Get Outside! A series on outdoor exploration in Sweden

Eva (she/her), Dennison University, spent her semester as a Student Photographer in Stockholm capturing images of the outdoors in Sweden. Read and see her reflections and recommendations on a semester full of sunshine and snow.

The Water:

Whether it’s the beginning of fall, end of the spring, or smack in the middle of summer, Stockholm has copious opportunities to explore the water. It is so special to be in a place that uses the water as a primary mode of transportation. As a DIS student, you are given an SL card, which can be used for many of the ferries around Stockholm.

Tips for using the ferries (based on my own mix ups!):

  • Plan out your ferry ride using the SL app before you head to the ferry. 
  • Check the time of the LAST ferry leaving the island for the night. (Yes, I got stuck once haha).
  • Make sure you pull down the rope to lock the semaphore signal (on each jetty) to let passenger boats know that you want to be picked up. 

Day Trips: 

My favorite spot near Stockholm for a day trip is Tyresta National Park! Walking through this park feels like you have been transported far from city life. I was eager to go to Tyresta National Park because I had read that it is an old-growth forest with pines that date back to 400 years ago, and they were even more magnificent than I had pictured.  

Tips for getting to Tyresta:

  • Use your public transport app of choice to get there (and give yourself about an hour for transportation).
  • Make sure you look at the time that the last bus you take to the park will be leaving because you want to plan out getting to that bus at a good time (it can be very spread out). 
  • Stop at the café when you finish your hike to get a hot cocoa!

Other options for day trips: 

  • Drottningholm
    • Has beautiful grounds to walk in around the palace. 
  • Norra Djurgården 
  • Haga Park (Hagaparken)
    • A great public park in Solna that is very close and easy to get to by bus. You can go on a walk in the woods and along the water that crosses paths with many historical landmarks and castles. 

Backyard Exploration: 

The areas right around your living space may have plenty of options to explore the outdoors! These photos were taken outside of the Årsta Studentboende (go Årsta!!). Stockholm prioritizes having green spaces throughout the city, so you don’t have to go far to give yourself a break in nature. 

Northern Sweden: Åre 

I highly recommend that you give yourself a weekend in Northern Sweden if you have the time! Living in Stockholm can give the false impression that all Swedes live the urban life. It was fun to do some research to see all of the towns that are an easy overnight train ride from Stockholm. I ended up going with a group of friends to Åre (which is a popular ski spot) to do a hike that would allow us to see the peaks of Norwegian and Swedish mountains.  

Tips for Åre:  

  • Dress for the weather! If we were not dressed correctly, the best part of the hike would have been a little miserable. 
  • If you are on a budget or time crunch, get sleeper cars on the overnight train as your transportation and accommodation. We got on the train on Friday night and woke up in Åre on Saturday morning. After hiking all day we got back on the train on Saturday night and woke up the next morning back in Stockholm.
  • I would not recommend buying just a seat for the overnight train if you want to get some sleep. They never turned off the lights and people getting on and off all night made it nearly impossible to sleep — opt for the sleeper cars.
  • Bring snacks to last your whole time there! There were not many options for food (that were not very expensive) during the off-season in this ski town.  

Even further north: Kiruna 

I highly recommend that you plan a trip to the Arctic circle during your time in Sweden. The style of life, the wildlife, and the natural phenomena (like the northern lights!) offer you a wealth of educational opportunities. There are many places that you can go to see the Arctic (Abisko, Luleå, Tornio), but we went to Kiruna. The overnight train to Kiruna is 15 hours and the flight is less than two hours.

Tips for going to the Swedish Arctic: 

  • I cannot express how important it is to bring the right clothes. If you do not have clothes meant for cold weather then, layer layer layer, or rent gear while there.  
  • If you have time, I would recommend taking the train! Waking up on the train going through white frosted trees was one of my favorite views from the trip. 
  • Plan activities for yourself ahead of time! Join group excursions with a guide, or plan out the logistics of things you will do on your own. Once you arrive in the frosty world, it is easy to become content staying inside (which is also okay), but having a list will help you go out and see more. 
  • Set up opportunities to see the Northern lights, but do not make that the center of the trip. The Northern lights are very common in northern Sweden, but there is no guarantee that you will be able to see them (no matter what an app says). Try to think of them as a special gift rather than the sole purpose of your time there.

Learn more about exploring Sweden:

>> Exploring the Stockholm Archipelago
>> Slow Travel Scenes from Arctic Sweden
>> Off the Beaten Track in Sweden: DIS Slow Travel Initiative

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