10 reasons to fall in love with Sweden

By John Pilkington,

Sweden is one of the most popular destinations in Europe – and it’s easy to see why. From innovative design to wild music festivals, medieval towns to hip new hangouts, Sweden has something for everyone. Here are just 10 reasons to fall in with love with this Scandinavian gem.


1. Midsommar


Midsommar celebrations, SwedenPhoto credit: Carolina Romare

After Christmas, midsummer or midsommar is the most important celebration in Sweden. Typical activities involve dancing around a maypole, tying flowers in your hair and eating pickled herring (…yum). Midsommar is a day to head out to the beautiful Swedish countryside and celebrate with family and friends.


2. Stockholm & Gamla Stan


Stockholm rooftops

Photo credit: Tuukka Ervasti

The architecture, the art, the islands, the ABBA museum: Stockholm has it all. Incredibly picturesque and charming all-year round, there’s no excuse to not visit this city. The jewel in Stockholm’s crown is definitely Gamla Stan, the city’s twee old town. Here you’ll find cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and postcard-perfect houses.

Other highlights for visitors include the Nordiska Museet, the bohemian boroughs of Södermalm and the traditional open-air museum of Skansen.

Gamla Stan, StockholmPhoto credit: Nicho Södling

3. Lapland


Reasons to love Sweden: Northern Lights in Lappland

Photo credit: Lola Akinmade Akerström

Another famous part of Swedish culture is the long, cold winters – and where best to experience them than Lapland? The most Northern part of Sweden, Lapland is a snowy wonderland – perfect for cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, hiking or even watching the Northern Lights.

Lapland in SummerPhoto credit: Katja Kristoferson

4. Stockholm metro


Stockholm Metro

Photo credit: Kevin Kee Pil Cho

A relatively compact city, Stockholm’s centre is pleasantly walkable, but you might want to hop on the metro, if only to marvel at its unique and colourful underground stations. Stunning!

Stockholm MetroPhoto credit: Kevin Kee Pil Cho

5. Swedish music & Way Out West


Reasons to love Sweden: Way Out West

Photo credit: Rodrigo Rivas Ruiz

Sweden has exported some of the most talented musicians and music producers ever – and I’m not just talking about their impressive six wins at Eurovision (second only to Ireland). From ABBA to Basshunter, First Aid Kit to Icona Pop, Swedes have topped the charts across the world.

And what better way to experience the Swedish love of music than at Way Out West in Sweden’s western city of Gothenburg. One of the biggest and most exciting festivals in Scandinavia, Way Out West takes place in August and is not to be missed.


6. Food


Cinnamon buns in Sweden

Photo credit: Fredrik Broman

Forget the cheap Swedish meatballs from IKEA (as much as we love them), food in Sweden is so much more. Dive into pickled herring, try a nice dollop of Lingonberry jam and indulge your sweet tooth with a cinnamon bun (the popular pastries even have their own day, Kanelbullens dag, on 4 October).

Just don’t commit yourself to a plate of Surströmming lightly – the sour Baltic herring is left to ferment in cans and smells of rotten eggs when opened… tasty.


7. Gothenburg


Gothenburg Harbour

Photo credit: Göran Assner

Gothenburg (Göteborg) might be second to Stockholm in population, but the city certainly comes first when it comes to being the capital of cool. If you’re looking for hip cafés, fashionable boutiques and lively bars, this hidden gem should definitely be on your list.

Design shopping, GothenburgPhoto credit: Nicho Södling

8. Gotland


Visby city walls, Gotland

Photo credit: Emelie Asplund

Found in the middle of the Baltic Sea, Gotland is often overlooked by tourists – more fool them. Brimming with medieval architecture, including the impressive city walls of Visby – the most complete in Scandinavia, Gotland has plenty to keep visitors busy.

Reasons to love Sweden: GotlandPhoto credit: Simon Paulin

9. The West Coast


Swedish West Coast

Photo credit: Henrik Trygg

Of course, Sweden isn’t just about big cities and bigger lakes – the country also has some spectacular coastline, too. And it doesn’t get much better than the Bohuslän coast. Found north of Gothenburg, this area on the West of Sweden is home to traditional fishing villages, impressive rocky outcrops and countless islands – a dream roadtrip waiting to happen.

Typical Swedish fishing hutsPhoto credit: Sebastian Lineros

10. Swedish design


Of course when it comes to innovative design, Swedes lead the way (IKEA anyone?), so it’s hardly surprising that Sweden is home to some of Europe’s quirkiest accommodation options.

JUMBO HOSTEL
ARLANDA AIRPORT, STOCKHOLM

Design hotels Sweden: Jumbo Stay

Jumbo Stay Hostel allows guests to enjoy all the comforts and luxuries of flying first class, without even leaving the ground. This Boeing 747, previously in service for Pan Am and Singapore Airlines, is located on a disused runway at Arlanda Airport. It features room options for every budget, including quad dormitories and a luxury suite in the converted cockpit with a panoramic view of the airport.

Many original features of this iconic aeroplane are still intact, including the controls in the cockpit and the emergency exit signs. Available in each room are flat screen televisions and free Wi-Fi, and the 24-hour café offers drinks and snacks.

Design hotels Sweden: Jumbo Stay

TREEHOTEL
HARADS

Design hotels Sweden: Treehouse

This once-in-a-lifetime hotel is renowned for its Mirrorcube, a mirror-covered hotel room suspended in the air and almost invisible amongst the treetops. Treehotel is located in the heart of the Swedish Lapland and consists of six tree houses designed by some of Sweden’s leading architects.

Guests have the opportunity to sleep in a range of structures, from the Bird’s Nest to the UFO, whilst enjoying views over the Lule River.

Cube hotels Sweden

ICEHOTEL
JUKKASJÄRVI

Ice hotel, SwedenIce Church – in the Glabe by Tjasa Lucia Gusfors

Originally founded in 1989, Jukkasjärvi’s ICEHOTEL is a hotel and art exhibition made from natural ice and snow from Lapland. The hotel’s ice suites are reconstructed every year, with furnishings and decorations carved from ice. The suites are designed using the works of different artists each year, meaning no two visits are ever the same.

In summer, the hotel offers a range of chalets. Summertime guests can take up a variety of activities including hiking and cycling – all under the midnight sun.

Ice hotel, SwedenPhoto credit: Paulina Holmgren
Lead image: Henrik Trygg

What’s your favourite thing about Sweden?
Comment below!