What’s your top Swedish tourist tip?

Every week we quiz our regular panelists about a particular aspect of life in Sweden. This week: the country's top travel destinations.

What's your top Swedish tourist tip?

Claudia Tenenblat

Claudia Tenenblat

The first place I take my guests is Skeppsbron in Stockholm, the walk between Slussen and the Castle. Both in summer and winter it is a beautiful walk, with wonderful views of Strandvägen, Skeppsholm, Gamla Stan and Saltsjön.

But my top tourist tip is the cruise to Helsinki. It is a bit corny and Stockholmers laugh about it but it is a great way to see the Archipelago and it is quite cheap (compared to hotel prices in Stockholm). The boat leaves Stockholm around 6pm and comes to Helsinki in the morning. It leaves again in the evening.

During the summer months, when there is light until very late, it is fantastic to be up on deck, having a drink and seeing the thousands of islands of the Archipelago pass very close. I would highly recommend you skipped the entertainment on board, though….

Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström

My top Swedish tourist tip is a classic tourist tip. And stereotypically touristy. Gamla Stan. Old Town. It’s a beautiful place full of medieval history. And of course tacky, Swedish knick-knacks. You know, just what you need to remember your trip.

I find myself taking the same walk through Gamla Stan whenever people come to visit. Coming into Gamla Stan from Drottninggatan, we walk towards Storkyrkan. Sometimes we go in to check out the impressive brick interior and the statue of St. George slaying the dragon.

Sometimes we continue on to look at the Royal Castle. Which, while impressive in stature, is missing one very important characteristic that I believe all castles should have. Towers. But nonetheless, it is a castle that is still in use which is something that is rather rare in the United States.

Following the Royal Castle, we head to Stortorget and wander around. We take a look at all of the medieval buildings that surround the square, maybe stopping for a fika at one of the cafes or restaurants.

Having wandered around Stortorget, we head towards Mårten Trötzigs Gränd, the skinniest street in all of Stockholm. After taking a picture or two, it’s on to the outdoor replica of St. George slaying the dragon. It’s important to tie everything together, especially if we went into Storkyrkan.

Finally, we walk down to Järntorget to head onto Västerlånggatan so that we can really hit all of those touristy gimmicks. The street tends to be teeming with tourists, various languages being spoken, sketchy games of chance intended to lighten your wallet, and souvenirs as far as the eye can see. Because, everyone needs a souvenir. Even if it is a tacky Viking statue.

Tiffany Hoffman

Tiffany Hoffman

The best tip I can give, unless you’re here to see the Northern Lights: come in the summer. Of course, the obvious places to send visitors are Stockholm and Gothenburg, but I really want to visit Gotland, so I’d take my visitors there first.

I’m also really curious about Visingsö in Vättern. If kids are visiting, I’d take them to Astrid Lindgrens Värld in Vimmerby. Since I work in children’s publishing, I really want to go there, but I feel like I would need to borrow a kid first.

Of the places I’ve been, I thought Vadstena was a fascinating little town with a nice, waterside castle and a beautiful church to explore. Skansen is fun in Stockholm, as long as it isn’t raining. Vasamuseet has a great wow factor, and Gamla Stan in Stockholm is also nice.

Uppsala is my favorite “big” city so far because it has such fascinating history, and there are really nice places to walk by the water. It’s also pretty easy to navigate.

To wrap it up, I guess my second tourist tip would be to explore as much as you can. Sweden is a fascinating place to visit–as long as you come in the summer.

Nabeel Shehzad

Nabeel Shehzad

Sweden is one of the most stable countries in the worlds, with a relatively good economy and is full of beautiful places from north to south. But the main tip from me to anyone coming to Sweden for a holiday or any kind of trip would be: it can be more expensive than you think or have planned. Whether it’s hotel or train tickets, these should always be bought in advance. Even things on sale in the supermarkets can be more expensive than normal these days.

The place to visit in Sweden for me would definitely be northern part of it. Fully dark and snowy in winters, and fully bright and sunny in summers – just a couple of things that you normally don’t see in many countries in the world. It’s more of an experience than just a place.

Sanna Holmqvist

Sanna Holmqvist

I live in the south, and try to show different parts of Skåne. The beautiful, white sand beaches of Skanör and Falsterbo make a nice day-trip. The small, picturesque fishing villages along the east coast, Österlen, where you grab a fresh, fried herring for lunch in one of the stands in the little harbour. The more varied landscapes and woods in northern Skåne, where the snapphanar (the resistance movement) fought the Swedes to make Skåne Danish again in the 17th century (Skåne’s history is dramatic and very interesting – and very violent).

I would naturally also show Malmö: Turning Torso, which is a fantastic building, and Västra hamnen (West Harbour), where the shipyards and factories used to be. It has have now been turned into a modern residential area, with bathing places, jetties, strolling areas, cafés, restaurants and shops.

I also take tourists to the market at Möllevångstorget, and I think that visiting a restaurant in multicultural Malmö is a must. You can get food from every corner of the world here. But the food you can’t leave Malmö without having tried is a proper falafel, bought in one of the stands in the street, at the modest price of 2 euros at the most. This has become the archetypical Malmö dish.

Robert Flahiff

Robert Flahiff

I must say that this is a difficult question. This country is blessed with many sites of beauty and historic importance; it is difficult to pick one. I love the rare chances I get to explore other areas of the country and always find something worthwhile and interesting no matter where I go.

With all of that said, I will have to say that my top tip is to stay near home here in Dalarna, especially in the summer months. This is a wonderful place to be – a person can combine the tourist attractions with some plain ol’ relaxing and go a long way here.

Swimming, fishing, picking mushrooms and berries are all quite enjoyable. If I have company I also use the excuse to visit sights like the copper mine in Falun, the dalahästfabrik [wooden horse factory] in Nusnäs, drink coffee in Tällberg and generally hang out around Lake Siljan.

I also try to use company as an excuse to show off Stockholm as well, and no one has ever been disappointed with the Archipelago or the architecture and sights in Gamla Stan.

Carina Silfverduk

Carina Silfverduk

My top tourist tip is the same wherever I go: go where your feet take you. When I came to visit Sweden in December two years ago (before moving here), I happened upon the Lucia Santas on motorcycle. It was a lovely surprise and made for some awesome pictures!

Also, research where you will be to see what is in the area that interests you. Growing up, my mother didn’t have the ability to take me on trips away from home, so my grandmother often took me on trips armed with thorough research on the area and its history. Knowing what is available saves time and gives you (and your travel mates if you are not travelling alone) an idea of what to chose from and when to go.

Finally, don’t try to cram it all into one trip. I’ll never forget how disappointed my grandmother was when she took my cousins and I to Washington D.C. and we couldn’t fit everything in because it was hot and we were tired kids. Somebody close to me used to say, “Use every trip to find the places you want to come back and see next time.”


Sweden launches bid to become world’s top tourism destination by 2030

Forget the pyramids, the canals of Venice or the Eiffel Tower – the Swedish government has presented a plan to make Sweden the world's most attractive tourism destination by 2030 – but it's not yet clear how.

Sweden launches bid to become world's top tourism destination by 2030
Many tourists are attracted to Sweden because of its nature. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In a press conference on Monday, Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan outlined the new strategy, which aims to make Sweden “the world’s most sustainable and attractive tourism destination built on innovation” by 2030.

Baylan referred to Sweden as a country which “is usually ranked as one of the world’s most innovative countries”, which he argued can “create value for the tourism industry”.

According to Baylan, the strategy builds on “sustainability’s three dimensions – it has to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable”. The strategy will also “tie into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030”, he said.

Topics covered by the new tourism strategy include the climate impact of tourism, equality and inclusion in the tourism industry and the importance of preserving shared resources such as national parks and sustainable nature tourism such as fishing and hunting.

The press release highlights the importance of natural tourism, explaining that the pandemic has led to people visiting natural and cultural environments “to a greater extent than before”, increasing wear and tear to natural areas.

DISCOVER SWEDEN: The Local’s guide to Sweden’s top destinations and hidden gems

Tourism is an important industry for Sweden, providing employment in both urban and rural areas, as well as generating wealth – before the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry represented on average 2.7 percent of Sweden’s GDP per year. The tourism industry also employs a high amount of people from foreign backgrounds – making up over a third (34 percent) of all employees in the industry.

During the pandemic, overnight stays declined in almost every Swedish municipality, with the biggest declines seen in Sweden’s larger cities and border municipalitites.

The government’s plans also include a focus on jobs and skill development, so that workers have the right qualifications for the industry – this reflects issues currently faced by the restaurant and hotel industry in finding skilled workers in the wake of the pandemic. 

There are currently no details as to how the government will achieve this strategy, or indeed how it will measure success. But Sweden is aiming high if it wants to be the world’s most attractive tourist destination by 2030. In 2019, it was ranked the 54th top tourist destination in the world by the UN World Tourism Organisation.