Sweden vs Norway vs Finland

by | May 31, 2021 | Diaries, Europe, Finland, Norway, Sweden

What’s our impression of Sweden after Finland and Norway? Read our simplistic travel analysis and if you live or have alived around, don’t hesitate to write your opinion. 

Landscape. The scenery reminded us mostly Finland north of Stockholm and pretty much Norway at the south. The villages look like in Norway. But nothing is exactly the same. Forests and lakes look like in Finland but are less pristine than there. In Sweden you always see areas with cut wood meanwhile in Finland you hardly see any on the roadside. 

Villages. The red painted wooden houses look like in Norway but they are not as perfectly restored, at least north of Stockholm. You often see abandoned courtyards with construction materials, wood and old cars inside. South of Stockholm all houses are very well maintained and villages look much tidier. 

Towns. Some town look as if are used, while in Norway all look fresh. Multi-storey house building are much more common in Sweden than in Norway or Finland. But their towns are more candid and lively. You will find cafes, restaurants and fast food everywhere. If both countries were cars, Norway migh be a new Tesla. Sweden is a used Volvo. 

Roads. National and regional roads are wider in Sweden. Many roads have three lanes and every 2-3 kilometres the central divide moves so that one direction gets two lanes for overtaking. Very clever layout. Motorways have telematic tolls both in Sweden and Norway but we avoid them. In cities like Stockholm and Göteborg, tolls are de-activated after hours.

Drivers. Needless to write that in all Scandinavian countries, drivers are polite, patient, careful and well behaved. They are a little bit better in Norway and in Finland. Pedestrian and cyclists are anywhere the real kings of the road and for good. There is no city or regional road without a pedestrian/cyclist path next. Quality of life.

 Police. Their presence is very discreet in all three countries, even during the pandemic. You hardly see patrol cars on the road but you know they are there. And police HQ close after hours. Only in Sweden we saw police intervention in two occasions. In three-week time.

Homeless. Six months in Norway we never met a homeless person. Neither in a month in Finland. In Sweden we met people living in cardboxes downtown Stockholm and an old man approached us in a parking outside Göteborg. He asked for food, so we gave him some fruits and water. 

Covid-19. Last but not least, the measures against the Covid-19 pandemic. Sweden may be considered the black sheep of Europe on this matter and is red-labeled for more than a year, but this doesn’t mean that the citizens are irresponsible. The difference with Norway and FInland is that the market and the restaurants never closed in Sweden but only museums, cinemas/theaters and amusement parks closed. 

Lockdown. While in Oslo restaurants remained closed for months from the end of 2020 to May 2021, in Stockholm we were shocked with the people on the streets, in cafes and parks. But all kept safe distances while seating.

 Masks. Their use differs from country to country but even from town to town in the same country. In Sweden few people wear masks (May 2021), while supermarket and mall employees never use. In all Scandinavia, most people respect the severity of the pandemic but they look calm and don’t seem frightened like elsewhere.“It’s difficult to enforce prohibitions to Swedish people”, Martin told us in Spiken, where we met.

We realised that most Swedish don’t fear to get the virus any more, which makes sense since more than 10% have already done and 35% are already vaccinated. People don’t seem to be scared of getting the disease because they know that 50% of the people who have died of Covid-19 were over 70 years old. And mortality is considerably decreased.

Citizens. In all three countries, we understood that locals are never harsh with the policies and decisions of their respective governments. They trust the people in power, supposedly because those don’t treat their people like children but like responsible citizens. This seems to be the norm but covid deniers and conspiracy theorists seem to exist even in this part of the world.

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