Five reasons northern Sweden is actually amazing in summer

The Local's northern Sweden correspondent Paul Connolly is shocked so few foreigners know about the summer charms of northern Sweden. Here he suggests five tips to persuade travellers they should change their itineraries.

Five reasons northern Sweden is actually amazing in summer
Beach volleyball at Pite Havsbad resort in northern Sweden (no, really). Photo: Pite Havsbad Facebook

Article first published in 2016.

Around this time of year I’m often asked to write pieces on summer in Sweden. “Talk about the wonderful beaches of Skåne,” ask the media I freelance for. “And be sure to mention the amazing islands off western Sweden and Stockholm’s wonderful archipelago.”

“Certainly,” I answer. “And how about something on the incredible scenery of the High Coast in northern Sweden? And the deserted sandy beaches all along the eastern coast of northern Sweden. And how about the unspoilt wilderness of the far north.”
“No, it’s too cold up there,” they’ll reply. “Let’s just stick with the south. Maybe we’ll do something on the north for a winter special.”
This is no exaggeration. Even supposedly clued-up travel editors from major publications struggle to understand that northern Sweden is not dark and frigid 52 weeks a year, that this beautiful region of Europe has some very desirable summer destinations, even as far north as Lapland.
So, in an attempt to redress the balance, here are five reasons I think you really should visit northern Sweden in the summer.
1. The High Coast (Höga Kusten)
The High Coast offers astonishing scenery. Photo:
Designated a world heritage site by Unesco in 2000, the High Coast is a spectacular upthrust of land from the usually flat northern Swedish coast. It has dozens of islands with little stugas dotted on tiny coves and beaches. The water is clear, the scenery ravishing and there are a number of very good restaurants within a 20-minute drive of the coast. 
2. Pite Havsbad
The north boasts hundreds of sandy beaches. Photo: Pite Havsbad Facebook
This family-friendly beach resort doesn’t need to bother courting publicity. It’s booked solid every year, largely by northern Swedish and Norwegian families, who are quite happy that this extremely well-appointed Mediterranean-style resort has no intention of spreading its fame any further south. There are also hundreds of other beaches dotted up and down the northern Swedish coastline, many of them carpeted in warm, white sand.
3. Storforsen

The spectacular Storforsen rapids. Photo: Tobias Lindman, Flickr
Visit here in late May or early June to see one of Europe’s biggest rapids hurling meltwater down an 80m drop at a rate of nearly 900 cubic metres a second. The roaring falls, which can be approached by wooden walkboards, form part of a national park. Book a room at Hotell Storforsen at the base of the rapids for a real room with a view.
4. Kungsleden
The hiking in the north provides views of extraordinary beauty. Photo: Mikko Lindstedt, Flickr
The 81km stretch of the vast Kungsleden hiking trail, between Saltoluokta and Kvikkjokk, takes four to five days to hike. It’s an astonishingly beautiful and peaceful route on the edge of Sarek national park – often cited as Western Europe’s last wilderness.
5. Any lake or river in the north

My sister enjoying a dip in the lake at the bottom of our garden. Photo: Private
We live on the edge of a lake which, if it were in the UK, would be thronged year-round by tourists. We have access to a lovely sandy beach where the water is surprisingly warm from June onwards. There is even a swimming platform. That the beach is almost always deserted is due to the fact that there are just so many lake and river beaches in northern Sweden, there’s simply no need to share. Rent a local house for 2,000 kronor ($250) a week and doze away your days at a nearby beach. Heaven!


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.