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Outdoor fika
Having a Swedish 'fika' with freshly baked cinnamon buns at Waxholm bed & breakfast.
Photo credit: Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se

Swedish food – the ultimate foodie bucket list

If you're looking for unique food experiences in Sweden, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Here are ten culinary highlights – from regional delicacies and traditional Swedish food to modern fine dining – that should feature on anyone's foodie bucket list.
Fermented herring
'Surströmming' is fermented Baltic Sea herring that has been a staple of traditional northern Swedish cuisine since at least the 16th century. Not all Swedes eat it though.
Photo: Lola Akinmade Åkerström/imagebank.sweden.se

Dare to try ‘surströmming’ – fermented herring

A dish of international repute, ‘surströmming’ is a must on anyone's foodie bucket list. The smelly Baltic herring is salted and fermented in tins and served with ‘tunnbröd’ (flat bread), sliced boiled potato and chopped onion. Wash it down with beer and the high spirits that come with the occasion, which typically takes place outdoors – for obvious reasons – at the end of August. To immerse yourself in the tradition, check out the world's largest surströmming festival in Alfta, Hälsingland, or visit the High Coast island of Ulvön – the delicacy's birthplace.

Restaurant Ekstedt in Stockholm
Enjoy open-fire fine dining at restaurant Ekstedt. The restaurant offers seasonal ingredients flavoured with charcoal, smoke, ash and soot.
Photo: Ekstedt

Discover the top restaurants of modern Swedish gastronomy

Modern Swedish cuisine is charging ahead, with a strong focus on sustainability, locally sourced ingredients and innovative flavours. Experience true culinary innovation by visiting a restaurant headed by one of Sweden's foremost chefs. Florencia Abella, head chef at Michelin-starred Stockholm restaurant Ekstedt, cooks her creative take on Nordic cuisine over an open fire, using seasonal ingredients. And there are many other options – Sweden currently boasts 19 restaurants with one or more Michelin stars.

Midsummer celebration
Midsummer takes place in June and is a celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It is one of the most celebrated holidays in Sweden. A traditional lunch is served in the garden with pickled herring, new potatoes, cured salmon and drinking snaps followed by a drinking song.
Photo: Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se

Join a midsummer party – with its season-specific smorgasbord

Midsummer is celebrated enthusiastically in Sweden, calling for an elaborate daytime feast – followed by song and dance around the maypole. Join in to sample a smorgasbord of classics including salmon – smoked or gravad – and pickled herring served with boiled new potatoes. To drink, expect locally brewed craft beer and ‘snaps’– shots of herb-infused spirits with regional variations – accompanied with traditional ‘snapsvisor’ songs.

The Edible Country
The Edible Country is an initiative from Sweden, where the whole country is turned into a DIY-restaurant. Top chefs were invited to compose menus based on ingredients that can be found in Swedish nature. Several wooden tables were placed all over Sweden, and anyone can make a reservation to create a Swedish meal sourced in nature and then enjoy it in stunning scenery.
Photo: August Dellert/imagebank.sweden.se

Forage and cook in the great outdoors

Sweden’s right to roam policy invites anyone to enjoy Mother Nature’s edible gifts, throughout the year. You're even allowed to cook your harvest over an open fire in nature. So, set off with basket in hand, perhaps with an experienced guide by your side. Also consider booking a table through The Edible Country concept. This DIY Swedish food experience, focused on foraged ingredients and local produce, is dotted around the country – each spot selected for its natural beauty and rich culinary culture.

Meatballs
What could be more Swedish than our meatballs? Swedish meatballs, perhaps the country’s most famous culinary item, are a part of both traditional holiday meals and a staple in everyday home cooking. Swedish meatballs are traditionally served with gravy, mashed or boiled potatoes, lingonberries, and pickled cucumber.
Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se

Tuck into a plate of Swedish meatballs

Meatballs served the traditional Swedish way are a foodie bucket list essential. Made from minced pork and beef, Swedish meatballs are served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber. This much-loved dish is part of a culinary tradition called ‘husmanskost’ – translating roughly to comfort food. Today, you’ll find various modernised versions of the classic, including the vegetarian options served at Stockholm restaurant Meatballs for the People.

Crayfish party
Crayfish parties are an annual tradition in Sweden where people come together to eat crayfish and to spend time together. The crayfish parties normally take place in August and mark an end to summer.
Photo: Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se

Put your festive paper hat on and join a ‘kräftskiva’

A ‘kräftskiva’ or crayfish party is a joyful annual highlight, typically taking place in August and September. It involves lavishly decorated tables laden with mounds of bright red crayfish – served whole and chilled – and side dishes such as chanterelle toast and quiche filled with ‘Västerbottenost’ cheese, as well as vegetarian alternatives. Traditional songs are as essential as the key edibles, with classic tunes such as ‘Helan Går’ sung after a round of ‘snaps’.

Cinnamon buns
Swedes are among the top consumers of coffee and sweets in the world. There’s even a special day to celebrate the cinnamon bun, on 4 October.
Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/imagebank.sweden.se

Enjoy a traditional fika

Swedes love their fika – but don't mistake the custom for a coffee break with treats, the social aspect is just as important. So gather your friends and settle in a spot of your choice – be it in nature or a city cafe. Classic Swedish ‘konditori’ (patisserie) is brimming with fika classics like cinnamon buns, ‘princess cake’ and ‘seven types of cookies’ – a traditional biscuit selection currently enjoying a revival. Also consider ‘smörgåstårta’ – a festive, savoury ‘sandwich cake’, filled and decorated with Swedish favourites such as prawns, eggs, smoked salmon and fresh chives.

Coffebreak in the wild
Making coffee over an open fire.
Photo: Håkan Vargas S/imagebank.sweden.se

Experience the culinary traditions of the Sami people

Swedish Lapland, home of the indigenous Sami people, has a unique culinary culture. You must try 'kokkaffe' – coffee made over an open fire together with some dried, smoked reindeer meat whilst enjoying a spectacular view over the Swedish highlands. Just like the Sami people when taking a break and keeping track of their reindeer herd.

Kiosk, street food
There are plenty of kiosks around Sweden.
Photo: Maskot/Johnér

Pay a night-time visit to a ‘korvmoj’

Visit a ‘korvmoj’– a traditional sausage kiosk – to enjoy Sweden’s very own take on the hotdog, served tightly wrapped in a flat-bread ‘roll’ or ‘tunnbrödsrulle’, with lashings of mash potatoes and other trimmings. Nowadays you'll find creatively made, premium sausages and vegetarian fare on the menu. Sate your hunger after a night on the town and make the ‘korvmoj’ part of your foodie bucket list.

Cozy Friday
Tacos are a common meal for Swedes on a Friday night.
Photo: Maskot/Folio

How to do ‘fredagsmys’ like a Swede

Putting your feet up and treating yourself with something tasty after a long week's work is not the reserve of Swedes, but they do like to mark the beginning of the weekend properly. There's even a term for it – ‘fredagsmys’, translating to ‘cosy Friday’. This homebound weekly tradition involves plenty of crisps and snacks, with dinner often dominated by a new Swedish favourite, tacos – so much so that ‘fredagsmys’ is sometimes referred to as ‘taco Friday’. Enjoy!