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Warm, welcoming, and easily accessible, Sweden is a treasure of not just Scandinavia, but the whole world. This, the largest Nordic nation, is nonetheless a small country. Those who make Sweden part of their itinerary are often blown away by the abundance of beauty everywhere: from natural wonders to the faith evident in majestic churches, and including the people themselves, it’s as if everything here was blessed with an enchanted loveliness.
As with other Nordic countries, summer is the standout time to visit Sweden. The weather is fair and beautiful, and you’ll get to experience the joy of Midsummer, one of the country’s most prominent holidays! That’s not to say that the cooler seasons don’t have their own charms. Winter plunges the whole country into snowy cold and long nights, but also brings the undeniable charm of an icy wonderland. Ice hotels, reindeer sightings, and the warmth of friends new and old.
Rich history, fascinating culture, and outstanding attractions all await one in Sweden! Whether you live for bracing outdoor activities like skiing and boating the fjords or you long to lose yourself in a great museum or sprawling palace, you are sure to find a wealth of diversions to suit your inclinations. Sweden celebrates human diversity and loves families, so prepare to be embraced with open arms! Overall, it’s likely that your travel memories of Sweden will be the sort one cherishes for a lifetime.
Sweden Top Attractions
Built across 14 islands, the central Stockholm archipelago is a major travel hotspot for good reason. It’s a city full of bridges, history, and culture. Two can’t-miss destinations are the Gamla Stan (Old Town) and the Skansen open-air museum. The Gamla Stan is a history lover’s dream, with beautifully-preserved churches and palaces. Headliner destinations here include the Royal Palace, used today by the monarchy for state ceremonies, and the Stockholm Cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century. Don’t miss a visit to the Ericsson Globe, which stands in as the sun in Stockholm’s famous Sweden Solar System, where scale models of the planets are on display at significant attractions. There are a wealth of guided tours available, centered around the city canals, the Royal Family, the Nobel institution, and many other themes. If you want to spend some downtime milling around like a local, you can’t go wrong taking in a sporting event—the Swedes are proud of their professional sporting leagues, and Stockholm is the center of the action!
The capital of Sweden’s number one holiday resort island, Gotland, Visby is the perfect place to retreat for the most lovely part of the summer. Its Old City is a medieval walled fortress that will leave you feeling like you’ve actually stepped back in history. It has been lovingly preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within it are the Burmeister House, the oldest surviving merchant house, the Botanical Gardens, thirteen medieval churches, and the ruins of dozens more. Once you are done exploring, it’s sun and fun on the Baltic Sea beachfront, and the opportunity to tour other parts of lovely Gotland nearby.
Gothenburg is known for the warmth of its welcome, even among Sweden’s very hospitable atmosphere. The nation’s second-largest city is situated on a harbor, and boasts gorgeous views and witty, cheerful residents. High among Gothenburg’s attractions is the cobblestone-paved Haga, which was tailor-made for window shopping and cozy lunches at its many quaint restaurants. The Crown Keep, or Skansen Kronan, is a great place to take in a fika (coffee, snack, and friendly conversation) in the summertime. There are a number of outstanding museums, including the Gothenburg Art Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the City Museum among many others. Take a ferry to the car-free islands of the nearby archipelago, learn to sail, or take in an opera performance… you won’t soon tire of things to see and do.
Uppsala is a university town, and one of Northern Europe’s greatest study-abroad locations. Accordingly it has a youthful, dynamic vibe and plenty of vivacious energy. The local gardens here are as much of note as the palaces and churches; there are several and they are all gorgeous. Biking is as much a way of life here as a form of transportation, and there is no better way to take in Uppsala’s prettiness than on a two-wheeled tour! Numerous festivals, fairs, and other traditional events keep things lively in Uppsala; it’s rare that there’s not something going on! The food is great and the drink flows plentifully, the sights are amazing and the city is welcoming to visitors of all ages.
Jonkoping earned its nickname, “the Jerusalem of Sweden,” for its many churches. A lake city buffeted by continual, refreshing breezes, this beautiful city enjoys a serendipitous location between three of Sweden’s largest cities. Proximity to some of the country’s best attractions does not detract from Jonkoping’s own bountiful appeal. Rolling hills, green meadows, and tranquil lakes are clear evidence of the area’s exquisite natural beauty, and abundant public parks take full advantage of the gifts of nature. Aside from church-hopping, you’ll want to visit the local beaches during warmer weather, as they are some of the prettiest to be found.
Sweden Travel Reviews
Following In the Footsteps of the Vikings
One of the high points of my visit to Sweden was my trip down to the seaside town of Nynashamn, located in the southern archipelago of Stockholm. Aside from being the home to a very lovely health spa called Nynas Hafsbad, one of Nynashamn’s claims to fame is that they have the highest number of Viking rune stones than any other county in Sweden. In case you were wondering, the winning number is 27.
Because of this, they offer one of the nicest tours called, “In the Footsteps of the Vikings.” It’s a tour by motorcoach of the countryside where some of the runes are located. Our Swedish tour guides picked us up from the tourist office in traditional ancient Viking dress and narrated an intriguing story heavily mixed with history about a Viking who lived around the year 1036, named Toste.
The way the Viking tour guides acted out the story by playing the parts of Toste’s contemporaries was charming. They managed to stay in character the entire time and were very knowledgeable about the area and its history. Although when our male guide donned a traditional leather helmet, he was quick to point out that Vikings have never, at any time, worn metal helmets with horns. That got a hearty laugh from the crowd.
We made a couple of stops along the way, one at the Lovhagen Nature Reserve to learn more about Swedish plants and the natural environment. Our second stop was at an ancient Christian church. The Osmo Church dates back to the 12th century and features a number of attractive murals. I surmised that the point of taking us to the Christian church was a way of showing how the Viking age essentially came to an end once Christianity gained a foothold in the area.
The Northern Sights
Last June, my wife and I visited her Swedish relatives in Ostersund, A highlight of the trip was the Inlandsbanen summer train that starts in Kristinehamn and runs north to Gellivare above the Arctic Circle. We caught the train at Ostersund and settled in for 16 hours of entertaining journey.
The train is electric, comfortable, neat and clean. It carries Swedish tourists and a few foreigners who want to enjoy the summer in Lapland. A traveling brass band dressed in traditional Swedish garb goes from car to car playing for passengers.
In the middle of nowhere, the train made a complete stop and the conductor announced that in the nearby woods cloudberries had been spotted. If there is one thing Swedes are crazy about, it is cloudberries. They are considered a rare delicacy in Scandinavia. Passengers were grabbing anything that could hold a pint of berries and rushing off the train into the marshy forest to claim their spoils. It was quite a sight and it was repeated once more further up the line.
In Gellivare, we rented a small cabin and enjoyed the summer sun until 2 in the morning. We only grabbed about 2 hours of sleep before the sun was again streaming in the windows. We rose early, headed into the charming town for breakfast and visited the local museum, which has many exhibits about the local Lapland inhabitants called the Sami.
Sweden: The Port City of Gothenburg
Tim and Barbara S.
Having purchased a new Volvo, my husband and I received an all-expenses-paid trip to collect the car from the factory in Gothenburg. An all-day affair, we received a truly VIP reception. We also had a few days to take in the city. The weather in March was overcast, damp and drizzly, but it was similar to weather in the U.K. so it did not bother us. I would recommend a summer rather than late-winter visit to Gothenburg.
We stayed at the Novotel Hotel, which is sleek, contemporary and tranquil -- with a lovely view of the harbor. The port is exceedingly cosmopolitan, with many hip shops and cafes. It is well worth a visit.
The old canals, neo-classical architecture and street trams give the city an old world charm. Gothenburg is child-friendly, and there are many activities for everyone.
The people are friendly and hospitable, and one local family took us on a trip to a wonderful forest a few hours’ drive from Gothenburg. Back in the city, they entertained us in their home and served delicious Swedish meatballs and a variety of open-face sandwiches.
If we were to visit Gothenburg again, we would certainly travel by air, rather than risk the sea-sickness that we suffered on the overnight ferry crossing of the North Sea.
Sweden: Not Just About the Meatballs!
Beyond Vikings, ABBA, Swedish meatballs, and IKEA, most Americans don’t know anything about Sweden, and I was no exception; when I visited Sweden in 2004, I immediately wished I knew more about the country. Two of my favorite sites, Gamla Stan (Old Town) and the Royal Palace, are located in Stockholm, and my third favorite is an island called Visby. Stockholm is a quiet city overall, but it is especially quiet to walk through the streets of Gamla Stan. Visiting Gamla Stan, the older section of the city, is a charming experience. It’s almost like a time warp to see the medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and modernly dressed people all together. The area is quiet, with cobblestone streets and tall buildings with clean, minimalist architecture, just like I imagined Sweden would be. Stockholm’s Royal Palace has a clean, modern design and a garden area. The minimalist exterior of the building hides its fancy design inside, where vaulted hallways are plaited with gold. With more than 1400 rooms, a library, and the usual royal palace features, this site requires a full day. The Island of Visby, which you can reach only by boat or flight, has fascinating remains and beautiful gardens. Visby is called both “the city of ruins,” because of the breathtaking historical ruins throughout the island, and “the city of roses,” thanks to the gorgeous flower gardens. Sweden has much more to offer the world than just Vikings, ABBA, Swedish meatballs, and IKEA!
Travel Through the South of Sweden
My husband and I traveled through the South of Sweden in the spring of 2002 with our two sons. We began in Stockholm, where we stayed in the old town, known as gamlestan. This area is the historical region and is full of beautiful old architecture and tourist shops. The scandinavian sweaters here are one-of-a-kind and worth a look. We went South to Kalmar, which was the summer home of the royal family, and has a beautiful castle to tour. On our way down, we saw rolling meadows, well-kept farmland and tall forests that looked a lot like the northern US. Kalmar was more in the archaeological style of a medieval city. The royal summer home is one of the best examples of a fairy-tale palace in the country, and still used today. On our way back toward Stockholm, we went through glass country, which is full of different world-famous glass manufacturers like Orrefors (which is also the name of the town where they are located). Art glass is something that Sweden is known for, and the factories all have tours, galleries, and opportunities to buy glassware at a discount from their outlet stores. Some of the artisans create modern, minimalist scandinavian-style glass. Others have more old-fashioned and ornate designs. All of the locations are great about shipping things internationally, which can save heavy baggage and customs issues. However, it's important to remember that the taxes can be reimbursed at customs, so saving the receipt for a rebate is a good idea. We loved the people, the shopping, and the architecture and will definitely return.
My Summer Vacation in Sweden
I had a blast traveling to Sweden last summer. I traveled to Stockholm first and really enjoyed my time there experiencing the art museums, shopping, and vivid nightlife that it had to offer. I enjoyed some very nice cuisine from crepes to fresh fruits and meats, even stopping for "fika" which is a mid-day coffee break for which many Swedes take time out of their days to stop. From Stockholm, I traveled to Gothenburg to learn a little more about the natural culture of Sweden. There, I got a hands-on taste of fishing in the Scandinavian countryside. This area is also great for backpacking or camping if you are interested in doing outdoor activities or eating some delicious gourmet food in town.
While visiting Sweden, I also made it a point to visit Sarek National Park. This park is located in Lapland in Northern Sweden and is great for hiking, watching wildlife, sightseeing, or sitting back to enjoy the simplicity and beauty of nature. There are thirteen mountains located in Sarek National Park that measure at least 2,000 feet. Finally, I visited Abisko Park in order to get in a little skiing before heading home. The park is accessible via train from Stockholm and is a beautiful place to relax and get some exercise before a long journey back to where you came from and is amazing for photography and cross-country skiing adventures. All in all, I would highly recommend Sweden as a vacation destination and will definitely be going back.
A Royal Time in Stockholm
Stockholm was a vacation destination that was not on the top of my and my wife's bucket list when we moved to Germany, but it quickly became a spot that we would love to go back to. The city is a series of islands that are easily accessible by boat, metro or foot. We bought a Stockholm Card that gave us access to most of the city's top sites during the couple of days that we had in the city. The amazing boat that we saw at the Vasa Museum is one of the true treasures of Europe. It has been meticulously restored since its discovery. Our tour of Stockholm's City Hall was informative, and it was cool to see the place where the Nobel Prize is awarded each year by the King of Sweden. Our boat ride through the canals of Stockholm gave us a chance to get out of the rain, and it also allowed us to see a different side of Sweden's capital. Drottningholm Palace was a bit of a journey from the downtown area, but this World Heritage Site was definitely worth the trip. The beautifully manicured gardens and the crown jewels were both on prominent display for me and my wife to enjoy. We rode the SkyView attraction where we saw the city from a different viewpoint. I would give our trip to Stockholm five stars due to the city's cleanliness, amazing sites, convenient transportation system and the good deals offered with a Stockholm Card.
A Year in Sweden
My first taste of Sweden came from rustic Norrland, in the little city of Sundsvall. I arrived just before the first snowfall. Talk about a winter wonderland! It's the perfect place to experience old world Christmas in a setting that makes you believe that "Tomtefar" (Santa) really does pay a visit to the red and white farm houses that dot the hills in the countryside. No one does Christmas like the Swedes: singing and dancing around the tree, charming hand-crafted decor, and delicious table spreads with glögg, julmust, knäkebröd, lingonberry jam, and salmon and herring prepared in every conceivable fashion.
I next resided in the historical hotspot Uppsala, just a short train ride north of Stockholm. As the ancient site of a pagan temple, home to the oldest university in Scandinavia (with Sweden's largest library and several botanical museums), Uppsala Castle, and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe, this city is a playground to any history enthusiast.
My final stay was in the southern coastal town of Halmstad. With its beautiful cityscape and gardens this is the perfect little tourist town to spend a cool summer day shopping in the town square and having lunch at an outdoor bistro.
Sweden is a land rich in folklore. Don't be surprised if by the end of your trip you too believe in magic, wonder if the old gods are real, or think the boulders standing tall in the fields just might be the backs of sleeping trolls after all.
Sweden in June
The most wonderful time of the year to be in Sweden is during the month of June. The long daylight hours allow a person to stay out past midnight during broad daylight and arise at 6:00AM in a full sun. One notable thing about this nation is a peculiar legal right called "Allmans Rätt". A person can own property, but the nature is everyone's right to enjoy. Hence the name: "all man's right". This allows travelers to set about the Swedish countryside and enjoy the scenery free of concerns about trespassing.
It would be an understatement to say that the cities, roads, and rivers are clean. Swedes take great pride in their country's nature or "naturen" as it’s called. Travel up north during summer will be both affordable and easy to book. The timeshare resort my family stayed at offered free bicycles to enjoy on outings in the country side. It was located in Åre. Just beware of the reindeer when traveling in the northern parts of the country as they are plentiful and travel in large herds. The southern city of Malmö has direct access to the Öresund strait. The E20 train travels into the neighboring Danish capitol city of Köpenhamn (Copenhagen) every 20 minutes. It allows for easy access to the Christus statue in the Church of Our Lady. One caveat: Swedes drive stick-shift cars. This means most car rental agencies have only manual transmission cars for rent. If you don't know how to drive stick, learn before you go to Sweden.
A Week in Stockholm
My husband and I took a week of to visit the country of some of our ancestors, Sweden. Our trip went to the capital of Sweden, Stockholm. I can honestly say that this is the most beautiful city I have visited. It helped that we went in July and the weather was perfect, warm but not too hot. We stayed at Radisson Royal Blue Viking Hotel right in the City center. The hotel was great with a very nice breakfast buffet that kept us going all the way to lunch. We did all the traditional tourist stuff, visited the Royal Palace, took a walk through the medieval Old Town but my favorite was an all day trip to Birka, an old partially rebuilt Viking village on an island close to Stockholm. We got on the boat early in the morning, had a Viking lunch out on Birka and returned about five in the afternoon. I did wish we had brought the kids to see Birka. They would have learned so much. A surprise to me was to discover that the Swedes have excellent cafeterias and pastry shops especially look for the ones of the tourist tracks. We really enjoyed sitting on the side walk tables sipping our café lattes and tasting Swedish cinnamon buns, Napoleon pastry’s and chocolate balls.