Drottningholm Palace Drottningholm Palace

Sweden is a country that is an attractive travel destination. The first time visitor will find the landscape attractive and inviting, the cities compact, stylish and functional, and the Swedes attentive but serious (at least until you make a friend). Sweden is at its best during the summer and early fall. If you can schedule it, visit Sweden during one of its holidays and see the country come alive.

Sweden has a number of extremely interesting attractions spread across this relatively large country. As is common in the Nordic countries, Sweden is an expensive place for the tourist.  We consider Sweden a classic “add-on” destination for inclusion in an itinerary involving several countries.

Sweden has many different “faces” to show the traveler and our recommendations on the Best Places to Visit in Sweden, can help you decide the right itinerary for you. A visit to Sweden will be remembered for a lifetime.   We believe that the cities and regions described below are the country’s key tourist destinations, contain Sweden’s best attractions and urge you to visit them during your time traveling in Sweden.



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Stockholm

Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, is a delightful city that was founded in the 13th century. The city is spread over  fourteen islands and its environment is both scenic and stately.  To the west is the beautiful Lake Mälaren and to the east is the Stockholm Archipelago.  Water is a unifying theme in  Stockholm and the city’s beauty reflects this charming pairing.

  • The Old Town or Gamla Stan is a must see.  With its cobblestone, curvy narrow streets and interesting shops it is an attractive location.  The Old Town is centered on the island Standholmen, but is spread cross Riddarholmen and Helgeandsholmen. The core area dates back to medieval times and Gamla Stan is a wonderful place to wander while spending a day. The area is filled with interesting buildings, great shops and good places to eat.
  • Swedish crystal is in abundant supply in this city and shopping is a delight, especially for fine-quality clothes.
  • Good restaurants abound and herring  and salmon lovers will be in heaven.  “Herring Bars” can be found at many restaurants and you will likely see herring prepared in more ways than you knew existed.
  • The Vasa Museum houses an intact 17th century frigate (the Vasa), geared for fighting  that sank on her maiden voyage and was found to be almost perfectly preserved when raised fifty years ago.
    • See the official website of the Vasa Museum for details on visiting this amazing restored shipwreck.
  • Stockholm is a lively place for the arts and Sweden is a festive country.  Be sure check local sources for current exhibitions, concerts and celebrations.
    • See the official tourism website of Stockholm to see what’s “on” during your visit.
      • Consider a day trip to Drottningholm Palace, the residence of the Royal Family of Sweden (and a World Heritage Site). Located on an island in Lake Mälaren, it features interesting architecture,  a wonderful park and a noted Chinese Pavilion.
      • Official information about the Royal Domain of Drottningham can be found here.
      • Another interesting day trip is to take the steamship SS Mariefred to Gripsholm Castle (Slott) and the town of Mariefred in the shores of Lake Mälaren. (information can be found at the website link in the paragraph above).
      • Stockholm is also a good jumping off point for a tour of the Stockholm Archipelago, an area of islands, sea rocks and great natural beauty.
      • If you plan on giving Stockholm a real going over, consider purchasing a Stockholm card for “free” admission to 75 museums and attractions –  more information can be found  here.
      • Another option, you might consider, is the Stockholm  a La Carte Card that is provided free by Destination Stockholm, when you book your hotel through them.  See this site for details.

Stockholm, Sweden Stockholm, Sweden

Gothenburg (Göteborg)

Many travelers feel that Göteborg. Sweden’s second largest city is both easier to tour and provides better exposure to the culture and people of Sweden than Stockholm.  Once known as a seaport, the city is now one of Sweden’s leading cultural and sports centers.

  • Be sure to visit the Liseberg Amusement Park, the Röhsska Museum, the Haga/Linnéstanden area for shopping, and, if you have time, take a tour of the Volvo car assembly plant.
  • Consider using Göteborg as a base for exploration of the coastal towns to the north and the Varbergs Fortress a massive castle overlooking the North Sea.  It is located,forty miles to the south of Goteborg and while there, you may be interested in learning more about the Hallands Kulturhistoriska Museum
  • See Goteborg.com for more information on the many interesting attractions in Göteborg.
  • While in the Gothenburg area, you might want to stop in Borås, also known as the “city of sculptures”.  This delightful town has a large number of high-quality, outdoor sculptures by internationally noted artists. Some of the sculptures are  whimsical and some are statements, while others are simply enchanting.
  • Tours of the leading sculptures are held in the summer and you can find out more about the sculptures and the city at its official website .

Gothenburg (Göteborg) , Sweden Gothenburg (Göteborg) , Sweden

Uppsala

  • Regarded as  a center of the Swedish culture and history, the city has played a crucial role in the development of Sweden. At the center of the Old Town visit the Domkyrkan (Cathedral) and the Castle.  Uppsala is less than an hour by train from Stockholm.
  • Uppsala Tourism  provides great information on this area those interested in visiting.

Southeastern Coast/Småland

  • The Southeastern section of the coast of Sweden features beautiful seascapes, interesting islands, and a good bit of history.  There are several historic towns to see in the area and you might consider Kalmar as a base for your trip.

Kalmar

  • A delightful  town featuring a wonderful castle (Kalmar Castle) and an interesting cathedral (the Domykyrkan). The Kalmar area is fun to explore.  See this official website for more details on attractions.

Kalmar Kalmar

Crystal Country

  • West of Kalmar and southeast of Växjö in Smaland Province, is the famous crystal production area of Sweden  often called the Kingdom of Crystal.  If you like crystal and would like to take home some new pieces, this area is a must see as there are more than a dozen producers of high quality crystal in this area, including Orrefors and Kosta Boda.
    • See the official Kingdom of Crystal website information for more details on visiting this charming area of Sweden.

Gotland

  • If you want to bask in the sun, enjoy idyllic countryside, and explore an interesting historic area, the island of Gotland may be just the place for you.  The Island has a long history as a trading center.
  • Visby, a Viking stronghold awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, is considered to be the best preserved, fortified commercial city in Europe.
  • Gotland can be reached by ferry from Nyänshamn as a part of a trip involving Stockholm or from Oskarshamn on a trip involving the Southeastern Coast.
  • Visit Gotland, Info for details on this interesting region of Sweden.

Gotland Gotland

Malmo/Lund Area

Malmo and Lund offer yet another view of Sweden.  The area has been transformed by universities and technology into a knowledge economy but one that has not forgotten its heritage.

  • The Malmo/Lund Area of Sweden has been “tinged” by its close proximity to Denmark, a process that has been accelerated since the opening of the  Öresund Bridge to Copenhagen.
  • Be sure to see the Lund Cathedral, Åhus (a  well-preserved Swedish style village), the Glimmingehus (a knight’s castle),  the Trollholms Slott in Marieholm, and Sophiaro (the King’s Summer Castle)
  • View the official visitor website for more details on the attractions in the Malmo/Lund area of Sweden.
  • Malmo, Sweden Malmo, Sweden

Gota Canal

  • The Gota Canal is a continuous, scenic, waterway that connects the east and west coasts of Sweden.  Although represented as connecting Gothenburg with Stockholm, the Canal  actually connects Mem on the Baltic through Lake Vättern to Sjötorp on Lake Vänern with the Trollhätte Canal connecting to the west coast of the country.
  • Cruising the Canal by steamship is a favorite vacation for Swedes and the trip has much to recommend it,. See the official Gota Canal website  for details on cruising this beautiful waterway.
  • Cruises take approximately three days to cross the 120 miles and 58 locks from Mem to Sjötorp and another day to reach the west coast.  However, cruises of varying length are offered. See the website above for details.

Gota Canal Gota Canal

Swedish Lapland

Lapland (in Sweden, Norway, and Finland) is considered by many to be the last wilderness in Europe.  This area of the midnight sun and the northern lights (in different seasons) is not for the casual tourist.  If you are interested in visiting Swedish Lapland, consider basing your visit in

  • Kiruna
    • Many people visit Kiruna to see the Samis and their reindeer herds.  Others come to Kiruna to see the wilderness and countless lakes.  The area is reputed to be home to  mosquitoes of such gigantic proportions that they are often confused with moose (well, it feels as if you are being bitten by a moose).
    • For information on visiting Kiruna, see the official website.

Swedish Lapland Swedish Lapland

Additional Resources

The official tourism website for Sweden is Visit Sweden.  It provides additional information on the places we recommend. as well as details on other attractions that have not made our list.

If you want to find out more about contemporary Sweden and its music, facts, films, images, and a wide range of topics, try Sweden.se, which is the country of  Sweden’s official website.

For country facts on Sweden, as well as travel information related to visas, driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other travel-related information, see this page on Sweden Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State Department.  Regardless of your home country, we think you will find the information provided to be useful when planning a trip to Sweden.