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10 Things to do in Sweden

By alison - March 24, 2010 (Updated: November 24, 2014)

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden © Hector Melo A.

Aside from a trip to Helskini, Finland a few years ago, the majority of my travels in Europe have taken me south. However, today’s guest post by Ben of offtoeurope.com has me dreaming of adventures to the North.

Sweden is an enterprising country which has given much to the world including the famous IKEA furniture designs and the clear spirit vodka.

In winter, you will probably need a tipple or two to warm you up, but the Gulf Stream keeps the Swedish climate relatively mild, unless you go north to the subarctic region. There you can do all those winter wonderland things that people dream of – sleeping in an ice hotel, riding reindeer in Lapland and marveling at the mystical colours of the Northern Lights.

Here’s list of 10 things that everyone should do before they leave Sweden.

1. Explore Stockholm

Flights to Sweden will take you into the capital, Stockholm, so this is a good place to start your trip. Stockholm is the birthplace of the Nobel Prize and you will find its inhabitants to be accordingly open-minded. This is a very cosmopolitan city but Stockholm has kept its identity, despite the large influx of immigrants. Make sure you see the fantastic architecture of Gamla Stan, the old town.

2. Take a walk through a woodland cemetery

The Skogskyrkogården, a suburb to the south of Stockholm, is famous for its architecture and has been made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cemetery is open all year around and the wonderful buildings and statues were the work of a design competition held in 1915.

3. Visit the islands surrounding Stockholm

Taking a boat out is the best way to experience a beautiful clear day in Sweden. Palaces and castles rise up out of the water as you take a tour of this archipelago of islands, such as Drottningholm, a residence of the royal family. Vaxholm also has a stunningly beautiful citadel.

4. Look for remnants of the Viking era

The Swedish countryside is full of burial mounds which commemorate the fallen Viking leaders. Although the Swedes are a peace-loving people, they are proud of their warrior heritage. The Museum of National Antiquities has plenty of impressive Viking artefacts.

Lapland Reindeer

Lapland Reindeer © VisitSweden

5. Pick up a souvenir or two from the Kingdom of Crystal

Sweden is famous for its glass blowing and your quest for glass souvenirs will take you to some charming towns and villages. The Kingdom of Crystal is located between Växjö and Kalmar and there are numerous glassworks here which do great work.

6. Eat herrings and meatballs

Sweden has a fine Nordic cuisine. While most people will be happy to try delicious Sweden meatballs, there will probably be fewer takers for surströmming. This fermented herring is left in a can for so long that the tin starts to bulge and absolutely reeks when finally released. Only for the very strong of stomach.

7. Go to Lapland

Stunning scenery greets those who are brave enough to travel to Lapland. You will want a camera on hand to record sights such as the Lapporten mountain pass and other epic landscapes.

Visby, Sweden

Historic Visby, Sweden © Per Ola Wiberg

8. Enjoy the medieval locality of Visby

The Hanseatic town of Visby has been granted UNESCO status for its beautiful medieval city and this is as popular with local tourists as it is with foreign visitors.

9. Head to the beach in Gotland

Gotland is the largest island in the Baltic Sea but easily accessible from the mainland and a very popular place to go and catch some rays during the summer.

10. Whatever you do, do it outdoors

Sweden is a nature lover’s paradise. There are numerous places to camp, trails to walk and hike, water sports on offer for the summer and skiing and ice skating for the winter.

This is a guest post from Ben Savill. Ben runs offtoeurope.com, a travel website that specializes in Europe travel and vacations. When Ben isn’t staring into his computer monitor, he enjoys traveling to unique destinations, red wine and art house cinema. You can follow offtoeurope.com on Twitter @offtoeurope and you can also subscribe to the sites RSS Feed.

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She is currently slow travelling through Europe in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison
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12 comments

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  2. Comment by Laura

    Laura March 24, 2010 at 10:29

    I read some books set in Sweden last year and I’ve wanted to go since then (I also usually go to warmer places on holiday). I think the picture of the reindeer you posted may have swung it!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison March 24, 2010 at 11:08

      I tend to opt for warmer travel destinations too, but I think a summertime trip would be great. (I have to say, I personally have no desire to sleep in an ice hotel but to each their own).

      I agree, the baby reindeer is pretty cute 🙂

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  4. Comment by Lee

    Lee March 25, 2010 at 12:13

    Sounds interesting, but maybe in summer (I’m a wimp when it comes to cold weather, and ice hotels? brrr…

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison March 25, 2010 at 13:00

      Me too! Definitely winter is for traveling south, summer for north 🙂

  5. Comment by Charlie's Tribe

    Charlie's Tribe March 25, 2010 at 17:53

    I am also allergic to cold weather but I have always wanted to visit the Ice Hotel in Sweden – it is meant to be amazing! Check out this link: http://www.icehotel.com/

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison March 26, 2010 at 09:28

      It does look very cool (er cold) and I’d like to see it, I just don’t want to sleep in it. I’m all over the ice bar though.

  6. Comment by Nomadic Chick

    Nomadic Chick March 26, 2010 at 01:04

    My allergy to cold weather is confirmed. Alas, Sweden would still be worth the trip and these 10 things prove it. 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison March 26, 2010 at 09:29

      Glad to know there is a medical condition to explain my aversion to cold weather! 😉

  7. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler March 26, 2010 at 02:46

    Looks like a fun place to visit. I think it’s quite a bit easier if you have your trip planned from Europe to do rather than from West Coast Canada… There’s just too many places to travel and way too little vacation to fit it in! Great post and fun choice pics!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison March 26, 2010 at 09:30

      Very true. Andrew has been to Sweden a couple of times but only for work and he’s only seen airports and business parks. I would like to see more of Northern Europe at some point but my instincts still are to head south.

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