Sweden is a Scandinavian country in northern Europe. To the west it borders Norway and Finland to the east. It is officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden. With a population of 9.8 million people, Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union. Sweden is the 7th richest country in the world by GDP per capita with a high standard of living for its citizens.
Sweden boasts many authors who are renowned worldwide for their work. There have been seven Nobel Prizes in Literature awarded to Swedes. It has birth talented painters and sculptors such as Carl Larsson, Anders Zorn, Tobias Serget and Carl Milles. Sweden has rich musical tradition which ranges from medieval folk ballads to hip hop music.
The architecture in Sweden is superbly breathtaking. It is the home of many beautiful cathedrals and historical buildings that tell raw history.
I think Sweden might be the only place you can rent your own floating sauna. One of the many unique reasons it is an awesome place to visit.
When to Visit – Weather
Generally speaking, May – September is the best period to travel to Sweden. During the summertime the days are longer and there is less rain. The first snow starts to fall in September. In November the place is blanketed in snow which usually lasts into March or April of the following year. In the northern parts of Sweden the temperatures can drop as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius and there is snowfall sometimes lasts into May, while in the southern areas winters are usually mild.
The biggest and most important celebration in Sweden is Midsummer. This celebration usually occurs on a Friday between June 19 and June 25. Locals celebrate the longest day of the year. Folk musicians play as people dance around the Midsummer pole (which is decorated with fresh flowers and leaves gathered in the woods). The party starts after the dancing. There is a folklore that says that if a woman picks seven different flowers and lays them under her pillow on Midsummer’s night, she will dream of her future spouse. I know a lot of women that this would be of so much help to.
Food and Drink
Swedish cuisine mostly consists of meat, fish and potatoes. Traditional everyday dishes are called husmanskost. Daily Swedish favorites include meatballs, hash, pea soup, Blodpodding (a black sausage made by pig's blood and flour, sliced, fried and eaten with lingonberry jam), Graviax (thin slices of salmon cured in salt, sugar and dill), Fulakorv (a big baloney from Falun that is sliced, fried and eaten with ketchup and mashed potatoes), Ost hard cheese, Kroppkakor (potato dumpling stuffed with diced pork), and Tunnbrödrulle (a fast food dish that contains a bread wrap with mashed potatoes, a hot dog and some vegetables).
The Swedes love pickled herring. The herring there comes in different flavors and can be served with sour cream and chives or crispy bread or potatoes.
Lingonberry jam accompanies many dishes in Sweden including meatballs, pancakes, porridge and black pudding. Even though it is sweet, you will rarely ever see it being eaten with bread.
Knäckebröd is the name given to Swedish crisp bread. It can often be found served with your main meal. If stored properly crisp bread can last a year. Its versatility allows it to be served with many things. It can be topped with anything. I preferred to top it with boiled eggs for breakfast. For lunch it can be topped with cheese and for dinner it can be topped with plain butter. See how versatile this bread really is?
Open sandwiches, known to the locals as Räksmörgås are popular in Sweden. Räksmörgås can be piled with boiled egg slices, lettuce, tomato and cucumber with shrimp. This meal, to a local is fit for a king.
You have to visit the nearest Systembolaget which is a government owned and run retail chain if you want to purchase alcohol that is above 3% ABV outside of a restaurant or bar. It is illegal to buy take home alcohol otherwise. Sweden’s most popular alcoholic beverage is Absolut vodka which is actually one of the World’s most famous vodkas. Sweden has enforced non-smoking in all bars, pubs and restaurants. You can smoke in outdoor areas such as terraces, and designated smoking rooms but drinks are not permitted in these areas.
There are a lot of Fika cafes in Sweden. There is always one close at hand. The word “Fika” translates loosely to “coffee break” or “pause”. It is an important part of Swedish culture. Fika cafes offer a good atmosphere for you to enjoy coffee and pastries with your friends and family.
Sweden’s tap water is better than bottled water as its water supply is well filtered and really clean. You will find that majority of the environmentally-conscious country’s citizens choose to pass on drinking water from plastic bottles.
Popular Vacation Spots
Stockholm - The capital of Sweden, Stockholm is revered as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. This city combines magnificent scenery, ancient history and tradition, and a pervasive innovative spirit which gives it its unique charm. Encompassing 14 islands of the vast Stockholm archipelago on the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is a city where it’s easy and efficient to move around, where the air is fresh and the waters clean, with vast green areas permeating the city with plenty of space for everyone to roam freely
The Stockholm Archipelago - Possessing over 30,000 islands, islets and skerries, the Stockholm Archipelago is the largest archipelago in Sweden and the second-largest archipelago in the Baltic Sea. Archipelago boats allow you to access the Stockholm archipelago. The boats themselves carry rich history and culture as some of them date back to a century thanks to great preservation. You can choose from shorter excursions lasting just a couple of hours, to day tours or even longer excursions with overnight stays. Many boat tours also offer gourmet lunch or dinner.
Gothenburg - Gothenburg is a major city in Sweden. It can be found off the Göta älv river on the country's west coast. Known for its Dutch-style canals and leafy boulevards, Gothenburg is an important seaport. The capital of West Sweden, it is home to Sweden’s biggest botanical garden which has over 16,000 species. Avenyn, the main boulevard of Gothenburg, is lined with many cafes and shops. There is an amusement park with themed rides, performance venues and a landscaped sculpture garden called Liseberg.
Malmö - Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden and the 6th largest in the Nordic countries. It is a multicultural place full of energy. You can dine at one of the organic restaurants and shop for the latest fashion, all produced in a way that is friendly to the environment.
IceHotel - It is the world’s first ice hotel and you will be surprised to know that this hotel is built every single year with snow and ice in the village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden. Spreading over 5,500 square meter complex includes an Ice church and an Icebar. It is constructed newly in November to December, but melts in April to May. It offers snow rooms, ice rooms and Art suites. For recreational activities you can book snowmobile trips. If you are adventurous and you want a unique experience then this place is a must when you are in Sweden.
The currency in Sweden is called the Swedish Krona. Bank notes are available in values of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 kronor while coins are available in 1, 5 and 10 kronor. Sweden is practically the most cash-free society in the world. Credit and debit cards are the most common ways purchases are made in Sweden. That does not mean that cash is not accepted. You can also use travelers’ cheques. Sweden aims to be a cashless economy soon.
When it comes to communication in Sweden, do not assume that all Swedish people understand or speak English. Although English is the universal language it is not the official language of Sweden. The first language of Swedish citizens is Swedish. The foreign language with the highest knowledge rate among the Swedish is English followed by German, Norwegian, Danish and French. I would advise you to learn some basic Swedish. Be sure not to be too animated when conversing in Sweden. This can really irritate the locals especially if your voice gets too high.
Public Transportation is used regularly in Sweden. Trains and buses are usually the main sources of public transportation. The Swedish drive on the right side of the road. The roads and highways are well-maintained and there are rarely any traffic jams.
The Swedish like to be environmentally friendly. Recycling is mandatory and a lot of products offered in Sweden are cruelty free. A typical house in Sweden has three garbage bins with labels as to what should go in them.