Things to do in Sweden
Most visitors to Sweden must decide how to divide their time between its cities—shopping, drinking, and eating—and exploring the country's vast wilderness, from summer days in the sun-kissed Stockholm Archipelago in the south to the land of the Lapps and reindeer in the north. Here are some stops to consider in planning your Sweden itinerary:
Cruise Stockholm's canals. One of many cities that refers to itself as the "Venice of the North," Stockholm is built on 14 islands and is crisscrossed by canals. Many operators offer canals tours, giving you a unique perspective on the capital's monuments.
Visit the Vasamuseet. The centerpiece of this museum is the Vasa, a 17th-century warship that sank near Stockholm and was recovered in the 1950s. Other exhibits cover Sweden's nautical heritage.
Get lost in Stockholm's old town. Known in Swedish as Gamla stan, the historic heart of Stockholm is an evocative maze of medieval streets.
Explore the nightlife of Malmö. Almost one in ten residents of Malmö is a student at the university, and the city's nightlife scene is always buzzing, from happy hour bars to after-hours clubs.
A shrine to the whimsical patterned fabrics of the late Josef Frank, who became the store's designer in 1934. Choose from 45 of his vibrant animal, avian, or floral prints, and create a lampshade, sofa, or bag (the store will custom-make and ship your items home).
Acne (Ambition to Create Novel Expression) began when Jonny Johansson gifted friends and relatives with 100 pairs of raw denim, red-stitched jeans. The fashion company then grew to 21 stores (called studios) worldwide, with the flagship studio on Norrmalmstorg and another in Gamla Stan.
Why It’s Cool: Frank Lloyd Wright used some guesswork to make sure Fallingwater didn’t fall; today, computers do the heavy lifting.
Busy Slussen square is Stockholm's answer to Grand Central. The main attraction here (besides a major subway stop) is the humble Nystekt Strömming (fried herring) wagon, encircled by picnic tables crowded with locals on their lunch break.
Scottish owner Andrew Duncanson scours the globe for the best in vintage Scandinavian furniture for his shop in Östermalm. Serious design junkies are awed by the stock, including Wilhelm-Kage pottery and a limited-edition 1955 rosewood daybed by Helge Vestergaard Jensen.
At just over 594,000 square feet and four levels, the IKEA south of Stockholm in Skarholmen is both the company's first location and largest store in the world.
Read labels carefully before you order a scoop in Stockholm. Lakrits can look like dark chocolate or even chocolate-chip ice cream, but contains local favorite salmiakki, or salty licorice.
In existence since the 12th century, Gotgatan (Goth Street) is one of the longest streets in Soldermalm. The street begins at Slussen and the Stockholm Stadsmuseum (Stockholm City Museum) and ends at the Globen Arena. In between is a wide selection of pubs, restaurants, and shops.
A vast selection of 20th-century Scandinavian and Italian housewares. Murano-glass vases by Gio Ponti and Bianconi line the walls, and vintage pieces, like a Swedish birchwood sofa from the 1929 Barcelona furniture World's Fair, fill the floor.
The Swedish fashion company Hennes & Mauritz opened in 1947 and has since expanded to 2,300 stores in 41 countries. Of the Stockholm locations, this H&M in Norrmalm is the largest and receives the season's newest styles first.
Open only from mid-December to mid-April, the Absolut Icebar, within the Icehotel in the small village of Jukkasjärvi, in northern Sweden, holds steady at around 23 degrees. Sure, it seems like every few months an ice bar pops up somewhere: even Vegas has one.
Don't leave Stockholm without indulging in a real Swedish massage. At Sturebadet, masseurs knead out knots in treatment rooms surrounding a 1902 Art Nouveau pool.
Karl Lagerfeld was so smitten with the duo's jewelry that he snatched up 11 designs for one of his recent collections. Their first store opened last December, where standouts include 18-karat-gold chicken-bone necklaces and gold-plated cuffs with circular cutouts.
The iconic Swedish designer Carl Malmsten opened his shop in 1940 and promoted rustic, simple furniture of quality craftsmanship and materials.
Check out the Swedish royal family’s Tullgarn palace, famous for its Rococo interiors and English gardens.