I don’t know about you, but when I think of Sweden, lovely thoughts of IKEA come running to my head, along with songs from ABBA. Dancing Queen is my usual favourite, so that one tends to stick.
It would be shallow to hold onto these two glorious things and center thoughts about Sweden around the two. They are merely just two associations with the place, as lets not forget, Sweden is the country of Midsummer and the Swedish are all about fika (read on, I’ll explain!).
If you’re planning a Swedish trip, here are some factors to look at and consider to prepare your travels!
The Swedish are not big on drinking
In fact, there is only really one store that sells hard alcohol. Drinking at home isn’t a big thing over there, so if you enjoy a drink and would like to have some tipples with you, you might want stock up on duty free en route to Sweden.
You’ll find that gas stations and local stores are forbidden to sell wine and spirits, too. When you do manage to buy it, you have to be 20 years or older to buy in stores, though in Swedish bars and restaurants the drinking age is 18.
You may also find that many Swedish people are trying to not smoke, so don’t be surprised to find smoking alternatives, like Swedish snus. They have handy products like Skruf which they incorporate into their lifestyles to help stop smoking.
They have traditional Swedish dishes
And Picked herring is one of their main ones! Where other places celebrate a love for pasta, cakes or wines, the Swedes love Picked Herring, particularly around the festive season
Herring comes in many flavours and is usually eaten with crisp bread or potatoes, sour cream and chives. Smoked fish is also popular — mackerel, eel and salmon. Fish smokeries in the villages along the coastline offer locally caught and smoked delicacies, and you’ll find the locals stocking up regularly.
Another eating habit peculiar to the Swedes is the tradition of eating fermented fish (surströmming). It comes in a tin and if you’re able to handle the smell once you open it, you can probably stomach it.
It’s all about FIKA
This is what I adore about the Swedes. They embrace the relaxed coffee culture, making “fika” a fundamental to Swedish culture. As a verb or noun, it loosely means “coffee break” or “pause” and if you enjoy sharing coffee and pastries with friends or family, you’ll revel in the many opportunities to “fika.”
You will never be short of a good fika cafe in Sweden. One is always close at hand. Usually, they incorporate plants, large windows and a minimalism feel. You can even feel free to use your Swedish snufs in most places, so ideal for those who buy Skruf who aren’t big on actual smoking. For most, it’s about enjoying lovely coffee and having time out.
The Swedes love glass
In Sweden, expect to see lots of places that allow you to blow your own souvenir.
In Smaland in southern Sweden, the Kingdom of Crystal (Glasriket) is home to 13 glassworks including well-known brands such as Kosta Boda and Orrefors. You can see skilled craftsmen in action and follow them as they transform molten glass into delicate crystal or works of art.
As a visitor, you are encouraged to have a go at blowing, painting and engraving glass to create a souvenir to take home. Most of the glassworks sell their products at factory price, so you can pick up a bargain too.
It is child friendly
For those with families, you’ll find that Sweden is an excellent place to travel with young children. Skansen is the world’s first open-air museum and has a unique collection of historical buildings, a children’s zoo with Nordic animals, an aquarium, play areas and an amusement park — an excellent place for visitors to celebrate Midsummer, Easter and other festive occasions.
Kolmården, Scandinavia’s biggest wildlife park, is approximately 90minutes by car from Stockholm. Skånes Djurpark in southern Sweden is another excellent children’s zoo with Nordic animals, play areas for kids and a swimming pool. There are several amusement parks that cater to all ages; Liseberg in Gothenburg is one of Europe’s leading entertainment parks and Gröna Lund in Stockholm is also worth a visit.
In short, the children will love it!
You’ll find that life in Sweden really is ‘sweet’. Recycling is a must – it isn’t an option, so you’ll find it’s a place that cares about the world and the environment around us. It has been on my must-see list for so so long!
Is Sweden on your must-see list? Do let me know!