Take a Chance on Me: Exploring SwedenSweden — By Lost Girls on April 18, 2011 at 6:00 am
There are so many eternally popular destinations in Europe that many may feel that Sweden just doesn’t quite make the itinerary. However, only visiting Southern or Western Europe is exactly equivalent to only visiting Florida and California in the United States. You are not doing the continent any justice by only visiting locales made popular by romantic movies or novels. So, take a chance on Sweden. Take a chance on Scandinavia and you may find yourself in love with a whole new Europe.
“Knowing Me, Knowing You”: Becoming a local
Sweden has a fantastic attitude towards tourists. In big European cities, it is easy to be alienated due to language, appearance or that lost look on your face. In Sweden, you are accepted almost immediately. Everyone in Sweden speaks English very well and they will revel in the fact that they can practice their English on you. Swedes are very helpful and will gladly point you in the right direction as well. While Swedes won’t necessarily strike up a conversation with you first, they seem happy to hear where you’re from and why you happen to be in Sweden. Finally, Sweden is a safe country. The most frequent crime committed in Sweden is petty theft; it’s usually of bicycles and only because a portion of people don’t even bother to lock up their bikes. Knowing the average tourist (and what I look for in a travel destination), Sweden is the perfect place to find yourself, lose yourself or become a local for a week.
“Our Last Summer”: When to visit
The best time to visit Sweden is…year-round. Each season has its benefits based on the experience you are looking for in a destination. For warm weather escapades, June is by far the best month to visit. On June 21st, Sweden celebrates Midsommarfest. This is the longest day of sunlight of the year and everyone celebrates with bonfires, singing, dancing, and drinking all night long. Certain parts of Sweden will even experience 24 hours of daylight or the Midnight Sun. June also allows for camping, and boating out to one of Stockholm’s numerous islands. On the flip side, the best time to visit for winter adventures is anytime between November and March; these are the best months to see the Northern Lights in Kiruna.
The glorious capital of Sweden offers everything you want in a big city. The shopping experience is unmatched in its uniqueness. Not only can you shop at the notorious high fashion stores but you can also buy from Swedish designers; Stockholm is a highly underrated fashion capital. Stockholm is easy to navigate with their public transportation system and offers a wide-range of hotels and hostels. Be sure to take a cruise out to one of Stockholm’s many islands, stroll Gamla Stan and visit the Vikings at Vasa Museum.
A smaller but more charming city of Sweden, Gothenburg has many things to instantly love. A walk along the coast is an absolute must and be sure to take a ride on the Ferris Wheel to get a great view of the city. Check out the Haga District for a stroll through the city’s history and of course, find a boat to go cruising in the magnificent surrounding waters. Gothenburg is the perfect weekend trip and this calm city with ocean views will be sure to relax you.
Even if you aren’t a “winter-person,” or if you packed light and didn’t bring all your winter gear, Kiruna is still a must-see during the wintry months. While getting to Kiruna won’t be cheap, you will be getting an experience that you will treasure forever. There are a few companies based in Kiruna that will pick you up from the airport or train station and help you along your entire experience. Many of these companies will offer free snowsuits, snow boots and other winter gear to help the average backpacker out too. Then, one can see the Northern Lights, go dogsledding, snowmobiling and take a trip to the yearly made Ice Hotel. While a trip to the Arctic Circle doesn’t make everyone’s list, I highly recommend Kiruna to travelers.
A short train ride away from Stockholm, Uppsala is home to one of Sweden’s universities, a gorgeous cathedral, great coffee and Carl Linnaeus’ garden. Uppsala is a great weekend trip if you’re looking to get away from the big city feel of Stockholm. Be sure to take a bus out to Gamla Uppsala to get a taste of true Viking history, too.
“Money, Money, Money”: How to save money in Sweden
Yes, Sweden is an expensive country to visit, but you don’t have to let it slow you down. First, take public transportation or if you’re planning to stay awhile, find/buy/rent a bike. Public transportation is easy to use and inexpensive. Second, eat your meals at coffee shops or at IKEA. IKEA has great Swedish food! Don’t overlook it just because it seems too obvious. Coffee shops are also a great place to eat. Coffee breaks, or fika as it’s called in Swedish, are an enormous part of Swedish culture. At some coffee shops, you can get a great homemade lunch, a bottomless cup of coffee or tea and a huge serving of Swedish culture for low prices. Finally, if you’re under the age of 26, you’re in luck. Many places in Sweden offer a student discount for people under the age of 26. Even fast-food restaurants like MAX and Burger King will offer a 10% discount for students. Also, the well-known Swedish airline, SAS offers last-minute and student discounts as well. Make sure you’re aware of all your options to save a little money, money, money.
“Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen and the encore”: Why all Lost Girls need to visit Sweden
Sweden is a choose-your-own-adventure destination. If your goal is to find that perfect dress, meet the beautiful Swedish residents and dance the night away, then downtown Stockholm is the place for you. If you want to sit out in the sun with a cup of coffee and read to the sounds of the waves all day, then Gothenburg could be your new second home. In my experiences in Sweden, the social rules are less strict. People won’t think less of you for going out dancing by yourself or find it strange that you’re exploring Sweden solo. Take a chance on Sweden. You’ll fall in love—and I guarantee you’ll be back to visit again.