If you want to spend your vacation outdoors, surrounded by beauty everywhere you look, put Sweden at the top of your travel destination shortlist! With glistening lakes for kayaking, wide-open spaces for wandering, snow-dusted mountains for skiing, and white sandy beaches for camping, the Nordic paradise shows off nature at its finest.
Spend some time in the cities, and you’ll discover a whole new side of Sweden. Rainbows of colorful houses lining the water’s edge, remarkable palaces that invite you to explore, sustainable restaurants run by forward-thinking chefs, and designer outlets filled with glamorous treasures are just some of the things you can expect here.
Whatever you’re into, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Sweden. Visit in summer to celebrate the summer solstice, go wild swimming in refreshing lakes, and amble in giant green parks. Then return in winter for the chance to experience dog sledding, stay in an ice hotel, and hunt for the elusive Northern Lights.
With so many fantastic things to see and do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Sweden. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Sweden bucket list, and you’re sure to have an amazing time exploring one of the most beautiful and enchanting places in the world.
- 25 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Sweden
- 1. Experience the East and West Coming Together at ReOrient Festival
- 2. Explore the Very First Open-Air Museum in the World
- 3. Gorge on Authentic Swedish Meatballs
- 4. Spend the Night in a Magical Ice Hotel
- 5. Unleash Your Cultural Side with Parkteatern
- 6. Go Skinny Dipping in the Sea
- 7. Step Back in Time and Experience Viking Life
- 8. Brush Up on Your History Knowledge at the Vasa Museum
- 9. Walk Through a Blue Whale
- 10. Discover Sweden’s Traditional Sami Culture
- 11. Enjoy the Best Summer Flavors at a Crayfish Party
- 12. Enjoy a Sauna Inside a Golden Egg
- 13. Explore Sweden’s Gorgeous Archipelago by Boat
- 14. Become an Art Lover at Fotografiska
- 15. Check Out the Only Twisting Tower in the World
- 16. Transform into ABBA
- 17. Test Your Taste Buds with Pickled Herring
- 18. Explore the Many Rooms Inside Drottningholm Palace
- 19. Discover Exotic Species at the Kolmarden Wildlife Park
- 20. Sip Swedish Snaps
- 21. Visit Underground Art Galleries
- 22. Gaze at Giant Water Lilies at the Victoriahuset
- 23. Go Apple Picking at the Kivik Apple Market Festival
- 24. Wander Through the Ancient Streets of Gamla Stan
- 25. Seek Out the Northern Lights
- Frequently Asked Questions
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25 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Sweden
1. Experience the East and West Coming Together at ReOrient Festival
One of the coolest things to do in Sweden is to check out the ReOrient Festival. This one-of-a-kind festival celebrates the absolute best music, dance, and cultural performances from the East and West.
The festival is a great way to discover new things you never knew you liked. Exotic instruments, different melodies, original costumes, and offbeat choreography make the ReOrient Festival a feast for the senses.
In addition to the spectacular shows, the festival also highlights Arab club culture. This specialist way of life involves bringing people together to exchange ideas and discuss important events.
To help raise awareness and encourage people to take action, educational seminars and talks about current affairs in the Middle East are also held. It’s a really accessible and understandable way of learning about what’s going on in the world.
Everything takes place in the stunning Södra Teatern in the center of Stockholm. The program usually takes place in March, although the dates sometimes change. Check the website to confirm the dates before making any arrangements.
2. Explore the Very First Open-Air Museum in the World
If you love doing things you can’t do anywhere else while on vacation, you’ve got to pay a visit to Skansen while in Sweden. This charming place is the oldest open-air museum in the world and is a fascinating place to explore.
Skansen was opened in 1891 by academic and visionary teacher Artur Hazelius. He came up with the idea when looking for ways to show future generations what normal life was like in Sweden before it was completely transformed by the Industrial Age.
The giant museum covers over 74 acres (30 hectares) and is absolutely packed with rural scenes that look so perfect you’ll struggle to believe they’re real. You’ll find more than 150 buildings here that were collected from all over Sweden and rebuilt inside Skansen.
Wandering through the reimagined streets, between town districts, past manor houses, alongside churches, and inside bakeries really helps you dream up what life was like back then. You’ll even see members of staff dressed in period costumes going about their everyday lives.
3. Gorge on Authentic Swedish Meatballs
Trying real Swedish meatballs is one of the must-do things in Sweden you can’t possibly miss out on. These mouthfuls of deliciousness are made from a combination of ground pork and veal mixed with eggs, cream or milk, breadcrumbs, and yummy seasonings. They’re similar to IKEA meatballs but so much better!
Authentic Swedish meatballs are usually served with creamy mashed potatoes, a rich meaty gravy, tart lingonberry jam, and pickled cucumber. Because it’s so popular, you’ll find this classic dish on almost every restaurant menu throughout the country. You’ll also find food kiosks in major cities selling take-out versions.
We recommend ordering some meatballs from Bakifickan. This chain is incredible, and they’ve got restaurants all over Sweden, including in Stockholm and Visby. Here they pay just as much attention to the sides as they do the meatballs, creating a delicious and well-rounded meal you’ll never want to end.
If you want to try traditional Swedish meatballs with a twist, visit Meatballs for the People. This trendy restaurant serves different variations of the classic dish, including meatballs made from beef, salmon, and elk.
4. Spend the Night in a Magical Ice Hotel
Sleeping in a hotel where almost everything is made from ice isn’t only one of the most unique things to do in Sweden. It’s one of the most unique things to do in the world!
The invigorating waters of the Torne River freeze and turn into ice each winter. And every year since 1989, incredibly talented designers, architects, and carvers have come together to hand-sculpt the ice and transform the ice into the Icehotel.
Open throughout the coldest season of the year (December-April), Icehotel is the first and largest hotel made from snow and ice in the world. From the beds in the guest rooms to the glasses in the bar, practically everything here is made out of ice. Don’t worry about a chilly night – all guest rooms are equipped with reindeer hides and thermal sleeping bags to keep you warm.
For an experience you’ll never forget, stay in one of the Art Suites. Each of these stunning rooms is unique and boasts dramatic ice and snow sculptures made by artists from around the world. After the ice melts, the room is gone forever, making your experience truly one-of-a-kind.
5. Unleash Your Cultural Side with Parkteatern
Summer is a wonderful time to visit Sweden for so many reasons. If you’re planning to visit Stockholm between June and September, you’ve got to check out Parkteatern.
This annual cultural event takes place in many different public spots throughout Sweden’s capital. The best bit? All the shows are totally free! This makes Parkteatern a great activity if you’ve got a small budget to work with.
From famous musicals, dance performances, and music concerts to instrumental shows, theatrical plays, and children’s presentations, there’s absolutely loads going on throughout the festival.
Many of the performances take place in parks, so you can enjoy the cool evening air while indulging your cultural side. Because entry is free, Parkteatern is incredibly popular. If there’s a performance you don’t want to miss, it’s worth packing a picnic, getting there early, and making a full day of it.
The dates, locations, and lineup change every year. So to make sure you don’t miss out on anything fun, have a look at the official website to see what’s happening when you’re in Stockholm.
6. Go Skinny Dipping in the Sea
One of the most fun things to do in Sweden is to strip off and plunge into the icy waters of the Baltic Sea. If you’re up for the challenge, make plans to visit Ribersborgs Kallbadhus, an open-air bathhouse that was built way back in 1898.
This dazzling bathhouse is located at the end of a jetty and enjoys fantastic views across the sea over to Copenhagen, Denmark. The main part of the bathhouse is divided into two naked saunas: one for men and one for women.
For a small set price, you can relax for as long as you like in the sauna. If you’re really feeling brave, you can leave the comforting warmth of the sauna and jump into the icy-cold sea! It’s not every day you get the chance to go skinny dipping in the Baltic Sea, so it’s definitely worth a shot.
For an even more relaxing experience, you can enjoy a massage at the bathhouse while you take in the beautiful views. Before you leave, don’t forget to stop at the café for a drink and the chance to reflect on your unique experience.
7. Step Back in Time and Experience Viking Life
Walking through the streets of Visby is like stepping through the pages of a fairytale book. The captivating town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site hidden away on Gotland Island, where time seems to move at a slower pace.
The charming medieval town dates back to the 12th century and is protected by a well-preserved ancient wall that incorporates strong defensive towers. Centuries-old churches, picture-perfect beaches, bustling town squares, and a fascinating museum home to countless antiquities are just some of the things you’ll find here.
When you get hungry, stop by a local cafe and order some saffron pancakes. This local specialty is made by combining almonds, rice, saffron, milk, sugar, cream, and eggs. The mixture is then baked until it’s light, fluffy, and simply delicious.
If you can, plan to visit Visby during Medieval Week in August. During this spectacular celebration, you’ll have the chance to see jousting tournaments, witness amazing fire shows, go shopping at medieval markets, and watch parades that show what life was like during Viking times.
8. Brush Up on Your History Knowledge at the Vasa Museum
If the weather takes a turn for the worse, one of the best things to do in Sweden is to seek shelter inside the Vasa Museum. This fascinating attraction boasts all kinds of engrossing displays, which will have you captivated for hours.
The highlight of the museum is the Vasa – a giant 17th-century ship. The magnificent vessel was once owned by King Gustavus Adolphus. While the all-conquering king had great plans for the ship, it sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628.
For hundreds of years, the Vasa remained underwater. But in 1961, it was salvaged and returned to the surface. Experts then carefully restored the ship back to its original glory and kept it safe inside the Vasa Museum.
As well as the marvelous ship that the museum is named after, the Vasa Museum also boasts a host of intriguing artifacts which were discovered when the ship was saved. The almost forgotten treasures are on display across 10 exhibition rooms, giving you a great idea of what life was like on the Vasa.
9. Walk Through a Blue Whale
There’s only one place in the world where you can step through the body of a blue whale – the Natural History Museum in Gothenburg. The young blue whale was beached in 1865, a time when such creatures were slaughtered instead of rescued.
After the whale had been killed, taxidermist and curator of the Gothenburg Natural History Museum, August Wilhelm Malm, bought the whale and transported it to his museum, where it would become the main attraction.
The whale is separated into two parts. Its skin is tightly stretched over a wooden frame, making it look like a real, intact blue whale. To the side of the skin lies the whale’s skeleton, which is staggeringly huge.
The whale’s jaw is hinged, and on special occasions, it’s opened and you can walk through the mouth into the belly. Unlike what you may expect, the belly of the whale is quite a pleasant, cozy place, outfitted with benches, carpets, and wall hangings. If you’re looking for unique Sweden attractions, this is it!
10. Discover Sweden’s Traditional Sami Culture
Visiting a Sami village is one of the most incredible Sweden activities you can do during your trip. The Sami people are Sweden’s indigenous people who lead culturally rich and sustainable lives as close to nature as possible.
A lot of the Sami population live in the vast Swedish Lapland area in the north, and you can spend a day with them as part of a tour to learn more about the way they live. Although their lives are much more modern than they used to be, their everyday habits and lifestyle choices are still based on their ancestors who lived centuries ago.
Most tours begin at a Sami camp where you can spend a few hours around the fire, enjoying traditional Sami food and enjoying piping hot coffee. Local people will tell you fascinating stories about their families and surprise you with their day-to-day lives.
You’ll get to see impressive reindeer herds up close and may even get to ride on one, depending on the tour. Some tours also include a husky sleigh ride, which is something you’ve absolutely got to experience at some point in your life!
11. Enjoy the Best Summer Flavors at a Crayfish Party
If you’re visiting Sweden in August or September, you’ll seriously be missing out if you don’t attend a crayfish party. One of the best ways to spend a lazy summer day in a city park, crayfish parties (kräftskivor in Swedish) are incredibly popular at this time of year and mark the end of the season.
During crayfish parties, big groups of locals gather together at parks and other open spaces with glowing lights and party hats, making the most of the final balmy evenings. To celebrate, huge pots of crayfish are boiled up along with dill, salt, and beer.
After they’re cooked, the crayfish are chilled until they reach the perfect texture and temperature. As soon as they’re ready, you devour them straight from the shell.
If you don’t have any local friends, you may find it a little tricky to join in with a crayfish party. But don’t worry – there are plenty of other places you can try the seafood delicacy.
B.A.R. in Stockholm is one of our favorite places for crayfish. Here you can select the crayfish you want to eat directly from the counter and watch as the chef cooks them for you right in front of your eyes.
12. Enjoy a Sauna Inside a Golden Egg
A sauna is one of the things to do in Sweden you can’t miss out on. If you’re looking for a sauna with a difference, check out the Solar Egg. Hidden away in Kiruna, one of the northernmost towns in the country, the Solar Egg looks like a bizarre art gallery installation, but it’s actually one of the most incredible saunas in Sweden.
Located in the middle of a dramatic field of snow, the egg glistens in the sunshine and is made up of shiny golden plates put together in a geometric design. Step inside the golden egg, and you’ll discover a surprisingly spacious sauna complete with a wood-burning stove built in the shape of a human heart.
There’s a small window so you can gaze at the snowy landscape outside while you relax. If you get too hot, you may not be able to go for a dip in the sea like you can in many of Sweden’s saunas. But you can have an invigorating roll around in the snow!
13. Explore Sweden’s Gorgeous Archipelago by Boat
Sweden is made up of thousands of islands of all different sizes and shapes. Comprised of almost 30,000 individual islands, the archipelago to the East of Stockholm is the largest one in the country.
This archipelago is almost too beautiful to be true. Bursting with natural wonder in the form of sandy beaches, dense woodland, and rocky cliffs, this part of the country is almost entirely untouched and unspoiled.
If you’ve got enough time, we definitely recommend exploring some of the biggest islands separately. But if you’re short on time, you can still experience the stunning island by signing up for a boat tour.
There are loads of boat trips to choose from. To really get the most out of your tour, we suggest going on a boat trip that’s at least 2.5 hours long. This way you’ll get to see some of the islands that are further away from the mainland than the others. The further away you go, the more pristine and alluring the islands become.
14. Become an Art Lover at Fotografiska
If you think you’re not into art or photography, a trip to Fotografiska will totally change your mind. One of the best Sweden attractions to check out while you’re in Stockholm, Fotografiska is a contemporary photography art gallery set inside a repurposed customs building at the water’s edge in Södermalm.
Every year, the gallery’s exhibitions are divided into four sections, each of which is dedicated to a single photographer. In the past, the museum has featured the work of Irving Penn, Robert Mapplethorpe, Akseli Valmunen, and Guy Bourdin.
You never know whose work will be on display during your visit. But you can be certain that it will be incredibly varied and captivating, highlighting many different styles and techniques.
In addition to the art displays, Fotografiska also hosts amazing music events throughout the year. Take a look at the gallery’s website to find out if there’s anything fun happening during your visit.
15. Check Out the Only Twisting Tower in the World
For some of the best sights in Sweden, head to the top of the Turning Torso in Malmö. This unique tower has three claims to fame: it’s the only twisting tower in the world, it’s the second-tallest residential building in Europe, and it’s the tallest skyscraper in Scandinavia.
An incredible work of art, the Turning Torso features a white façade and many tiny windows that wind their way into the sky. The mesmerizing structure twists 90 degrees between the bottom and the top.
Its unique design makes the building look almost impossible, but it definitely exists! If you manage to tear your eyes away from the one-of-a-kind tower, head inside and take the elevator to the top.
As it’s full of residential homes, conference rooms, and meeting rooms, the Turning Torso is off-limits to the public for most of the year. But there are currently plans underway to organize guided tours ASAP so you can explore the inside of the tower and admire the amazing views from the top.
16. Transform into ABBA
When you think of Swedish music artists who made it big, ABBA probably pops into your mind. While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see the upbeat group perform during your visit, you can turn yourself into ABBA and pretend to be a pop star for the day!
A visit to the ABBA Museum in Stockholm is one of the top things to do in Sweden. The interactive museum encourages you to get involved and have a great time by virtually trying on classic ABBA costumes. You’ll get to sing, dance, and perform virtually alongside the four original members – you’ll essentially become the fifth member of Abba.
You’ll also get to check out fantastic exhibits filled with costumes worn by the artists, as well as trinkets and stories from their childhoods. Grab one of the audio guides, and you’ll get to hear ABBA guiding you through the museum, telling you all kinds of secrets and tales.
17. Test Your Taste Buds with Pickled Herring
Pickled herring is an essential part of Swedish cuisine that dates back centuries when pickling was one of the few ways of making fresh food last through the winter months. Although there are plenty of ways to preserve food today, pickled herring still remains a popular favorite among locals.
The pickling juice used to make pickled herring includes water, strong vinegar, salt, and various different spices. Small additions are sometimes made to the traditional recipe to make specialties such as mustard herring, onion herring, and soused herring. Some restaurants take things a step further and make intriguing concoctions like ginger and chili herring!
In Sweden, pickled herring is usually served along with soft-boiled potatoes, tangy sour cream, and finely chopped chives. Although, you’ll often find it as part of a mixed smorgasbord, too.
If you want to try pickled herring in a number of different ways, head to Stockholms Gästabud. This fantastic restaurant dishes up an excellent appetizer made up of three different types of herring. They’re all served with crispy Swedish cumin crispbread, local cheese, and a boiled egg.
18. Explore the Many Rooms Inside Drottningholm Palace
For some of the best Sweden sightseeing opportunities, head to Drottningholm Palace. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the royal residence of the king and queen of Sweden, making it an incredibly important and culturally valuable building.
Although you can’t visit the part of the palace where the royals live, you can tour the rest of the palace, including the magnificent grounds. The immense structure was built in the 1600s and is the most well-preserved royal castle of its time.
The palace was originally built following a French prototype designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder. Since then, many different royals have left their mark on the palace. Because of this, it boasts all kinds of styles from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
There are many different parts of the glamorous palace to explore, including a beautifully-manicured park, a sophisticated palace theater, and an amazing Chinese pavilion.
The theater is the best-preserved 18th-century theater in Europe and the only one on the planet that still regularly uses stage machinery. If you visit in summer, you may be able to catch a performance!
19. Discover Exotic Species at the Kolmarden Wildlife Park
The Kplmarden Wildlife Park is one of those places that’s so cool you could easily spend days there. This huge park is home to more than 600 animal species, as well as action-packed rides and amazing shows.
The wildlife zone of the park is divided into five sections dedicated to the animals you’ll find in different parts of the world. The Valley of the Lions with African lions is one of our favorites. But the Forest of the Bears with Eurasian brown bears is a must-see, too.
There’s a spectacular bird of prey show, as well as a one-of-a-kind dolphin show that’s fun for the whole family. As you explore the park, be on the lookout for feeding and training shows, which invite you to learn more about the many animals that live within the park.
You’ve got to check out the safari gondola during your visit. The only gondola of its type in the world, the ride lets you soar high above the park and seek out thrilling animals like giraffes and lions.
20. Sip Swedish Snaps
Snaps is something you’ll find at all big festivals and events in Sweden, particularly the ones celebrated in summer, such as crayfish parties and herring season.
This traditional local drink is made from a combination of delicious spices, herbs, and vodka. Snaps was first invented as a way of making strong, bad-tasting vodka more pleasant and easy to drink. Despite having access to much better quality vodka now, snaps is still remarkably popular throughout Sweden. Today it’s enjoyed for its delicious flavor and humorous side effects, which often involve loud singing and uncoordinated dancing!
Snaps is typically served with food. As many Swedish dishes are on the salty side, snaps cuts through the salt, making each dining experience more enjoyable. However, it’s still perfectly acceptable to drink snaps on its own.
As you’d expect, you’ll find snaps in practically every bar and restaurant throughout the country. O.P. Anderson and Skåne are two of the most popular types of snaps. They’re both made with aniseed, caraway seeds, and fennel seeds. Give it a shot!
21. Visit Underground Art Galleries
You’ll find some of the best things to see in Sweden inside the most unlikely places. While the country is home to a number of excellent art galleries, some of the most spectacular are hidden away inside subway stations.
At least 90 subway stations throughout Sweden are decorated with elaborate art installations. The displays are truly incredible. Some pieces of art are on display on the actual platform, where you’d expect the billboard-like adverts to be.
Other stations are decorated with dazzling mosaics and impressive sculptures. Some stations even have every inch of the walls and ceiling covered in phenomenal paintings. The stunning artwork makes traveling throughout Sweden much more fun and interesting!
As they’re so wonderfully decorated, moving between subway stations really does feel like hopping between different art galleries. And the best bit is that you don’t have to pay any extra. As long as you’ve got a subway ticket, the underground art galleries are completely free to enjoy.
22. Gaze at Giant Water Lilies at the Victoriahuset
Tucked away near the Royal Brunnsviken Lake, you’ll find Bergian Garden. The beautiful botanical garden dates back to the 18th century and boasts a one-of-a-kind 20th-century aquatic greenhouse that was designed specifically to house tropical lilies.
Known as Victoriahuset, the magnificent greenhouse is one of the very few Victorian greenhouses that still exists today. It was designed and created by Bergianus Veit Wittrock in 1899, who was fascinated by aquatic plants and algae.
The magnificent centerpiece of Victoriahuset is a pond filled with giant Victoria Lilies – the largest species of water lily in the world. The huge leaves can grow up to 10 feet in diameter, making them almost twice as big as most adults. They’re also incredibly strong and can easily hold the weight of a child (around 65 pounds).
As well as the captivating water lilies, Victoriahuset also contains many other kinds of lilies and aquatic plants, which are taken care of inside the artificial Amazonian environment. Although it’s easy to create and maintain this specialist environment today, it was a fantastic achievement back in the early 1900s, when the greenhouse was originally kept warm with coal fires.
23. Go Apple Picking at the Kivik Apple Market Festival
One of the best things to do in Sweden in the fall is to check out the Kivik Apple Market Festival. Held in Kivik each year at the end of Sweden’s harvesting season, the one-day festival invites you to try fresh, local, and seasonal apples in every way imaginable.
You’ll find a huge range of apple-inspired food and drinks to sample, from apple pies, cobblers, and other desserts to cider, wine, and juice. It’s amazing to see how creative locals can get with one single ingredient.
If you prefer to keep things simple, you can go apple picking and enjoy the deliciously juicy fruits fresh from the tree. This is a great activity to do with kids, and you can take home whatever you pick to last the rest of your vacation.
There’s loads more going on in addition to the apple picking and gourmet market. You can sign up for apple cider tasting courses, shop for stunning apple-themed handicrafts, and get involved with apple-related games.
24. Wander Through the Ancient Streets of Gamla Stan
While you’re in Stockholm, don’t miss the chance to explore the city’s Old Town. Known as Gamla Stan, this alluring town is one of the best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe. Walking along the cobbled streets feels more like exploring an open-air museum than a real working town.
Wander throughout the pedestrian streets, and you’ll come across all kinds of dazzling sights that will take your breath away. Gabled houses that were built in the 17th century, independent boutiques full of artisan crafts, and delicious-smelling bakeries selling freshly-baked treats straight from the oven are just some of the things you can expect to find here.
Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan are the two main streets in Gamla Stan. Do as we do and start from one of the streets and see where your feet take you. With so much magic and hidden treasures around every corner, you’ll have an amazing time.
If you prefer to follow more of a set itinerary, make plans to check out the Royal Palace, Nobel Prize Museum, and Storkyrkan Cathedral. If you’re visiting Stockholm in winter, you’ve got to check out the Julmarknad Christmas market, too.
25. Seek Out the Northern Lights
Because it’s so far north, Sweden is a fantastic place to see the Aurora Borealis. Although sightings of the Northern Lights are never guaranteed, you’ve got a great chance to spot them on a clear night between September and March.
There’s nothing like sitting in the middle of a snowy field, looking up into the dark sky above you and seeing mesmerizing waves of red, blue, green, and purple. Although the Northern Lights can easily be explained by science, there’s still something natural and otherworldly about them when you see them for yourself.
To boost your chances, we recommend downloading a Northern Lights app, which will tell you when the natural spectacle is near and visible. Alternatively, you can sign up for a tour and let an expert guide you to the best places to see the show.
Abisko National Park is one of the top places in Sweden to see the Northern Lights. It’s got consistently clear skies, incredibly low light pollution, and the perfect location within the auroral oval. It’s a great place to start if you’re unsure where to go first.
There you have it! The 25 best things to do in Sweden. What’s your favorite thing to do in Sweden?
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