– SVERIGE –
The home of gorgeous blondes, IKEA, Volvo and endless summer nights.
Even though I’ve spent a large part of my adult life living around the world I will never deny the beauty and love I keep for my home country. Not only is Sweden rated one of the best countries on the planet to live in, it is at the top when it comes to gender equality, LGBT rights and it has an incredible welfare system and some of the most unique landscapes, nature and history in the world.
It may be covered in snow for most part of the year, which is why many swedes show their faces in countries like Thailand, Australia and Turkey during the winter months but it is the country’s strong diversity in weather and activities during all four seasons that is the true charm of this Scandinavian beauty.
Not only the nature changes with the seasons but also the light, the colors of nature, the animals and the people.
Many travelers go on Euro trips but miss out on visiting Scandinavia and Sweden, probably partly because it’s a bit trickier to get to than some of the other European countries which are more accessible via train, but I’m here to provide you with 10+ reasons to why Sweden should be part of your European itinerary!
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1. The different seasons
Sweden may be a rather cold country if compared with many other countries but on the plus side it has all the seasons, in full expressive power. The first snowfall of the season is magical and bring swedes into mutual amaze every single year, and don’t even get me started on the midnight sun in the summers (Point no. 10).
It’s only in a very small amount of countries that you can actually smell spring as it gets closer and watch how trees, flowers and nature comes back to life after being covered in snow, ice and frost.
As the temperature rises and the days get longer the whole country of Sweden comes to life, swedes get half naked (well almost) and all restaurants dust off their outdoors seating to provide thirsty summer enthusiasts with cider and beer.
As autumn arrives all trees of Sweden prepare for winter by changing in shades of red & yellow and drop their leaves to the ground creating perfect homes for hedgehogs roaming the forests.
Sweden is a country worth experiencing in all seasons because of their beauty and diversity.
2. The lakes
Sweden is a very long country filled with sparkling lakes, forests and hills. The lakes being one of the best parts.
During the summer months it is very common amongst swedes to bring a picnic basket, a BBQ, a bunch of friends and some cold drinks to spend a whole day by the lake. The cliffs, surrounding the perfectly mirroring lakes, are heated by the sun which make them a perfect place to place your blanket.
When the midnight sun has arrived you better be prepared for what the french call a “Swedish bath”, this means leaving your swimmers at the picnic basket for a dip naked in the water. Everyone does it. Swedes carry little shame and a lot of freedom.
With Sweden being quite cold a large part of the year, Swedish children (and adults) spend a lot of time inside doing indoors things; Reading magazines, listening to music, baking, cooking and creating things. This results in Sweden being one of the most creatively thriving countries in the world. Pretty much every swede you meet will have a talent within something creative, just as Australians have a talent for outside summer sports and Canadians for ice hockey (Even though Sweden obviously kicks their ass sometimes)…
Swedish people are creatives & artists and are happy to share some of the magic with you surrounding you with acoustic guitars and “allsång” (singing in groups).
Did you know that a fascinating 97% of Sweden is uninhabited? This leaves a lot of nature to explore and plenty of room for yourself. It also means that with only 3% of the country populated it is easy to locate the populated areas and discover their best parts. Sweden is one of the most nature conscious nations in the world and has made sure it’s nature is well preserved covering Sweden in national parks & nature reserves, it is also at the top of the list regarding recycling with a smashing 99% of household waste being recycled.
It’s without doubt that Swedes love their beauty and work hard to keep it that way…
- The History. Sweden is a country rich with history and has been well preserved with architecture, churches, narrow alleys and cobbled street. Gamla stan and the Vasa museum in Stockholm are two of the most known tourist attractions of Sweden but Soderkoping (Picture shown above) is also a famous destination for it’s history and beauty.
- Nature & Wildlife. In Sweden you’ll find flourishing forests, wild flower fields, small & large lakes, mountains & hills wherever you go. The nature in the south is very different from the nature in the north, and the coast from the inland. Not only does Sweden have nature compared to famous beauties like New Zealand and Canada but it also has some of the most wild wildlife. In Sweden it is very common to bump into Moose, deer, rabbits and various birds, but Sweden also has other predators like bear, wolves, lynx and wolverines. However these predators tend to stay far away from humans so you would be very lucky if you bumped into one.
- The people. A lot of Sweden’s people are naturally blonde, tall, fair and blue eyed. These are unique trades that other nationalities show appreciation towards and swedes have topped the lists as some of the most beautiful people in the world more often than not. (If you think I’m being partial, find this article as an example.) According to stories Swedes owe it all to the Vikings for bringing gorgeous women back to Sweden after their raids through the world.
true national day of Sweden, if you ask a Swede, falls on the Friday between the 19-26 of June (the actual national day is 6 June). This is when Sweden shows off it’s best (sometimes worst) manners, Stockholm gets deserted, and everyone escapes the city to spend the weekend in a tent, at the country house or on an island far away from traffic lights and skyscrapers.
This is a holiday to wear flowers in your hair and start your intake of alcohol at the same time as breakfast. This is the day where you’ll end up dancing around a maypole (representing an up-side down penis fertilizing the earth) dressed in flowers singing children songs. It does not matter what age you are or where you’re from: You will dance and pick wild flowers. You will eat fresh potatoes cooked with dill, pies, homemade Swedish meatballs and drink snaps – and you will sing whilst doing it!
Sweden takes the shape of a winter wonderland for about 5 months every year which means the possibilities for winter sports are endless. Whether you like snowboarding or skiing Sweden has over 200 ski resort to offer but you can also get your daily exercise enjoying activities like curling, or ice skating on top of a frozen lake. Or if you prefer you could just build a snowman in the backyard or go down a hill on a black garbage bag.
Sweden has all the snow and ice you could possibly ask for!
7. The fashion
Photo from: http://angelicablick.se/
With brands like Acne, H&M, Nudie and Cheap Monday, the Swedish fashion industry has become one of the country’s largest exports, close after music and design.
Swedes usually show up well dressed on all occasions and Swedish men and women are said to be some of the most well dressed men in the world. Score!
In Sweden it’s easy to find nice clothes which are not too expensive and of great quality… and you’ll be inspired doing so after seeing streets covered in people dressed for success. (cheesy Roxette line intended 😉
8. The nurturing forests
Swedish forests are an absolute treasure worth defending.
With the sun hanging low on the sky all throughout the days, the shadow play as the sun rays are reaching through the tall pine trees create one of the most beautiful forests sights you can and will experience. Not only is it nurturing to the mind but as you walk through Swedish forests you’ll find heaps of natures treats- safe to eat as you pick them (Just make sure they’re not flugsvamp). The Swedish allemansratt (find explanation at the bottom of this post) makes it legal for everyone to pick berries and mushrooms in Sweden’s forests.
So if you’re exploring the forest in autumn, and is lucky, you can find what swedes call “gold of the forest” which is chanterelles (an edible mushroom). These are so valuable to swedes that people find they’re own places in the forest which they claim as their own “secret gold mines”. Watch out! 😉
Something a bit
safer would be picking apples, pears and plums off of tree branches hanging outside the fences of peoples gardens. Even though this may or may not be particularly “legal”, everybody worthy of the name swede has done it multiple times!
If you’re walking along a country road around summer, keep your eyes out for wild berries as they tend to grow at the sides of the road. Picking fresh blueberries and raspberries in the morning to mix with milk for breakfast is true bliss.
9. Music festivals
Photo: Malin Sydne, Peace & Love
Since Sweden is one of the most successful music exporters in the world, here is where you’ll catch the Swedish treasures before they get famous all over the world. The best part about Swedish festivals? Swedish people get very into the festival vibes and there won’t be many people tip toeing around the edges. There will be people on shoulders of others, “caught in the moment” kissing and strangers hugging amongst the crowds. There will be nudity, singing and lots of jumping.
So buy the most colorful wellies you can find and get in the crowd, dance, jump and sing along as much as you like. People coming together in a massive love party is what music festivals are about, and Swedes are rather awesome at this!
Some festivals worth checking out: Bråvalla, Way out west, Peace & love, Hultsfred, Sweden Rock, Summerburst
10. The unique sun hours
Photo from: https://sweden.se
If you have a look at the graphic above you’ll soon realize that Sweden is something out of the ordinary. Sweden is not only unique for it’s nature but also for the crazy sun hours. For most parts of Sweden the sun settles around midnight on an ordinary summer night and rises again at 3 am in the morning, so as you walk home from a night out in the clubs you will do it in bright daylight. The best part? You will most likely not suffer any one night stand morning surprises the morning following a big night out! 😉
In winter the sun rises around 8 am and settles at around 3 pm. Of course the hours of sun defers depending on where in Sweden you find yourself, far north in Sweden you can experience midnight sun, which means the sun never settles.
Overall the hours of sunlight are extraordinary, and can be very strange when not used to it.
A few more reasons (In case the 10 listed above are not enough):
The northern lights
Sweden is one of few countries in the world that you can experience the great colorful beauty of the northern lights.
Under the Right of Public Access (Allemansrätten), anyone is entitled to hike and camp (one night) through forests and fields, without asking the landowner’s permission, but this right also comes with an obligation to respect the natural environment and it’s animals by making sure no garbage is left behind or any nature ruined. Don’t disturb, don’t destroy.
‘Everybody’ speaks English.
In Sweden you will quickly find that everyone from the age of 11 (!!) to the age of 50 speaks English enough to understand you.
English is taught in Swedish schools from the age of 8 (ish) and music, movies and TV shows are kept in English with Swedish subtitles and is not dubbed as in other countries.
The ice hotel.
This is probably the coolest thing on this list! Seriously.
In Jukkasjärvi, a small village in northern Sweden you can find the Ice Hotel. This hotel is nothing like other hotels. It only exists in winter and is entirely built out of snow and ice. It’s an unique work of art that you can actually live in!
Swedish food contains of a variety of everything. Swedes tend to mix things up and eat their protein combined with pasta, potatoes or rice and very often serve their mains with a green salad and some type of sauce – Bearnaise sauce being a favorite for the weekend dinners. Swedes are healthy eaters if compared to many other nationalities but also enjoy having their pretty much religious coffees with treats like cinnamon buns, “saffransbullar” and “semla”. There’s special days in the calender for all three.