Loneliness in untouched wilderness or pulsating life in cosmopolitan cities – the mix of both components makes Sweden a dream destination in the far north of Europe. Picturesque landscapes with crystal clear lakes, untouched primeval forests and rushing rivers stretch between the Stockholm archipelago, the tundra in Swedish Lapland and the Baltic beaches in southern Sweden.
Check out our list of the 24 best places to visit in Sweden.
24. Kosterhavet National Park
Kosterhavet Marine National Park has the highest concentration of rich and diverse marine life in the country. The 450-square-kilometer park is home to nearly 200 different species of animals and plants, including deep-water coral reefs. The park is located on the Koster Islands in western Sweden and is also home to the Koster-Väderö Fjord. In the summer, visitors can swim and snorkel at Kosterhavet, while in other seasons they can hike, fish or birdwatch. At certain times of the year, visitors can also observe seals or porpoises by kayak.
The idea of creating a marine national park in this area arose in the late 1980s and the 1990s when both marine biologists and environmental organizations recognized the importance of the fjord.
The sailing metropolis of Marstrand is located about 30 km northwest of Gothenburg. The island lived for a long time from herring fishing until tourism discovered the small town in the 19th century and the place advanced to an exclusive vacation resort. During the high season, the picturesque alleys and the marina are a hive of activity and party. Characteristic of Marstrand are the pastel-colored wooden houses with ornate decorations. Carlsten Fortress from the 17th century towers over the small town. From the 96 meter high round tower you have a wonderful view. Marstrand is situated on two islands. If you want to visit the older part on Marstrandsö, leave your car on the other shore on Koö and take the ferry. The crossing takes three minutes.
Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, is located in the very south of the country. Copenhagen in Denmark is just 27 kilometers away. You can get there from the Swedish coastal city in 20 minutes via the Öresund Bridge, which was inaugurated in 2000. Although it is a big city, Malmö is also called the “green city” because of its many parks. The parks, such as Pildammsparken, and the canals that flow through the old part invite you to relax. The old town center is small and cozy and you can easily reach everything on foot. Did you know that you can also go swimming in Malmö? There are various beaches, such as Ribersborg, a two-kilometer long sandy beach promenade, or Sibbarp. Malmö, located in the southern Swedish region of Skåne, is complex: skyscrapers, historic squares, former industrial city, first Danish – then Swedish, modern, old…. A city that is constantly changing.
In Ystad live and work many artists such as painters and craftsmen, who exhibit their works in galleries in and around Ystad or offer them for sale in appropriate stores. In the Art Museum, opened in 1936, traditional and modern works of art and collections of photographs by well-known artists are exhibited.
The town is home to St. Peter’s Monastery (Gråbröderklostret), one of the best preserved in Sweden. It also houses the town museum, where visitors can learn much about the history of the town and the municipality. Walking through the old town, you will pass beautiful half-timbered houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. The landmark of the town is the church of St. Mary, Sankta Maria kyrka, parts of which date back to the 13th century.
Shopping opportunities for local products can be found in the center and in the surrounding villages of Ystad.
Typical culinary dishes of the region, such as fried herring, the smoked Ystad sausage and the new beer brewed in Ystad, the cheese Marsvinsholm Herrgård and the recently locally produced wine, can be found on every menu in restaurants in the city and its surroundings.
20. Stockholm Archipelago
Close to the Swedish metropolis of Stockholm is one of the most impressive seascapes in Europe. More than 24,000 rocky islands, the so-called archipelagos, fan out along the coast for more than 100 kilometers. A paradise for nature lovers, water sports enthusiasts and anglers.
Anyone who has visited Stockholm’s archipelago will go into raptures. And rightly so. Islands as far as the eye can see, wild romantic bays and untouched nature. Time seems to stand still here.
This extraordinary landscape was created during the last ice age. The glaciers gradually eroded the rock masses beneath them. As they melted away, the highest elevations rose to the surface as round, smooth islands. They are spread over more than 6,000 square kilometers off the coast of Stockholm and far into the Baltic Sea.
Whether swimming, paddling, sailing, fishing or simply enjoying nature – the island archipelago offers pure relaxation and spectacular visual impressions. No wonder, then, that the archipelago has become a sought-after excursion and vacation destination – and not just for Stockholmers. The islands near the Swedish capital and the larger, inhabited archipelago are well visited at any time of year. Peak season is around Midsummer. Those seeking peace and seclusion will find it on the many thousands of uninhabited islets. Here there is often no other human being to be found.
Uppsala has a long tradition as a university city. As early as 1477, the second university in Scandinavia and equally the first in Sweden was founded in Uppsala.
In addition, the city has had a bishop’s see since 1273. Soon after the conferment, the city got its present name. The city of Uppsala offers you a large number of sights. For example, the Gothic-style cathedral, consecrated in 1435, is considered the largest church in Scandinavia. In the impressive church you can find the graves of famous Swedish personalities, among others those of Gustav Vasa and Carl von Linné.
The botanical garden created by Linné was the first botanical garden in Sweden and its detailed replica is still popular in Uppsala today. A castle residence towers over the city, there’s a Viking museum to marvel at, and north of the city center, in Gamla Uppsala, you can visit royal burial mounds from the 6th century and the ruins of a 12th-century cathedral. Other interesting sights in and around Uppsala University include its Carolina Rediviva library, the coin cabinet, a university museum, and a university auditorium.
You can shop well in Uppsala, with most of it within easy walking distance. There are delightful little stores in the cultural-historical district and many more shopping opportunities in the two pedestrian streets Svartbäcksgatan and Kungsängsgatan, as well as the lively Drottningsgatan. In Uppsala you will find a variety of restaurants with Swedish and international cuisine as well as nice cafes and bars.
Gothenburg is a modern port metropolis with countless leisure opportunities, a wide range of cultural activities and first-class gastronomy. The many park areas, gardens and nearby forests are as much a part of the cityscape as the harbor, canals and nearby archipelago islands. The mix of lively city flair and plenty of nature makes Gothenburg an attractive travel destination. For gourmets, Scandinavia’s largest port city scores with maritime delicacies from the nearby sea.
With 550,000 inhabitants, Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden (after Stockholm). The city was founded in 1619 by King Gustav II Adolf. At that time, many Protestant immigrants from Germany, England and the Netherlands also settled in the city. The document granting Gothenburg city rights was written in German and the city plan was based on the Dutch model. The Dutch influence can still be seen today in the moat that zigzags around the city center and the Great Harbour Canal. In the centuries following its founding, Gothenburg developed into an important port, industrial and trading city.
Gotland is the largest island in the Baltic Sea, located off the east coast of Sweden. The island is about 125 kilometers long and up to 55 kilometers wide. Due to its mild climate and unique landscape, it is very popular with tourists. Gotland can be reached from the mainland in a good 2.5 hours by ferry. The medieval town of Visby is the center of the island.
The whole of Visby is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. All over the island you will see medieval churches and the traces of the old Hanseatic League are omnipresent. On the coasts you will find beautiful beaches. Of the approximately 600 kilometers of coastline, about 92 kilometers are sandy beaches! The two small neighboring islands Fårö and Lilla Karlsö are also worth seeing. Culinary the restaurants on Gotland offer a regional cuisine, mostly with ingredients of the region. Let’s discover Gotland – the pearl of the Baltic Sea!
The island’s capital Visby is surrounded by a historic city wall, about 3.6 km long, which is one of the best preserved in Northern Europe. The medieval cityscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety. The city was once founded in the 11th century, but the area was already settled by the Vikings. In the Middle Ages, the town was a flourishing trade center, especially for the export of stockfish. Worth seeing, besides the city center as such, is Visby Cathedral, which was originally consecrated as early as 1225.
Sweden’s capital consisting of 14 islands connected by more than 50 bridges is a distinctive city. Attractive architecture combined with wonderful nature and plenty of water make Stockholm diverse and give the city uniqueness.
Stockholm’s character is formed by the combination of a big city with cultural offerings such as museums and other sights in connection with an overwhelming natural landscape. Another visitor-friendly feature is the fact that many of the routes in the city of over 850,000 inhabitants can be made on foot.
Anyone visiting Stockholm must visit Gamla Stan – the historic old town on the city island of Stadsholmen. Walking through the medieval street network here you can admire sights such as the Tyska Kyrkan, the German Church, Stockholm Cathedral Storkyrkan, the Royal Castle and many small craft and antique stores. The cozy cafes invite you to linger a while in peace in the old town, which is mostly free of cars. From the tower of the city’s landmark, Stadhuset, one is offered a magnificent view of the entire city.
Another attraction that should not be missed is a visit to the island of Djurgården. The green island with nature park and sights is an ideal recreation and excursion destination for both Stockholmers and its guests, with many museums and more. It is also home to Sweden’s first open-air museum, Skansen, and the old warship Vasa in the Vasa Museum, which has been admired by many tourists of Stockholm.
15. Höga Kusten
What makes Höga Kusten (High Coast) so special are its steep granite cliffs and rocky islands rising from the sea. The High Coast is the highest land elevation in the world and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
But how did it come about? During the Ice Age, a three-kilometer (!) thick layer of ice lay on this coastal region. Due to the immense weight of this ice layer, the land was constantly pressed down. At some point, the melting of the ice caused the opposite movement, and the land rose by up to 285 meters. Even today, the High Coast rises by eight millimeters annually.
The summer at Höga Kusten is pleasant and the winter long, snowy and cold. The warm season with temperatures up to 21 degrees Celsius starts at the end of May and ends at the beginning of September. The cold season with temperatures down to -13 degrees lasts from mid-November to the beginning of March.
The province of Höga Kusten is actually called Ångermanland. Only it is not marketed under this name for tourism and the name is therefore widely unknown. Höga Kusten includes four municipalities: Härnösand, Kramsfors, Örnsköldsvik and Sollefteå. These four places form, so to speak, a frame around the Höga Kusten region.
14. Lake Siljan
With a length of almost 40 km, Lake Siljan is the seventh largest lake in Sweden and is located in the province of Dalarna. It was once formed by the impact of a meteorite estimated 360 million years ago.
Lake Siljan has a maximum depth of about 120 meters. This maximum depth is located in a gully that lies between the towns of Mora and Leksand. Around Lake Siljan there are many other smaller lakes. They are all suitable for fishing, swimming or paddling. By the way, Lake Siljan is fed by the Österdalelv.
There are many exciting excursion destinations around Lake Siljan, and you can also stay overnight at very nice campsites right by the lake. For example the campsite of Mora, but also the one of Älvdalen is very popular. This beautiful campsite is located in the north of Dalarna on the border of the Fjäll.
By the way, in the northwest of Lake Siljan is the largest island called Sollerön. It is accessible via two bridges and there are, among other things, numerous graves of the Vikings to see here. Especially worth seeing on the island Sollerön is the beautiful church.
Especially the local tourists appreciate Lake Siljan, but it is also increasingly frequented by other visitors. Characteristic is the beautiful blue color, after which was also named the “Siljan blue”.
Lake Siljan itself offers numerous viewpoints and many beautiful beaches, which are perfect for a family vacation, for example. It has long, shallow sandy beaches and many small bays that invite the little ones to splash around.
Nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts take note! The Kungsleden – “the king’s path” – in northern Sweden is not for nothing one of the most popular long-distance hiking trails.
Here you have the opportunity to completely escape from everyday life and to collect completely new impressions in the wilderness of Lapland.
You will be surrounded by mountains with snow-capped peaks, deep forests, crystal clear lakes, rushing rivers and high plateaus with the corresponding views of even more mountains, lakes, etc.
This section of Kungsleden offers the most beautiful hiking routes between the starting point in Saltoluokta and the end point in Kvikkjokk. In the evening, well-equipped, cozy cabins await you. Here you can relax well deserved on almost endless nordic summer evenings and just let your soul dangle.
A special highlight is the day trip to the top of the prominent mountain Skierfe. The view of the Rapa Delta is breathtaking and will leave you reminiscing for a long time.
If you feel a longing for untouched landscapes and have some stamina, you should not hesitate for long. This hiking trip in the north of Scandinavia is and will remain a unique experience!
12. Lake Vättern
Vättern is the second largest lake in Sweden after Vänern. It is also located in the south of the country and borders on no less than four historical provinces. Many municipalities around Vättern get their drinking water from the lake.
The second largest lake in Sweden attracts with clear water and cozy villages for an exciting vacation. Here you can go hiking in the lush Swedish nature, enjoy the warmed water at quiet bathing beaches or explore one of the worth seeing places at the shore. Active vacationers in particular get their money’s worth here, but those interested in Swedish history and culture can also find what they are looking for on Vättern – for example, in historic Vadstena or on the island of Visningsö, which is steeped in history.
The small town of Smögen is located on the island of the same name on the west coast of Sweden, about an hour’s drive from Gothenburg. The island is connected to the mainland by the 500-meter-long Smögenbron bridge, which was completed in 1970.
In Smögen, the beauty of Sweden can be explored in just one small place – only moose are rarely seen here. Along the granite cliffs famous for the western Swedish landscape winds the almost one kilometer long Smögenbryggan (Smögen Quay). The wooden promenade right next to the marina is lined with colorful fishermen’s and storehouses standing on stilts, boat sheds, restaurants, snack bars, boutiques and souvenir stores. Especially in the summer months, a stroll along Smögenbryggan is worthwhile, then many Swedes and Norwegians can be found with their boats in the natural harbor basin and the place is full of life. During a visit, you should definitely try the Smögenräkor, shrimp from Smögen, which can be bought and tasted here in all imaginable variations.
If you are not afraid to share Smögen with other visitors, come during the summer months. Then the marina is full and there is a lot of life along the promenade. In the off-season between October and April, photographers and friends of tranquility come to Smögen, because then only the local fishermen are on the move here and most restaurants and shops along the Brygga lie abandoned.
10. The IceHotel in Jukkäsjarvi
Originally established as a settlement around the small wooden church, Jukkasjärvi has been increasingly influenced by tourism since the 1980s. This distinguishes it from many other small villages in Lapland. The special development is linked to the “invention” of the ice hotel, which was first built in the early 1990s and has been rebuilt from winter to winter ever since. The now world-famous concept of this extraordinary hotel continues to attract a growing number of overnight guests and day-trippers, so that a versatile winter tourism is developing in Jukkasjärvi.
The ice for the hotel is taken from the frozen Torneälv River as early as March, or by April at the latest. The builders of the ice hotel can extract their building material directly from the shore behind the hotel, so to speak. To do this, they block off an area of ice from which uniform blocks are gradually cut. The blocks are later processed in a production hall and preserved until the fall. A second important building material is snice. A mixture of ice and air. It has a higher density than natural snow and is used to insulate the ice blocks from the outside.
Since 2017, there has been a year-round ice hotel built inside a cooled hall with stone exterior walls. It functions like a passive house. Its electricity comes from solar energy and other green energy sources. The year-round ice hotel also houses the ice bar, which has been featured in many television reports about the hotel. Unlike the “real” one, the rooms in the year-round ice hotel are combined with heated bathrooms and saunas. As a result, they offer a higher level of comfort. In the “real” ice hotel, the rooms can only be used for sleeping.
9. Rosendal Palace and Gardens
There are eleven royal castles in Sweden – a real highlight among them is Rosendal Castle in Stockholm. Located on the island of Djurgården, the castle impresses with appealing sights.
In the 19th century, between 1823 and 1827, the founder of the Bernadotte royal house, King Karl XIV Johann, had Rosendal Castle built as a pleasure palace. Since 1935, the sight has been listed as a historical monument.
During the summer months, the chateau is open to visitors. You can see here objects of the 1820s as well as 1830s in Karl Johann style, as a reference to the Empire style. In addition, the library, including Karl Johann’s book collection, and his bedchamber are special features of the exhibition. Karl Johann’s furnishings were transferred to Rosendal in 1913.
Discover the idyllic garden, which is connected to the castle. Lovingly decorated flower beds, the associated nursery, several greenhouses and orchards await you here. In addition to this, the rose and wine gardens are a perfect place to relax.
Abisko, a small town in Lapland, is an excellent destination for nature lovers due to the adjacent national park. Whether you want to watch the Northern Lights, go hiking or take a road trip to Nordkapp, Abisko is a perfect base.
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Abisko National Park. You can go on guided hikes, which have the advantage of an experienced guide, or you can explore the park on your own. Guided tours are especially recommended in winter, as often, for example, the appropriate equipment is also provided and the tours can be adapted to the fitness level of the participants. If you prefer to explore the national park on your own, you can find suitable tours at Outdooractive, among others.
Lapland is famous for the possibility to observe Northern Lights there. Especially the area around Kiruna, where Abisko is located, is a popular destination for this. The combination of the aurora borealis and the wild nature of the national park offers a very special experience in winter. If you’re lucky, you can even watch the Northern Lights from your accommodation, but there are guided tours here as well.
Along with Falun, Åre is Sweden’s best-known winter sports center. The town with 1,200 inhabitants nestles picturesquely on the over 1,400-meter-high Åreskutan mountain on the elongated, river-like Åre Lake.
Åre is particularly well known as a winter sports center. Together with nearby Östersund, it has bid several times to host the Winter Olympics. Twice, in 1954 and 2007, Åre hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships.
The 12th-century church is evidence of the early origins of the town, which probably benefited from the pilgrimage route to Trondheim (formerly Nidaros), which is over 1,000 years old. Dating from 1746 is Fröå gruva, a former copper mine that is now a mining museum. Just 22 kilometers west of Åre is Sweden’s largest waterfall, Tännforsen. The constant cloud of water here evokes an Atlantic microclimate, and in winter the frozen fall is enchanting.
The 790-meter Åre Bergbana from 1910, which starts in the middle of the town center, dates back to the early days of organized winter sports and is now a cultural monument. Today it has been more than replaced by numerous aerial tramways, gondola lifts and ski lifts.
Åre is a vacation center with every imaginable activity in every season: hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, hunting, climbing, fishing, biking and golf in the summer, skiing, skating, snowmobiling and dog sledding in the winter. The center of winter vacation in Åre is undoubtedly alpine skiing. Alone 100 slopes with 41 ski lifts meet the needs of all ages and abilities. A year-round attraction is Europe’s largest zipline.
The southwest coast of Sweden is one of the most scenic regions of the country. The small, tranquil town of Halmstad enjoys an outstanding reputation, especially as a seaside resort. With its historic city center, Halmstad is also very worth seeing.
Due to its location directly on the coast of Sweden, Halmstad has been the site of many warlike conflicts throughout history. Only in the middle of the 17th century Halmstad belonged completely to Sweden. Exactly in that time also falls the construction of the historic city center, which can still be admired in part today.
The center of Halmstad is the historic market square (Stora Torg), from which the street network winds through the old town. It is recommended that you take a walk here. A particularly popular sight is Halmstad’s St. Nicolai Church, which has its origins in the 14th century and boasts numerous architectural delicacies. Almost symbolically, the preserved city gate Norre Porte stands for Halmstad, after all, this adorns many postcard motifs. It was once part of the city’s fortifications. For Swedes and tourists alike, Halmstad is a popular seaside resort that welcomes numerous guests in the summer, who take advantage of the beautiful beaches.
In a city that is considered one of the most innovative cities in all of Europe, this innovation and modernity meet a centuries-old history. The city’s harbor is correspondingly modern and invites you to take a relaxed stroll and walk. It is also possible to cross over to Denmark here; the trip only takes about 20 minutes.
In contrast, there are some historic buildings and sights in the city center, such as the fortress tower Kärnan, the only remnant of a fortress that was once the counterpart to the fortress Kronburg on the Danish side, from which you have a spectacular view over the region. Other historical and architectural highlights include the Gothic Church of St. Mary, which has its origins in the 12th century, and the neo-Gothic town hall, which was inaugurated in 1897.
As a coastal city, Helsingborg not only has a harbor promenade, but also offers several beaches on the Öresund. The most popular and well-known bathing beach is Tropical Beach, which is located close to the city center and the ferry port. The 200-meter long natural sandy beach takes its name from the palm trees with which it is decorated in summer, and offers wooden jetties, sun loungers, children’s playground, as well as restaurant and hygiene facilities.
The city of Kalmar is located on the southern Swedish Baltic coast. It stretches far out into the strait of the same name, which separates the island of Öland from the mainland. The Kalmar Sound can be navigated by ships and forms a natural transition from the archipelago near Karlskrona to the archipelago of Östergötland. In the summer, many yachtsmen and yachtswomen sail through this section of the sound. The narrowest point of the sound is Revsudden, an island that belongs to the municipality of Kalmar.
The landmark of the region attracts attention from afar: Kalmar Castle. Built in the Renaissance period, today it bears shining witness to Sweden’s eventful history in the early modern period. One or the other may be familiar with the “Kalmar Union”. It provided for the temporary union of the kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The draft treaty for this was signed in Kalmar in 1397. Among the most famous guests of the castle is Sweden’s liberator from Denmark, Gustav Wasa – a fountain and a monument are dedicated to him.
3. Sarek National Park
It doesn’t get much more grandiose, fantastic, dramatic than this in Sweden: Sarek National Park in Lapland is one of the last true wildernesses in Europe and only something for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. Because there are no designated trails and no cabins in this national park. But there are breathtaking landscapes, many mountains that crack the 2000 meter mark and over 100 glaciers. The highlight is the view into the delta of the Rapadalen (see the post picture in this article). Also the chance to see bears, lynxes or moose is quite given here.
2. Car cemetery Kyrkö Mosse
About one kilometer west of Ryd in Småland hides a truly magical place in the forest, which was created by the interaction of man and nature. Åke Danielsson put all the cars here that he cannibalized in order to recycle the individual parts that were still intact. He left the wrecks standing so that nature could take possession of them. Now they stand there, overgrown by moss and grass, and gradually decay.
The better known the car cemetery became, the more tourists came. And the more people who don’t necessarily behave responsibly. Car parts disappear and vandalism increases. So if you still want to be enchanted by the cars in the forest, you should do it in the coming years.
Österlen has a lot of history and nature to offer and is therefore equally suitable for active vacations, such as hiking vacations, as well as for a relaxing family vacation.
Visit Stenshuvud National Park, explore Stone Age objects such as the Kivik grave and visit the medieval castle Glimmingehus.
Österlen is also called the Tuscany or the Provence of Sweden. Because of the beautiful light and picturesque landscape, many artists have settled here. Every year at Easter they exhibit their works in the different villages in an “art circle”.
In Österlen there are cozy fishing villages and rolling hills with grain fields. There is very good food everywhere in the region: Fish (fresh or smoked), turkey, fruit and pastries. And surprisingly, they also grow wine in Österlen.
The region is ideal for one or the other beach trip, because there is a total of almost 50 km of beautiful sandy beaches:Haväng, Sandhammaren, Mälarhusen.