Sweden is not just known for the Nobel Prize but also for other things which the land offers endlessly to the tourists. From the Viking tradition to the rocky islands and from the snug cottages to the reindeer herders, Sweden is an absolutely marvelous tourist destination and is located in the northern part of Europe. This Scandinavian country is bordered by Finland to the east and Denmark to the southwest. It is the 3rd largest country in Europe covering an area of 450,295 square kilometers. Its total population is around 10 million.
Sweden is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy most of the southern land is inhabited by people. The capital city of Sweden is Stockholm which is also the largest in terms of area. Swedish history consists of the Norsemen and the Germanic civilizations coming together. The independent Swedish state emerged during the 12th and 13th century. In the 14th century, the state lost half of its population due to Black Death after which the Kalmar Union was formed to hold the administration together. When Sweden got involved in the Thirty Years War, it territories began expanding forming the Swedish Empire. Sweden became extremely powerful during the 18th century.
Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 but declined the member of NATO and Eurozone. It is an active member of the Nordic Council, United Nations, World Trade Organization, and Council of Europe. Sweden provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. It is one of the leading nations in the world in terms of quality of life, education, health, civil liberty protection, equality, prosperity, human development and economic competitiveness.
Sweden has a beautiful landscape with sea, land, and forests. The highest point in Sweden is Kebnekaise at 2,111 meters above the sea level and its lowest point is in the Bay of Lake Hammarsjon at -2.41 meters below sea level. The state experiences temperate climate making it an absolute favorite with the tourists. The southernmost part experiences an oceanic climate while the central part has humid continental climate and the northernmost past experiences subarctic climate but overall the climate is mild and the weather pleasant. The highest temperature recorded in Sweden was 38 degree Celsius in Malila whereas the lowest in -52 degree Celsius in Vuoggatjalme.
Sweden has nothing that can be called boring. Everything from homes to restaurants and cafes is so nicely decorated and maintained that it feels like you are going through the pages of a fashion magazine. However, there is a touch of subtly in everything they do. If you really wish to appreciate the charm of Sweden, you must visit the countryside as it offers so many different activities like skating, boating, skiing, cycling, camping, and hiking. You can also pick mushrooms and indulge in fishing through the entire day. The Sami tribe still exists in the northern part of the country and their lifestyle, culture and culinary styles can become a point of exploration for travelers.
Attractions and Activities
Sweden is a land steeped in its historical tradition and thus has huge stone-ship settings and burial mounds dotting the land. Medieval cities with fortresses are frequently found at any point. Vikings have been the most illustrious part of Swedish history and the ruins are so distinct and conspicuous that you will feel and recognize the impact of it on Swedish landscape and the city’s architecture and lifestyle in general. Also, the museums will explain in detail about the glorious Swedish history. You can easily get lost on the meandering roads of historical Sweden and forget about time and space. Some of the best attractions are
This is a beautiful palace located in Gamla Stan. It took 57 years to complete under Nicodemus Tessin. This is the world’s largest royal castle with 608 rooms and the highlight is Karl XI Gallery. It is a government building and features exquisite examples of rococo and baroque interiors. There are 45-minute guided tours for tourists daily and the admission to the Museum Tre Kronor is through this palace only. The museum of antiquities and the Royal Treasury are also situated inside this imposing structure. The ‘changing of guards’ ceremony is a site which takes place in the outer courtyard for 6 days at 12.15pm.
Abisko can easily be called the painting world of Sweden except for the fact that all the colors are natural. It is the most loved place in Lapland with spectacular scenery and the National Park which covers an area of 75 square kilometers. There is a natural gateway to the Lapland formed by 2 mountains which have legendary status. This is basically a hiking zone with the driest weather in entire Sweden, during the winter months this place is crowded because of the Northern Lights which is absolutely spellbinding.
The Turning Torso
Turning Torso at Malmo designed by Santiago Calatrava holds the crown of being the world’s first twisting skyscraper and is also the tallest building in Sweden standing tall at 190 meters.
This is an interesting sight because it holds Europe’s most precise electron microscope. This instrument is extremely sensitive to sounds, electromagnetic fields, and vibrations thus requiring a separate building made of titanium to protect it. This amazing construction can be found inside the campus premises of Linkoping University.
The Nimis is an art installation on a specific site which is slightly controversial. It features towers of 25-meters height and 100-meters wide forming an artificial playground displaying marvelous architectural capacity. Viewers can either climb into the buildings or derive pleasure just by watching this grand structure from the beach at Kullaberg.
This is the world’s longest cable-tied rail bridge and Vehicle Bridge connecting Sweden with Denmark. Designed by COWI this bridge was finished in 1990 and has won the IABSE Outstanding Structure Award in 2002.
Among the most favorite activities in Sweden is visiting the Emporia Mall which appears like a huge golden chasm with bold colors. There are houses, offices and of course retail outlets featured inside which is a favorite place of the natives and the tourists to visit. Also, Sweden is quite famous for its concerts particularly taking place inside the Uppsala Konsert & Kongress which was opened in 2007.
If you wish to be outside, then either go for fishing or picking herbs and become a part of the Swedish lunch or dinner inside the woods; it is beautiful, refreshing and exciting as well. Sweden is also the gaming hub which has created games like Battlefield and Candy Crush Saga. Not just the computer games, Swedish people love to sweat it out in the fields and thus participate in almost all kinds of field sports as well.
Food and Culture
Swedish food and culture are intricately related to each other. Their cuisine is simple and they love to keep it like that in general though some experiments have been done recently. The Swedish love lingonberry jam which they use in anything from meatballs to pancakes. Black pudding is also among Swedish delicacy. Meatballs are the most popular Swedish dish along with sausages with salmon. Pickled herring is another favorite of the natives which can be served with cheese, boiled ages, and crisp bread or with sour cream. Smorgas or open sandwiches are their favorite snack food and the Swedes can have it with a combination of fillings like lettuce, tomato, cucumber, boiled ages and even fish. Shrimp sandwiches are popular as well.
Pea soup and pancakes are filling and on the days they do not eat meat, they fill their stomach on pancakes and pea soups. The green princess cake or the Prinsesstarta iced with bright pink sugar rose is their favorite dessert delicacy. This cake has a special place in Sweden’s food history and 3rd week of September is dedicated to this cake. It is also eaten during special festivals. Crayfish parties are common in August and are fondly known as Norway lobster. Such parties are held in gardens and also on balconies all over Sweden. The Swedes are also fond of sweets. The average Swedish family loves sweets and on Saturday they follow a tradition of eating sweets.
Cost and Living Expenses
The currency of Sweden is Kronor and the state accommodates people of all budgetary groups. If your budget is around 1000kr, you can rent a dorm bed at 250-450kr followed by fast food meal with 65-85kralong with a 24-hour bus and metro service for 120kr. You will also get admission to museums for 100kr. If the budget is between 1000-2000kr then a double bedroom in a midrange hotel will cost around 1000kr-1500kr and you can opt for happy hour beer for 55-75kr and a tasty meal at midrange restaurant with 100-295kr before heading back to your accommodation in the metro at 240kr. For those who do not care about budget, renting a double bedroom with all facilities will cost 1600-2600kr along with dinner and drinks at an up-class restaurant at 360-600kr and hire a taxi at 520kr. Tipping in Sweden is rare.
Best Time to Go
The low season of visiting Sweden is from November to May which is practically the winters. However, for the enthusiasts, it could the time for adventure sports and the play of Northern lights. However, many hotels are closed during this time. The shoulder season is between September and October where some tourist spots are closed but you can book hotels at normal rates and enjoy other spots. The high season is during midsummer from June to August as the weather is warm at this time and the majority of sites are open. However, some shops and restaurants can be closed during this time also.
Must-Dos in Sweden
Shopping in Sweden can be ethereal because they do everything is style; a style that is totally different from others. Shopping at Svenskt Tenn is like roaming around inside a designer museum. This is an iconic store where you will get signature fabrics and furniture of Joseph Frank. If you wish to buy Sami souvenirs, then the best place is Arctic Glass on E45 which sells glass products in Sami inspired designs. Goblets, bowls, wine glasses, candle holders and much other stuff are available here. Visiting Kiruna during winter months is an excellent idea. The place offers excellent hiking facility along with other adventure sports. Definitely, take the ghost walk tour in the old town of Stockholm. It is a 2hours walking tour which includes visiting the forgotten courtyards, deserted alleyways, and empty streets and feeling the chill. You will feel the myths, legends, and mysteries coming alive; this is not for the faint-hearted.
For the music lovers, you can either watch concerts inside Dalhalla Opera or Malmo Live. For all the ABBA fans, do visit the Abba Museum in Stockholm and become the Dancing Queen personified. There are also multiple tours to the forests of Sweden where you can witness the drama queen of the forest, the moose. One of the best Swedish magic can be experienced at the Icehotel in the northern part of the state. The entire hotel is made of ice and they provide thermal sleeping bags there. Staying at this hotel and enjoying the celestial play of greenish-yellow lights swirling across the sky is something absolutely unique to this land. Simply lay back and enjoy the spectacle.
Also, do not forget to stay at the Mirrorcube which is a Treehotel in Sweden. They offer a magical stay at the tree-houses with all the modern facilities for the guests. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. While you are enjoying your sojourn, visit the Globe which is the world’s largest spherical building with a diameter of 110 meters. The ancient town of Visby offers a fantastic rewind of history through the Gotland Museum which displays relics from the 8th century. Tombs, human skeletons, picture stones, sculptures of wood are preserved inside it.
If you wish to get a taste similar to visiting Sweden, any of northern European countries can provide that.