The land of the north and the country where everyone has blonde hair and blue eyes – welcome to Sweden. Question is, does everyone really have blonde hair and blue eyes?
If you ask the Swedes themselves they will laugh at you and say no – with a big emphasize on the no, but the rest of the world has no issues seeing the common theme here. Am I right?
But enough of that, let’s break down some facts about Sweden. Sweden is one of four countries that belongs to Scandinavia with a small population of roughly 10 million. As you probably know, most countries in Europe have their own unique language, nonetheless Sweden. They speak Swedish, and you may have heard energetic party people raise their glass to yell “skål!” which means “cheers!”.
Being located in Europe, traveling to other European countries makes it easy. With just a short flight or the now more popular Euro train ride you’re never too far from the next country on the bucket list.
Best Time to Visit Sweden
Sweden has four seasons, which probably makes you question which time of the year you should plan to visit this northern country? This might be slightly biased (being from Sweden myself) but Summers are known to be one of a kind.
Not only are there so many fun things to do, but really, imagine yourself living in a country where it’s dark, rainy, windy and snowy for the rest of the year – now the Summer makes total sense! People are much more open and excited to socialize when the weather is at it’s best. Ever known a swede with a crazy obsession for checking the weather app? It’s because we’re craving the sun my friends.
Major Swedish Cities
The three major cities in Sweden are called Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. However, there are plenty of great smaller cities worth putting on your list. But let’s talk a little more about the three bigger ones.
The capital of Sweden, and the city that most tourists end up visiting. It’s a beautiful city surrounded by water, and it’s easy to get around with the subway and other public transportation systems. Make sure to plan a visit to Old Town and Skansen.
Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, and known for its people with a “cozy”, happy, and friendly population. While visiting Gothenburg, make sure to take a weekend stroll in Haga for a fika – which typically includes a coffee and pastry. For a one of a kind Thai cuisine experience, you got to check out Moon Thai Kitchen.
Located in southern Sweden and just a short train ride away from Copenhagen, Denmark. Yes, you heard it right – a train ride from Denmark. Here you’ll find a vibrant city with fun outside seating bars to enjoy a cold beer at Lilla Torg.
Airports in Sweden
Flying to Sweden is easy. Depending on where in Sweden you plan to stay, you have a few airport options to ease the journey. Since Sweden is fairly small, you may find it easier to fly into it’s neighboring countries at times for shorter travel destinations and better price. Look for flights here.
Stockholm’s airport which is located 25 minutes away from Stockholm city with the fast Arlanda Express train.
This is Gothenburg’s airport which tends to be a little more pricy than Arlanda, but may be your better bet if you want to eliminate travel time upon arrival.
This airport is located near Copenhagen, Denmark – yet just a train ride away from the southern parts of Sweden. This is the bigger airport out of all of them, and flight tickets tend to be much cheaper.
Norway is also a good option for those who are traveling to Värmland or nearby locations. Since this is the biggest airport in Norway right outside of Oslo, you may find golden flight ticket prices here.
Summer in the West Coast
When you’ve had enough of the city life, it’s time to visit all Swedes favorite Summer destination – the West Coast. This is where you get to enjoy the best of Swedish summers in the cute small fishermen towns located along the West Coast. A few towns to not miss out on is Smögen, Marstrand, Strömstad, and Grebbestad.
Here you’ll find amazing seafood restaurants, sea life inspired interior design and clothing stores, water activities, and a poppin’ nightlife for the night owl. You’ll get the Mediterranean Summer feeling here, and Swedes and Norwegians dock up with their boats to enjoy these the Swedish Summer days and nights.
If there is any time you should plan your visit to Sweden, it’s during Midsummer. It takes place on June 22nd each year, and is a celebration of the Summer. Which means it’s the longest day throughout the year, and even after the sun goes down, it’s still day bright outside.
Although the tradition means dancing around a massive pole which is dressed in plants and flowers – grown ups mostly look forward to the dinner party, schnaps (shots) with songs and drunken games played with friends. For a complete midsummer experience, a dip in the lake or the ocean at night is a common tradition.
If you’re traveling as family, you probably want to plan some fun day activities with the kiddos. Even these activities require the Summer time to have arrived. Here’s what you could do.
Amusement park in Lisseberg
This is actually one of the biggest amusement parks in Europe, and is located within Gothenburg city limit. Here you’ll find everything from intense roller coasters, to concerts, horror houses, and 3D movie theaters. The perfect family activity for all ages.
Outside of Norrköping, you’ll find the biggest zoo in Sweden. Animals are well taken care of with large areas to stroll around on. To get the most out of this family experience, why not stay for a few nights at the campground?
Who doesn’t love to run around in a massive water park? We know, all kids do! This is the biggest water park in Scandinavia. Aside from a top notch water park, you could mix up the day with other fun activities such as go-cart, theme rides, and playgrounds.
Of course, we didn’t leave you hanging without tips for the Swedish Winter. Although the mountains are not as epic as in the Alps – there are plenty of great ski resorts and fun activities for all adventure seekers. For example, you could check out Åre, Sälen, or Branäs for good skiing. After a long day in the mountains, head over to the village for after ski events in local bars or restaurants.
If flying down the mountain on skiis or a snowboard isn’t quite your thing, there are plenty of other Winter adventures to check out.
Ever heard about the green northern light? Why not try check it out yourself during your visit to Sweden? In fact, it’s actually one of the best countries in the world to spot these green magical lights during the Winter. Although there isn’t one specific location that guarantees to spot the northern lights – going to Jokkmokk and north of that is your best bet.
This may seem unfamiliar for those who haven’t been to the northern countries, but it’s actually a somewhat common thing. In a sled behind dogs, you get to experience the old Swedish Winter transportation.
You read it correctly – I just said ice hotel. Why not add Jukkasjärvi’s ice hotel to the bucket list? The entire hotel is built on ice, and you’ll even get to sleep on an ice bed with warm cozy fur blankets. You still want to dress warm though, since you will be sleeping in freezing temperatures. Even here, you could spot the northern lights.
Traditional Swedish Food
Who doesn’t love a tasty Swedish meal? The best part about eating in Sweden is that serving sizes tend to be just perfect for one person. It’s not like in the US, when you have to fight off food coma after each meal. Below are some of the most popular Swedish dishes.
Mashed potatoes and meat balls
We’re not talking Italian style meat balls here. Instead, skip the marinara sauce and imagine well-done meatballs fried in a pan with tasty brown sauce that got it’s flavor from the meat. But let’s not forget the somewhat sour lingon berry jam to top off the potatoes with.
Macaroni and Falukorv
Have you ever had Mac & Cheese in America? Imagine the same kind of macaronis, but instead of being cooked in cheese, the pasta is boiled in milk. Which ends up being this super yummy white sauce. Falukorv is a Swedish thick sausage, somewhat similar to Bologne, but still it’s own thing. A popular dish among Swedish youngsters, and one that all adults tend to come back to even as adults.
During the Summer, Swedes are all about their shrimp sandwich. On a one slice of bread, they add mayo, lettuce, egg, onion and shrimp. It may not sound like a top dish, but in the Summer sun with a cold beer or a glass of white wine, you got yourself a winner.
Travel tip shared by inbetweensc