Alex Waltner, the editor of travel blog Swedish Nomad, lists 55 reasons why everyone should visit Sweden at least once in their life.
If you’re longing for wild nature filled with mountains, trees, lakes and animals, guess what? Sweden is one of the best places to experience it. In total, there are 29 national parks. Going to a city? No worries, every city is close to nature.
2. Crayfish party
Don’t worry if you’re thinking “what the heck is a crayfish party?”. It’s one of our unique traditions in Sweden, and basically, we make decorations, prepare a massive plate of crayfish, put on our crayfish hats and a bib, and sing silly songs that we finish by drinking our famous schnapps.
It’s a huge tradition in Sweden, and if you’re visiting during August, you’ll have the opportunity to see what the fuss is all about. I can assure you that the crayfish party will be a memory for life.
Read also: 10 Outdoor Attractions in West Sweden
3. Wild reindeer
YES! We have reindeer in Sweden, and they are wild and amazing. If you’re travelling by car in the northern part, don’t be surprised to see yourself road blocked by a herd of reindeer.
Do you like castles? Then I’ve got some good news. From Stockholm and below there are hundreds of castles to check out. In Ekerö outside Stockholm, it’s possible to visit Drottningholm Palace where the Swedish King and Queen live.
The capital of Sweden with all of its canals and small islets and islands. Stockhom is a wonderful capital, not too big, not too small, just about right. The rich history and culture offer a fascinating visit as well as the surrounding nature and broad range of entertainment.
6. The Vasa Ship
One of the most well-preserved ships from the 1600s. It was a royal ship that now stands in the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. The Vasa Ship is remarkable and shouldn’t be missed if you’re going to Stockholm.
READ ALSO: The World’s Oldest Preserved Man-of-War
7. Birka and the Viking heritage
The Viking era is a famous part of Swedish history, and in Birka it’s possible to experience that heritage and see what life was like. The boat trip is about 15 minutes to two hours depending on where you are in the capital area.
Another cool thing about Birka: You can see runic scripts and go on a boat ride in a traditional Viking ship.
From the beginning a Finnish invention, but the sauna is also a huge part of Swedish culture. A sauna is basically a wooden room with a special heater where you throw water to raise the temperature.
Then you sit there for a while, but most people can only manage to stay for ten minutes before they need to cool down. It can be up to 90 degrees Celsius in a sauna, and it’s meant to be relaxing and allow your body to release toxins.
9. Fresh drinkable water
Not many countries have fresh drinkable water almost everywhere. The tap water is delicious, but what’s even better is the water from the streams up in the north. I have never tried better-tasting water.
Probably our funniest and most “weird” tradition. In short, we celebrate summer by dancing around a Maypole like frogs and drinking way too much schnapps while singing silly songs. If you’re looking for an unusual and fun experience, then this is definitely a good reason to visit Sweden.
Check out the video below if you want to know what the little frogs are all about:
11. Astrid Lindgren’s World
Does it ring a bell when I say Pippi Longstocking? Astrid Lindgren was a famous Swedish writer. A number of her children’s stories have been translated into English, for example Ronia The Robber’s Daughter, Mio My Mio, Karlsson On The Roof and The Brothers Lionheart.
At Astrid Lindgren’s World, these characters come to life. It’s a theme park that your kids will absolutely love.
12. Skåne, southern Sweden
This is my home region, and the landscapes here are open, vast and colourful. When the canola fields are in blossom, Skåne turns into a golden region filled with canola flowers everywhere in the countryside. You can also see many old windmills here.
Besides canola fields and windmills, Skåne is also famous for its beaches, cute little villages and towns, farmers and of course the unique accent that we southerners have.
READ ALSO: Apple Art in Southern Sweden
The tallest mountain is called Kebnekaise with a height of 2,106 metres. There are other mountains as well, and you will find lots of beautiful scenery and hiking paths throughout the country.
Sweden’s architecture offers a mix of the old and new. Many cities have preserved the old style and you won’t see a lot of skyscrapers here. The details are phenomenal, just look at the photo below.
While we don’t have a lot of skyscrapers, we do have quite a few unique buildings with cool architecture. Our biggest skyscraper can be found in Malmö. It’s called Turning Torso and was the first twisting tower in the world.
This can be translated as Sandwich Cake, and if you know a Swede, you might already know that we are huge fans of sandwiches. It’s the most common breakfast, so why not make a cake out if it? There are plenty of varieties of smörgåstårta and it differs depending on which region you’re visiting.
One thing is certain though: it’s freaking delicious!
16. 100,000 lakes
With over 100,000 lakes in total, there’s a lake that suits everyone. And I mean, who doesn’t love a peaceful lake with beautiful scenery?
17. Glögg and gingerbread
Two of our most cherished Christmas traditions. Glögg is a beverage that can be enjoyed with or without alcohol. The most famous one is produced by Blossa.
While gingerbread snaps go hand in hand with glögg, they can also be eaten on their own. And do we love our gingerbread? Yes, we do! Each Christmas people buy them like crazy. It’s definitely something you have to try while visiting Sweden, and the best ones are those called Annas Pepparkakor.
On the opposite side of Stockholm, on the west coast lies Gothenburg, which is the second biggest city. It’s a charming city with a laidback culture and beautiful canals along with islets in the Gothenburg archipelago.
Daily Scandinavian find the culinary attractions in Gothenburg worth a visit
Ever tried a snowmobile? In Sweden you can!
20. Swedish fika
Fika is our sacred ritual which occurs every day, no matter if you’re at work, home or out with friends. The Swedish fika is a part of who we are, but to explain it in a few words: having coffee, snacks or some pastries. But it’s more than that: it’s a way of socializing and relaxing from work and stress.
You’ll see cafés everywhere, and I would go as far as to say that it’s mandatory to sit down and have a traditional Swedish fika while visiting Sweden.
READ ALSO: The Capital of Fika
YES! We do have snow in Sweden, and lots of it every winter. However, to be certain of seeing a good amount of snow – go to the northern part. There you have snow in abundance!
You’ve probably already heard of, or even been to an Ikea, which is the most famous export of Sweden. A huge furniture store that offers good quality at low prices. The catch? Well, you’ll need to put them together yourself!
A piece of cake for the handy man/woman. To be honest, one doesn’t need to be handy to put them together, and that’s also why Ikea has become such a big company.
READ ALSO: The Swedish Furniture Giant
23. The Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi
Did you know that Sweden is home to the world’s firstIce Hotel? In Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, you can stay in a room made up entirely of ice, oh well, actually the entire hotel is made of ice. They even have an Ice Bar. For sure one of the coolest hotels around the world.
READ ALSO: The coldest hotel in Sweden
Sweden is not really considered a beach destination, but as a matter of fact, the beaches of Sweden’s southern parts are both stunning and clean. There are some nice beaches around Stockholm and Gothenburg as well, but the southern coast has the best range.
If you travel to Sweden during summer, make sure to visit some beaches.
25. Cinnamon buns (kanelbullar)
A classic bun, which could even be considered the national bun. If you ask a Swede about cinnamon buns, the chance to see a smile on their face is almost guaranteed. The cinnamon bun even has its own day in Sweden.
READ ALSO: Wining and dining in Sweden
26. Wild bilberries
A superfood and antioxidant growing wild in Sweden. And yes, you’re allowed to pick them. They grown in forests all over the country and bilberry picking is a favourite activity among families during the bilberry season from June to September.
27. Visby, Gotland
Gotland is a Swedish island which is home to one of Scandinavia’s best preserved cities from the medieval era. The most notable remain is the stunning 3.4 kilometre long wall encircling the town centre.
Since 1995 Visby is also on the Unesco’s list of world heritage sites.
READ ALSO: A Swedish Island Retreat in Medieval History – Visby, Gotland
28. Endless forests
When travelling by car through Sweden or flying, you will notice that there are trees surrounding you almost all the time. Approximately 53 percent of Sweden is covered in forest, so no wonder the forests seem endless.
29. The Dala Horse (Dalahästen)
You probably wonder, what on earth is this? Is this the Trojan horse? Well, not really. It’s called the Dala horse, and this particular one is found in Avesta and measures a whopping 13 metres. All around Sweden, you’ll see smaller variants of this, and the Dala horse was from the beginning a wooden toy and decoration. It’s a classic symbol and souvenir.
Lucia is a tradition that originates from Italy, but nowadays it’s one of our most celebrated days of the year. Check out the video below and see what to expect on December 13th.
READ ALSO: Christmas in Scandinavia
31. The Lynx
One of the coolest cats on earth roams freely in the northern parts of Sweden.
READ ALSO: Scandinavian Wildlife
32. West Coast
The west coast has a stunning archipelago as well as beautiful lush nature. When visiting the Swedish west coast you can also enjoy fresh fish and quaint coastal towns.
READ ALSO: A Hidden Gem in Sweden
33. Sami people
Did you know that “Swedes” actually weren’t the first people to inhabit Sweden? It was the Sami people, and they are one of the indigenous folks in Sweden. They even have their own language and still live by old traditions. The Sami people live in the northern parts of the country.
READ ALSO: In Search of the Sami in Scandinavia
Often referred to as “the last wilderness of Europe” since vast areas of the Lapland region consist of unspoiled nature. And look at the beauty of it below, definitely one of the most wonderful places in the world and a good reason to visit Sweden.
READ ALSO: Life in Lapland
35. Swedish meatballs
You’ve probably heard about meatballs, and it could almost be considered a national dish. Whenever I travel and come back home to Sweden, I have cravings for meatballs, mashed potato in brown sauce and lingonberries.
36. Northern Lights
Aurora Borealis, one of the natural wonders of the world can be seen during winter in the northern part of Sweden.
READ ALSO: Seducing Northern Lights in Scandinavia
Another craving I get when I’m travelling around the world – the Swedish Delicato ball, a chocolate ball. To this date, I haven’t seen these in any other country, which is a shame because they’re so delicious.
Delicato is the brand to buy when you’re trying this yummy treat!
38. Midnight sun
Ever wondered what it would be like if the sun never went down? Well, in Sweden you can experience that, and during summer the sun remains visible all day and night up in the north.
READ ALSO: Midnight Sun
39. The moose
The king of the forest – the moose is an iconic animal that walks freely in our forests.
READ ALSO: Scandinavian Game
Another tradition that goes back to the time before we became Christians. Valborg is always celebrated on April 30th, and basically, we light up a huge bonfire and dance around it and socialize. In recent years we have also, of course, added some schnapps and other alcoholic beverages.
READ ALSO: Walpurgis Night in Sweden
41. Music festivals
As the third biggest exporter of music after the US and the UK, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we love music. In summer there are many Swedish music festivals in various cities. One of the biggest is the one called Summerburst, where world famous DJs play.
Another classic when it comes to Swedish pastries and cookies. This one could be called a ‘dammsugare’ or a ‘punschrulle’ meaning (arrack) punch roll in English. There are many different brands, but the best one is without a doubt the ones from Delicato (and I know, because I have tried almost every brand – yes, I love ‘dammsugare’).
If I were to translate it into English it would be called ‘vacuum cleaner’.
An amphitheatre located in a former limestone quarry, in the middle of nature. During summer you can come here to enjoy between 20 and 30 events ranging from opera to jazz and other music genres as well. Dalhalla offers an amazing musical experience combined with nature.
READ ALSO: Best Festivals in Scandinavia
44. Wild wolves
Ever dreamed of seeing a wild wolf? In Sweden you can! Another amazing reason to visit Sweden.
45. Sala Silvergruva
An old silver mine that has been transformed into the world’s deepest hotel. The rooms are located approximately 150 metres below the surface. At the hotel, you can explore underground lakes, join a guided tour in the silver mine and much more. A unique stay that will give you memories for life.
46. Ice hockey
Ice hockey is together with football sort of the national sport, and almost every city has their own ice hockey team. As a matter of fact, some of the most successful hockey players are from Sweden, such as Peter Forsberg and Nicklas Lidström.
47. Saffron buns
Another Christmas treat that we bake for Lucia. A favourite bun among many Swedes.
Translated as “all man’s right”, with the meaning that nature is free for everyone. This right to roam allows you to pass almost everywhere you want, pick wild fruit and berries, and camp almost everywhere as long as you don’t disturb others.
49. Christmas markets
Christmas is a huge deal in Sweden, and so are the Christmas markets. One of the most famous is the one in Stockholm’s Old Town, but you might be interested in Liseberg and Gröna Lund as well. Most cities will also have their own Christmas markets.
READ ALSO: Christmas in Scandinavia
We love snow and we also love to ski, and many Swedes travel to the northern parts each winter to go for a ride on the ski slopes.
READ ALSO: The World’s Greatest Skiing Competition
Want to experience life out in the woods, without electricity, running water and so on? Kolarbyn is one of the world’s most unusual hotels and an unforgettable experience.
Our famous dish, fermented herring. While it’s not for everyone it’s definitely unique and something that you have to try!
READ ALSO: The Scandinavian Herring Adventure
53. King’s Garden (Kungsträdgården)
Each year you can enjoy Kungsträdgården during cherry blossom. It was a gift from Japan and has now become a sign of spring in the Swedish capital.
54. Stockholm Pride
Everyone is equal here and we welcome all people, no matter race or sexuality. The Stockholm Pride is a big celebration each year to honour and celebrate the freedom of LGBTQ people in Sweden. Visitors from all over the world come here to enjoy the festivities.
55. The Stockholm Archipelago
One of Sweden’s most famous attractions. Thousands of islets and islands where locals go during the weekend and summer to swim and relax.
READ ALSO: Island-Hopping in Stockholm’s Front Yard
55 Reasons To Visit Sweden, was written by Alex Waltner, who runs the travel blog Swedish Nomad, and edited by Daily Scandinavian.
Feature image (on top): Photo: Björn Tesch/imagebank.sweden.se