Karyn Wofford is a freelance writer in the fields of travel, eco-tourism, and wellness. She’s an avid traveler and Georgia native. She grew up with a passion for travel, exploring everything from the mountains to the ocean, and continues to find new and unique things to do in the places she travels.
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Sweden is a Scandinavian country overflowing with surreal natural sites, from captivating coasts to painting worthy mountains. Locals live a good life, and they extend the pleasantries to those who visit. Spick and span neighborhoods, parks and centuries-old streets welcome with immense friendliness and efficiency, while a serene kayak spot or a breathtaking hike is just beyond the borders of civilization. Stockholm is often the first city that comes to mind, and rightfully so, thanks to its gorgeous location and abundance of things to do. But we’ve branched out further to bring you the coolest cities in Sweden.
Vasteras is built around the most precious downtown, complete with cobblestone roads and quaint buildings. Somewhat tucked away, those who choose to forge onward are in for a pleasant surprise. Check out Kokpunkten while there, a totally unique multilevel waterpark in an old steam power plant.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Sweden, Visby still holds on to a medieval aesthetic of times past long, long ago. They celebrate the structures that still stand, and the colorful history the town represents. A festival is held yearly, but any time is incredible for a visit. While absorbing the enriching surroundings, be sure to try out some of the favorite foods and beverages, like teas and cheeses.
When stopping through Uppsala, you’ll be treated to the sites of one of Sweden’s oldest cities. This shines through the architecture, which is further enhanced by the lovely central river. A popular day trip from Stockholm, travelers enjoy the surroundings of this university town, along with the nightlife. Dryck is a small scale bar perfect for indulging in interesting drinks and a rotating menu.
Kiruna is known for its mining history, and even houses an underground museum. But winter activities create an even more alluring appeal within the Northern Sweden town. Coated with an impressive amount of snow every year, dog sledding, reindeer sleigh rides and cross country skiing are staple activities for locals and visitors. A short distance away is the most mesmerizing hotel that will have guests feeling like they’re living in Elsa’s castle—the ICEHOTEL. And yes, it’s constructed of glistening ice.
Lulea is located on the coast, and also claims the large archipelago (aka a group of islands) off its shoreline. These islands can often be explored. With distinct warm and cold seasons, you can come for a toasty getaway or a winter retreat. On land, you’ll find a unique 1400s town with small wooden homes and an old church, and Lulea also has a great food scene with bistros, coffee shops and cafes.
Karlstad’s spanning lake and river give it a scenic appeal that’s nearly irresistible. A small-town vibe is met with a surprisingly hopping restaurant and social environment that attracts both the young and old. Museums here have some interesting things to explore, like the town’s original prison with super creepy original cells. Not into the spooky? Take in foliage and views at an open-air museum.
When visiting Malmo, you are getting access to another famed city, a skip away from Copenhagen. The destinations are linked via a bridge, which on its own is a significant landmark to see. Malmo is everything you hope for when visiting the country, with Insta-worthy architecture and old school cobblestone streets. Restaurants and small eateries offer iconic flavors, and adorable shops are stocked with locally made treasures.
Northern Lights can be seen from Umea, as they are at various times in other Swedish cities, which is more than enough to attract a slew of travelers. But the artsy ambiance of the city shouldn’t be overlooked. Random sculptures dot the area, and a list of museums educate visitors on everything from music, art and historic skiing practices of indigenous people. Nearby lakes mean that summer days are pretty awesome in Umea.
Lund is located in the southern portion of Sweden and is a peaceful nook that is home to a university and extremely old buildings, along with a cathedral. Parks, museums and pieces of medieval past make Lund a great day trip from more prominent destinations. Have your camera ready, because this is a place to capture stunning pictures.
Helsingborg’s neo-gothic structures contrast stunningly against the Oresund Straight. Denmark is a short ferry ride away, but with scenic eateries and a rich cultural scene of theater and arts, there’s not many reasons to leave too quickly. You’ll want to spend at least a few days here, exploring parks, gardens and a diverse shopping scene. Helsingborg displays the very best of Southern Sweden.
Riverside Gothenburg might take the cake as being the best city in Sweden to visit right now. Lesser known than places like Stockholm, it’s still a large, bubbly city with an exciting assortment of things to do. Amusement parks and outdoor activities create a family environment, while intimate eateries and dreamy landscapes could be optimal for your romantic vacation. Indulge in some of the best seafood on earth, soak in the age-old charm and meet refreshingly sweet locals.