The Nordic region is perennially a great choice for travellers, but if you are torn between Helsinki vs Stockholm, then let us help you get your city of choice over the line. Hands up, both cities are pretty stellar choices – they both offer an abundance of culture; both Helsinki and Stockholm have some of the best art galleries and museums in the Nordic region. They also have great restaurants, bars and some of the best architecture in Northern Europe, but which Scandinavian capital is the best city for you
If you don’t visit either of these cities, it will be SCANDI-lous, but how do you make a choice between both cities when they both offer so much? Whilst you can do both (the experience of sailing from Stockholm to Helsinki is definitely one to add to your travel bucket list) if you are stuck for time, then do not take a look at our comparative guide – Helsinki vs Stockholm – which city is for you?
Helsinki vs Stockholm - Shopping
When it comes to design, it’s always going to be a tightly-fought competition when it comes to Helsinki vs Stockholm. This is very much reflected when it comes to shopping with a particular focus on home decor, furniture and textiles.
In the last century, Scandinavian design has pioneered an aesthetic that’s conquered the world and if you are looking to amp up your cool credentials, then why not Scandify your living space. Not only are Scandinavian designs stylish and idiosyncratic, they are also unduly easy to live with.
In Helsinki, head to Artek which is a brand that most Finnish people have in their homes. Their most popular piece is their three-legged stool. They have a great range of products and textiles, including fabrics, curtains, and both historic and contemporary carpets. The Helsinki store regularly hosts events and collaborates with both Finnish and international artists, designers, and authors, retaining Artek’s role as a cultural and community-driven platform in the city.
The Design Forum Finland is where many up and coming designers showcase their designs. This achingly cool store sells everything from concept clothing to quirky ceramics to clothing.
Stockholm shouldn’t be outdone when it comes to cool shops. We love Svenskt Tenn where you will find Josef Frank’s stunning array of floral textiles in the shape of placemats, cushion covers, tablecloths, and more at this harbourside department store.
Result: We think that whilst it’s close that Helsinki which celebrates ‘Helsinki Design Week’ in September just about inches it!
Helsinki vs Stockholm - Food
There’s been rumblings for years, but is the opinion that Helsinki has taken the crown as Scandinavia’s food capital? The ‘New Nordic’ movement remains strong and whilst other Scandinavian countries have cemented their reputation as foodie favourite destinations, Helsinki has gone somewhat under the radar when it comes to the astonishing range and quality of restaurants, bars, food halls, markets and speciality shops.
Finland even has its own Restaurant Day where for one day only, anyone (and we do mean anyone!) can set up their own café, restaurant or bar. Since its inception in 2011, thousands of pop-up restaurants have appeared throughout Helsinki – and numerous other cities in Finland.
Back to the Helsinki vs Stockholm debate, both cities are strong contenders in their own right when it comes to finding the best restaurants in Helsinki and Stockholm, but whilst Stockholm has a fantastic foodie scene, we love that the culinary scene in Helsinki is rooted in not just seasonality, buy local produce and has a realy farm to fork ethos.
Result: A tie – it’s down to personal choice!
Helsinki vs Stockholm - Things to Do
Both cities offer a plethora of exciting things to do; from the ABBA Museum in Stockholm to exploring the Seurasaari Islands in Helsinki. Museum fiends will love Stockholm which is one of Europe’s biggest museum destinations whereas Helsinki doesn’t quite smash it in that department, so if you are purely looking at the museums quota when it comes to Helsinki vs Stockholm, then the Swedish capital will always win hands down.
However, there’s more to both cities than just museums, Helsinki is more about experiences; sailing over to the Seurasaari islands, enjoying a sauna and admiring the grand cathedrals and 19th-century neoclassical buildings at Senate Square. Whereas Stockholm has a long list of top-notch attractions and things to do.
Result: It’s a close knit battle when it comes to Helsinki vs Stockholm, but we think Stockholm just about wins this one!
Helsinki vs Stockholm - Nightlife
Intriguingly, both Helsinki and Stockholm have similarities when it comes to a great night out. Both have secret bars, fantastic live music venues and quirky bars to enjoy a cocktail or two. When it comes to live music, both cities are on point with their gig offering, but Helsinki is very much steeped in rock and metal music, whereas Stockholm has a smidge more variety. Hardcore nightowls will love both cities where at some bars and clubs, you can be out partying until the sun comes up the following morning.
Result: Yet another tie, it’s simply down to personal choice when it comes to Helsinki vs Stockholm and a night out!
Overall winner: Helsinki
Whilst it’s a closely fought battle, we think that Helsinki just about has the edge thanks to its cool design credentials. However, there’s so much to lust after in both these Nordic capitals. If you are looking for a slightly less quirky break, Stockholm is a safe choice, but contemporary design devotees will adore Helsinki.