A trip to Sweden – an experience that truly offers something else
The country’s unique nature can be experienced from award-winning glamping sites, architect-designed tree houses, and even luxurious rooms made entirely of ice. And the nature extends into the centre of the major cities, where you can kayak, swim and cycle amid trees, granite outcrops and sparkling water.
Soft adventures – all the action, less of the effort
Sweden holidays don’t have to involve exhausting hikes or braving hostile weather. Whether it’s high summer or icy winter, you can always head to a city spa or sauna, which range from the traditional to the bracingly modern. You can rent kayaks and explore quaysides from the water. And without even leaving the city, you can also cycle through forests, historic districts, along canals and through parks.
In Stockholm and Gothenburg, you can hop on a ferry and less than an hour later find yourself lunching by the water on a beautiful island. In close proximity to many cities, you can also go cross-country skiing or ice-skating during winter.
Shops like nowhere else
Sweden is known for fashion retailers like H&M (also behind the brands of COS and & Other Stories), and brands, such as Acne Studios, Nudie, Filippa K, Dagmar, Rodebjer and Tiger. But its cities also boast cool, kooky independent shops, as well as some of the world’s best thrift and retro stores.
In the capital, head to Södermalm, home to the city’s most interesting one-off boutiques, as well as charity and vintage shops selling the designer cast-offs of trendy Stockholmers. In Gothenburg, Magasinsgatan, arguably the country’s best district for boutique shops, offers everything from knick-knacks and beautiful kitchenware to high fashion. Or you could head for the characterful wooden houses on Haga Nygata, crammed with cosy cafés and shops selling craft goods such as handmade soaps. Designtorget, with branches in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, is a great one-stop shop for Swedish design.
A smörgåsbord of cuisine
With your daytime activities done, it’s time for sustenance. You’re spoilt for choice in Sweden – you can eat out in Michelin-starred restaurants. Stockholm has nine, Gothenburg five, Malmö one and the city of Växjö in Småland has one. Browse the street food in lively food halls like Stockholm’s Östermalms Saluhall, Gothenburg’s Lindholmen Street Food Market or the Malmö Saluhall, or enjoy the mix of cuisines immigrants have brought to Sweden’s cities – Georgian khachapuri, anyone? The Swedish food scene also offers plant-based and locally produced ingredients; a tasty match if you’re on the lookout for inventive veggie dishes.
To round it off, why not sample the products of Sweden’s booming craft beer scene, taste the inspired mixing, or simply watch the people at some of the finest bars on the planet, including Taket in Gothenburg, named the best party rooftop bar in the world by The Rooftop Guide.
The most extraordinary place you ever stayed
Sweden pushed the boundaries of the idea of unique accommodation, close to nature, when it opened the world’s first Icehotel in the far north of Sweden, back in 1990. Unique hotels are now one of the highlights of Sweden travel, with dozens of unusual places to stay, including the Treehotel and the Arctic Bath hotel in Harads, in northern Sweden, the Aurora Safari Camp in Gunnarsbyn, around one hour from Luleå, the 72 Hour Cabin in Dalsland, or the Islanna Treehouse Hotel near Lake Vänern in the south.
If glass roofs aren’t your thing, you can stay in one of the many excellent castle hotels, at turn-of-the-century ‘bathing hotels’, in cosy BnBs in beautiful farmhouses or in one of the many designer hotels in the main cities. In fact, you don’t even need a hotel at all. Sweden’s public right of access, ‘Allemansrätten’, means you can camp for free almost anywhere in the countryside.
Three climate zones means varied nature
The unusual wilderness hotels make great launch pads for the country’s wealth of nature, which stretches over three climate zones.
You can experience the Arctic tundra of the north, the mountains of the north west and the thick forests and mighty rivers of central Sweden, but also the temperate climate down south, which boasts some of Europe’s largest beech forests.
Then there’s the coast, which varies from the High Coast of the north east of Sweden, to the fashionable West coast, the sandy beaches of Skåne’s Österlen and the rocky outcrops of the Stockholm and Gothenburg archipelagos.
Few countries can boast such varied landscape or such a combination of modern, minimalist design and untouched nature. Whatever you want, be it snowmobile and husky tours, yoga retreats and forest bathing, somewhere beautiful to sit quietly alone or smart city living, you can find it all in Sweden.