Without a doubt, Lapland was the highlight of our time in Sweden.
That’s not to say that what followed was boring, but more that Swedish Lapland is truly mesmerizing!
You can sometimes drive for hours without seeing more than a few cars; and the views are spectacular.
In fact, the best part of being in Lapland is simply enjoying the surroundings as you drive or hike around.
Every now and then you’ll see a herd of reindeer grazing at the side of the road; but more often than not they will be IN the road!
Having visited Lapland in winter, our only impression is of the deep, snow covered countryside; however, I’ve heard that in Summer it is equally spectacular as the snow melts away and the green countryside comes to life.
Best things to do in Lapland
- Hunt for the Northern Lights - Easily one of the best things to do in Sweden is to try your luck at seeing the Northern Lights. They are not visible every night of the year, and we actually had better luck seeing them in Finland and Norway. However, if you do plan on seeing the Northern Lights in Sweden, then Lapland is the place to be; because as a rule of thumb, here’s what you need to see the Aurora Borealis:
- To be as far north as possible
- Clear skies
- A strong KP Index
- To be visiting between October and April (ideally)
- Visit a moose farm - Moose do live wild in Lapland, however they are nowhere near as easy to spot as reindeer. In fact, during our combined 4 weeks in both Finnish Lapland and Swedish Lapland, we only saw a group of moose in the wild once! That’s why we decided to stop off at the Arctic Moose Farm where we were able to get up close and personal and feed them. The owner here is incredibly friendly and you can tell he really does love caring for these giant creatures.
- Discover a space station - That’s right, Swedish Lapland is home to it’s very own space station! And it’s easy to understand why, as it’s located in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thousands of kilometres of land in which to test. You can visit the visitor centre at the Esrange Space Centre and enjoy a look around the exhibit, where they showcase old satellites and other space equipment.
- Go hiking in the wild - Sweden is filled with national parks, all crisscrossed with hiking trails. It’s hard to recommend any one place to go walking; but it’s fair to say that no matter where you visit in Lapland, you’ll find somewhere to get lost roaming in the wild!
- Visit an Ice Hotel - In northern Lapland, not that far from the space centre in fact, you have the aptly named ICE HOTEL. It’s open 365 days a year and is filled with roughly a dozen bedrooms, all kitted out with unique carved ice displays. It’s possible to stay in the ICE HOTEL overnight, and they do provide you with warm bedding to keep you toasty at night. In the winter months, they also open up a larger hotel with even more rooms for guests to stay in.
My second favourite place to visit in Sweden is Stockholm.
I was actually a bit gutted that we only had time to spend one day in Stockholm, as I know there is so much more to see and do than what we were able to!
In fact, even after such a short visit, I can confidently say that Stockholm is my second favourite city I’ve been to in Europe (after Rome).
And trust me, we have been to a LOT of cities in Europe now!
So, what is there to see in Stockholm ...
Best things to do in Stockholm
- Visit the ABBA museum - Cazzy and I are big ABBA fans and, you know what, I’m not afraid to admit it! And as they are Swedish nationals, it’s only fitting that Stockholm is home to a huge ABBA museum. Here, you can see endless real memorabilia and learn all about the history of the band. You can even visit one of the karaoke booths and let loose some of your favourite tunes.
- Go on a canal cruise - Probably my favourite thing to do in Stockholm was taking a canal cruise. It takes you out for an hour long loop, showcasing many of Stockholm’s most historic and important places to visit; such as Stockholm Palace. It also gives you a chance to learn more about the history of Stockholm and to get a unique look at the gorgeous city (you can book cheap tickets here).
- Wander through the Old Town - Like many historic European capitals, Stockholm is home to a lovely Old Town. With narrow winding streets and endless cafes, bars and restaurants, it’s lovely just taking time to roam the roads and getting a feel for the town. At Christmas time, which is when we visited, these streets are also home to Christmas markets which are well worth a visit!
- Visit the world’s largest IKEA - I’m happy to say that my first ever visit to an IKEA happened in Sweden; and at none other than the world’s biggest IKEA! But the best reason to visit is not to pick up a new set of living room furniture, but instead to visit the cafe which is famously cheap, but serves up really great tasting food. Honestly, you’ll be shocked by how good it is!
- Venture out onto the Stockholm Archipelago - This is a big group of islands lying just outside of the main harbour. Next time we visit I 100% can’t wait to take a tour into these, as based on the images the views look spectacular! Find out more here.
Situated on the west coast of Sweden, not far from Norway, you have the wonderful city of Gothenburg.
Once again, I only wish we had more time to spend here; but as it’s so close to the UK, Cazzy and I definitely intend on returning for a weekend city break at some point.
Despite being a Swedish city, it has a large Dutch feel to it, with canals winding through the city; presumably something to do with it’s long time serving as a port for Sweden.
Based on our few short hours spent in Gothenburg, here’s a look at what I think are some of the best places to visit.
Best things to do in Gothenburg
- Stroll down Haga Nygata - Located in the Haga neighbourhood, this is one of the most historic parts of Gothenburg, and a typically touristy street. Lined with traditional houses, many of which are now cafes, bars and souvenir stores. It doesn’t take long to walk from end to end, but it can do if you take the time to visit many of the lovely little stores.
- Have lunch at Le Petit - With so many nice cafes, and it being Christmas and all, we decided to pick a cosy little cafe to enjoy lunch. We picked Le Petit, and I’m so happy we did! This small cafe serves great coffee and traditional buffet food for both breakfast and lunch. Honestly, check it out.
- Take in the views from Skansen Kronan - This is a small stone fortress perched atop a hill, not far from Haga Nygata. It offers commanding views out across Gothenburg, so it is the perfect way to see a bit more of the city if you're pressed for time. I think it’s also possible to go into the castle, but it was closed for a private function on the day we visited.
- Spend the evening at Liseberg amusement park - I’m gutted to say that we didn’t get a chance to visit as it was closed when we were here; we even drove to the entrance in the hope Google was wrong and it was in fact open! If you get the chance to visit, or have been, let me know in the comments below ...
If, like us, you are roadtripping Sweden and plan to head through Denmark, then make sure you stop off at Malmo.
It’s just before the famous Oresund Bridge and is Sweden’s third biggest city.
Once again, what makes Malmo so nice is that it doesn't feel like a big urban city.
Instead, it takes only a few hours to explore much of what the Old Town has to offer, especially if you use an electric scooter to get around.
If you happen to be visiting in December (which is when we were there) then you’ll find a small set of Christmas markets up near Gustav Adolfs torg, they’re not large but worth checking out.
Best things to do in Malmo
- Sightsee on a scooter - Easily my favourite memory from our visit to Malmo was riding around the city on our Lime scooters. These are located all throughout the city and are very cheap and easy to use. They allow you to visit much of the city in less than half an hour and are a lot of fun to use.
- Head for lunch at Lilla Torg - If you’re looking for nice places to eat in Malmo, then I recommend heading to Lilla Torg. There are cosy cafes and restaurants all around this square, many with outdoor seats and heaters; allowing you to enjoy tasty food in the surroundings of many historic buildings. We opted for TGI Fridays because they'd just released their Beyond Meat burger (give it a go!).
- Visit Malmo Castle - The castle you see here today is almost 500 years old and is one of Sweden’s historically most important and strategic fortress’s. If you’re driving into Malmo, then park here like we did; you get to enjoy the castle and then take a short walk or scooter ride into the heart of the city.
Located on the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia, Härnösand is easily one of the best places to visit in Sweden.
We didn’t spend very much time in Härnösand itself, however all around it are some really lovely spots, so that’s why it made the list!
It would be a really nice place to base yourself for a few days, whilst you explore all the neighbouring Swedish tourist attractions.
Best things to do in Härnösand
- Take in views of the Gulf of Bothnia - On a clear day, the Gulf of Bothnia is really beautiful, and you can see for miles. It’s possible to see out all down the eastern coast of Sweden, which is one thing that made the drive south from Lulea so nice.
- Drive over the Hoga Kusten Bridge - Scandinavia is home to many of the nicest bridges we have ever seen! Norway has those on the Lofoten Islands, Denmark shares the Oresund Bridge, and perhaps my favorite in Sweden was the Hoga Kusten Bridge which stretches for more than a kilometre over the river Ångermanälven. It’s just 20 minutes outside of Härnösand.
- Visit Hemsö Fortress - Located on a small island just outside Härnösand, Hemsö Fortress was built during the Cold War to house more than 300 soldiers. It’s in a really picturesque location and you’re even able to go underground with a tour guide to learn more about the fortress and the role it played.
- Hike in the Skuleskogen National Park - Sweden is filled with beautiful national parks; with Skuleskogen being one of the most famous and noteworthy. From Härnösand it’s only an hour drive north, and along the way you get to cross over the Hoga Kusten Bridge.
Common questions when visiting Sweden
A few final travel tips ...
What’s the best way to get around Sweden?
Based on our experience, I can say that having your own vehicle to drive around Sweden is such an incredible experience!
Sure, all of the places mentioned on this list are great to visit, but I can honestly say that it’s the in between moments that helped make our time in Sweden so memorable.
Connecting all of these wonderful cities and towns and gorgeous roads, with spectacular views almost the whole way.
Especially in Lapland and eastern Sweden that border the Gulf of Bothnia.
Also, there are a few other really great places to visit in Sweden, such as a few Swedish castles, that can only be reached by car.
However, it’s easy to hire a car from any of the cities mentioned above.
The best way to find a great deal would be with Rentalcars.com.
Is Sweden expensive?
Compared to most other countries in Europe, yes.
Sweden is pretty expensive for a lot of things, in particular fuel where it was usually 20% more expensive per litre than even Norway!
That being said, it is possible to do it on a moderate budget, which is what we did.
How long do you need to visit Sweden?
As long as possible!
We had three weeks here in total, as well as our own vehicle which meant we could see a lot.
If you have a week or two, then I would 100% recommend getting your own set of wheels so you can see as much as possible.
If you have only a few days, then a short break to Stockholm would be amazing and give you the chance to see many of Sweden’s nicest sites and get a feel for the country.
What’s the best way to book accommodation in Sweden?
For the biggest range of accommodation, I recommend using Booking.com.
They allow you to filter based on lots of things, notably your budget and room preferences.
My second recommendation would be Airbnb as they’ve tonnes of listings all across Sweden, though it’s a good idea to try and book as far in advance as possible to get the best value properties.
The cheapest way to sleep in Sweden is to wild camp, which is of course a lot easier if you have your own campervan.
They have the Everyman’s Right in Sweden which permits wild camping all across the country, as long as you obey some pretty straightforward rules.
Have you been to Sweden and visited any of the places on this list? Or do you have any other recommendations for the best places to visit in Sweden? If so, I’d love to hear from you so just leave a comment below ...