Booking a flight from the US to Sweden and Scandinavia is easy when flying with SAS. Affordable and hassle-free flights to Stockholm and the convenience of the holiday destination are just a couple of reasons why many American travellers head to visit clean and tourist-friendly destinations in Sweden. Sweden and its Scandinavian neighbors have a complex history that is often mixed with folklore about its most prominent forefathers: the Vikings. Visitors to the country tour museums and other historical sites that shed light on the Swedish historical period known as the Viking Age.
Outdoor beauty is another natural attraction that is characteristically Swedish and the country has pulled out all the stops to ensure that its land and waterways are accessible to all nature enthusiasts. Spending time in pulsating Swedish cities gives tourists the opportunity to mingle with locals and experience the country's unique culture first-hand. Here are some things to do, see and experience while visiting Sweden.
Explore local city culture
Indulging in family-friendly fun is a large part of the Swedish vacation experience. Many of the country's museums, zoos and aquariums are especially oriented for young visitors. For example, Skansen provides an educational experience for children of all ages at its open-air zoo filled with native Scandinavian animals, children's play area and aquarium. For those who love fictional literature, Astrid Lindgren's World is an amusement park and theatre based on the beloved fictional character Pippi Longstocking. The park's mission is to encourage children to develop their reading and writing skills. The theme park hosts plays and musicals with cast members that interact with their young audiences. Lovers of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can also go on tours in Stockholm of the actual places mentioned in the book.
An important part of the country's past is its maritime history. During the days of Swedish King Gustav Adolf, war with one's neighbors was the order of the day. Every monarch sought the fastest and most powerful warships to engage in sea battles. The Vasa was such a warship in which King Gustav put his hopes, but the Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 due to design flaws and was only salvaged in 1961. Now restored, the Vasa Museum is dedicated to remembering the Vasa's lost crew members, learning about maritime life during the period and gleaning lessons from the mistakes of the past.
The Fotevikens Museum is an open-air archaeological museum that highlights Vellinge municipality's contributions during the Viking era. The museum's staff and supporters are heavily involved in maritime archaeology as a means of gaining knowledge about the era in order to generate accurate reconstructed objects and re-enactments for the benefit of the museum and its patrons.
The Natural History and Technology Museums are two other great cultural stops in Stockholm.
Sightseeing in the Swedish capital
Stockholm is a premier European port city that has deepwater access, enticing yacht and cruise traffic to and from the city. If one arrives by land or air, a boat tour of the country's capital is an excellent way to see the city sights from a different perspective. The city also has hop-on/hop-off public transportation options to give travelers more flexibility in trip planning. The Stockholm Grand Tour provides the best of both sightseeing worlds with combination boat and bus journeys through the most interesting parts of the city with a professional local guide. Rooftop hiking is also another distinctive way to see the city from high above.
Where to eat
The Swedish capital is a cosmopolitan city and its restaurants offer just about everything to cater to any taste. Many cuisines such as Ethiopian, Chinese and Persian can be found across the city. There are a number of choices for vegetarian dishes, including the Hermitage, Lao Wai and Chutney. Other fine Swedish restaurants influenced by foreign flavors include the French-inspired Operakällaren and Abyssinia featuring Ethiopian cuisine. For husmanskost or traditional Swedish dishes, try Bakfickan, Den Gyldene Freden and The Veranda.
The Swedes take their coffee breaks seriously, spending time in the morning and in the afternoon having fika. This tradition allows people to connect with friends, family and co-workers while indulging in coffee and a delicious assortment of sweet baked goods. Tea and milk are also served at fika, but coffee is definitely the star of the show. Fika is an important part of Swedish culture that tourists should experience. Several popular fika places to visit while touring the nation's capital include:
- Garden Café and Bakery serving organic baked goods with its coffee
- Himlavalvet serving fika in a garden setting with a variety of baked items and vegetarian fare
- Flickorna Helin Voltaire serves fika in a building reminiscent of a secluded castle
Popular things to do
About 1.3 million Swedes emigrated from Sweden from 1821-1930, mostly to the US, but also to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South America. As a result, genealogical research has become a major tourist activity. Many of the country's tourists visit specifically to trace their roots. Swedish church books and other civil record archives provide an abundance of genealogical data from which to continue one's search of ancestral ties.
For those with a keen sense of adventure, exploring the Swedish archipelago is a popular pastime. Thousands of small islands form the Swedish archipelagoes that provide travellers and locals with a pristine playground and unspoiled views of nature. Many small islands are inhabited, but it is common for them to have luxury accommodations for visitors alongside summer homes belonging to local Swedes. Boat tours of the archipelago allow people to reach islets perfect for hiking and biking. Other islands are untouched pieces of wild beauty waiting to be discovered by explorers on canoe or kayak.
Tips to avoid culture shock
Despite the country's close association with the warring Vikings of old, modern Swedes are known to be an orderly and altogether polite group of people. Most visitors from other European nations and the US consider the manner of the locals as shockingly refreshing. The tip to overcoming the “shock” is to simply savor every fleeting moment because all tourists eventually return home.
Many visitors to Sweden are also pleasantly surprised at the progressive environmental protections in place there. Recycling is not just a haphazard option - it is entrenched in the lifestyle of the people and their government. The long-term effects of the country's eco-friendly mindset are some of the cleanest cities, forests, and waterways in Europe. Savvy travellers embrace the environmentally friendly standards of the country and possibly learn to adopt them when they return home.