What comes to mind when you think of Sweden? Swedish design, northern lights, beautiful cities, or something else? Sweden is full of history, culture, stunning landscapes, and other incredible sites to see and things to do. It is worth a visit no matter who you are, but especially if you have Swedish ancestry. Visiting your homeland can help you feel connected with your ancestors, celebrate your cultural heritage, and discover a love for Sweden.
Below, we have provided a list of more than 20 things you can do when you visit Sweden to encounter its natural beauty, to experience Swedish culture, and to appreciate Sweden’s history. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which are considered to hold cultural or natural significance.
Swedish Cultural Experiences
Engage in cultural experiences to gain invaluable insight into your ancestors’ lives. Below are some things to do in Sweden to help you get started.
This picturesque medieval town is stunningly well preserved and is well-known for its town wall. It overflows with charm due to its arches, cobblestone streets, and Old World shops.
The Øresund Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe. It connects the Swedish city of Malmö and the Danish city of Copenhagen. It was an engineering feat that connected two economically struggling cities, opened communications, and expanded globalization for the area.
Gamla Stan is Stockholm’s original city center and old town. Visit this historic district for a rich cultural experience featuring cobblestone streets, museums, and palaces.
This car-free town is nestled on the ocean and is known as the capital of sailing in Sweden. Discover its beautiful scenery, swimming, shops, and history.
Known as the original ice hotel, the ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi is remade every winter with new styles and art. Experience a true Swedish winter in style.
This historic canal covers 190 kilometers and is to date the largest construction project completed in Sweden. Travel along the canal to take a trip through Sweden’s history and culture.
The Laponian area rests within the Arctic Circle, and it is home to the Saami people, a native tribe. It is one of the world’s few remaining places that maintains a seminomadic life based on herding reindeer.
Swedish Museums and Historic Sites
Sweden has an abundance of historic sites you can visit, including several of Sweden’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, of which we have included a few. Here are some popular choices to visit.
This popular museum features the world’s best-preserved 17th-century ship. After spending 333 years at the bottom of the sea, the Vasa was salvaged to be displayed for the world to see.
The Ales Stenar is a stone formation located in southern Öland in Sweden. Several large stones stand erect in the shape of a boat.
This well-preserved church village is home to 424 wooden homes surrounding a church. What makes them unique is that the homes were empty except on Sundays or after church festivals when worshippers could not immediately travel home due to the distance.
The Nobel Prize holds renown throughout the world, and it began with a Swedish chemist in 1895. With the aim to spark an interest in the spread of knowledge, the Nobel Museum houses a century’s worth of the creativity and thought of winners.
Stockholm’s Medieval Museum
Called “Medeltidsmuseum” in Swedish, the Medieval Museum features exhibits on life in medieval Stockholm. What better way to get in touch with your ancestors’ lives?
Tour the Sala silver mine, which was in use for 500 years. At times, concerts and events are hosted in the mines, and you can even stay the night.
*Tanum Rock Carvings
These rock carvings are noteworthy for the large number of carvings, the variety of subject matter, their high quality, and the representation of cultural unity.
As the world’s oldest open-air museum, Skansen has a lot to offer. It features Swedish farms and houses, guided tours, a Baltic Sea Science Center, a children’s zoo, and more.
Sigtuna is the oldest surviving town in Sweden and was founded in AD 980. Visit the town to see medieval churches, ruins, and castles.
Castles and Cathedrals in Sweden
Sweden is home to some of the world’s most beautiful castles and cathedrals. These historic buildings are a must-see on your trip.
At this castle from the 1600s, take in the palace gardens, theater, and magnificent architecture. While it serves as a private home of the Swedish royal family, much of the castle is open to the public all year.
The Stockholm Palace is both one of the largest palaces in Europe and the Royal Palace of Sweden. It has 11 floors and over 1,400 rooms.
This castle was built in 1434, partially destroyed in the 16th century, and then rebuilt in the 1530s. Today, it is known as the oldest preserved castle in Scandinavia.
This impressive, tall cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of Uppsala. It dates back to the 13th century and houses the tombs of past monarchs and archbishops.
This Lutheran cathedral has over 700,000 visitors every year with good reason. It was consecrated in 1123 and has had several artistic renovations and additions since then.
Nature in Sweden
With a wide array of natural landscapes, from alpine peaks to plains to beaches to rocky coastlines, Sweden has it all. Depending on the part of the country and the time of the year you visit, you will have entirely unique experiences. Here are some suggestions to help you choose where to go and when to visit.
This dramatic coastline features red, granite cliffs and rocky islands dotting the sea. Hike its 40-kilometer trail to take in the “coastal mountains, ancient forests, and glimmering coastline.”
Abisko National Park
The Abisko National Park is located in the heart of the Alpine mountains. Enjoy lakes, rapids, and flowering meadows. In the height of summer, you can even experience the midnight sun, a time when the sun does not set.
Between the months of September and March, visit the Swedish Lapland for a chance to see the northern lights. This vibrant light show is one of nature’s finest wonders.
Kungsleden is a world-famous hiking trail that is 440 kilometers long. It runs through Lapland, and some sections are paved and well-maintained, while others are swampy and difficult. Be sure to do your research before attempting the hike.
One of the best ways to connect with a culture is through food. Try some of these Swedish foods on your trip to enhance your experience. Visit some of these restaurants recommended on Sweden’s official site while you’re there as well.
What is cultural heritage, and what can you do to further honor your ancestors as you prepare to visit your country of origin? Learn more here, and take some time to discover more about Sweden and your family story.
*UNESCO World Heritage Site