Things to do in Sweden include exploring stunning winter landscapes, tasting delicious food and wandering through history via the cobbled streets of Stockholm.
The south of the country is home to Stockholm, the picturesque capital with many attractions, with buildings painted in an array of pastel colours in Gamla Stan and the Royal Palace situated on the water’s edge. The Vasa museum houses the world’s only 17th century ship, while Skansen, the world’s first open air museum, contains around 160 buildings that represent Sweden during the 1900’s. Finally, archipelago boat tours provide a different view of the city.
The second largest city of Gothenberg to the west is equally vibrant and steeped in maritime history. The city museum showcases Sweden’s past and Viking life, while the Museum of Art houses Nordic Art from Carl Larsson, Edvard Munch and more. The botanical gardens are spectacular and well-worth a wander through.
Meanwhile, the north offers a true winter playground and is perfect for those who love the outdoors. Abisko and Sarek national parks provide glorious snowy landscapes, and travellers can stay in the Ice Hotel or the luxurious Tree Hotel to catch the Northern Lights and go dog sledding, take reindeer tours or explore on a snow-shoeing expedition. It is also the ancestral home of the Sami, Europe’s only indigenous people, and visitors can visit a homestead to learn about this ancient culture. Travel north in summer to experience the festivities of the midnight sun – where the sun never sets.
During mid-August Sweden’s three largest cities hold their culture festivals – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. The three culture festivals cater for all ages and feature music for differing tastes, as well as free entry to attractions that otherwise charge an entrance fee. There is also art, street theatre, poetry, late night films on outdoor screens, and delectable food. It is possible to combine all three cities and festivals in one trip, as they occur almost simultaneously.
This beautiful botanical garden is an oasis even on a rainy day. Home to over 20,000 species of flower (including 1,500 species of orchid), it features a lovely rock garden, a Japanese garden and the Easter Island Tree, which is now extinct in the wild. Guided tours are available in the summer months.
Stockholm’s open-air museum is a wonderful place to visit at any time or the year, but particularly at Christmas. The Christmas celebrations and decorations at Skansen last for the full month of December and the market is full of traditional treats, foods and handicrafts. It is a place to be enjoyed by people of all ages – children can learn traditional Swedish dances and games. The last weekend before Christmas is the Winter Solstice, when you can enjoy Sami dancing, music performances, a drink in the ice bar and a bite to eat from the charcoal grill.
Spend the night in a room made from ice and snow, and on a bed made cosy with thick reindeer fur. After this unique sleeping experience, be woken in the morning with a cup of warm lingonberry juice. From the hotel you can explore the local area, have a drink in the Absolut Ice Bar, or enjoy an á la carte meal in one of the restaurants.
Southern Sweden has long, picturesque coastlines and both Stockholm and Gothenburg have beautiful archipelagos waiting to be explored by boat and on foot. A variety of different boat trips can be taken from both cities to explore the small islands and islets. Take a trip to the islands of Gotland, famous for the medieval town of Visby; or Öland with its long white beaches – both of which are on the Unesco world heritage list.
See Sweden come alive in this image and video gallery, showing off some of the best areas that you can visit and explore.
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