Tranquil, unique and filled with impeccable design and some of the unspoiled landscapes and cities on the planet, Sweden is truly unlike any other place. Home to Abba, Ikea. and Volvo the country also boasts endless deep green forests, crystal-clear lakes, snow-capped peaks, hundreds of thousands of exquisite islands, Northern Lights, and some of the purest air you’ll ever breathe. There’s just something about those dreamy Nordic countries that always seem to draw me in and capture my heart, here are my best and most beautiful places to visit in Sweden…
Swedish Archipelago – one of the most stunning places to explore in Sweden
Stretching across the Swedish coastline from the Lapland in the north to the deep south and west, the Swedish Archipelago comprises thousands of tiny idyllic islands and is definitely one of the most scenic places to explore in Sweden. In the north, the archipelago group of islands near the cities of Lulea and Pitea, lie in the Gulf of Bothnia and are renowned for their natural, undisturbed beauty.
On the south and south-east coast lies 10,000 islands of the archipelago near the coastal towns of Västervik, Mönsterås, and Kalmar. The Blekinge archipelago is made up of literally 1,53580 islands and islets! However, the most famous region of the Swedish archipelagos is in the western – near the metropolitan cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Öland is the biggest island in the group and is a popular summer destination for tourists and locals alike. The bright sun, beautiful sea, and soft sandy beaches make the perfect combination for a summer vacation. Öland is also known for its windmills, cultural heritage, and ancient sites like the Borgholm Castle.
Recommended read: Nordic dreams – a local’s life in Sweden
Old Town, Stockholm – one of the best areas to visit in Sweden
Stockholm’s beautiful Old Town, also called the Gamla Stan, is historically the original city centre. Dating back to the 13th-century, the town is made up of medieval cobbled streets and archaic architecture. It is hard to believe that the Old Town was once considered a slum when it is one of the most sought-after addresses today.
Today, the Old Town is a bustling area of Stockholm, filled with cute cafés, excellent restaurants, boutique stores, tourist shops, art galleries, and museums. Museums in this area include the Nobel Prize Museum, the Post Museum, and the Royal Coin Cabinet in the National Museums of Economy. Stortorget is the main public square of the Old Town and contains the Stockholm Cathedral, Riddarholm Church, the Royal Chapel (Storkyrkan), the beautifully-designed baroque-style Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet).
Don’t forget to check out the 15cm tiny but popular sculpture of Järnpojke or Iron Boy, located near the Stockholm Palace. The sculpture is rumored to bring good luck to anyone who caresses the boy’s head or offers small gifts to him!
Swedish Lapland – a culture-rich magical wonderland
Unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before, the Swedish Lapland and its natural beauty present the most incredible holiday destination and is one of the most stunning places to visit in Sweden. This land of the Midnight Sun and Northern Lights is home to snow-covered mountains, pristine forests, wild rivers, and scenic archipelagos.
Besides its unparalleled natural beauty, the Lapland region offers an extensive range of outdoor adventure activities such as hiking and trekking in the summer to Nordic skiing, tobogganing, and snowshoeing in the winter. The Lapland offers unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences like mountain glamping, viewing the Aurora Borealis, staying in an ice-hotel or igloo, spotting reindeers, swimming in the frozen arctic circle, hot air balloon rides, learning about the Sami culture, and trying their authentic cuisine.
This winter paradise is also known for its mesmerizing beauty and unforgettable experiences – definitely a place in Sweden worth visiting!
Visby – one of the most remarkable towns in the Nordic countries
Located on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, Visby is a pretty coastal town, known for its well-preserved medieval town-wall and is definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sweden. The fortified ring wall is 3.5 kms long with many of its original 12th-century towers still maintained.
Extremely popular amongst locals, this fairy-tale town is a national treasure, and UNESCO World Heritage site. Offering history and heritage, picturesque nature and outdoor activities, world-class food, or relaxing beach getaway, the town of Visby is known to have“outstanding universal value.”
Visby’s gorgeous coastline is home to numerous beaches and bathing spots. The island town also grows truffles in the late autumn months – and truffle hunting is a must-try experience if you visit Visby town during truffle season.
Malmö – a pretty coastal city which is home to historic buildings and parks
Situated at the eastern end of the striking Öresund Bridge, Malmö is the largest city in the Swedish county (län) of Skåne and the third largest in all of Sweden. This coastal city in the South beautifully combines the charisma and culture of the old-world with the modern and metropolitan trends of today. Located at the center of the city is the Old Town, consisting of 2 districts that are filled with art and history.
Stortorget is the oldest and largest public square. Surrounded by beautiful 16th-century architecture, the vibrant area of Stortorget remains the centre of activity and is crowded with restaurants, cafes, and shops. It also hosts Malmö’s oldest building, the 14th-century Saint Peter’s Church. This iconic Gothic church is artistically designed and covered with magnificent late-medieval paintings.
Recommended read: In pictures: exploring beautiful West Sweden
Koster Islands – for tranquil beauty and impossibly scenic sights
A well-established holiday destination this place in Sweden is both peaceful and seriously dreamy. Easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sweden., The Koster Island’s archipelago is made up of many smaller islands surrounding the two largest islands, South Koster and North Koster. Known to be one of Sweden’s sunniest places, Kosher and its lovely coast offer the perfect vacation getaway. Besides white beaches and sunshine, Kosher’s summer activities include kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, swimming and snorkeling, music festivals, sighting seal colonies, etc.
The stunning Koster Islands and their surrounding Kosterhavet Marine National Park offer amazing opportunities for a wide range of outdoor adventures as well as car-free, serene scenery inside the National Park. The area is also known for its finger-licking seafood from local fishermen.
Uppsala – a vibrant and attractive university town
Located north of Stockholm, Uppsala is a lively university town known for its historic academic significance and is one of the best places to visit in Sweden. Often called the Cambridge of Sweden, Uppsala is a remarkable town filled with modern academic innovation and incredible historic beauty.
Founded in the 15th century, Uppsala University is the oldest university in Sweden. Its library is home to the 6th century Silver Bible, one of the world’s oldest and most extensive Gothic codices. Uppsala Cathedral, Uppsala Castle and its royal grounds, Uppsala Art Museum, House of Peace, and Vasaborgen are some other major attractions. Hammarby, nearby, boasts 40 ‘Linnaean plants’ by renowned Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus. Visit Uppsala and travel back in time to the Iron Age and the Viking Era.
The High Coast – a UNESCO site known for its unique and highly scenic landscapes
Part of the Gulf of Bothnia, in the Ångermanland province of north-east Sweden is the High Coast or Höga Kusten that compromises steep red granite cliffs and sharp rocky islands rising from the sea.
Formed over 9000 years ago through a combination of glaciation and glacial retreat from the last Ice Age, the High Coast is moving vertically upwards, boasting an approximate 295m rise. The High Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for unique highland beauty and iconic seascape. The region offers a 40km long hike that is the second-largest hike in Sweden, attracting hundreds of travellers from all over the world. Throughout the hike, you can also find unique architectural artworks that showcase the cultural beauty of this region.
Marstrand – Sweden’s beautiful sailing capital
Known as Sweden’s sailing capital, Marstrand lies in the far west out at sea and is a wonderful destination to explore in Sweden. This seaside town offers incredible sailing and swimming opportunities. The beautiful coastal scenery is home to a harbour packed with all kinds of boats and a neighbourhood that is car-free.
Along with its array of water-related activities, Marstrand has a fascinating history and numerous monumental sights including the Strandverket Konsthall Art Museum that displays photography and sculpture. Carlsten Fortress hosts fortress games and a summer festival. This 13th-century sailing town offers world-class restaurants and boutique shopping – another reason why it’s so popular amongst tourists.
Recommended read: Learning to Sea Kayak on the West Swedish Coast
Øresund Bridge – the amazing bridge which connects Sweden and Denmark
The longest combined road and rail bridge in Europe, the Øresund Bridge is a combined railway and motorway bridge across the Øresund strait between Sweden and Denmark. The bridge, stretching across almost 16 kilometres, consists of three sections: a bridge, an artificial island, and a tunnel, and is jointly operated by the neighbouring states from both countries.
The iconic Øresund Bridge was designed by George K.S. Rotne, as a solution for the issues of transporting passengers and freight between the two countries. Because of the link, it is now possible to live on one side of Øresund and work on the other.
Besides creating an unbelievably effective link, the Øresund’s artificial island of Peberholm has become more than just a connection between the bridge and tunnel. Its natural environment has flourished, undisturbed by man, making it a breeding ground for birds, rare green toads, spiders, and insects. The island has become a haven for biologists from Denmark and Sweden and the Øresund Bridge, a must-see sight to visit.
Smögen – one of the liveliest summer towns on the Swedish west coast
Lying on the Swedish west coast, Smögen is popularly known as “Sweden’s liveliest summer town”, and rightly so. A visit to this small but vibrant island town guarantees a good time. Technically an island, Smögen is so close to the mainland that it’s connected to it by an enormous spanning bridge.
The Smögen Pier (Smögenbryggan) is a 1000 m long wooden waterside walk, buzzing with fashionable crowds in fancy restaurants and cozy cafes. Vallevik, at the end of the pier, is an attractive spot for swimming and sunbathing. Known for its sophisticated fun, Smögen is famous for sailing, motorboating, diving, and other luxury water sports. The party continues at world-class nightclubs as Smögen offers a happening nightlife.
Besides having a reputation as a rich party-town, Smögen is in fact a very picturesque island town. The town is filled with rows of fishermen’s cottages and a labyrinth stairway that leads to gorgeous summer gardens. Definitely one of the best destinations to explore in Sweden!
Lake Vanern – one of the most beautiful lakes to explore in Sweden
As the biggest lake in Sweden and the EU, Vänern is as good as a small sea. This magnificent water body presents breathtaking natural beauty with its wide sandy beaches, shallow coves, shoreline meadows, swamp forests, and barren cliffs. The lake contains 22,000 islands and islets and hosts rare bird species and exotic wildlife. Besides bird watching and appreciating nature, Vänern has plenty of activities.
Swimming is popular in Bomstad and Skutberget, cliff jumping and relaxing on the beach are common in the archipelago off Kristinehamn, which even has a Picasso sculpture, and kayaking, canoeing, and boat cruises are offered throughout the lake. Besides fun-filled nature experiences, the culture and culinary experiences around Lake Vänern make it a tourist favorite and one of the best places to visit in Sweden.
Gotland – Sweden’s largest island
Gotland is a large island province in the Baltic Sea. Best known for its sea stacks, which originate from when Gotland was located near the equator, Gotland is home to numerous beautiful towns and remarkable sights. The Hanseatic town of Visby and its fortified city wall is the most famous of all its towns. Its most popular iconic 10 m tall sea stacks are located at Langhammars on the island Fårö. The Lummelunda Cave is an intriguing cave with stalagmites, stalactites, and interesting fossils.
The Gotland Museum holds a collection of unique picture stones, gold and silver treasures, authentic medieval interiors, and 8000 years of rich history from the Stone Age, Viking Age, the Middle Ages until present times. And for an additional dose of history, visit the island of churches that contains 92 medieval churches!
Sigtuna – a picturesque lakeside town steeped in Swedish history
Situated to the northwest of Stockholm, Sigtuna is a quaint town known for the stone ruins of St. Olaf’s, St. Lawrence’s and St. Peter’s medieval churches. Besides the fascinating rune stones, Sigtuna’s ancient history makes it a popular attraction to explore in Sweden.
Founded around AD 980, this historically significant village of Sigtuna is the oldest surviving town in Sweden. As Sweden’s first town, it truly displays Sweden’s rich history, authentic culture, and original architecture. Sigtuna is a small-scale and pedestrian-friendly village, with a cobbled main street called Storgatan and cute wooden buildings by Lake Mälaren. The town has a selection of restaurants, hotels, shops as well as a museum and the Skokloster Castle is located nearby.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Sweden?
This Nordic country is a year-round destination, with something to offer everyone. If you’re looking for natural beauty, pristine landscapes, and picturesque villages, then summer is the time to go. However, if you want to see the auroras Borealis – or northern lights – then winter is the best time to visit.
I hope this has been a helpful look into the unique and beautiful country of Sweden. As you can see, there are many places to explore in this incredible land with so much culture and natural beauty just waiting for you to discover it. If any of these destinations inspire your next vacation or escape plan – keep me posted! I’d love to hear about all your adventures.
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My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.