Insider’s view on visiting Sweden

By Gerlinde Anderberg

Outdoors in Swedish Lapland

What makes Sweden an ideal travel destination for all?
The beautiful nature, the fresh air, the accessibility, the great food, the wide range of historical places, cultural and architectural highlights, the emphasis on equality and innovation.

Tell us something that every traveller should know when traveling to Sweden?
Take your time. Don’t rush from city to city. Slow travel is the best way to experience Sweden.

Any essentials that one needs to carry when they traveling to Sweden? 
A credit card, since cash is hardly accepted anywhere anymore.

Which are the most surreal places to visit when in Sweden?
One has to experience the Midnight Sun in summer and the chance to see the Northern Lights in the winter time. These are most likely to be seen north of the arctic circle.
The National Parks in Sweden all have fantastic sights to offer.  

High Coast

Northern lights

Can you tell us a little about the life of the locals? 
In Sweden most adults aim to have a job. For those who don’t, there is a social security system to take care of them. When families get children, they are dividing childcare equally and are at home with their children appr 1-2 years.
After that, the children go to day care and later on school during the day. Working hours are normally appr 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Swedes have 25-30 paid holiday days a year. Swedes are individualistic and generations are living separate.
Most Swedes love the outdoors. You will see them enjoying nature with their families and friends. You will see them exercising, running, bathing, skiing..
Swedes love “fika” as well. That is taking time with your friends, have a coffee and something sweet and just catch up.

What are the local delicacies/drinks which one must try and where in Sweden?
Coffee and kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls). If you see a certain type of pastry that is being sold a lot, buy it. It’s then probably the time of the year to eat just that kind of pastry or the region’s speciality. Try it then!
Also the “dagens rätt” (dish of the day) is something to try. You will then eat whatever the locals are having that day, at that restaurant.

What are a few things which one must buy here? 
Perhaps wooden carved butter knives, local delicacies and handicrafts.

Which is the most romantic places to visit in Sweden?
Anywhere where you can be out in nature and enjoy the beauty and tranquility, being out in the archipelago.

What are the local festivals which one must come to attend here?
Walpurgis Night: Walpurgis Night and May Day | Visit Sweden

This is the night of the bonfire in Sweden, traditionally believed to ward off evil spirits, but now a festive way of getting rid of excess gardening odds and ends. Walpurgis, Valborg (short for Valborgsmässoafton), or ‘the last of April’, is a traditional spring celebration in Sweden. For students, it’s a foretaste of summer. At dusk, bonfires are lit and people gather to listen to speeches and songs welcoming spring and a brighter future.

Midsummer: Celebrate Midsummer in Sweden 2024 | Visit Sweden

The successful midsummer never-ending lunch party formula involves flowers in your hair, dancing around a pole, singing songs while drinking unsweetened, flavoured schnapps. And downing a whole load of pickled herring served with delightful new potatoes, chives and sour cream. All in all, a grand day out.Midsummer Eve 2024 is on Friday, 21 June. It’s always celebrated on a Friday between 19 and 25 June. Midsummer is the longest day of the year and was long considered a magical night. In agrarian times, the Swedes arranged Midsummer celebrations to welcome summertime and the season of fertility.

Crayfish Parties: Experience a Swedish crayfish party | Visit Sweden

Sweden has many unique traditions, the crayfish party being just one of them. Join in to absorb a slice of true Swedish cultural heritage. A highlight on the Swedish calendar, the ‘kräftskiva’ (crayfish party) – an annual seafood fest with lots of side dishes, drinks and joyous songs – is a summertime celebration dear to Swedes of all ages. Its history stretches back to as early as the 16th century, when it became popular with the royals. In the 17th century, Swedes started eating crayfish on a broader scale. The name kräftskiva was coined in the 1930s and it’s believed to derive from the 19th century bourgeois crayfish ritual ‘kräftsupa’ – involving crayfish and alcoholic drinks. As for the kräftskiva as we know it today, it took off in earnest in the 1960s.

Lucia: Lucia – an old Swedish tradition | Visit Sweden

The Lucia tradition is as integral to Swedish culture as midsummer and crayfish parties. Immensely atmospheric, this 400-year-old custom brings peaceful joy each year on 13 December – and it’s spreading across the world. Celebrated annually in December, this historic custom is an atmospheric event involving Christmassy treats and a singing line-up of candle-carrying characters dressed (mostly) in white gowns. These tuneful “Luciatåg” processions – led by Lucia herself – play out on national TV and in kindergartens, schools, care homes, churches and offices across the country. Waiting in anticipation, the audience’s first sign that Lucia and her posse are nearing is a mellow chorus approaching from the distance, followed by soft light cutting through the pre-dawn darkness.

Christmas: Christmas in Sweden | Visit Sweden

How does a traditional Christmas in Sweden look like? Bake your own gingerbread house, visit our Christmas markets, attend a Lucia celebration and enjoy the endless array of delicacies on the Swedish Christmas buffet, ‘julbord’.

The things guidebooks will not tell anyone about?
-That the winter-Swedes are so different from the summer-Swedes. As soon as it gets lighter and warmer, the Swedes come out of their cozy homes and are outside, sitting on terraces and enjoying life. The winter-Swedes are hard to find. They are at home, just minding their own business. This of course with the exception of the Swedes being outside and exercising skiing or other sports.
– That the Swedes take off their shoes when they come home – even when they visit other people.

According to you what is the best thing about the destination?

The space and the quality of life.