The Best of the Best
What are the best places to visit in Sweden? Well, naturally everyone sees the perfect vacation a bit differently. Some people want beaches, others mountains. Some want history and sightseeing, others relaxation. If you are looking for a bit of all of those in your vacation, check out the land of the blue and yellow, it offers is all!
Best Places to Visit in Sweden
Making a trip to Sweden would hardly be complete if you didn’t see Stockholm. Many times you will be flying into Stockholm-Arlanda Airport anyway, so make sure you stop in and check out a few of these sites.
*Note that heading to Stockholm from Arlanda Airport is 20 minutes by Express train and 30 minutes by car.
What to see
Skansen– In my opinion Skansen is a place that is great for both adults and kids. You can see everything from animals to historic buildings. Skansen also has a great traditional Christmas Market in the winter. It is easily accessed by the number 7 tram that heads to Djurgården.
The Abba Museum– Sweden is quite proud to have “created” ABBA for the world; so much so that they have their own museum. If you are an ABBA fan, or just an intrested visitor, this is the place for you. You can find out what you would look like in costume and even sing at the Polar Studio!
Gamla Stan (Old Town)– Do you like old buildings? If you said yes, then Gamla Stan is the place for you! This is one of the largest and best preserved city centers in all of Europe. Here in 1252, Stockholm was founded. Up and down the streets you will find quaint cafes and stores as well as really cool alleys for some fun photo opportunities.
Gröna Lund– As you walk around Stockholm you are bound to stumble across Gröna Lund. It is an amusement park just down from the ABBA museum. Here you will find hair-raising coasters and drop rides, to swings flying at 43 MPH and 400 feet in the air! If you seek the calmer low-key rides, you will find those there also.
The Vasa Museum– Viewing the Vasa Ship is like viewing a time capsule. This ship was built in the year 1628 and sunk on it’s maiden voyage. For 331 years, this ship lay on the sea floor untouched. It was then brought to the surface where it was restored to it’s original splendor. This ship is the world’s ONLY preserved 17th century ship-don’t miss it!
Junibacken– Here you can find Sweden’s largest children’s bookstore. This children’s museum is entirely devoted to Swedish Children’s literature. The artist who helped to create some illustrations for the newer Astrid Lindgren books (Pippi Longstocking) was also the artist who helped to create the art and images in the museum. All of the kids in your group will be able to run, play, and explore every nook and cranny in this museum.
Swedish History Museum– This museum has exhibits that are great for all ages and that are quite interactive for kids. Not only were there great areas to explore inside, there was also a fun outdoor area where you could baked bread, board a ship, and chase one another in a small stone labyrinth. (The outdoor games and crafts are only available through mid-August. Be sure to check the website before visiting.)
The Royal Palace– Here you will find more than 600 rooms on 7 different floors. Within the walls of the palace, there lies a beautiful courtyard where you can grab a coffee or a quick drink. (June-August) The Palace apartments are very lavish and it is here where you can find the different ways that each monarch left their mark behind. Don’t forget to visit Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities which is one of Europe’s oldest museums dating back to 1794.
Museum of Medieval Stockholm– See the original 16th century Stockholm town wall in which this museum was built around. While you are there also check out a medieval graveyard and a warship from the 1520s. See if you can find the King’s secret tunnel to the castle!
Kungsträdgården Park– Just behind my kids’ favorite restaurant (TGIFridays) you will find a beautiful Park. Generally when I think of park I think of big, wide-open, green spaces; this park offers some green, but a bit more than just that. In the center is a large fountain that is lined with trees that have stunning pink cherry blossoms in the Spring. Many outdoor concerts and activities are held in this park.
Ivar Los Park– This park is located at Bastugatan 26 and has some great views of the city. There is a closed door as you enter the park, but you are allowed to be in there. Here you can grab a picnic blanket and soak up some rays all while enjoying a lovely fika.
Storkyrkan– Between Gamla Stan and The Royal Palace you will find the oldest church in Gamla Stan: Storkyrkan (which translates to the big church). It is here where you can see a copy of the oldest painting of Stockholm from 1632 and some stunning architecture.
We arrived into Gothenburg by ferry from Denmark and boy, what an entrance! As you come closer to shore you sail straight through the archipelago (which is a whole bunch of small islands among the water). The rolling hills of Gothenburg against the water are a site to be seen.
What to see
Liseberg-The ambiance of this whole place was very pleasing. It had an old time, yet classy, carnival feel and the grounds were incredibly well manicured. My kids thoroughly enjoyed the rides in the younger section of the park. Be sure to remember that there is a small entrance fee to enter the park, as well as a fee for an all day wrist band (or individual tickets for each ride should you only have a few that you want to go on).
Universeum-Just next door to Liseberg is a huge science center where you can visit the rainforest, the ocean, and outer space all in one location! Encourage your little scientist to explore the world around them and visit the Universeum.
Beach Center-Winter weather blues? Head over to the Beach Center where you can play indoor volleyball, work out alone or with a trainer, eat some beach themed food, and relax in the luxurious spa. What a great way to escape to the beach!
Göteborgs Botaniska Trädgård-If you are looking for something to do with the whole family that won’t break the bank, head over to the Gothenburg Botanical Garden. Admission is free and it is only 20 SEK for admission to the greenhouses if you are over 18 years of age. There is a shop and small cafe on the grounds where you can get some gardening books or seeds for your own garden, as well as a coffee while you enjoy the view.
Tjolöholm Castle-This castle is not quite in Gothenburg, but being only a 30 minute drive, it isn’t so bad. We knew there was so much to see in the city, but the pictures of this castle were too good to not drive out and visit. It did not disappoint at all! While we were there, they had a tour going on in which they had many of the costumes displayed that were used while filming Downton Abbey. We were able to get some interesting information about not only the castle, but also the show and it’s characters.
In my opinion this town is high on the ‘Best Places to Visit in Sweden’ list; but I may be a bit biased since this is our home base in Sweden. I do believe that this town has quite a bit to offer though! It isn’t huge, but it could keep you busy for a few days with places to visit and sites to see. The people here are also so wonderful. If you take a minute to get to know some of them, you won’t regret it!
What to see
Kokpunktun-Before moving here this was the top ‘to see’ place for my kids. They have a small little kids section with a slide and some fountains for the younger kids to play in. There is also a large (pretty deep) pool with lots of fun lights and music playing. This pool feeds into a small lazy river like area where you can let the current pull you around and around, as well as break off into a small 360 degree theater room. If you are looking for some more excitement, you can climb the stairs and visit one of the many water slides throughout the building. If you want some relaxation, dip in one of the hot tubs or make your way up to the adults only section where you can enjoy the sauna or one of the luke-warm pools.
Bear Island-Located a bit South-East of the city center is an island named Björnö which means Bear Island. There are no bears that I know of on the island, but it is a great place to enjoy a peaceful walk through the forest, take a dip in the chilly lake, or even to grab a bite to eat in a cafe. We enjoy spending warm summer days on Björnö.
Anundshög-I’m sure you have heard of Stonehenge in England, but you have probably never heard of Anundshög; and it is pretty cool! I haven’t been to Stonehenge (yet) so I suppose I can’t really compare, but I think it’s even better due to it’s lack of popularity. You don’t have to worry about the crowds here unless you visit during Midsummer, that is. We have enjoyed many days here admiring the stones that were set up sometime during the Iron Age (500 BC-1050AD). If you make it to Västerås, this is a must see!
Vallby Open Air Museum-Take a step back in time and see what life was like in Västmanland county over the years. You can visit The Village School, A Soldier´s Homestead, an Ironmaster´s Homestead, The Country Store, The Allotment-Garden Cottage, The Vicarage, and so much more!
Domkyrka-On August 16, 1271 this church opened for the first time and was dedicated to The Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Inside the church you can find many relics and antiques from many years past. Admire the view from both inside and outside around the city.
The Oldest Part of Town-On your way to the old part of town, stop by the river at 1 Kungsgatan and find all of the locks on the bridge. If you and your love decide to ‘lock your love’ on the bridge also, add your name to the lock so you can find it later! In order to find the oldest part of town, plug in 3 Rektorsgatan to your GPS and you will find yourself in the middle of it. You will see some small signs on a few of the buildings that will explain what they were used for and when. They are in Swedish, so use your Google Translate App!
Get a Ride on the Ferry-From May until August you can hop on the ferry and visit Färjkajen, Brygga Öster Mälarstrand, Östra Holmen, Elba, Brygga Johannisberg, and many others in town. This will give you quite a different vantage point of the city. If you come in the winter, you can get that same view all while standing on the frozen lake!
An island off of the east coast of Sweden, Öland offers beaches, history, and relaxation! The weather isn’t always warm and sunny, but the sites make it all worth it!
What to see
Southern lighthouse Långe Jan-While we were there, they were experiencing some very strong wind gusts. I think the extra wind made the trip that much better! We climbed to the top of the lighthouse and had our breath taken away, by not only the view, but also the wind. It was also lovely to use the binoculars that were free to use in the museum and catch some views of birds and grazing cows.
Northern lighthouse Långe Erik-This lighthouse looks very much the same as the Southern one. It has been there since 1845 and you can visit the lighthouse during the summer months for a small fee.
Gråborg-This is Öland’s largest ancient castle. It is thought that parts of this castle date back to the Middle Ages. Next to the castle ruins you can find Sankt Knut’s Chapel’s ruins also.
Böda Beach Area-We were unable to make it to the beach on our trip, but I have been told that this is the best beach to visit while in Öland. It is located on the Northern part of the island and there is also a campground located nearby which would be a wonderful place to stay.
Borgholm Castle Ruins-In the second half of the 13th century, this fortress was built. Over the years it was rebuilt due to some of the battles fought there and officially became a ruin after a fire in 1806 that destroyed it. Many concerts are held inside the ruins today. The Roxettes recorded their music video for ‘Listen to Your Heart’ at Borgholm Castle in 1989.
Eketorp-The original fortification was built about 400 A.D and over the years was expanded upon. It is unknown why, but in the late 600’s until the early 11th century, Eketorp sat unused. It is now a tourist site with many artifacts and exhibits.
Before you head onto the bride to Öland you will pass through a city called Kalmar. The tree lined streets, beautiful scenery, and the castle with a moat make Kalmar rank high on my list of favorite places in Sweden.
What to see
Kalmar Castle-You can find over 800 years of history inside of these walls! We visited in June and they had a bunch of kid friendly activities going on and great informative tours of the castle. If you’re brave enough, you can also take a ghost tour or visit the dungeon with one of their guides. Do you dare?
If you’ve been to the grocery store in Sweden then you will be familiar with Kivik and their yummy juices and jams. While on our road trip though Sweden, we decided to stop for lunch and a quick tour of Kivik’s Musteri where all of their goods are produced.
What to see
Kivik Musteri– In 1888, a bunch of apple trees were planted in the South of Kivik for what would become Sweden’s first commercial fruit farm. Here you can see the process that they use while making some of their delicious juices and jams. Grab a bite to eat in their cafe and grab some juice for the road!
This town may not make it to many top 10 lists, but it absolutly should! Driving into town here you are met with rolling farmland as far as your eye can see. After a short walk past a park and some houses, you are met with the coastline and Ales Stenar stone circle. It was a breathtaking sight that I won’t soon forget!
What to see
Ales Stenar-There is something very intriguing to me about stone circles. There lies so much history and sometimes mystery behind each stone and I can’t get enough of it. Ales Stenar is in an awesome location which makes it that much better! The Ales Stenar is right on the coast. If you walk just past the stone you will come to the steep cliffs that drop down to a beach below.
Are you a history nerd like me? Then this place is a must see! This town is Sweden’s oldest town. You can walk the cobblestone streets and feel as though you have gone back in time. Be sure to see the ruins in town as well as the castles that are near by.
What to see
Skokloster Castle-There are 5 castles that one can visit while in Sigtuna, but we chose Skokloster Castle. It is the biggest private house ever built in Sweden! I wouldn’t want to clean that! We spoke with a guide who informed us that many people who work there have experienced a ghostly encounter at some point.
Stora Gatan-Of course if you are headed to the oldest town in Sweden, you must walk Stora Gatan. You can shop in some of the small, quaint shops that offer everything from fashion to hand crafted items.
Those were just a few of the best places to visit in Sweden. I’m sure as I continue to live in and explore here, I will stumble upon so many more great locations that I can add to this list. Sweden is a beautiful country, filled with so many kind people! No matter where you end up in the world, if you visit Sweden, part of your heart will always stay there!