Having a hard time deciding whether to travel to Oslo or Stockholm? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this detailed comparison will help you decide which Nordic city is better for you!
Both Stockholm and Oslo are some of the greenest cities in Europe, so you can feel good about visiting either one. Residents of both cities are known to be some of the healthiest and most active in Europe, and those aren’t the only similarities between these cities. Keep reading to learn more about Oslo and Stockholm, and see which Nordic capital is ultimately the better fit for you!
Whether you should visit Oslo or Stockholm depends on what you want to do on your trip. Stockholm is the better option for travelers who want to stay in a metropolis full of content. There are more things to do and see in the Swedish capital, particularly for travelers who prefer exploring the urban to the actual jungle.
Oslo, on the other hand, is more suitable for travelers who enjoy exploring outside the city’s borders. The Norwegian capital is surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful nature and it offers more things to do to travelers who want to get out of the city and explore its surroundings.
If you want to explore hiking trails and climb mountains in addition to exploring metropolitan attractions, Oslo is the better city for you.
If that still doesn’t narrow it down enough for you, look for answers in the rest of this detailed comparison of Oslo and Stockholm!
Oslo and Stockholm are quite similar in a way. Both cities feature a similar climate, an excellent network of public transportation, a variety of entertainment venues, and a plethora of interesting sights in and around them. That’s exactly why many people have trouble deciding between the two, especially those who have never visited the Nordics before.
Regardless of which capital you end up visiting, you should expect clean surroundings, a chilly climate, and breathtaking views. Also, English is widely spoken in both these capitals and you shouldn’t have any issues getting around even if you can’t breathe a word of Norwegian/Swedish.
Also, getting around the city is pretty easy whether you’re in Oslo or Stockholm. Both boast a great network of public transportation, so you can quickly travel between different parts of the city. There are countless train and bus lines, as well as ferry routes that will quickly take you to different areas of the cities.
On top of that, both capitals are easily walkable and most of their attractions can be explored on foot.
When it comes to top sights and cultural attractions, Stockholm is considered the better option for travelers who want to stay within the metropolitan area. The city just has more landmarks and museums to offer, so it’s definitely the more suitable option for travelers who want a city full of content.
Oslo is bigger than Stockholm by area size, but it’s important to note that a good chunk of Oslo is greenery and waterways. Stockholm has a larger population and more people usually means more ways to stay entertained.
One thing to note is that both these cities offer plenty of opportunities for day trips and exploration outside their urban area. Stockholm is famous for its many islands, and boat tours of the Stockholm archipelago are an excellent way of getting to know the city.
Oslo, on the other hand, is known for stunning nature just outside the city borders. It’s no secret that Norwegians are very healthy – well, they manage to stay so healthy because they enjoy exploring the wilderness outside their cities whether on a bike or on foot.
If cost plays a big part in your decision, Stockholm is the better city for you. It’s significantly cheaper than Oslo, although it’s worth noting that both these cities are pretty expensive when compared to the capitals of Western Europe.
Accommodation, transportation, and food are all more expensive in Oslo. You’ll also pay more for museum tickets, but the upside is that there’s just so much wilderness outside the city that you can discover for free.
The fjords, the panoramic city views, and the stunning untouched nature of Norway can all be discovered on a pretty tight budget. But you’ll need a small fortune to enjoy a fine dining experience in the Norwegian capital, so there’s that.
Stockholm is more affordable than Oslo but it’s by no means a cheap city. It’s still one of the most expensive cities in Europe, so you will still need a rather generous budget if you want to live large in Stockholm. Then again, it’s a bit easier to stick to a tighter budget in the capital city of Sweden, plus there’s also a wide variety of things you can do for free here.
Want to know what the best things to do in Oslo are? The following are just some of the most famous attractions in the Norwegian capital.
Edward Munch remains one of the most famous artists Norway has ever produced. Scream is his signature masterpiece, but unfortunately, it’s not on display at this museum – you’ll need to visit the National Museum in Oslo instead.
At the Munch Museum, you get to see a plethora of other works from this famous artist. The museum’s collection includes more than 28,000 works of art from Edward Munch, as well as the artist’s effects, tools, and a private library.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that even the museum building is a modern work of art. It’s situated across from the Oslo Opera House, and it boasts modern architecture with a classic Scandinavian twist.
Vigeland Park and Museum are situated a bit outside the Oslo city center, but they’re easily accessible by public transport. Vigeland Park is a sculpture park featuring Gustav Vigeland’s famous sculptures and temporary art exhibits. It’s situated within Frogner Park, which boasts a variety of other interesting attractions for tourists.
In addition to Oslo’s famous sculptures, Frogner Park is also home to the Oslo City Museum. The museum exhibit focuses on the development of Oslo, and it’s great for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the Norwegian capital city.
The Vigeland Museum is located just outside Frogner Park in an industrial setting. It boasts a large collection of Gustav Vigeland’s sculptures, drawings, and woodcuts, and it’s an absolute must for all art lovers in Oslo.
Akershus is a waterside fortress that dates back to the 13th century. It was initially built as a royal residence in the city, but the castle has had many functions over the centuries. It was used as a military base, a prison, and today it functions as the temporary office of the Norwegian Prime Minister.
There are two military museums inside the Akershus Castle and they’re definitely worth visiting if you’re interested in military history. One museum boasts an exhibit on the Norweigan resistance in World War II, while the other one is the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need to pay an entrance fee only if you want to visit the museums. Touring the fortress grounds is entirely free, making this a great attraction for all travelers on a tighter budget!
The waterfront Oslo Opera House is an iconic city landmark worth visiting. The landmark building is best known for its modern architecture with geometric shapes and a slanted roof that goes all the way down to the ground. This means that you can (and you should!) easily walk on top of the roof of the building to see a fabulous sunset over the fjord.
It’s worth it to go inside the entertainment venue and see the interior architecture as well. There’s a cafe at the opera house where you can grab some coffee if you like – you’ll fit in along with all the other tourists!
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History is situated in Bygdøy, a small peninsula just outside the Oslo City Center. Best known for beautiful beaches, leafy hiking trails, and great museums, the peninsula is just one of many reasons why many travelers prefer the scenery of Oslo to that of Stockholm.
The open-air museum is incredible and a must if you’re visiting Oslo. It boasts a large collection of medieval buildings with indoor exhibits on the culture and lifestyle of the people of Oslo throughout the years. You can see how the traditions and culture changed throughout the years along with urban development, but the Gol Stave Church is definitely the most iconic building at the museum.
It’s worth noting that you could easily spend 4-5 hours here if you wanted to see and read absolutely everything. We’d recommend taking an entire day to explore the peninsula with all its mesmerizing viewpoints and museums. In addition to the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, the Viking Ship Museum and the Fram Museum are also situated in Bygdøy.
Norway has a long and fascinating history of Vikings that is an essential part of the country’s national identity. Learning about Vikings is key if you really want to get to know Norway and the Norwegians, so do not miss out on this absolute gem in Bygdøy.
The museum displays three Viking ships from the 9th century and they’re a fascinating sight. Visitors can also see various artifacts recovered from burial chambers, as well as short films that tell the history of the museum exhibit.
Rådhuset is the Oslo City Hall and it’s one of the most popular landmarks in this coastal city. It is best known for hosting the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, but you don’t have to be a Nobel winner to go inside the building.
Guided tours of the Oslo City Hall are available, but honestly, they’re not a must. Sure, if you’ve got plenty of time in the city definitely check out the interior of the building, but if you’re in Oslo for just a few days, there are better ways to spend your time.
The towers and the iconic red brick exterior are the most famous things about Rådhuset anyway, and you can appreciate both without seeing the inside of the building.
Stockholm isn’t short on tourist attractions either, and you can see all its best-known landmarks and museums right here!
Vasa is a Swedish warship that sank in the early 17th century. It was salvaged and it’s currently on display at the Vasa Museum, which happens to be one of the most popular things to see in Stockholm.
The Vasa ship sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and it wasn’t recovered until 1961. The museum exhibits tell the story of how the ship was found and salvaged, plus all visitors are allowed to get very close to the ship to examine all the little details.
This is definitely one of the top tourist attractions in Stockholm, but it’s worth noting that the museum shouldn’t be extremely crowded. It’s possible to purchase tickets at the entrance and the lines are usually not very long.
The ABBA Museum is one of Stockholm’s most famous museums and the best museum for anyone who is even remotely into pop culture. The band reshaped pop music as we know it today and this interactive exhibit pays homage to their influence.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a museum in the exact sense of that word because it does not conduct research, it doesn’t have any collections, and it is for profit. It’s more of an interactive exhibit of various items from the lives of the band members, such as the self-playing piano that’s hooked up to Benny’s actual piano. If Benny happens to be playing the piano while you’re at the museum, you’ll see it (and hear it) in person!
Visitors can also see various ABBA costumes, a replica of their recording studio, and some of their instruments. It’s also possible to virtually try on all the different ABBA outfits, so there are plenty of fun and interesting things to see and do at this museum.
The city of Stockholm is built on 14 islands, but there are more than 30,000 islands, rocks, and skerries in the Stockholm archipelago. Thanks to excellent interconnectivity with bridges, Stockholm is a walkable city and you can explore most of its attractions on foot.
However, a boat tour of the archipelago is definitely one of the best ways to experience this beautiful city. You’ll get to see parts of Stockholm that you simply can’t reach on foot, plus you’ll experience a beautiful panorama of this great city from the water.
Boat tours usually take around three hours, and they’re available year-round. They are extremely popular in the summer months, so if you happen to visit Stockholm during peak season, make sure to book tickets in advance.
Skansen is a vast open-air museum dedicated to Swedish history. The exhibits at this museum include historic buildings, people in costumes, and even a zoo with Nordic animals. It’s the oldest open-air museum in all of Sweden and it’s definitely a must-see attraction if you’re visiting the Swedish capital.
The museum spans an area of 75 acres, so you can imagine it will take a while to explore all of its best exhibits. Some of the highlights of the Skansen museum include a full replica of the average Swedish town in the 19th century, farmsteads with rare farm animals, and a zoo with native Scandinavian animals.
It’s worth noting that houses were brought from all over the country to this museum, so you’re truly getting to experience life in Sweden through the ages and not just in Stockholm.
The Stockholm Royal Palace is the official residence of the Royal family in Sweden. The Baroque palace is partially open for tours so it is possible to go inside and get a glimpse of how the royals lived. It’s situated in the Stockholm old town and it’s easily accessible from the city center.
The palace is also home to three museums, so plan to spend a few hours here, if you really want to see the entire place. Guided tours of the palace rooms are available for visitors, and they’re a great option if you want to learn more about the history of the building, but also about the functions of different rooms and anecdotal events.
Don’t miss out on the Logården either – the palace park is small, but it’s beautifully landscaped and worth checking out.
Gamla Stan is a compact island in Stockholm that houses the city’s old town. With 17th-century buildings, a plethora of museums, spectacular views, and a variety of landmark buildings, this is easily the part of the city that tourists will be drawn to the most.
Landmark churches, countless museums, and the best Stockholm hotels are all situated in this part of the city. This is where you’ll find the Royal Palace, the Riddarholmen Church, Storkyrkan, the Parliament House, the Nobel Prize Museum, the Stockholm Medieval Museum, and many other attractions.
Gamla Stan is the best place for visitors who want to stay somewhere central in Stockholm, but it’s worth noting that this is also where the priciest accommodation in the city is. Nonetheless, if you want to be within walking distance of all the most iconic historical attractions in the city, this is the place to be.
Kungsträdgården is a vast public park in Stockholm and a very popular hangout place among the locals. In the summer, the park usually hosts open-air concerts and exhibits, but during the winter it’s dominated by a large ice-skating rink that attracts residents of all ages.
Stockholm’s large public park is a popular meeting place in the city, so definitely go there if you want to do some people watching. The park is also home to quite a few cafes, restaurants, and art galleries, so there are plenty of other things to do here, in case you’ve got no interest in observing the locals go about their days.
Although Kungsträdgården is popular year-round, it’s best experienced in the spring when its many cherry blossom trees are in full bloom.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!