Nordic Countries, Ranked From Cool to the Coolest
There are five Nordic countries: Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Located in the northern Atlantic Ocean, they all share similar climates, food and history — yes, that does include the Vikings.
But just like siblings in any family, the good genes are not equally distributed. Some countries got luckier in the looks department, others have a funner personality, and one is nice but socially awkward.
So, how do we tell them apart? Here's our honest ranking of every Nordic country and their famous "coolness."
Sweden gave us Abba and "Baby One More Time." But it's also the country that recently went viral when people realized it's normal not to offer food to your children's friends when they're in your house. We're not joking. Swedish people apparently tell kids to wait in the room while they enjoy a nice family dinner together.
But that's not the only thing that convinces us that the country is cold way beyond its weather. Remember when we were all sad because we had to lock ourselves in and couldn't hang out with other people?
Sweden never had a lockdown because, in their words, they already practiced social distance as part of everyday life. Numerous thought pieces have tried to explain why locals don't talk to others in the street.
Stockholm can be an interesting city, and its colorful architecture can help you feel like human warmth is possible within the country. It just doesn't make up for the fact that all the good food is international (thankfully, immigrants have brought seasoning to the region) and that the weather is dreary for 99 percent of the year.
Is Sweden worth visiting? Let us put it this way: We had a good time there and the people we interacted with were nice. But after leaving, we have never once felt the wishful dream of returning.
Denmark is the smallest Nordic country (if you ignore its territory, Greenland). But it certainly has nice things. You can visit the castle that inspired Shakespeare's "Hamlet," go to a beach and see the colorful rows of houses in Copenhagen's Nyhavn.
The issue is that, other than that, there's not much to do here. Its geographic location deprives the country of the Arctic beauty its counterparts enjoy. Sadly, Denmark doesn't have this defense line — unless it brings up Greenland. But that's a whole awkward conversation given that the island is a colony in practice, if not in name.
We wish we had more to say about Denmark, either positive or negative, but the truth is that the country is fairly forgettable. But there are Viking burial grounds, which is pretty cool.
Finland continues to be a relatively obscure tourist destination. The land and weather are rough, which once again translates to a culture that can seem distant and unfriendly. And, no, the food isn't any better than in other Nordic countries.
You'll find some fun things to do in the capital of Helsinki, like visiting the white-and-green Helsinki Cathedral and spending time in museums. But we won't lie to you: There are plenty of more interesting and exciting cities around the world.
If the country lands right in middle child territory, it's because it has the allure of the atypical. No one will be catering to you as a tourist or trying to get you to buy cheesy souvenirs, plus you get bragging rights for visiting a place most other people skip.
But the real, true saving grace of Finland is the Lapland. In the nation's northernmost region, you'll see the world of reindeer herders. Yes, exactly like in "Frozen." Forget dog sledding. Here, you can ride a sled driven by actual tamed reindeer!
This is the closest you'll ever be to fulfilling your childhood fantasies of visiting Santa in the North Pole.
Sweden, Denmark and Norway are the three Scandinavian countries, so it's no surprise they are all famous for being generally aloof.
Like its counterparts, Norwegians are also notorious for doing everything in their power to avoid eye, physical or verbal contact. They've come out to defend themselves by saying that they're not rude but that leaving people alone is their way of being polite. So, yeah, good luck making friends or having meaningful interactions with anyone while visiting.
While the country's culture is as cold as its Arctic weather, it ranks higher because of its absurdly undeniable natural beauty. Yes, yes, Sweden also has pretty places, but they can't compare to Norway's world-famous fjords. Who cares that you have to eat bland food priced like a Michelin-star meal when you're standing in front of some of nature's best work?
Not to mention that the country is one of the best places to see the northern lights. Head to Tromso, where the probability of catching this elusive phenomenon is relatively high.
To top it all off, Norway ranks as one of the top 10 safest countries in the world. We'll readily forgive its literal and cultural coldness.
The most isolated of the Nordic countries is also the best. For years, tourists forgot about Iceland until Hollywood and the national tourism board worked their magic. Now, the new issue is trying to control the large number of visitors that come looking for dramatic landscapes.
Nothing Iceland does is ordinary. For much of the year, the country is plunged into either perpetual day or night. If you visit in summer or winter, this alone will be enough to wobble your mind and make you feel like you've left planet Earth.
The land of fire and ice has earned its nickname from the mighty volcanoes that dominate its geography. You can hike in ice caves or go down the magma chamber of a volcano — all within a reasonably short car ride. The geothermal activity has created numerous natural hot springs, where travelers soak their worries away and rejuvenate their souls.
Iceland is not perfect. Far from it. You can expect to pay about $9 for a pint of domestic beer, and local delicacies include sheep's head and fermented shark. And, like in all other countries on here, bars need a license to allow people to dance. You read that right. You can't dance in public unless someone has a permit for it. Talk about being emotionally repressed.
But as with Norway, we'll happily put up with any negatives to experience this surreal land's gorgeous nature.