Sweden is a huge country with comparatively few inhabitants. Whether in the country or in the city, there are quite a few peculiarities in the whole country. Perhaps this is because the residents have so much time during the long winter months to acquire strange eating habits. It is well known that boredom makes you creative.
When you think of the things to do in the Scandinavian country, you automatically think of Ikea, moose, winter, Christmas and reindeer.
But what else is Sweden known for?
We have summarized everything that is typically Swedish and that you should definitely know for your holiday in Sweden.
It is called “The King’s Path” and is probably the longest Scandinavian trekking route. It joins the two ends of Lapland in Sweden for a total of about 500 kilometers. The route is usually divided into 5 sections of 100 kilometers, each ending in a town that is easily accessible by public transportation. Hiking at least part of the route will be an experience that will leave you breathless, thanks to the wonderful landscapes, the wide views and the infinite variety of flora and fauna that you will find.
The presence of numerous refreshment points, adequate signage and excellent trail markings are very useful for those who try the route and reduce the risk of getting lost. Among the most difficult points, but surely the one that gives the best view, there are those of the route that includes the ascent of Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in Sweden (2117 meters) from whose summit you can admire a unique panorama. For the crossing of the great lakes there will be available boats to motor or to oars. For resting there are many shelters available along the way.
The island of Marstrand, which is located on the west coast of Sweden, is one of Sweden’s pearls, ideal for those who want a relaxing vacation. The atmosphere is almost suspended and the pace of life is much quieter. Many VIPs have chosen this destination attracted by the typical wooden houses. There are also several very picturesque cafes, art galleries and the historic Grand Hotel. In summer it is very popular with sailing and water sports enthusiasts.
The waters are perfect for surfing and diving. Among the attractions there is certainly the fortress of Carlstens (where Viking dinners are organized), but there is also the possibility to discover the town through a combination of nature and culture. After having taken a walk to discover the coast, you just have to stop in one of the many restaurants specializing in fish dishes. The island can be reached by boat or by car from Gothenburg.
Are is one of the most popular mountain resorts (near Mount Areskutan) in Sweden. In the area there are, in fact, more than 80 ski slopes and about forty ski lifts and important competitions are held, even international ones. In the past, the Alpine Ski World Championships have been held on three occasions (the last one in 2019). We are located at cica 650 kilometers from Stockholm, in the county of Jamtland. Mount Areskutan touches 1500 meters and is also a great place for mountain bikers, snowboarders, hikers and paragliders. Mysterious stairs in the woods can also be found in the area.
Here we are on another island full of charm that is located on the west coast of Sweden. It is the ideal place to spend a few hours in simplicity. You can devote yourself to long walks, looking for your favorite view or simply enjoying some good fish dishes. Here there is also one of the most photographed places in Sweden: the local bridge where there are several brightly colored fishermen’s huts that have been transformed into stores selling trinkets and souvenirs.
The village also boasts one of Sweden’s largest fish markets, and after the tourist season you can also witness the opening of the lobster fishery. Smögen means “narrow place”, a sort of corner of relaxation and quiet that not even the many tourists can disturb. The views are magical, the sea, the rock dunes and the lighthouse on the west coast that seems to get lost in the sky.
Gotland and the monoliths
An island full of charm and mystery that offers untamed landscapes, windmills and towns that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The real protagonists will be, however, the monoliths present on several beaches. Scholars are divided, according to some are the work of man, while others argue that they are simply the result of wind and tides. They represent a great attraction for tourists especially in the months of June and July. On this island nature will be the absolute protagonist, among caves, lagoons, nature reserves and huge rocks.
Malmö and the Øresund Bridge
On the third step of the podium of Swedish cities there is Malmö, a picturesque town located in the extreme south of Sweden. A place that has focused everything on sustainability and the well-being of its population. You will experience a city on a human scale, starting from the medieval old town (Gamla Staden). You will stroll through neat streets and clean squares and be surrounded by a lively atmosphere. The two symbols of the city are the Oresund Bridge and the Turning Torso, the futuristic skyscraper designed by architect Calatrava. The Oresund Bridge is an extraordinary futuristic work that connects Denmark to Sweden.
Of the 16 kilometers long, 8 are suspended over the sea and 4 are underground. It will seem to you at some point to resurface and you will be able to take memorable photos. Among the things to see in Sweden a special attention deserves the city castle, immersed in one of the greenest areas of the city. From a military structure, today it has become the seat of several museums. It houses the Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the Municipal Museum and the Maritime and Technology Museum. Malmö is also known as the “city of parks” thanks to the gardens and green areas that distinguish it. Among the natural beauties not to be missed is the Folkets Park, very popular for the many events organized outdoors.
Gamla Stan in Stockholm
It is here, in one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe, that the city of Stockholm was founded in 1252. Walking through the characteristic and picturesque area of Gamla Stan you will discover restaurants, monuments, stores and many other places that will tickle your fancy and curiosity.
The peculiar cobbled streets on which peep the yellow houses, are the business card of a unique area. The main tourist attraction of Gamla Stan is the Royal Palace, one of the largest buildings in the world that, in addition to being made up of more than 600 rooms, houses interesting museums such as the Livrustkammaren, the Royal Armory, which houses armor and royal robes.
Among the most important streets of the district, Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan, there are the walls that in the past surrounded the city. In Gamla Stan there is the oldest square of Stockholm, Stortorget, and also from here begins the oldest street of the city, the Köpmangatan. In winter, when the snow rests gently on the roofs of the houses and on the spires of the churches, Gamla Stan becomes the perfect setting for a beautiful storybook.
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm
The only ship from the 1600s still on the face of the earth is located right in Stockholm in the Vasa Museum. The Vasa flagship is made up of over 95% authentic pieces and is adorned with hundreds of carved sculptures.
The vessel is enormous at 69 meters long and takes up most of the museum. In 1628, during its maiden voyage, the ship sank off the coast of Stockholm and was only salvaged in 1961, after 333 years. It took fifty years to carefully and precisely restore her to her former grandeur. The three masts on the outer roof of the structure that houses the museum, built precisely to house the vessel, show the height of the original masts. To learn more about the secrets of the Vasa flagship, you can browse through nine different exhibits that illustrate the ways of life on board and see the film about the ship shown in 16 languages.
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Stockholm City Hall
Stockholm City Hall is one of the most significant examples of Swedish Romanesque architecture and is dominated by the Three Golden Crowns of its 106-meter-high spire, a symbol of Sweden’s power. Conceived by architect Ragnar Östberg and inaugurated on the evening of the summer solstice in 1923, the City Hall is composed of eight million bricks and inside stands out the wonderful Gyllene Salen, the Golden Hall, completely decorated with mosaics from 18 million gold tiles, and the fresco of Prins Eugen, which depicts the panorama of the lake that can be seen from the gallery.
In the council chamber the meetings of the Stockholm city council take place and also within the walls of the City Hall the grand reception of the Nobel Prizes is held. At the end of the visit, which can only be done with an organized tour, you can have fun at the souvenir store of the City Hall that presents special gadgets and themed gifts.
Moderna Museet in Stockholm
Spanish architect Rafael Moneo designed Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in the beautiful natural setting of Skeppsholmen. The enchanting little island of Skeppsholmen located between Gamla Stan, the old city, and the island of Djurgården, is connected to the mainland by a bridge and will make your visit to the museum even more impressive.
The Museum of Modern Art will offer you one of the most beautiful and important artistic collections from the twentieth century to the present day, with masterpieces by great masters such as Dali, Picasso, Matisse and Derkert. Alongside the prestigious collections of these illustrious geniuses of art and the temporary exhibitions, the museum will also take you on a discovery of contemporary art and modern classics.
The museum also offers its visitors a restaurant, from which you can admire the beautiful panorama of Strandvägen, one of the most beautiful streets of the Swedish capital, and a nice souvenir store. Children will not be bored at the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm thanks to a workshop completely dedicated to them.
Skansen in Stockholm
One of the most loved and appreciated places by both Stockholm citizens and tourists is Skansen, the ideal place for a nice trip with family and friends. In Skansen you can admire the world’s oldest open-air museum and the Stockholm Zoo, which the little ones love so much. Take a walk through the historic buildings of Sweden in miniature, reconstructed with the elements and pieces of courtyards and houses from all over the country, disassembled and then put back together in this beautiful place.
When you are in Skansen you will have the feeling of walking around in a hypothetical “toyland” among the glass blowing workshops, those dedicated to ceramics, the stores where they work metals, the characteristic bakeries, the particular eighteenth-century wooden church of Seglora, the yellow villa of Skogaholm and the market square of Bollnästorget. Nordic animals are also the stars of Skansen: in the zoo you can see bears, lynxes, moose, wolves, seals and wolverines at your doorstep.
The zoo also has a monkey house and a children’s section. In Skansen the Swedes love to celebrate traditional folk festivals such as Walpurga night, the summer solstice and St. Lucia. But it’s really worth seeing this extraordinary place at Christmastime when, completely covered in snow, it comes alive with events such as a market and traditional buffets.
Drottningholm Castle in Stockholm
The Drottningholm Castle complex, with the Drottningholm Theatre, the Chinese Pavilion and the beautiful Park, is truly one of a kind. Drottningholm Castle, dating back to the 17th century, is Sweden’s best preserved royal palace and has been the permanent home of the royal family since 1981, who occupy the south wing of the building.
Don’t worry though, you too can enjoy the beauty of the castle because the park and almost all the rooms of the palace are open to the public throughout the year. Drottningholm was the first monument in Sweden to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, thanks to the beauty not only of the castle, but also of the 18th century theater, one of the best maintained in Europe, and the beautiful Baroque gardens. To reach Drottningholm Castle you will have to use the boat and cross the lake Mälaren: since the crossing takes about an hour why not take advantage of this time for a delicious lunch on board?
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A staggering 43% of over 2,500 Swedes who took part in the survey answered that the Stockholm Archipelago is the most beautiful place in the country. Long time readers of this blog already know how we strongly encourage anyone visiting Stockholm for 5 or more days to use one to escape to the archipelago.
If you’re in Stockholm for a short stay to hop on a boat to the nearby islands Fjäderholmarna less than 25 minutes from the city.
With plenty of time you can wander through almost uninhabited islands like Grinda or visit popular destinations like Sandhamn or Vaxholm. Believe me, the Swedes know what they’re talking about and are willing to share their secret regarding the archipelago!
Höga Kusten – The High Coast
Unknown to many “non-Swedes”, the High Coast ranks 3rd on the list of the most beautiful destinations in Sweden. Höga Kusten – high by Swedish standards (Sweden being a “flat country,” 286 meters above sea level is considered high!) – is a destination located between the towns of Härnosand and Örnsköldsvik (…did you manage to pronounce that tongue twister? Try [oerns-hoelds-veek]), that is 450 km north of Stockholm.
Höga Kusten works beautifully as a hiking destination and offers beautiful views of the Baltic Sea. The surrounding area features two national parks: the Skuleskogen National Park and the Ulvön Island National Park. This unique place was chosen in the year 2000 by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
The Gothenburg Archipelago and the Bohuslän Coast
One of our favorite places in Sweden, which we have visited many times, is the Gothenburg Archipelago and the coast from the Göta River to Strömstad on the Norwegian border. Swedes also think that this location deserves to be mentioned among the most beautiful places to visit in Sweden and we really like that. You should come and see! Very different from the Stockholm archipelago, but still close to the sea. Also here is held one of the best music festivals – the Metaltown Festival.
Strömma offers guided hikes, eating cruises and boat tours to Gothenburg as well.
Dalarna also known as Dalecarlia is considered the most Swedish of all regions. It also features the most music-friendly lake in Sweden: Lake Siljan. Every summer, at the beginning of July, a long series of events and concerts called Musik vid Siljan take place by the lake and attract many people interested in music. The beautiful natural environment offers a place with activities for the whole family: horseback riding, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking… Excellent panoramic views from the lake and the area are available at the top of the Gesunda Mountain.
Don’t forget to visit Bear Grönklitt north of Lake Siljan, Europe’s largest park for predators and visited by 100,000 people every year.
These monolithic stones known as Ales Stenar are located in the southern part of Sweden in the county of Skåne, near Ystad and Åbo, where Absolut Vodka saw life, and are one of the most visited and loved places by Swedes. This is a must-see if you’re planning a trip to discover Scania.
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Lake Vättern is Sweden’s second largest lake and well worth a visit. Jönköping on the southern shore of Vättern is a town worth visiting as are other smaller destinations nearby such as the village of Gränna, the island of Visingsö, the ruins of Brahehus or the historic town of Vadstena along the E4 highway towards Stockholm. This view of Lake Vättern was taken by me while staying at the amazing Den Gyllene Uttern hotel (not to be confused with Utter Inn, the hotel with an underwater room in Lake Mälaren).
The IceHotel in Jukkäsjarvi
Year after year, the world’s most famous ice hotel opens its doors in December in Swedish Lapland with renovated rooms and designs after the previous ones melted into the Torne River that saw them come to life. Despite its short season (late December to early April), the ICEHOTEL in Jukkäsjarvi is king among the iconic places to visit in northern Sweden during winter. Therefore, it is understandable that many rank it among the most beautiful destinations in Sweden.
Rosendal Palace and Gardens
Rosendal Palace and Gardens is located in a quiet area on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm. We can recommend a walking tour from Djurgården Bridge and walk along the left bank of the island meeting first the Rosendals trädgård and later the palace (open for visits in summer). Personally, we prefer the feeling in the gardens which is all-in-one a flower store, a café and a workplace.
Tylösand is a beach located in Halmstad and is, arguably, the most famous sandy beach in Sweden. On the beach, you will find the Tylösand hotel spa with bars, clubs and Sweden’s largest art gallery with over 400 works. Tres Hombres Art, this is its name, was founded by Per Gessle, singer of Roxette.
What to buy in Stockholm
Each area of Stockholm has its own character when it comes to shopping: there are neighborhoods where you can do luxury shopping and others where alternative and trendy shopping is the most popular. Östermalm is the most elitist area of Stockholm where you can find the most famous and exclusive international brands in the world of fashion, design and Scandinavian furniture.
Start your luxury shopping in the famous ateliers of Filippa K or Armani along Biblioteksgatan, while if you love pieces of furniture you cannot miss the classic stores of Svenskt Tenn and Malmstenbutiken, at the beginning of Strandvägen near Nybroviken.
In the Drottninggatan area and in the Sergels Torg and Kungsträdgården neighborhoods, shopping becomes more popular and affordable: clothing chains and shopping malls compete for attention. Extravagant shopping and bargains can be found in the Södermalm area, where fashion, furniture, design and vintage items stores are all original and trendy.
Going out at night in Stockholm
Have you never heard of Stockholm’s nightlife? The city is very rich in discos and nightclubs where you can dance to the rhythm of music: from jazz to rock, from pop to hard core, you’ll be spoiled for choice! Most of the clubs in Stockholm are concentrated near Stureplan, in the heart of the city, but also Kungsgatan and Birger Jarlsgatan, and the area near the park Kungsträdgården, are very popular with young people looking for fun.
Almost all clubs are open until 3:00 am, some even until 5:00 am on weekends. Thursday is the day that Swedes usually dedicate to the discos: be aware that they are very crowded and that often you will have to wait at the entrance a long and boring queue before you can enter. The queues for the entrance of the trendy clubs begin after midnight, so we recommend you to anticipate arriving before the crowd.
What else is Sweden known for?
In Sweden, the link between fun and nature is never broken. In Stockholm the waterways blend beautifully with the modernity of the city, and from the lively center of Gothenburg you can quickly reach the nearby islands, where peace reigns supreme.
Design and raw materials
Functionality and aesthetics in objects and furnishings, from homes to urban spaces. Contemporary Swedish design has its origins in famous names such as Bruno Mathsson and Gunnar Asplund, but also in companies that have made a name for themselves all over the world.
Over 220,000 islands
There are about thirty archipelagos off the coast of Sweden on the west coast. The Bohuslän island complex is famous for its picturesque towns of Strömstad, Smögen and Marstrand.
Aurora Borealis and the midnight sun are an unforgettable aspect of the Swedish travel experience; at the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko there are ideal conditions for witnessing the phenomenon of the northern lights.
Free access to nature
The right of public access to nature allows outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, skiing and free camping, under the sole condition of respecting and preserving the common good.
Typical local products: elk, fish and shellfish are fundamental components of Swedish menus. Herring is the basic ingredient, prepared in many different ways: smoked, fried, marinated, stewed or served with sour cream.
You don’t have to go far from the cities to breathe pure air and unspoiled environments. Stockholm’s district already has more than 230 nature reserves, and the water in the city is so clean that you can fish in it.
There are special activities all over the country designed especially for children. Zoos, amusement parks and museums are the realm of youngsters from all over the world.
Midsommardagen is held on the third Saturday in June and celebrates the arrival of summer: a public holiday in Skansen, Stockholm, is a must.
Castles and red cottages
Everywhere in Sweden it’s easy to rent the typical red houses, treated with an original paint that provides natural protection against external agents.