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Fancy a relaxing weekend in the autumn darkness, without traveling far? 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.

One of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world, Sweden should be on the bucket list of any European traveller. This country is famous for its Viking heritage, but today there are a thousand reasons to visit Sweden and is one of the best places to travel solo in Europe. Sweden is also one of the Scandinavian countries that is usually a regular in the lists of the best countries in the world to live.

Sweden is a multi-ethnic country. It has absorbed considerable immigration for the last 50 years and is safe, hospitable, beautiful, modern, peaceful, healthy, with non-existent unemployment. And if in winter you get tired of not seeing the light and having to leave home lined with three or four layers of clothes, you can always make a trip to Southern Europe to see family and friends.

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 in Sweden that are surprisingly picturesque (given how far north Sweden really is).

For a country with a population of less than 10 million, Sweden has punched above its weight in terms of its impact on the world at large. From Vikings to IKEA, the Nobel Prize to ABBA, Sweden certainly has certainly made an impression on the global stage. A solo backpacker who visits today is rewarded by stunning landscapes, charming towns and cities and welcoming people.

This is one of the best countries to visit in the world if you are looking for a calm and enriching adventure. Sweden is a nation that proudly boasts about its wonderful natural landscapes, white sand beaches and peaceful little towns with cobblestone streets. In terms of hiking opportunities, there are many exciting locations that you should consider exploring if you visit Sweden.

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.

1. Jokkmokk

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

The Padjelanta Trail is a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of the most famous and rewarding trails that the country has to offer. You will be treated to stunning views of gargantuan mountain ranges, lakes, and perhaps even wildlife such as reindeer.

2. Sarek National Park

If the Padjelanta Trail is arguably the most interesting, the Kungsleden Trail 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.

3. Östersund

Finally, for a more manageable hiking in northern Sweden that should only take a few days to complete, the Jamtland Triangle is another popular option. According to another piece looking at hikes in northern Sweden (and focusing largely on beach walks), the entire walk is 47 km 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. In Pilgrimstad, there is a brewery there, and a marina. Oh, and a holy spring, hence the name. But that’s it. Not even a convenience store. If you are stuck there, all you can do is sit by the lake, watch the boats, pray a bit, and think about all that beer in the brewery.

4. Kiruna

If you are going to visit Sweden then you should also try to see the aurora lights at some point. 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 northern 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!

5. Lund

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.

6. Stockholm

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. You can fish there. People do it all the time. Yes, the water is that clean. Visit the Nobel Museum, the open-air history museum and zoo, Skansen, and Stockholm Palace - or just walk around and keep 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.

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). Saltsjöbaden is one of many, many areas by the Baltic coast, within the Stockholm conurbation. It’s about 15 km from the old town.

When you visit Stockholm, be sure to make time for a visit to the Vasa Museum. Here you will be able to see Sweden's very own Titanic, a giant wooden ship built in the 17th century on the orders of King Gustavus Adolphus which sank on its maiden voyage. The ship was salvaged in the 1980s and is on display today in what has become Sweden's most visited museum.

7. Gotland

Visby is famous for it's sheepskin products and you'll find sheep sculptures all around the city. Wander around the Botanical Gardens and find several there along with wild roses. Visby is arguably Scandinavia's best preserved medieval city and whether you're walking along the wall, around the ruins or along the west coast pebble beaches, you'll be in awe at how well looked after everything is and how proud locals are of their island.

In fact, game development has been offered as a subject of choice at the country's Gotland University since 2001.

8. Uppsala

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.

9. Malmo

And then there is Malmo, a slightly larger but not massive coastal city that is linked by tunnel to Copenhagen in Denmark. Any of these places to visit in Sweden can make for a nice place to rest and do a bit of local sightseeing.

10. Gothenburg

We dedicate a day and a half to this city to see it. We moved around the city both by tram and by walking. We plan a route from our hotel to see the most important sites in the city. We stayed at the hotel, and from there we went by tram to the Oscar Fredrik church, neo-Gothic building from 1890.

From there we took the tram to the Botaniska Trädgården stop, where the botanical garden of Gothenburg is located. It is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world, and we can see all kinds of flora, forests, meadows, greenhouses and even a small waterfall. After seeing the botanical garden, we took the tram to the station of Valand, in the center.

We crossed the bridge over the canal and took the tourist bus that took us all over the city. After the bus, we decided to eat, next to the canal, at a restaurant. Afterwards, we took a walk through the center and entered the Domkyrka (cathedral). The cathedral is a Lutheran neoclassical building from 1815. The interior, unornamented, is typical of Protestant churches.

The next stop of our plan was the Maritiman, a museum that exhibits 19 boats in the port. We really liked seeing the interior of many ships, such as merchant ships, fishing boats, a warship and a submarine. From there, we toured the port to Lilla Bommen where the Barken Viking is located, a huge sailboat turned into a hotel and restaurant.

After seeing this magnificent museum, we went to the Nordstan shopping center, near the harbor. Then we went to Haga, a neighborhood recommended in the tourist guides. For our pleasure, it did not offer us anything of the other world either. The main attraction is its wooden houses. But it is worth climbing up to Skansen Kronan, a park where on its top you will find a tower with beautiful views of the city.

At the end of the day, we look for a place to dine in Järntorget. We decided to go to the villages of Kungälv and Gullholmen. The first one is located about 20 km north of Gothenburg, on the great Göta river. It has a small church all made of wood decorated with frescoes on the roof. On a fluvial island, very close, are the ruins of the fortress of Bohus. From there, you have stunning views of the town and the Göta.

Gullholmen, located in the archipelago of the west coast of Sweden, is a set of wooden houses clustered together in a small rocky island. It is very nice to walk among the houses painted in colors. A Swedish man stopped us and took us to his small animal museum on the island. He knew some Spanish and was very proud of his work.

We had planned to take a trip to see the surroundings of Gullholmen, but it started to rain and we had to take refuge. Other picturesque villages on the west coast are Mollösund and Marstrand but we will leave them for other trips around Bohuslän (west coast of Sweden). For me, this was the most beautiful place of the entire trip.

We visited Palm House Park, a palm greenhouse next to the Gothenburg Canal. From there, we went to the bus station of Heden to catch the bus that goes to the Kristinedal stop. Near this stop is Gunnebo Slott, an 18th century manor house located near two lakes. We cross the bridge that separates the two lakes and we follow a path under a forest until we reach Gunnebo.

The interior of the mansion, built entirely of wood, can only be seen through guided tours in Swedish and English although you can get some reusable booklets in the same palace (of course) where they explain the visit also in German and French. In the same palace you have a small restaurant with terrace where you can taste an ecological buffet for 115 crowns (with coffee and biscuits included, of course).

Afterwards, the rest of the day we dedicate to continue seeing Gothenburg. We took a walk from the Poseidon fountain to the fish market, where you can have the typical shrimp dish of the area, apart from many fish. We pass through Kungsparken, a park next to the canal, and the Christinae kyrka (also called the German church).

This temple was built by Germans in 1648. The interior is typical of Protestant churches with little ornamentation, although it has interesting stained glass windows. It is worth visiting. Finally, we had planned to go to the Stora Delsjön lake to rent a boat, but the threatening clouds of rain forced us to change our plans.

We got into a tourist boat that runs through the canals of Gothenburg and, at the end of the day, we went to the Liseberg amusement park. We were surprised by the amount of people there and that it was a week day. Regarding the restaurant, the food was good and had a good price. It is a recommended place to eat in the center of Gothenburg, located on a boat anchored in the canal, next to the Kungsportsplatsen bridge.

You can have smörgås which is an open sandwich with various toppings on them. It could be anything from just butter with cheese or sandwich meats or something like kaviar. Kaviar is smoked fish roe and is extremely popular in Sweden with children and adults. You can put it on a sandwich on its own or with cheese or eggs. Even though its very popular here many people from other countries find it very hard to eat.

Next topping is leverpastej which is a liver paste that can be spread on bread. Next topping is rödbetssallad which is pickled red beets mixed with mayo or creme fraiche. It is usually eaten with cold meatballs on bread which pairs very well together. Next topping is Skagenröra which is a spread made from mayo or creme fraiche along with either crayfish, shrimp or crab sticks. It also contains herbs such as dill.

It is very popular and often used for other things like a filling for a baked potato. Next topping is mostly seasonal and that is pickled herring. Although it is available year round it is something mostly eaten on holidays such as Christmas, Easter and Midsummer. Pickled herring usually comes in jars filled with a sauce such as mustard sauce or dill sauce to mention a few.

In the summer you can eat pickled herring that doesn't have any flavoring in the pickle brine but instead eat it with new potato, chives and sour cream all put on a sandwich. This is also how you are supposed to consume surströmming which most people are familiar with, from people eating it straight out of the tin on Youtube.

Eat a hard bread called knäckebröd which is crunchy and very dry on its own but very tasty with the toppings shown before and also very healthy on its own. There are many variants of it, some are lighter in color and some have various seeds baked into them. In the grocery store you will find a whole shelf filled with many different kinds.

Another popular bread is råg kaka. Råg kaka is a very soft light bread that is very good with kaviar and eggs. It originates from the northern part of Sweden but it is consumed and loved by Swedes from the north to the south. Last bread is tunnbröd which literally means thin bread. This bread is either soft or hard and crunchy.

When eating the crunchy kind you usually break off a piece from a big sheet and put whatever topping you like on it. The soft one is usually rolled up with the toppings on the inside. The last thing is filmjölk which is a thick milk with a bacteria culture introduced making it a bit acidic and similar to yogurt but not quite as acidic.

Eat this on its own with cinnamon and sugar, jam or instead of milk with corn flakes or muesli. Its very good for your stomach and its something you might eat just as a home remedy if you are having stomach problems.

A curiosity of this trip was the kindness of the people. In Gullholmen, a woman offered to take pictures without us asking. We were taking photos and she saw us and offered herself. We were struck by the fact that, afterwards, she got into the water where, apart from the ice water, there were lots of jellyfish.

On another occasion, when we went to a public bathroom in Kungsportsplatsen, a Swede and his little son explained to us how the bathroom worked without us asking them for help. It is said that the Swedes are somewhat shy but in our case we did not see it that way.

We were also surprised at how little the bus card and bus drivers looked at us. In the end we passed the tram without showing it and nothing happened. One of the times, a driver laughed when we showed the card, as if it were not necessary to show it. It is as if in Sweden they trusted the honesty of travelers. But what most caught our attention on this trip, were the trams of Gothenburg, most of them very old.

They had a system to ask for the almost archaic stop but also very comfortable. It was a rope that ran along the sides of the tram above the windows. Pulling it, you requested the stop. On one occasion, we even saw a woman pushing the tram doors to leave, as they did not open automatically!

Sweden Beaches

11. Faro

We won't spend too much space on beaches of Sweden, but if you are looking for further outdoor activity in Sweden that is 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.

Among the famous beaches in Sweden are 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 and was one of the locations of Game of Thrones.

12. Karlskrona

Karlskrona in the middle of the archipelago is really the sunniest city in Sweden. There are endless things to do in Karlskrona. You can visit many of the places to visit on your own, although some must be visited with a guide. Take a walk through the streets and experience how the modern pulse of the city mixes with its historical spirit, a fantastic combination of past and present.

The flagship of the tourist attractions of Karlskrona is its Naval Museum. Many Baroque buildings remain intact, like those on the grandiose main square, Stortorget. After having protected the harbor for more than three centuries, the Kungsholm Fortress and the Drottningskär Citadel reveal a remarkable history.

At the fascinating Sea Museum, explore a Soviet submarine, inspect a minesweeper from World War II and observe an 18th century sunken ship through an underwater tunnel.

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.
Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author


  1. Sweden sounds like such an incredible place to visit. I would love to see the northern lights

  2. It has always been my dream to see the Northern Lights. That and Niagara Falls are both on my bucket list. <3 _ <3

  3. Sweden looks like just the place I would like to visit next. The pictures are beautiful.

  4. I've never been here, but I definitely want to go in the future :) thanks for a comprehensive guide and lots of information x


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