Scandinavia. The name alone invokes the imagination with snow covered streets and Northern Lights sightings in winter, and gorgeous green mountains and fjords in summer. This northern part of Europe consists of three countries: Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Norway is the country with all the fjords, its capital is Oslo, the smallest of the Scandinavian capitals. Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries, but its capital Copenhagen is bigger than Oslo and offers more variety in things to do and see. Meanwhile, Sweden is the country with more islands than any other in the world, with its archipelago Stockholm is the biggest of the Scandinavian capitals.

So where should you go for your next city trip, or which Scandinavian capital should you include in your European tour? Of course, this depends on what you want to see and do. Here we’ve compared Copenhagen and Stockholm, to give you an idea of which city might suite you better.

Similarities of Copenhagen and Stockholm

There is no denying it, as they are both Scandinavian cities, there are quite a few similarities between Stockholm and Copenhagen. Both municipalities have a population of under 1 million people and both cities are often considered expensive, though both Stockholm and Copenhagen can be visited on a budget as well. Both cities have royal families living in them and palaces for you to visit.

Copenhagen and Stockholm have a high focus on sustainability. With bike-friendly infrastructure and good public transport systems. The focus on sustainability goes hand in hand with both cities strong sense of design, innovation and liveable urban environments.  

Both cities have lots of great ways to make your way through the city, including RED Sightseeing’s hop-on hop-off buses. Their iconic red buses, have multiple stops around the city. And you can choose between tickets that are valid for up to 3 days.

Stockholm vs Copenhagen: the differences

Those similarities might seem like a lot, but the cities really do each have their own characteristics and personalities. While both cities have a strong connection to the water, they feel completely different. Copenhagen has canals that separate different parts of the city, while Stockholm has an archipelago of islands that make up the city.

Of the two cities, Stockholm has more nature within easy reach of the city centre, including the entire island of Djurgården. Not only has this former royal game park lots of greenery, it also features several of Stockholm’s top attractions, such as Skansen, the Vasa Museum, Nordiska Museet, ABBA The Museum, Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde and The Viking Museum.

In comparison, Copenhagen’s old city centre is larger than Stockholm’s Gamla Stan. Indry By, as the area is known, stretches from Tivoli to the Little Mermaid statue, and from the Copenhagen Lakes to Freetown Christiania. The city centre is home to many of Copenhagen's main sights and attractions, such as Nyhavn, the National Museum of Denmark, Christiansborg Palace, the Danish War Museum and the Danish Architecture Center.

We love both city’s equally. But depending on what you are looking for we can recommend one city over another. For history buffs and nature lovers, we would choose Stockholm over Copenhagen. But for design enthusiasts, foodies, beer lovers and nightlife partiers, we recommend Copenhagen over Stockholm.

Visit both Copenhagen and Stockholm

Of course, you can also visit both Copenhagen and Stockholm. You can easily make your way between the two cities, as it takes only a 5.5 hour train journey. The train will take you through a big part of southern Sweden, which offers stunning scenery, with forests, lakes and red cottages.

So if you can’t choose between Copenhagen and Stockholm, why not visit both?