Norway and Sweden. As the two countries of the Scandinavian peninsula they seem like brother and sister. However the the countries that essentially share a language and history are quite different. Norway is a wilder, more remote kind of place, while Stockholm seems like the epicenter of Nordic civilization with its proud Gamla Stan (old town). I visited both cities in 2001, and again in 2003.
Third stop: Oslo, Norway Oslo is the capital of Norway, but it seems sort of like an afterthought when you read about how beautiful the rest of Norway is, particularly Bergen. Far from the fjords, Oslo seems like a city born of convenience and little else. Like Reykjavik, most of the main public buildings here, as well as infrastructure, appear to be decades old, though well-kept. The city is rather sleepy and at times seems backward or struggling to keep up with the times. It is also really, really cold. The kind of cold that numbs your lower spine if you don't watch out. I was there in October with a fever and it was miserable. Unlike Copenhagen or Reykjavik - when I walked through the streets of Oslo I wasn't that interested in what was going on in all those windows. Norwegians, of all northerners, seem the quietest and least friendly. Things seem pricey, but not worth it. My favorite place in Oslo is the Akershus Castle on the eastern side of the harbor. Whatever you do you should stay close to the harbor because that is where the life is blowing in from the icy water. The old stones of the fort will keep you strong in the face of the mediocrity below.
Fourth stop: Stockholm, Sweden. After provincial Oslo, Stockholm seems like a positive metropolis. The buildings are consistently inviting and Gamla Stan, in particular, is worth the trip alone. Swedes are not much more sociable than the Norwegians, but they tend to gather together in larger groups and seem more approachable. I can't really think of my favorite place in Stockholm, but I can say it is a city that let's you breath with its wide avenues and public spaces. A few places I have discovered while there are 1) The Observatory Museum in Vasastaden, north of Norramalm. Skip the museum and climb the hill for a nice relaxing view. the area in general is inviting and welcomes you to hang out. 2) Gamla Stan - walk the old town many times. It's really beautiful. 3) Sodermalm. This place is less explored but it also has a lot of nice shops to experience especially near the bridge that connects the southern island to Gamla Stan. My favorite thing to do woul dbe to walk that bridge from Sodermalm over the river to Gamla Stan at night. I have done it several times and the beauty of Stockholm's harbor never ceases to amaze. Also, if you can, take a ferry through the archipelago. The lttle rocky islands, with their red cottages, complement Stockholm's royal style. The capital of the Nordics, for sure.