end of the chain of fjords Geirangerfjord. The entire city is nestled on the side of a cliff. There are green mountains all around, too. That’s why the port of Geiranger is visited by more than 100 cruise ships every year – tourists want to take beautiful pictures of the wonderful, almost untouched by man Scandinavian nature.

Geirangerfjord itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fjord is of amazing beauty – dark cliffs jutting into the sky with snow-capped tops are covered in emerald greenery, and waterfalls rush down from great heights. Here is a set of vantage points, including those created especially for tourists. Visitors should also visit local restaurants. The clean air and the delicious, albeit simple, freshly caught seafood makes you want to live.

Going to Geirangerfjord for a holiday, it is worth considering one important factor. This is the place for an active lifestyle. To get from one vantage point to the next, you have to walk several kilometers with a huge drop in elevation. Or travel that distance on a bicycle.

6th place: Lillehammer, Norway

Rating: 4.7

Lillehammer, Norway

The Norwegian city of Lillehammer gained its fame first of all thanks to a TV series of the same name from an American channel. However, the action is set in New York. But the main character is named after this Norwegian city.

In general, Lillehammer is a small provincial town in Norway. Population – less than 30 thousand people. The most interesting sights are the Ethnographic Museum with more than 180 buildings of different historic periods of Norway and the Automobile Museum. You can also go on a paddle steamer, launched in 1856 and still operating today.

Lillehammer is worth visiting in winter – 20 kilometers east of the city is Schusen, one of the largest ski resorts in Scandinavia. Several Olympic venues are located here – the ice arena, bobsled track, ski jumping complex and freestyle skating rink. All of them were involved in the Olympic Games in 1994 in Lillehammer, and are in good condition to this day. So, in 2016, the Youth Winter Olympics were held here.

By the way, the name of the city has nothing to do with the hammers. Lillehammer is “little Hamar”. And Hamar, in turn, is another city and diocese in Norway.

5th place: Bergen, Norway

Rating: 4.7

Bergen, Norway

Bergen is the largest city in Western Norway and second largest in the country as a whole. A major port and one of the centers of the oil industry – although the hydrocarbons are brought there for refining from Stavanger. In the Middle Ages, Bergen was the capital of the country – and since then it has preserved its unique waterfront, a real architectural monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bergen’s waterfront, called Bryggen, is a complex of commercial buildings in a distinctive Scandinavian style. It is their appearance most often inspires artists who need to draw a historical or provincial Norway. Chain of three-storey houses with pointed tiled roofs, painted in different shades of brick color, looks very atmospheric and unusual.

In addition to Bruggen, in Bergen, you can admire the ancient white-stone cathedral of Bergen, built in the XII century; the medieval fortress Bergenhus XIII-XVI centuries; house-museum of Edvard Grieg Trollhugen (“Troll Hill”), as well as a technical museum.

Like many other Norwegian cities, Bergen has become home to many musicians playing in the style of “hard rock. Among them is the founder of the band Immortal and the drummer of Gorgoroth. It’s also where DJ Alan Walker and members of the comedy duo Ylvis, whose song “What Does The Fox Say?” in 2014 sounded out of every vacuum cleaner.

4th place: Malmö, Sweden

Rating: 4.8

Malmö, Sweden

Located in the south of Sweden, Malmö is the third largest city in the country. Now the most important transportation hub of the state, and 300 years ago was the capital of the territory of Skoneland. Malmö is a city so beautiful and comfortable that, as of 2017, 45% of its population were immigrants and their families.

Malmo connects Sweden and Denmark. Between these two countries there is the Eressun bridge, so you can get from one country to the other just by car. By the way, this feature is reflected in one of Scandinavia’s most popular contemporary television series. It’s about a detective story, “The Bridge,” about a murder on this stretch of road. By the way, it was filmed in Malmö, so fans of the series can find interesting places here.

And all in all Malmö is a real historical monument to the friendship between Sweden and Denmark. In the “Old City” there are ancient buildings, made in the distinctive Danish style. Although centuries-old fortress walls no longer stand, instead there are picturesque parks scattered all around the city.

And for those who want a taste of global culture, head to the cosmopolitan quarter of Møllevongen, where the immigrant diaspora is concentrated. There are plenty of markets, Oriental kebab houses, Indian curry houses, Vietnamese noodle shops, and Balkan cafes. From there you can drive to the Øresund waterfront, where the Rotating Torso skyscraper, one of the new symbols of Sweden and Scandinavia, towers, and long river beaches – well-appointed and comfortable.

3rd place: Oslo, Norway

Rating: 4.8

Oslo, Norway

Familiar to every fan of puzzles from the latest pages of entertainment newspapers, the city of Oslo is the capital of Norway and one of the most famous settlements in Scandinavia. It’s a huge, modern metropolis, with wide roads and tall, high-rise buildings.

As seen by tourists and locals alike, Oslo is a young city. This explains its modern layout and well thought-out infrastructure. The capital of Norway experienced its rapid growth in the second half of the twentieth century – in fact, when it acquired the name Oslo, before that it was called Christiania.

However, the status of a megalopolis and the financial and political center of the country does not prevent Oslo from having many historical and cultural attractions. Here is the old fortress Akershus, which gave rise to the city, and the Royal Palace and the Cathedral. And then there are dozens of museums, including ones devoted to the Vikings and the life of Thor Heyerdahl, who crossed the Pacific Ocean on a makeshift Kon-Tiki raft.

Oslo is also home to many of the world’s most modern attractions. For example, the Opera House, opened in 2008, located in the harbor, just like Sydney Harbor. Or the Fram Museum, dedicated to Norwegian explorers to the North Pole. And the ski jump at Holmenkollen is one of the two most visited tourist attractions in Norway.

2nd place: Copenhagen, Denmark

Rating: 4.9

Copenhagen, Denmark

The metropolis of Copenhagen is Denmark’s largest city and its capital. It is so big that it spreads out on three islands connected by bridges and subway lines: Zealand, Amager, and Slotsholmen. The population of Copenhagen is 600 thousand people – but that’s if you count residents only in the historic center. If you include the suburbs, the figure rises to 1.3 million.

Copenhagen is the most important business center in Scandinavia and Northern Europe in general. It is here that the largest stock exchange is located, where all sorts of economic transactions are concluded. Moreover, in this megalopolis there is Copenhagen University, the oldest in Denmark.

And the history of the metropolis began in 1043. At the time the city was just a small fishing village. One and a half centuries later, a castle was erected next to it – primarily to protect the Øresund Strait. It is crossed by the way by a bridge, the other end of which is in Sweden, in the city of Malmo.

Later the influence of Copenhagen kept growing, and in XVIII-XIX centuries it altogether became the center of the Danish Golden Age. At this time, it was already the capital. In the twentieth century, residents of Copenhagen had to experience serious shortages of goods and food, but the government managed to get out of the crisis. And as a result, in 2013, British magazine Monocle named Copenhagen the best city to live in.

Even a short walk around Copenhagen from a hotel to a cafe is an opportunity to see some historical landmarks, so many of them are here. The city has ancient churches, royal palaces and vast parks. And also – dozens of museums and theaters. But first of all Copenhagen is known as the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish storyteller, and in honor of him on one of the quays in the port is a statue of Little Mermaid, incredibly popular among tourists.

1st Place: Stockholm, Sweden

Rating: 5.0

Stockholm, Sweden

The capital of the Kingdom of Sweden, Stockholm is the largest and most popular city in Scandinavia. The metropolis is huge – it stretches over 14 islands, and has a population of almost 2.5 million people. But Stockholm is not urban – the city blocks are comfortable and in harmony with Scandinavian nature.

Stockholm is incredibly convenient for life. Every urban development innovation aims to improve comfort, so the street edges are not cluttered with endless lines of cars, there are bicycle lanes everywhere, pleasant public spaces with coffee shops and benches, and a well-developed public transport infrastructure.

Stockholm is very diverse and offers many tourist attractions. There are countless museums and various historical and cultural sites such as fortresses and cathedrals, and just beautiful architecture. Tourists love to visit the Södermalm Lookout, which offers a view of the entire city with its many spires and tiled roofs.

Stockholm has left an important mark in world history and culture. And this is reflected in the sights of the city. For example, a museum and children’s entertainment center are dedicated to Astrid Lindgren, the author of the stories of Pippi Longstocking and Carlson. In honor of the group ABBA, who formed the disco music style and wrote one of the most popular New Year’s songs, Happy New Year (which was incredibly sad, by the way), there is also a museum. And it’s also where environmental activist Greta Tunberg lives and does her work.

And the trip to Stockholm can be completed by returning to something more “mundane”. For example, by visiting the Alcohol Museum. By the way, riding around the city is better by subway. Local stations are carved into rocks and decorated by famous artists.

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