Six very Swedish sports to try your hand at

Alex Dudley
Alex Dudley - [email protected]
Six very Swedish sports to try your hand at
The British royals getting to grips with bandy during an official visit to Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Sweden loves sport far beyond the usual big hitters like football, tennis or hockey. Here are six you should give a try in the Nordic nation.


Floorball (innebandy)

A form of hockey that is played indoors, it is contested between two teams, consisting of five outfield players and one goalkeeper. Floorball is played with a small plastic ball with holes in it and there are three twenty minute periods, as there are in ice hockey.

The sport is still relatively new having only been invented in 1970 in Gothenburg, and this is reflected in the fact that there are only 4,330 clubs officially registered worldwide. However, because of the drastic rise of the sport the International Floorball Federation (IFF) are hopeful of being a sport recognized in the 2020 Summer Olympics

Prince Daniel trying his hand at innebandy in Jakobsberg. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT


Bandy has long been played in Sweden and the country has had great success when competing on the world stage. It is one of the country's most popular ice-based sports and can be described as a mixture of hockey and association football.

Bandy is the predecessor of floorball so like the latter, it’s also played with a circular ball but the bandy ball is considerably heavier than the one the indoor sport uses. 

READ ALSO: The British royals learn about bandy in Stockholm

There are very few similarities between bandy and ice hockey. Once you get past the fact that it is played on ice and using sticks the comparisons stop, and the rules are more comparable to those in football and field hockey.

Competitive games also feature the colour carding of players for failing to control their discipline. Yellow cards are shown to warn the entire team, blue cards are shown for blocking the ball or misbehaving, and a red card is shown for abusing or attacking opponents. Once the latter is shown, the player must leave the game and not return.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge playing bandy in Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT


Is it a sport or a pastime? We'll leave that debate for elsewhere, but there's no doubt that eSports – competitive video game playing – is hugely popular.

Some of the most popular titles include Dota 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty. Hundreds of millions of people watch eSports as spectators worldwide.

READ ALSO: Swedish schools start elite training for gamers

Teams from Scandinavia, and particularly Sweden excel in major tournaments that are held throughout the year, and the world's largest LAN party Dreamhack is held in the country.

Research from 2017 found that around 400,000 Swedes watch eSports or some form of gaming on a daily basis.

A Dreamhack semi-final in Stockholm in 2014. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT


One of the many winter sports played in Sweden, curling involves sliding heavy stones on a sheet of ice with the goal hitting a target zone to notch up points. 

There's a great deal of tactics involved (comparisons with chess have been made), and readers in the UK may remember it gaining a surge in attention in 2002 when the British women's team won gold at the Winter Olympics.

In Sweden it's not just a fad: one of the top competitors in the sport, they regularly reach the top five in the world rankings in both the men's and women's versions.

Sweden has some of the best curling teams in the world. Photo: Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP

Reindeer Racing

The art of reindeer racing will leave you breathless. It is not exactly a common sport (it's nothing like horse racing, so don't think you can pop out to the local track and bet some money on reindeer), but spectators occasionally get to try it out at the annual Sami winter market in Jokkmokk in February.

Competitors reach frightening speeds as they are dragged behind their reindeer, and people travel far and wide to experience it.

READ ALSO: What it's like to race reindeer, captured on video

One competitor told The Local in 2017 that taking part is "pretty much like standing in front of the exhaust of a snow blower for 14-20 seconds".

Ice fishing

Ice fishing is a popular recreational sport in colder countries where temperatures go below zero, and Sweden is no different, where every year locals take to the ice to cast their line.

For those who are inexperienced, it's recommended to start out with a guide or someone who knows the necessary precautions, as it goes without saying that it's possible to fall through into the freezing water below. Cars and even lives are regularly lost in accidents.

READ ALSO: How to stay safe on the ice in Sweden

Ice fishing in Stockholm's archipelago. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also