11 of the best places to visit in Sweden


Sweden has made significant contributions to the world’s cultural landscape. From incredibly successful pop acts and songwriters to silver screen auteurs and Nobel Prizes, the hits just keep on coming.

However, some of this Scandinavian nation’s greatest triumphs are tucked away behind its borders just waiting to be discovered by visitors. Stretching from the Arctic tundra of Lappland to the fertile farmlands and sandy beaches of Skåne, Europe’s fifth-largest country has something for every kind of traveler.

Chic and stylish cities packed with culture? Your options are delectable. Intriguing historic sites? Ancient civilizations await your discovery. Pristine and diverse natural landscapes? Some of the most stunning places on the planet are here. Start planning your trip now with our pick of the best places to visit in Sweden.

1. Stockholm 

Best place to delve into history, culture and nature 

Few cities blend history, culture and nature as well as Stockholm. Founded around 1252, Sweden’s capital straddles 14 islands where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. With scenic views galore, distinct neighborhoods and abundant green space, it’s a wonderful place to simply wander.

Explore the winding cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan, stroll along the waterfront boulevard Strandvägen, take a boat trip into the stunning archipelago or stop for a coffee and pastry at one of the city’s many cafés. For more focused sightseeing, Stockholm has endless attractions to keep you busy, from City Hall and the Royal Palace to top-notch museums such as Skansen, Fotografiska and Vasamuseet.

A group of female friends hanging out by a lake on sunny day
Sweden’s second city in terms of size, Gothenburg has a laidback west-coast vibe that sets it apart © Maskot / Getty Images

2. Gothenburg

Best place for a relaxed, laidback vibe

Sweden’s second city in terms of size, Göteborg, as it’s known locally, has a laidback west-coast vibe that sets it apart. Streetcars rattle past 17th-century canals, lively squares and the broad boulevard Kungsportsavenyn, lined with pubs and restaurants.

Along with verdant parks, diverse walking neighborhoods and great shopping and dining, Göteborg has an excellent city history museum and an art museum with an outstanding collection of paintings by Nordic artists. Ship lovers won’t want to miss Maritiman, where you can climb aboard vessels including a historic lightship, a submarine and a destroyer.

3. Bohuslän 

Best place for coastal scenery

Sandwiched between Göteborg and the Norwegian border, Bohuslän is an enticing mix of gorgeous coastal scenery, idyllic small towns and fascinating history.

Explore the impressive 17th-century Carlsten Fortress atop Marstrand island, ponder the mysteries of hundreds of ancient petroglyphs near Tanum, kayak the fjords around the region’s many islands, or hike a coastal trail. When your tired muscles need a rest, stop and soak up the natural beauty and lively summer atmosphere in picturesque waterfront communities, such as Smögen, Fjällbacka and Grebbestad.

6. Dalarna 

Best place to take in traditional arts and handicrafts

Few places have shaped Sweden’s international image as much as Dalarna, a region rich in cultural history and tradition. The area around Lake Siljan is a center for folk music, dance and handicrafts, including iconic wooden Dala horses, which you can see being carved and painted by hand at factories in Nusnäs.

In Falun, Sweden’s most important copper mine, which closed in 1992 after operating for a thousand years, is now a fascinating tourist attraction with underground tours. Other highlights include the homes of artists Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn and composer Hugo Alfvén. 

 

7. Uppsala

Best place to get spiritual

Uppsala has been an important center for learning, religion, culture and power for at least 1500 years. At Gamla Uppsala, north of the city center, three large royal burial mounds attest to the site’s importance in the 6th century, and its adjacent museum has fascinating exhibits about the area’s history.

In modern Uppsala, stroll along the river Fyrisån, and wander through the parks, squares and cobbled streets around the oldest university and the largest cathedral in the Nordic countries, both dating from the 15th century. Plant lovers won’t want to miss the university’s Linnaean Gardens of Uppsala, comprising a botanical garden, an orangery and a tropical greenhouse, among other attractions.

A long-distance hiker on an elevated portion of the Kungsleden hiking trail, over rocky ground in Lapland
In Lapland is Kungsleden, one of the world’s great long-distance trails © Jens Ottoson / Shutterstock

8. Lappland 

Best place to view the Northern Lights

Sweden’s far north, Lappland is a huge area, so where to go depends on your particular interests. Looking for majestic alpine scenery and wilderness hiking? The region has both in spades, including several national parks and one of the world’s great long-distance trails, Kungsleden. 

Hoping to see the Northern Lights? Abisko National Park is particularly renowned for ideal aurora conditions, though you’ll have excellent chances all over northern Sweden in autumn and winter.

Want an unusual hotel experience? Head to the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi or Treehotel in Harads. Want to learn about Scandinavia’s indigenous people? Jokkmokk is something of a Sámi capital, with an interesting cultural museum, Ájtte, and a vibrant annual winter market. 

9. Höga Kusten 

Best place to hike to great heights

Between Härnösand and Örnsköldsvik, the High Coast has been rising steadily since the end of the last Ice Age, elevating the ancient shoreline as much as 286m (938ft) above the present-day coast. Hiking trails, a chairlift and a via ferrata lead to the top of Skuleberget, which has panoramic views.

Head to Skuleskogen National Park for more hiking trails showcasing the region’s fascinating geology, or explore the lovely islands just offshore, including Ulvön and Trysunda. Further south the E4 highway crosses Sweden’s longest suspension bridge; an overlook at the north end provides views of the impressive structure.

Lush forests in Stenshuvud National Park
Skåne’s natural beauty is a huge draw for visitors © Sebw / Shutterstock

10. Skåne 

Best place to see a different side of Swedish history 

Previously a Danish county, Skåne only became a permanent part of Sweden in 1658, and the region’s unique history is evident in its distinct dialect and in the half-timbered houses of its medieval cities and towns, such as Lund and Ystad. Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, is an eclectic blend of history, culture and cutting-edge architecture, including the iconic Turning Torso. 

Skåne also has tremendous natural beauty, from the white-sand beaches of Österlen and the jagged coastline of Kullaberg to deep forests and golden agricultural landscapes with vast skies, and its many splendid castles and palaces include Sofiero – known for its beautiful gardens. 

11. Kalmar and Glasriket

Best places for historical sites and glassworks

An important town during the Middle Ages, Kalmar has one of Sweden’s finest Renaissance castles, as well as a county museum with thousands of astonishingly well-preserved artifacts recovered from the royal ship Kronan, sunk nearby in a 1676 battle.

To the west is Glasriket, a forested region known as the Kingdom of Crystal, that’s home to more than a dozen diverse glassworks, where you can watch artisans work, shop at company stores and perhaps even try your own hand at glassblowing. The most renowned, Kosta Boda, dates from 1742.

Next door, the Kosta Boda Art Hotel has gorgeous art glass everywhere, including a stunning blue-glass bar. For a completely different style, head to Malerås, which produces unique painted and engraved art glass.

A fishing village at sunrise, facing the Baltic Sea
A short free ferry ride from Gotland’s northeastern tip lies stunning, windswept Fårö, beloved by director Ingmar Bergman © Ludwig Riml / 500px

12. Gotland

Best place for a medieval adventure 

A hotly contested hub of Baltic trade for centuries, Sweden’s largest island is dotted with sheep farms, fishing villages, ancient ruins, medieval churches and sea stacks (raukar) carved by the elements into fantastical shapes. Charming Visby, the largest town, has one of Scandinavia’s best-preserved medieval cores, a largely intact city wall and an excellent museum tracing the island’s history.

A short free ferry ride from Gotland’s northeastern tip lies stunning, windswept Fårö, beloved by director Ingmar Bergman. Off Gotland’s west coast, the island of Stora Karlsö is famous for its huge seabird colonies.

13. Öland 

Best place for stark beauty

Just a bridge away from Kalmar, the long, narrow island of Öland is a world apart in terms of landscape and nature. Southern Öland has starkly beautiful scenery, with stone walls, wildflowers, windmills and rocky pastures. In the north lie Böda Sand, a spectacular, hugely popular beach, and Trollskogen, a magical forest with pine trees twisted by the elements into fantastical shapes.

Two scenic lighthouses, Långe Erik and Långe Jan, punctuate the island’s northern and southern tips respectively. Other highlights include the impressive ruins of 17th-century Borgholms Castle and the lush park at Solliden Palace, the royal family’s summer home. Öland is also one of Sweden’s top birdwatching destinations, with several nature reserves that attract both resident and migratory species.

This article was first published Feb 7, 2022 and updated Jul 11, 2024.



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