Interesting Cities to Visit in Sweden
Malmo is Sweden’s third-largest city but shouldn’t be overlooked as a destination worthy of your next vacation. The harbor city is known for its beautiful revitalization from working-class harbor port to capital of sustainability and ethical entrepreneurship. Malmo is a unique blend of modern Scandi style and international influences due to the 150 different nationalities that call Malmo home. In Malmo, you’ll find Swedish aesthetics combined with international flavors mixed with a dash of Nordic cool—both in style and in weather.
When you step from the pale blue tram car onto the cobblestone streets of the Haga neighborhood expect to see patios packed with young people. The city is emerging from what once was mainly a working-class port city to a vibrant hub of youthful creativity. Sweden’s second-largest city is home to more students and young people than any other Nordic city.
Let the fresh sea air hit your face as you wander along the canals browsing shops and eating a shrimp sandwich. The picturesque cobblestone streets of Gothenburg are lined with boutique shops and cozy restaurants that will make you want to stop and stay awhile.
The capital of Sweden goes well beyond the Scandinavian stereotypes of Swedish meatballs and Ikea. Stockholm is chock full of world class restaurants and beautifully curated museums and evidence of the famous Scandi-minimalist design style is everywhere. Explore the city via their impeccably designed subway which doubles as a modern art gallery. Check out the Sodermalm for hipster haunts and don’t forget to venture out to check out the royal palace in Gamla Stan or Old Town. Stockholm is well-known for having welcoming hotels, restaurants and attractions who are committed to upholding its reputation as one of the most diverse and inclusive cities in the world. Learn more: the LGBTQ+ guide to Stockholm
Interesting Attractions to Visit in Sweden
Grodkallan is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Sweden. With its crystal blue water, it looks like the Caribbean Sea got lost in Sweden. Located in Lapland, the lake is a bit of a hike but definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling through the Arctic regions.
Jokkmokk is a beautiful fairytale town in northern Lapland—which is rumored to be the ancestral home of Santa Claus. Every year in late February, the indigenous Sami people of Jokkmokk host the market with local cuisine, reindeer racing, handicraft demonstrations and traditional dances.
EXPERIENCE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Swedish Lapland is one of the most affordable places to experience the northern lights, and it’s also one of the better viewing spots. One of the best places to view the light is in Abisko National Park because there is an uncommon microclimate as a result of Lake Torneträsk that protects the area from lingering clouds. A cloudy night can kill your northern lights dreams so planning a trip to Abisko can increase your odds.
HIKE THE THE KUNGSLEDEN (KING’S TRAIL)
The Kungsleden is an 800-mile trail in the far north of Sweden, deep inside the Arctic Circle. During the summer months, the Kungsleden is the perfect opportunity for scenic summer hiking. You may spot moose along the trails or even run into a herd of reindeer which are traditionally tended to by the indeginous Sami people. The King’s Trail leads to Sweden’s highest peak, Kebnekaise, which is a bucket list summit for many avid hikers in Sweden. The trail itself is broken up into 29 sections with varying lengths. Some of the shorter hikes are two miles but can be as long as 15 miles in length. Luckily, the Swedes have created beautiful rest stops complete with restaurants, accommodations and saunas—all the necessities.
DANCE TO THE MIDNIGHT SUN AT A MIDSUMMER CELEBRATION
Midsummer is a celebration on the summer solstice where many parts of Sweden never see nightfall. The holiday is celebrated in the countryside where families and friends gather at lakeside cottages and create beautiful arrangements of local wildflowers. They celebrate by picking flowers and making wreaths to place on the maypole, where dancing and singing traditional songs takes place. Many people eat a traditional meal of pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives with summer strawberries for desert. Plus, it’s all washed down by a cold beer and some Swedish schnapps. Nighttime is where the party really comes alive. Most people go dancing and enjoy the nightlife in an outdoor bar.
THE GOTHENBURG ARCHIPELAGO
Over 20 islands with an endless amount of gems to discover. The archipelago of Gothenburg stretches along the coast like a string of pearls. You don't have to travel far from the city to find charming villages, stunning nature and beaches. Seal safaris, sea-fishing and boat excursions are just some of the activities available.
Experiencing Swedish Food
Lingonberry jam is a sweet condiment made to accompany a variety of different foods, from meatballs to pancakes to porridge. It’s one of Sweden’s traditional foods that evokes childhood nostalgia as many young Swedes grow up picking berries in the forest throughout the summer months.
Pickled herring is a favorite due to the abundance of herring in both the North and Baltic seas. With roots back to the Middle Ages, Swedes have been pickling herring for generations as a way of preserving the fish for storage and transportation. Pickled herring comes in a variety of flavors—mustard, onion, garlic and dill, to name a few. The bold flavors pair well with many of the other traditional Swedish favorites like boiled potatoes, sour cream, chopped chives and sharp hard cheese.
Pro tip: Swedes don’t love when you reference the IKEA-cafeteria version of their beloved classic. But you can find delicious meatballs at a variety of restaurants all around the country. According to Visit Sweden,”In their most traditional form, Swedish meatballs (köttbullar) are made of ground pork and beef, cream, egg and onion, and are served with creamy mashed potatoes, a thick, brown gravy, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber.” Enterprising Swedish chefs have taken their own spin on the classic version, resulting in newer varieties with mixed flavors in restaurants all around Sweden.
Tips and Safety Considerations for LGBTQ+ visitors
Sweden is one of the most welcoming and affirming countries for LGBTQ+ people. They decriminalized LGBTQ+ identity more than 75 years ago and have enjoyed marriage equality for over a decade. They also have a host of nondiscrimination benefits that are inclusive of gender, sexuality and expression. Sweden is a country where their social acceptance of LGBTQ+ issues matches and at times exceeds their policies. Sweden is one of the safest and friendliest countries for LGBTQ+ travelers.
LGBTQ+ Travel Tips for Sweden
Stockholm Pride is held annually at the end of July and early August. Every year, around 60,000 participants flock to the nation’s capital to experience the rainbow-clad festivities. Stockholm Pride is the largest pride festival in Scandinavia and hosts more than 150 participating organizations in the parade contingent and the accompanying Pride festival.
EUROVISION SONG CONTEST
While EuroVision is only unofficially a gay event, it’s beloved by the LGBTQ+ community throughout Europe. Sweden has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 59 times since making its debut in 1958. They’re also home to arguably the most famous EuroVision winners: ABBA. If you happen to be in Sweden during the contest you can’t miss the opportunity to attend a viewing party at a local gay bar.
CINEMA QUEER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Cinema Queer International Film Festival was founded in 2012 and has been showcasing films with LGBTQ+ themes in Stockholm ever since. Their goal is to broaden the heteronormative cinema offerings in Sweden and have far-reaching conversations about the complexity of queer culture. The festival focuses on film that questions, discusses and looks beyond the prevailing norms and illuminates the stories that otherwise would go unnoticed.
Moxy is Scandinavia's largest queer women’s club. Taking place in Stockholm, Moxy is a rotating party with euro-dance vibes. The party is at a different location each month so check out their website for more information.
The Secret Garden is a mixed LGBTQ+ bar that welcomes everyone under the rainbow. Depending on what time of the day or night you visit, there are very different crowds and a different feel. During the day you’ll find a chilled-out cozy bar with a great wine and cocktail list. At night, expect more of a club scene with a fast-paced vibe, dancing and rotating DJs.
For additional information on LGBTQ+ tourism in Sweden, please visit: http://www.visitsweden.lgbt/
Lindsay Cale is a down to earth thrill seeker who values the simple things in life. Lindsay and her wife Meg run the number one lesbian travel blog, DopesontheRoad.com. They create marketing campaigns and conduct professional development training for brands working with the LGBT community. Together, they also serve as consultants for best practices in LGBT marketing campaigns. Lindsay maintains the day to day operations of the site and focuses heavily on the visual side of their work. They are also the international brand ambassadors for Contiki. Since starting DotR in 2013, They have visited 55 countries, appeared on red carpets, and had their blog read by more than a million people. Follow her on Instagram @LindsCale
Featured image by @chaos_scout70 via Instagram