Sweden Country Profile: The Nordic Narnia
Updated: Mar 11
Capital city: Stockholm
Population: 10.5 million
Second largest city: Gothenburg
Official language(s): Swedish
Landmark you cannot miss: The Turning Torso, Malmo
Famous people include: Greta Thunberg, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Alfred Nobel, ABBA
Sweden is the largest of the Scandinavian countries and sits in the region of Northern Europe. It also belongs to the Nordic group made up of Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and Norway. The latter borders Sweden to the west, with Finland bordering to the East. A bridge known as the Øresund Bridge connects the cities of Copenhagen and Malmö artificially.
Sweden is naturally diverse and offers so much to explore and witness - beautiful summers, stunning archipelagos, thought-provoking museums and breathtaking natural topography. From the vibrant and spirited capital of Stockholm, to the idyllic countryside dotted with charming red cottages and serene lakes, Sweden offers a diverse range of experiences for all kinds of travelers.
In the capital Stockholm, you will be able to see first-hand how modernity meets history. The UNESCO-listed medieval town of Visby on the island of Gotland, provides a different type of experience, and for something even further away from the busy capital, visit the Abisko National Park in Lapland for breathtaking views of the countryside.
Sweden, or "Sverige" as it is known by the locals, is well-known for its stunning scenery, popular furniture brand IKEA, talented musicians such as ABBA and Avicii, but did you know it is also the third largest country in the EU by area, just behind France and Spain?!
Today, we take a deeper look into the Scandinavian state and exactly why you should visit as soon as you get the chance to.
Best Cities in Sweden
The cobblestone streets of Stockholm, combined with its narrow alleys, boutique shops and picturesque waterfront make the capital one of northern Europe's most desirable cities for tourism.
One of the best ways to experience much of this is to take a boat ride through the city, eventually stopping off at Gamla Stan and exploring the old town. If you didn't know already, Stockholm is built on 14 islands and exploring this way is probably the most practical and unique way to see as much of the city as possible.
Navigating through the hustle and bustle of the metropolis can be really fun and exhilarating... but also intense. Like any major European city, Stockholm is very busy, fast-paced and exuberant. Whilst this could tire you out after a long day of walking, it keeps you motivated to visit as many parts of the wonderful city as possible. In order to make this experience less tiresome make sure to utilise the capital's excellent public transport network. A travel card can be purchased at any of Stockholm's public transport ticket offices or the airport. These give you access to plenty of different transport options (trams, subways, buses) for a fixed period.
The coastal city of Gothenburg is certainly different to Stockholm and offers a completely different perspective of Sweden. Here, on the west coast, you will find plenty of maritime museums, ports and stereotypical red-roofed houses.
One of the main attractions in Gothenburg is the old town, known as Haga, which is filled with quaint, historic houses and cobblestone streets. Here, visitors can browse through beauteous cafes and charming market shops, looking at traditional Swedish gifts and sampling local delicacies and pastries such as Semla.
The Liseberg amusement park, which is the largest of its kind in Scandinavia, is also one of the region's most popular attractions. Visitors can enjoy roller coasters and other rides, as well as concerts and sporting events. ABBA once hosted a concert here to a sell-out crowd in 1975, but more recently has seen Lady Gaga and Guns N' Roses performing at the park.
Whilst you cannot deny Malmo's perfect location for those travelling to and from nearby Denmark, it is a brilliant city in its own right and shouldn't be passed off as just a stop between Copenhagen and Stockholm.
Malmo is the birthplace of footballing legend Zlatan Ibrahimović and Bo Widerberg the award-winning film director, its also home to the tallest building in Scandinavia (The Turning Torso).
I like to refer to the city as Sweden's answer to Amsterdam - due to its massively popular cycling culture. You will regularly see locals opting to cycle as their preferred mode of transport, due to its environmental and economical benefits. This way of life is one of the reasons why Malmo could definitely reach its goal of achieving carbon-neutral status by 2030.
My favourite thing to do in Malmo was to visit its 16th century, Danish-built, castle called Malmöhus. For me, it is easily one of northern Europe's most aesthetically-pleasing castles, alongside Schwerin Castle in Germany, because of its position in the middle of the Slottsgraven lake and its beautiful red exterior.
If you don't have long to spend in the city, do not fret! You can walk from the castle to The Turning Torso in under 20 minutes and see both before you make your way to your next destination, wherever that may be.
Things to Do and See in Sweden
Take a Stroll Around The Royal Palace, Stockholm
The Royal Palace has been home to the Swedish Royal Family since the 18th century when King at the time Adolf Frederick, settled in with his wife Queen Lovisa Ulrika. The primary residence of the family holds multiple offices and even museums and galleries open for public viewing.
The baroque-style palace is as centrally located as you will get in Stockholm, which sits on the historic island of Gamla Stan. With plenty of transport options throughout the city, getting here certainly won't be an issue. Entry to "Kungliga Slottet" can be booked online for the price of 160 SEK (approx. £12.00). The museum recommends you give yourself between 45 minutes to an hour for a full tour.
Discover the Spectacular Architecture of the Turning Torso, Malmo
As mentioned before, a visit to Malmo wouldn't be complete without visiting Scandinavia's tallest building. Not only is it insanely tall, its extremely cool-looking. Unlike most of the things I recommend you see or do in a city, finding the Turning Torso won't require much time or energy, as it dominates the skyline of Malmo. As soon as you visit the city, you will instantly catch a glimpse of this wonderful piece of architecture!
Drive Over the World-Renowned Øresund Bridge
Whether this ends up being your way in or way out of the country, crossing the Øresund Bridge at some stage of your trip should be high on your priority list. Cleverly, this bridge has created a border between two countries that geographically do not touch each other whatsoever. This has been instrumentally great for trade, the Schengen Zone and for tourists looking to quickly travel between both. Because of this, the Øresund has become one of the region's most important structural landmarks.
If you have already been to Sweden, or are now actively searching for hotels and flights, let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear what you think and any thoughts you had on our post!
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