Swedes have a knack for design, a mindset prioritizing comfortable living, and a laid-back attitude. With a well-balanced rhythm of life and an abundance of culturally-rich attractions, it’s not difficult to find reasons why Sweden is worth a visit and is one of the happiest countries in the world.
NATURE AND ALLEMANSRÄTTEN
With the country's appreciation for its nature, there's a prevalent public access right called Allemansrätten. The premise of it is that nature is free and available for everyone. Because of this, everyone can roam the countryside in Sweden as much as they please.
Whether you want to pick wild berries, hike in a field, or camp in the middle of the forest, almost no piece of land is off-limits for you. As long as you're not disturbing anyone, you can set up a camp wherever you want. Just make sure that the land is not used for farming and be respectful of the environment at all times.
Opportunities to enjoy the Swedish greenery are next to endless as over half the country is covered with forests. With 29 parks and 400 hiking trails, you can choose a well-maintained trek, including burial mounds and sandy beaches. All you have to do is decide whether you want to bike, hike, ski, or ride when exploring Sweden's nature and its wonders.
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.
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, between June 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.
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.
CHRISTMAS TIME 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.