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swedish lake and flowers in summer

10 Best Vacation Spots in Sweden: Ideas from Local Experts

Last Updated: 02/08/2023

It’s so easy to fall for Sweden. This Scandinavian country will enchant you with its sparkling lakes, vast forests, rich Viking heritage, captivating cities and royal palaces.

When it comes to deciding where to go on your Sweden vacation, there are plenty of places to choose from. You could revel in cosmopolitan cities, escape to the picturesque countryside, and discover a winter wonderland in the far north.

Our Scandinavia travel experts have picked out the best vacation spots in Sweden to help you figure out where you’d like to visit. Which of these Swedish places will you be adding to your travel wish list?

Stockholm, Sweden

1. Stockholm

Sweden’s capital city is undoubtedly one of the top places you should visit on your Scandi adventure.

Stockholm is an attractive waterfront city that sprawls over 14 islands, including Stadsholmen where you find the old town, Gamla Stan.

Stroll along the cobbled streets here to admire centuries-old, colourful buildings, and stop for fika (a coffee break) at one of the many cafés. This enchanting district happens to be one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval city centres.

There’s so much more to love about Stockholm. Expect world-class museums, restaurants, theme parks and palaces. You can even get a glimpse into royal life at the UNESCO-listed Drottningholm Palace, which dates back to the 17th century.

Haga district in Gothenburg, Sweden

2. Gothenburg

Eco-conscious, lush and arty, Gothenburg is no ordinary city. Located in West Sweden, it is praised for being one of the most sustainable urban centres in the world.

You could join the locals and cycle around Gothenburg’s pretty streets, canals and green spaces. In fact, you’ll find the country’s largest botanical garden here, which is home to more than 16,000 plant species.

Sweden’s second largest city is also brimming with hip art galleries, including the Gothenburg Museum of Art, and tempting seafood restaurants.

Being so close to the sea on the west coast, you might be tempted to explore the islands lying just offshore from this cool Swedish city.

Kiruna, Sweden

3. Kiruna

For one of the best vacation spots in Sweden in winter, look no further than Kiruna, Swedish Lapland. Head to the country’s northernmost city, located in the Arctic Circle, and you’ll discover a beautiful place that’s blanketed in snow between December and March.

There are plenty of reasons why you should take a winter break in Kiruna.

You could try fun-filled activities in the snow, like dog sledding and snowmobiling. Perhaps you're tempted by the idea of staying in a hotel made of ice? If so, don’t miss a visit to the ICE HOTEL in Sweden.

Or you might be keen to chase the northern lights. Kiruna is the perfect place to base yourself for aurora-hunting excursions in the surrounding countryside. This entire region lies within the “northern lights belt”, where frequent aurora activity takes place.

Countryside and flowers in Sweden

4. Dalarna

Dalarna is the place to go if you're looking for quintessentially Swedish landscapes. This lush region is brimming with forests, lakes, and wildflower meadows. Plus, you’re sure to spot lots of those traditional red cottages that Sweden is known for.

In this natural haven you can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and horse riding. Or, seek out an expert and forage for wild fruits in the woods. You can also join in with the favourite local pastime of taking a refreshing dip in one of the region's lakes. Lake Siljan is a good choice for a swim.

Soak up the culture of Dalarna as you explore the villages and towns here, including Rättvik and Tällberg. To see how the famous Dala horse is made, head to the century-old Grannas Dala Horse Workshop.

Or time your trip for mid-June to celebrate the summer solstice with the locals and experience Swedish Midsummer traditions.

Stockholm archipelago, Sweden

5. Stockholm archipelago

Another of the top Sweden vacation spots you shouldn’t miss is the Stockholm archipelago in summer. As you might have guessed, this group of islands extends from the Swedish capital, making it an ideal place to explore on a day trip.

The Stockholm archipelago is made up of around 30,000 islands, scattered across the Baltic Sea. The region is home to sandy beaches, forested isles, steep cliffs and historical sites. 

Whether you drive or take a boat from the city, the Stockholm archipelago is a must-see during the summer months. Imagine sailing and kayaking the waters, hiking the island trails and discovering Viking history. There is so much to uncover here!

Ystad in Österlen, Sweden

6. Österlen

Make your way to Österlen for sandy beaches, charming countryside and historical sites. This southern Swedish county lies in the wider Skåne province and boasts gorgeous scenery and quaint towns.

Wander along the cobbled streets of Ystad, admiring the medieval architecture and timbered houses. Then pick up organic local produce at farm shops as you pass through the countryside.

Be sure to spend some downtime at Sandhammaren beach. Here you'll find honey-coloured sands stretching over 12 kilometres (7.5 miles).

Another of Österlen’s must-see visitor attractions is Ales Stenar. This megalithic site comprises 59 stone boulders scattered in the shape of a ship, with views across the Baltic Sea.

Malmöhus Castle in Malmö, Sweden

7. Malmö

Sweden’s cities are pretty trendy, and Malmö is no different. First-class eateries, fascinating museums, and historical attractions await you in this southern coastal city.

Take a tour of the Renaissance-era Malmöhus Castle and the Malmö Art Museum for a taste of local heritage and culture. You could discover Malmö by boat, gliding through the canals admiring the city sights from the water.

And when you feel peckish, you can choose from an array of enticing restaurants and cafés at the Lilla Torg market. Then walk off your lunch with a stroll along the Western Harbour and Ribersborg beach.

Did you know: It's easy to reach Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, from Malmö? The 8 kilometre-(5-mile)long Øresund Bridge links these two neighbouring cities by road and train.

Northern lights in Swedish Lapland

8. Abisko National Park

In winter, Abisko National Park is one of Sweden's best places to visit. Like Kiruna, Abisko is situated in the far north of the country, in Swedish Lapland.

This pristine area of natural beauty offers you the chance to soak up views of towering mountains, snow-dusted valleys, and frozen lakes.

On a winter tour of Swedish Lapland, you could enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other exhilarating activities in Abisko National Park. Best of all, is the opportunity to catch sight of the northern lights.

We recommend you search for them at the Aurora Sky Station, perched atop a mountain in the national park. Its position gives you the ideal setting for watching the northern lights. Plus, you can also enjoy a delicious 4-course Nordic meal at the restaurant here.

On the other hand, head here in summer and you’ll have a totally different experience. The snow and ice give way to flower-filled valleys and endless daylight – a phenomenon known as the midnight sun.

Borgholm Castle in Öland, Sweden

9. Öland

Öland, Sweden’s second largest island after Gotland, has its own special charm. You can get to this Baltic isle by driving over the bridge from Kalmar in Southern Sweden.

When you get there, a diverse mix of historical attractions and natural sites await you.

Visit Solliden Palace, the summer residence of the Swedish royal family, and the 13th-century Borgholm Castle. Roam around the island, discovering ancient burial grounds and forts from the Iron Age as you go.

Enjoy walks or cycle rides in Öland’s countryside. There are with hundreds of kilometres of coastline to explore, and make sure to look out for the old windmills dotting the landscape. You’ll even find 75 (yes 75!) nature reserves on the island, including Ottenby which is a top spot for birdwatching.

Kristinehamn in Värmland, Sweden
Kristinehamn ©Clive Tompsett -

10. Värmland

Immerse yourself in a lush landscape dotted with green forests, rolling hills, and around 10,000 lakes. This is what you can expect from a trip to Värmland, which borders Norway in central-west Sweden.

Discover one of Europe’s largest lakes, Vänern, and the attractive towns that line its shores. In Karlstad, the capital of Värmland, you could soak up the vibrant music scene and wander along the banks of Sweden’s longest river, Klarälven.

Meanwhile, in Kristinehamn you can admire the 15-metre-tall (49-foot-tall) Picasso statue, donated by the artist himself.

But the must-see cultural site in Värmland has to be Mårbacka. This is the home and workplace of Selma Lagerlöf, who in 1909 became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature. Take a guided tour of the Mårbacka estate to learn about this prominent Swedish author.

If these top Sweden vacation ideas have inspired you to visit the country yourself, then Nordic Visitor can help. To get you started, take a look at these top Sweden vacation packages for an idea of the routes and sights you could experience.

Our Stockholm-based travel experts will use their insider knowledge to plan an unforgettable Swedish adventure for you.

This mean that when you book a trip to Sweden with Nordic Visitor, your dedicated travel consultant will take care of accommodation, transport, and any activities you want to do. All you need to do is relax and look forward to your getaway!

Get in touch with our Sweden team to start planning your next break.

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Post by: Emma Gillies

Wanderlust has taken Emma across much of the world, but it was Scotland that she made her adopted home. Aside from enjoying countryside walks, campervan weekends and gigs in Glasgow, you’ll often find her writing about European travel and plotting her next trip.

More posts by Emma Gillies

Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.