What is Sweden famous for?
The answer to this question is a complex one as Sweden is a country with many regions and cities to visit. Most people know about Stockholm and sometimes Gothenburg and Malmö. But does Sweden have anything to offer outside of the major cities?.
Let me guide you to some of the less known places and gems of the Swedish countryside this country is also known for. There is something for every taste and budget.
A word of advice first though. If you plan to travel through Sweden, consider renting a car at the airport and take a road trip on your own. Some of the places on the list below can be reached by train or other public transportations, but many places are remote and only accessible by car.
Here are the best places to visit in Sweden:
Malmö is just a bridge away from Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Famous for its many parks and the proximity to the sea, Malmö is the perfect place for city walks and one of the best cities in Sweden for nature lovers.
Why not have a picnic in Västra Hamnen, a renovated harbor area close to the Turning Torso, Scandinavia’s tallest building, and a well known Swedish landmark? Another great option is to visit one of the many cozy restaurants in Lilla Torget, a small square in the central parts of Malmö.
Vimmerby is the hometown of the famous Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren. Astrid wrote the books about Pippi Longstocking and many other famous children’s books. Astrid is somewhat of a national icon and even pictured on the Swedish banknotes. Vimmerby is a small town with only 10.000 inhabitants. The most visited site is Astrid Lindgrens World, a theme park that covers all Astrid’s famous characters. In the summertime, there are live street theaters in the park all day long and it’s a most loved destination and one of the best things to do in Sweden for Swedish kids (theaters are held in Swedish).
The east side of the local region Skåne is called Österlen. It has been the home for cultural profiles such as painters and authors for many years. There are a few larger towns here, but a few genuine countryside places you should visit. One of the most popular towns is Kivik that is famous for its yearly market with long traditions. The area is also known for its apple cider production and beautiful Swedish nature.
Blekinge is one of the smallest regions in Sweden. The main town in the region, Karlskrona, is a beautiful small town right by the sea. From here, you can go on day trips in the archipelago by boat or why not rent a kayak? Karlskrona has a long history and was once Sweden’s most important harbor for military vessels. There are some museums to visit if you’re interested in seafaring history.
The obvious choice when visiting Sweden is of course to visit the beautiful capital, Stockholm. The city is often referred to as “Beauty on water”, and it’s easy to understand why when you come here for the first time, as it is a Sweden must-see.
The city is built on a handful of islands, and a sightseeing boat trip is a well-invested time for a first-time visitor. Make sure to visit Gamla Stan, the old town where the Royal Palace is located. The royal family’s official residence, Drottningholm, is a perfect day trip close to the city. You can go here by boat from City Hall several times per day.
Tyresta National Park is also an excellent option as it is a mere half an hour ride from Stockholm. Did you know free camping is legal there?
Two hours’ drive west from Stockholm, you’ll find the city Örebro. Central in the city, you’ll find the old castle on an island in the river Svartån. There are many good restaurants in the city center. Frimis is one of the best, with a great panoramic view of the castle and the river. Further down the stream, you can find Wadköping. Old buildings have been moved here from all over the city to show the visitors how life was led in the 1700s.
Vättern is the second largest lake in Sweden. On the east side of the lake, you can find the small town Gränna. This is a very popular summer destination for Swedes. The town is famous for a kind of peppermint candy called polkagrisar. The traditional colors are red and white, but nowadays, there are all colors and flavors available. There are several candy factories open daily to visit where you can shop and even watch the manufacturing process.
In the region Dalarna, you’ll find many nice small towns, Rättvik being one of those. Rättvik is famous for its long jetty, once used for the steamboats to anchor when arriving in town. There is an excellent beach in Rättvik in the lake Siljan, bring your swimsuits! Close to Rättvik, you can visit Nusnäs, where the world-famous Dala Horses (Dalahäst) is made by hand. It’s an impressive craftsmanship and should be on your list when passing through the area.
The West Coast
Gothenburg is the second-largest city of Sweden and can be found on the west coast. Once, it was an important port, and in some ways, it still is. You can go by ferry from here to Denmark and Germany for instance. One of the most visited attractions in the city is Scandinavia’s largest amusement park, Liseberg. If you like roller coasters and other thrilling rides, this is the place for you! Don’t miss the local fish market, Fiskekörka, where you can buy all kinds of fish or just have lunch. Something that should be on every foodie’s trip to Sweden list!
The west coast of Sweden is one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Smögen is a small fisherman’s village that has gain popularity in the last 50 years. Come here to experience the genuine Swedish west coast, visit the excellent restaurants serving seafood and why not visit a couple of nightclubs of your preference? Many young people come here to party in the summer, but there are calm alternatives aside from the crowded nightclubs as well. All in all this village is one of the most known places to visit in Sweden.
Marstrand is another west coast alternative closer to Gothenburg. This is a sailor’s paradise and the place to visit if like yachts and boat life. In the marina, you can stroll around and be impressed by the many boats, one more impressive than the other. Or if you and your budget admit it, rent a skipper for a day and cruise the west coast archipelago. There are many non-boat activities as well in Marstrand and should be considered for all visitors.
All Swedes would say that Åre is situated in the north of Sweden, but looking at the map, it’s close to the geographical center. Åre is the single most popular skiing destination in Sweden. You can come here by night train from Stockholm, so don’t let geography stop you from a visit. The skiing here is marvelous and so is the nightlife. There are ski classes and personal ski instructors for beginners, so there is nothing that should stop you from visiting.
In the north of Sweden, you will find the small town Jukkasjärvi 20 kilometers east of Kiruna. Here, you will find the world-famous Ice Hotel (Ishotellet) that is built up every year from scratch using snow and ice from the river Torne Älv. The hotel’s architecture is changed every year and sculptures and furnishings are made from ice and decorates the hotel. The Ice Hotel is an extremely popular accommodation option in Jukkasjärvi and should be booked in advance as it regularly tops the list of the coolest things to do in Sweden in Winter.
If you want to experience the wilderness of the Swedish northern parts, you should visit Abisko and Kungsleden (a hiking trail on the mountain). Abisko is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights – one of the most sought for Sweden tourist attractions!. The reason for that is the probability of clear skies and cold nights. Hiking in this area is a tremendous experience. There are guided tours on the mountain for those who need that.
Treriksröset is the place where the Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish border meet. The actual point Treriksröset is a concrete construction in the lake Koltajaure. All three countries are part of the Schengen Agreement, so you can walk around the crossing point without any restrictions. There are several good hiking trails in the area as well.
Sweden has two large islands in the Baltic Sea, Öland, and Gotland. Öland is the smaller one, closer to the mainland. There is a bridge from Kalmar to Öland and its possible to come here by boat as well. Öland is a very popular summer destination for Swedes on vacation. There are several good beach resorts in the northern parts of the island close to Borgholm. Öland has unique wildlife and many bird-watchers spend long hours here with their binoculars all year around.
Gotland is situated in the middle of the Baltic Sea. The main city here is Visby with its characteristic city wall. There are many great sites to see here, but if you only have time to visit one place, you should go to visit Fårö. Here you can find an amazing Swedish landscape with lime rocks shaped by wind and rain throughout the years, forming the most strange and sometimes humorous formations. Fårö was the home for many years for famous Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman.
The author’s last trip was to the Arctic island of Svalbard. If you’re looking for an experience out of the ordinary and even to spot a polar bear or two, Svalbard should go on your bucket list!