Exploring Sweden is a great way to take a deep dive into local culture and history. There is so much to see and do that you’ll never find yourself without a new adventure!
We’ve created a list of essential places to see that are easily accessible while you’re in Sweden:
Birka is commonly known as Sweden’s first city. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and archaeological complex, this place gives great insight into what a thriving Viking trade town would have been like in the 8th and 9th centuries.
Many of the Vikings who left Birka in the 10th century, went on to establish the town of Sigtuna. Founded in 970 A.D. by King Erik the Victorious, this is one of the oldest towns in Sweden. Currently with 8,000 residents, it’s a picturesque town known for its medieval churches.
Drottningholm Palace was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its beauty and important history. It is very reminiscent of Versailles, and the current royal family even holds its private residence in part of the palace. The Baroque and English gardens surrounding the glorious architecture make it a main attraction when visiting Sweden.
The Stockholm Archipelago
For those based in Stockholm, you cannot miss visiting the archipelago. Composed of 30,000 islands, skerries, and islets (about 200 are inhabited), there are many options for exploration. From charming fishing villages, secluded summer house stays, and extensive water activities to upscale retreats, the calmness and beauty of the area make it a welcome retreat from city life. If you’re not sure where to start, maybe try Vaxholm, which is just one hour away from Stockholm by ferry and often referred to as the capital of the archipelago.
Ulriksdals Slott is a royal palace just north of Stockholm that dates back to the 17th century. The palace gardens are particularly delightful.
The Sormland Trail stretches more than 1,000 kilometers, making it one of the longest Scandinavian hiking trails. There are many different places throughout Stockholm where hikers can access the trail which features many landscapes from lakes and coastline to dense forest. Nearly all of the path is uninhabited, and hikers can see moose, deer, and other wild animals along the trail.
As the second largest city in Sweden, the post-industrial port town of Göteborg, or Gothenburg, has tons of charm and a variety of activities. You could take a stroll in Slottskogen, the forest park in the center of the city, or have a fika break in the Haga neighborhood, with its timbered buildings and cobble stoned streets strewn with cafes and independent shops. Hop on one of the historic trams to the Gothenburg Museum of Art or find yourself some seafood and craft beer while scoping out the foremost music scene in Sweden. You can also venture just outside of town on a ferry to visit the Skärgård, or archipelago, just off the south coast of the city.
The magical island of Gotland is a combination of spectacular wilderness and medieval history. The coastline with its sandy beaches and sea stacks inspire the imagination and the UNESCO World Heritage town of Visby gives visitors a chance to step back in time to what is considered one of the best-preserved mediaeval cities in Europe.
One of the most culturally rich and charming cities in Sweden, Uppsala is known for its art and university culture. The center of Uppsala is particularly special, with the Gothic Uppsala Cathedral, cobblestone streets, and centuries-old university buildings lining the river. Uppsala University is also the oldest university in the Nordic countries, founded in 1477. At Gamla Uppsala (a 15-minute bus ride from Uppsala), you’ll find the famous Viking burial mounds and can visit the Viking museum. Apart from history, the city has one of the best bar and restaurant scenes in Sweden. You can even try some of the delicious street food found around the city center.
The west coast area of Bohuslän just outside of Gothenberg is such a beautiful part of Sweden, but the island of Tjörn is particularly enchanting. Popular with artists, this island has a fantastic watercolor museum, and the spectacular rocky landscapes creates a beautiful environment to enjoy outdoor activities, like sailing.
The history and natural beauty of the Höga Kusten, or High Coast, are immediately recommend it as a fantastic place to visit. The Petroglyphs at Nämforsen show the visual history and cultural heritage of the area with some rock carvings dating back 6,000 years. The outdoor water activities, distilleries, hiking trails, and museums all set amongst the stunning landscape make it an ideal base for exploring the east coast of Sweden.
Take the night train and go all the way up to Swedish Lapland where there are so many outdoor activities that you would never get bored. The town of Kiruna is a great base for exploring the area and is known for being an incredible location to take in the Northern Lights. During the day, you can go on a moose safari, ski, take a snowmobile tour, and finish off the day by staying in an ice hotel.
How to Get Around Sweden
• Learn about DIS Transportation Coverage for students. You will find more details about your transportation coverage in the days leading up to your arrival in Scandinavia.
• Traveling around the greater Stockholm area? Visit our resources on our website for tips on using Stockholms’s well-networked public transportation.
• Planning your journey? We recommend using SL journey planner (Reseplaneraren in Swedish), a website and app designed to show you the easiest route from A to B using all forms of public transportation in Sweden. Find the SL journey planner website here.