10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Sweden

Learn what makes Sweden the top Scandinavian destination

|February 15, 2021
Ruta is a country-hopper, having lived in 6 different countries, but Vilnius is the city where she always returns. She enjoys chasing the latest travel trends and creating soul-filled content.

A visit to Sweden will provide you with a glimpse into the well-admired Scandinavian lifestyle. From stunning landscapes to vibrant cityscapes, there’s a solid reason why people flock to visit the country every year.


There are more reasons to visit Sweden than can possibly be crammed into one article (unless you have a few hours to spare!). But we’ve taken the time to compile a list of the top 10 reasons, to give you a taste of what you can enjoy and experience when visiting Sweden:

sunset at stockholm city old town in sweden

1. Nature – free for everyone

The term Allemansratten can be translated as ‘all man’s right,’ essentially meaning that nature is free for everyone and is a right afforded to every person in Sweden. Allowing you to roam and camp wherever you want – provided you do so responsibly and respectfully – this right gives visitors to Sweden a unique opportunity to explore every possible nook and cranny of this country.

narrow wooden path in a forest for hiking

2. Friendly wildlife

With plenty of deep forests and untouched nature, Sweden is home to a large variety of wild animals. If you want to birdwatch or see animals in their natural habitat, Sweden will not disappoint you. 

While in the countryside, you're likely to spot a moose, wolf, or even a lynx. These creatures are rather common in most parts of the country, especially in the southern and central regions. However, you might have to slow down your pace and be patient for the chance to see them.  

Typically, at sunset or sunrise, you have the highest chances to see and observe wildlife creatures from a distance. Animals like arctic foxes reside in elevated areas, so you might have to hike as those locations are not always reachable by a car.  

two reindeers walking in a forest in lapland

3. Sweden’s national holiday – Midsummer

For Swedes, Midsummer means the start of their month-long holiday and the beginning of the summer season. The celebration starts with Midsummer’s Eve, which is always on a Friday, betweeJune 19 and 25.   

As the festivity is only less popular than Christmas, all cities empty in a matter of hours. People move to the countryside with their family and friends to spend time together and celebrate the summer solstice. 

From beer and snaps to pickled herring and potato salad, there are traditional dishes and beverages without which Midsummer seems unimaginable. The celebration also has many long-established traditions and fun activities, such as raising maypoles, dancing in circles, or gathering seven flower petals and leaving them under pillows. As the story goes, you might dream of the person you will marry when you do the ritual. 

swedish locals celebrating midsummer festival

4. The spectacle of the Northern Lights

Nature's most magical light show – the Northern Lights – is yet another reason to visit Sweden. Also known as Aurora Borealis, you’ll see the sky come alive with shades of pink, green and purple. The best time to glimpse these miraculous lights is from September until late March.   

Situated in the Abisko National Park, the Aurora Sky Station is the mountaintop observation center where you can watch the Northern Lights. Even if there are other countries to view the lights from, Sweden makes it more affordable, easier to reach, and offers milder weather conditions.

bright northern lights in north sweden lapland area

5. Celebrate Christmas in Sweden

When winters are as long and dark as they are in Sweden, it’s no surprise that Swedes take the Christmas celebration seriously. Locals start to enjoy Christmassy activities well in advance, including opening Advent calendars and enjoying Christmas markets, with the most famous one located in Stockholm's Old Town. Roaming markets go hand-in-hand with sipping on glögg (mulled wine) and indulging in gingerbread.  

Another special date to watch out for is the day of Saint Lucia. The candlelit procession occurs on December 13 when girls and boys dress in gowns and sing in choirs together. One of St. Lucia's references means merging the darkness and light, cold and warmth, so you are guaranteed a cozy and heart-warming experience.

christmas market in stockholm old town in december

6. STOCKHOLM

Stockholm 8K

As the heart of Scandinavia, Sweden not only invites you to explore its grand landscapes and wild nature but also its culture and cities, especially the capital. Stockholm is alluring for its snuggle-up weather and Venice-like atmosphere merged with contemporary and timeless architecture. The city has dozens of impressive buildings, preserved historic churches, castles, and narrow alleys with cobblestone streets. 

With 14 islands, plenty of famous museums, and a countless number of irresistibly cute cafés, the capital is brimming with all sorts of original activities all-year-round. A few notes before your visit: Swedes share an impeccable sense of design, they prefer a direct communication style, and pretty much everyone is fluent in English. But a Swedish Hej topped with a genuine smile always makes a great ice-breaker.

aerial drone view of buildings in stockholm old town

7. SAUNA

Sweating away all of life's worries is part of the culture in Sweden. Saunas are inseparable from daily routines and they are everywhere. You can find one at a gym, outdoors in the middle of a forest, or even at someone's home.  

A sauna is usually a wooden room where you throw water on a heater to raise the temperature. Locally, these saunas are known as bastu. If you decide to give it a steamy go, make sure you’re familiar with the rules. Often you are not allowed to talk, wear clothes, or enter without a towel. For the full experience, jump into the snow or hop into a cold shower afterward.

wooden sauna steaming hot temperature

8. FIKA

Similar to the afternoon tea, Swedes have an ingrained custom called fika to brighten up their gloomy days and catch up with their friends. Every fika session involves coffee and cakes, but it means much more to the locals than just an excuse to satisfy one's sugar cravings. 

Swedes of all ages and backgrounds "do fika". Whether you're at work or university, this daily coffee break creates an opportunity for either a bonding experience or a simple catch-up. During fika, while you get to enjoy a mouth-watering cinnamon bun and a warm cup of coffee, spending time together is a priority.

swedish pastry fika and hot cocao drink

9. Sweden’s famous food

Let's talk about Swedish food for a moment, and we don't have just meatballs in mind, even though they are delicious! A palatable dish is a solid reason to visit a country, and when in Sweden, you'll have to try smörgåstårta (a sandwich cake). Traditionally, the layered cake consists of sandwiches and has toppings and fillings such as caviar, shrimp, smoked salmon, pâté, cheese, eggs, and vegetables.

Sweden is the place to be for pastry lovers. Give kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) a taste during your next fika. In case you still have some room in your tummy, semla buns are a must-try. Swedes start indulging from New Year's up until Easter. The topping is usually cardamom-spiced, as the bun is cut off, it is filled with marzipan paste and whipped cream.

swedish meatballs food dish

Meatballs are just half of the story of Sweden’s food heritage. There are many more delicious items that you can eat and enjoy while holidaying in Sweden: 

Smörgåstårta

Directly translated as a sandwich cake, this celebratory savory cake is similar to both a sandwich and a layered cream cake – what’s not to like! 

Cinnamon buns (kanelbullar) 

swedish pastry cinnamon buns called kanelbullar

Some consider this to be the national bun. As it has its own day in Sweden, it’s easy to see why.

Semla – Sweet Roll

Also having its own day, called ‘fettisdagen,’ this sweet roll is celebrated every year in February. Made of a simple wheat bun and flavored with cardamom, the top is cut off and filled with almond paste and whipped cream.

Sill – Pickled Herring

salted herring on a sandwich swedish food

Another historical dish with long traditions, herring has been fished in southern Sweden for centuries. They have a long history of preserving it in barrels with salt, or drying it to be sold and transported, or saving it for the winter. Pickling is the most popular way to prepare and serve it.

Kräftor – Crayfish

During a crayfish party (yes, you read it right!) freshly-caught crayfish are boiled, seasoned with dill and served whole.

Surströmming – Sour Herring

swedish Pickled Fermented Fish Surstromming

This aromatic food (and that’s being polite!) is typically eaten in the summer when it can be served outside. The tin must be opened outside or underwater to try and suppress the overpowering smell caused by the preserving process. Another food with its own day, this is celebrated on the third Thursday of August.

10. Cultural Sweden

With nearly 100 museums, the Swedish capital has more of them than almost any other city in the world. Grand museums like Fotografiska hold over 20 photography exhibitions annually, and the National Museum has 50,000 items on display for art and history lovers. You can view most collections for free or attend paid exhibits during the days when admission is free 

Another culturally-rich location is Skansen. Skansen is the first open-air museum and zoo in the country and is based on the island of Djurgården in Stockholm. The territory contains approximately 150 historic buildings, including churches, schools, stores, and workshops. All of them showcase what life used to be like before the industrial era in Sweden.

an old house exhibit in skansen museum in stockholm

Stockholm has more museums per capita than almost any other country in the world. Unless you visit for a month, you’ll never get around them all. Some are free or have free days, while other cities have great cultural attractions, too:

Skansen

This miniature version of Sweden in Stockholm is home to more than 150 buildings, homes, churches, schools and shops transported from all over the country. It is the world’s first open-air museum with native animals like bears, wolves and seals, a children’s zoo and craftspeople.

Modern Museet

Home to an outstanding collection of both Swedish and international modern and contemporary art, Moderna can be found on the island of Skeppsholmen and plays host to numerous exhibitions.

Vasa Museum

big old ship exhibit in vasa museum in sweden

A popular attraction ever since it opened in 1990, this museum is chock full of fascinating history and contains the Vasa ship, built in the 1600s and wonderfully preserved.

Fotografiska

Dedicated to contemporary photography, Fotografiska stages four major and 20 minor exhibitions every year and is a leading name in photographic museums.

Lund Cathedral (in Lund)

lund cathedral church in sweden

This fantastic cathedral is a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture, and the sandstone structure has been here for many hundreds of years.

Astrid Lindgren’s World

As one of the world’s most famous children’s writers, Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby brings her stories and plays to life in a delightful experience for kids and adults alike.

Ales Stenar

ales stenar rock formations in sweden

This megalithic monument in Scania, the south of Sweden, is made up of 59 boulders, each one weighing up to 1.8 tons. Forming a 67-meter-long ship, some experts say the material is as much as 5,500 years old, while others say it’s a mere 1,400 years old. Whatever the experts say, there can be no denying that it dates back to the Nordic Iron Age at least.

Add summer music festivals to the list, along with Stockholm Pride, and you’ve got more than just 10 top reasons to visit Sweden. You’ve got a long list of reasons why going anywhere else for your next trip means you could miss out on all of this. Hike, learn, eat, relax and celebrate Sweden – just like the Swedes do!

Recommended tours

Related blog posts