How Are Scandinavians Viewed in Europe?

Scandinavia is a part of the European continent, but, as a peninsula, it is a bit isolated and has developed a unique culture that makes it distinct from other regions of Europe.

Scandinavian countries also have very well-developed social systems and welfare states, which seem to function rather well. All this has created a specific view of Scandinavians in the rest of Europe. 

Scandinavians and Scandinavian countries are mostly seen positively in the rest of Europe.

Other Europeans praise the well-functioning social systems of Scandinavian countries and the high living standards.

The high taxes and perceived unfriendliness of Scandinavians are sometimes criticized. 

This article will deal with the reputation Scandinavians have among other Europeans.

Read on to learn more about what other regions of Europe think about Scandinavians and what they like and dislike about Scandinavian countries.

Also, see Why Do Scandinavians Have Thin Hair? to learn more.

Scandinavian woman
What countries comprise Scandinavia? See below

What Is Scandinavia?

Sometimes, discussions of Scandinavia and Scandinavian countries get a little vague because the term is not defined so well. Most commonly, the term includes three countries: 

  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Norway

However, sometimes other countries are included, such as:

  • Finland
  • Iceland
  • Faroe Islands

Finland is included because of its geographic proximity, similar social system, and high living standards.

The Faroe Islands share the North Germanic heritage of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, and they technically belong to Denmark but are geographically closer to the British Isles.

Iceland is sometimes included for similar reasons; it’s North Germanic and shares high living standards.

This article will focus on Norway, Denmark, and Sweden to make the discussion shorter and more precise.

This is also how the region is most commonly defined, which means that most people will find it easier to follow the article with this in mind. 

So, how do other Europeans see Scandinavia and Scandinavians? 

Also, see Why Are Scandinavians So Rich? to learn more.

What are some positive views of Scandinavia? See below

Positive Views on Scandinavia

The views other Europeans have of Scandinavia are overwhelmingly positive.

Most Europeans like the high living standards in the Scandinavian countries and the peace, stability, and social welfare there. 

Scandinavia is often seen as a great place to live, and many people want to migrate there for better working and living conditions.

That’s why those countries have seen a large influx of migrants from around the world, particularly from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. 

Many people are drawn there by high wages and the promise of egalitarianism. In the eyes of other Europeans, it seems to be a place where it is easy to get a well-paying job and live comfortably while relying on public services such as high-quality healthcare and education. 

Another reason why Scandinavian countries are so well-respected is the great emphasis on ecology and environmental protection.

There is a great focus on renewable energy and keeping the streets and nature clean.  

Scandinavian countries are also popular for their countryside and wilderness.

There are many places where you can go and enjoy pristine woods and mountains (as long as you can stand the cold), or if you don’t find that interesting enough, there are always great places to go fishing or indulge in similar outdoor activities. 

When it comes to people, they have a reputation for being shy and deeply introverted.

While this may be true at first glance, many people from other European countries find that they are friendly and outgoing when they get to know each other.

Danes, in particular, have a reputation for being friendly. 

While some Scandinavians might not be the most extroverted people, they are known for being very hard-working.

While they might work slightly shorter hours than many places [1], those hours are not wasted, and Scandinavians are very serious and dedicated to their jobs and businesses. 

Another thing that catches the eyes of other Europeans is the attractiveness of the people in those countries. Their populations are seen as tall, blonde, and dashing.

While not everyone looks exactly the same, they are generally seen as very attractive and desirable potential partners. 

Also, see What Do Scandinavians Think of the Netherlands? to learn more.

Denmark expensive
What are some negative views of Scandinavia? See below

Negative Views about Scandinavia

While other Europeans mostly look favorably at Scandinavia, some negative opinions are attached to the region.

They might not be expressed that often, but they still exist, so they’re worth examining. 

While many Scandinavians get quite friendly when they get to know other people and are not as introverted as they might seem, most people there still value their private sphere and prefer to stick to themselves. 

They have a reputation for being alienated from their friends and family.

While this is often exaggerated, they often seem to be less close to their family members and neighbors, especially compared to Eastern Europeans, for whom a sense of unity is more important than the private sphere.

This often leads to a culture shock when people from such regions move to Scandinavia, and it’s often hard for people to adapt.

There is also a view that Scandinavians are depressed, gloomy, and don’t enjoy life very much.

This might be another exaggeration since the Scandinavian countries consistently rank high on the list of the world’s happiest countries. 

However, Sweden and Norway also rank rather high regarding antidepressant use, which implies that there is some truth to this stereotype. [2]

Alcohol consumption is also quite high, especially in Denmark, which doesn’t imply high rates of happiness. [3]

Another thing other Europeans are critical of is the high taxes in Scandinavia.

While those taxes are used to fund the public services that make others envious of Scandinavia, they still often seem excessive and exorbitant.

Additionally, there has been a decline in the quality of public services in recent years, which makes many people question whether high taxes are necessary. [4]

Additionally, Scandinavia is not known for its gourmet food. Sweden is notorious for surströming, a type of canned herring known for its extreme smell, which might even be a cause of public disturbance.

The taste isn’t any better, and it leaves foreigners wondering why and how anyone could eat such a thing.


Scandinavia is mostly viewed positively by other Europeans. They like welfare and high standards but dislike the lack of friendliness. 

Also, see Are Finns Slavic or Scandinavians? to learn more.

[1] Source
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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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