Sweden: Beaches, Hikes, & The Northern Lights

Sweden is one of the most interesting European travel destinations that never seems to get talked about. Often lumped into the broader region of Scandinavia, and specifically paired up with Finland and Norway, it just is not always viewed as a distinct destination.

Once you look into what Sweden has to offer, you will begin to discover a beautiful and fascinating country with all kinds of things to offer. There are adventurous hikes, stunning natural phenomena, urban breaks for a bit of relaxation, and even some beaches that are surprisingly picturesque (given how far north Sweden really is).

So, giving a little bit of attention to each of these categories and more, we are going to delve into Sweden, and why it is such an appealing place for a holiday.

Sweden Northern Lights

Hikes

When you imagine hiking in northern Europe, you tend to imagine striking landscapes but, at least occasionally, difficult conditions. This is more or less the case in Sweden as well, and it should go without saying that if you plan a hike in this country, you will want to do so during the warmer months of the year. The depths of winter are fairly forbidding outside.

With that disclaimer out of the way, there are some truly exceptional hiking routes in this country, both on the beaches in the South (which we will get to below) and, more notably, in the more challenging wilderness inland and to the north. The Padjelanta Trail is perhaps the most quintessentially Scandinavian hike in the country.

It is roughly a 150km trail that takes you through some of the remote northwestern lands of Sweden, through the settlements of the Sami people and alongside rocky lakesides. There is a decent probability of seeing reindeer on this trail, which adds another thrill.

If the Padjelanta Trail is arguably the most interesting, the Kungsleden hike is probably the most famous. It is a grueling trek if you do the whole thing, spanning over 400km far to the north in Sweden. Highlights include several northern villages like Nikkaluokta and Abisko, and you will get a glimpse of Sarek National Park also. It is an otherworldly natural expanse of mountains, valleys, streams, and ponds, well worth going out of your way for.

Finally, for a more manageable hike that should only take a few days to complete, the Jamtland Triangle is another popular option. According to another piece looking at hikes through Sweden (and focusing largely on beach walks), the entire walk is 47km and runs through various mountain stations with plenty of cabins, saunas, and good places to eat along the way. It is an option that combines adventure with a bit of recreation.

Aurora Sighting

Sweden came up in a previous piece about celebrating holidays under the Northern Lights, and as you might expect of a northern European country like this, there are indeed chances to see this stunning natural phenomenon. In fact, the lights can be seen all over Sweden, such that even people in the southern cities have occasionally reported a little bit of light activity in the sky.

Still, your best bet is to head north, where you will have far and away the best chance of seeing something amazing. There is not one specific destination that is recommended above others, but the closer you get to the northern borders with Norway and Finnish Lapland, the better your chances of witnessing the Aurora will be. You can also look into booking tours specifically aimed at sightings - including some that also offer dog sledding adventures!

Sweden: Beaches, Hikes, & The Northern Lights

City Breaks

There are wonderful cities and towns sprinkled all over Sweden, and any of them can make for a nice refuge if you do not want to spend your whole time hiking and adventuring. On the smaller side, travelers might enjoy Lund, a charming old town of fewer than 100,000 people with cobblestone roads and a Renaissance cathedral.

Uppsala is another destination worth considering, both for its deep history (it is often mentioned in association with Vikings, though these histories have been twisted somewhat) and for the charming university town, it is today. And then there is Malmo, a slightly larger but not massive coastal city that is linked by tunnel to Copenhagen, Denmark. Any of these can make for a nice place to rest and do a bit of light sightseeing.

For a bigger city break though most visitors will want to head to Stockholm. With a population near one million people, Stockholm is the big, bustling capital of Sweden and a fascinating place to see. The city is built, via a network of bridges, on 14 small islands in a Baltic Sea archipelago. Visitors will enjoy the Gamla Stan (the Old Town, effectively), the Nobel Museum, the open-air history museum and zoo, Skansen, and Stockholm Palace - as well as simply walking around and exploring.

There are also some modern attractions to enjoy in Stockholm, including plenty of local bars (check out Orangeriet and Akkurat) and restaurants (try Lilla Ego or Matkonsulatet) and even something of a casino scene. Sweden has actually quietly taken the lead in Europe's casino culture, largely through the development of online games.

In fact, game development has been offered as a subject of choice at the country's Gotland University since 2001. So it should come as no surprise that there are some good in-person places for gaming and nights out in Stockholm as well (most notably Casino Cosmopol Stockholm).

Beaches

We won't spend too much space on beaches, but if you are looking for further outdoor activity in Sweden that’s a little more relaxing and less adventurous, the selection of pleasant coastal areas is surprisingly broad and impressive. Because Sweden is recognized as a Scandinavian country many forget all about the fact that much of it runs along the Baltic Sea, which is a famously beautiful resort area.

For specific recommendations, we are borrowing from The Local, which put together a nice article on beaches you won’t believe are in Sweden. The article pointed to Ribersborg, Tanto Beach, Faro, Lysekil, and Norrfallsviken, and all are pretty and relaxing options.

Faro makes for perhaps the most complete beach getaway. It is its own island, well south of Stockholm and just off of the larger island of Gotland, smack in the middle of the Baltic Sea. It is a charming coastal area complete with restaurants and ice cream shops, beach walks, mini golf, and boating.

Hopefully, this paints the accurate picture, which is that Sweden is a remarkable place for an adventure. No matter what your primary reason for going may be, there is a little bit of everything to enjoy, and you might just manage most of it in one trip.

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