Beyond Stockholm

The best places to visit outside of Stockholm, such as Gothenburg and Malmö

The best places to visit outside of Stockholm, such as Gothenburg and Malmö

The best places to visit outside of Stockholm, such as Gothenburg and Malmö

Video: Best Places to Visit Outside Stockholm, such as Gothenburg and Malmö

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Everyone knows that Stockholm is full of interesting places to visit: the archipelago, the picturesque Old Town, the Baroque royal palace – even the subway stations can keep you entertained for a long time. But the rest of Sweden has a lot to offer too, even if it doesn’t get as much attention as the capital. From the trendiest towns to interesting lodges and great hiking trails, here are the best places to visit outside of Stockholm.

1. Gothenburg

Gothenburg city in Sweden Image

All the friendly, chatty Swedes eventually migrate to the bustling metropolis of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city and home to Volvo headquarters – located on a tiny island in the city. Gothenburg was originally settled by the Dutch, and it shows. Miles of beautiful canals wind through the city’s streets, and once sandy and worn-out industrial areas are replaced by sleek and modern Scandinavian design, funky art galleries and top-notch restaurants.

Enjoy local culture at Studio HPKSM, a restaurant/underground concert hall where you can eat ox tongue stew or rabbit stew with root vegetables, book a brick-lined recording studio for your band or listen to a poetry reading with a delicious mixed drink, Stroll the streets in search of colorful ArtMadeThis mural or watch an indie movie at Hagabion, an active movie theater with a bustling restaurant upstairs and a fun disco bar Cinema below.

If you want to join the Swedes in their penchant for coffee, visit Da Matteo, a Gothenburg institution that roasts beans locally and ships them around the world. Enjoy your morning fika or snack on cardamomullary coffee on a strong espresso, and you’ll be ready to explore the coastal archipelago, tiny islands strung with pearls along Sweden’s west coast. Rent a bike and head off the ferry.

2. jokkmokk

Jokkmokk Winter Market in Lapland with reindeer and indigenous dress images

The Sami (or Sápmi) are indigenous to Sweden and live mostly in what used to be called Lapland. In the far north of Sweden, closer to Finland than Stockholm, is Jokkmokk, often called one of the most interesting cultural destinations in Sweden. If you like adventure, you can go there; the trip is only a 12-hour drive from Stockholm on a well-maintained highway. The scenery is stunning, but deer can dart in front of your car.

If you don’t have time, you can fly to Luleå airport and take a bus or cab to Jokkmokk. Stay at the tiny but quaint Hotel Hotell Vuollerim Gästgiveriet, where no two rooms are the same, and each one is poetically named after local landmarks. If you prefer not to talk to anyone, visit the quiet mountain lodge of Stakkonjorg, accessible only by car or snowmobile, depending on the time of year. You will definitely see the northern lights in winter. Learn about Sámi history at the Aitite Museum or visit a reconstructed Arctic village that is over 6,000 years old, if you are more practical. In summer, enjoy the gorges, mountains and numerous hiking trails; you can go at any time of day, as it’s never dark near the middle of summer. In winter, you can go on a dog-sledding trip, learn how to build your own igloo (with supplies harnessed to reindeer) or take part in a traditional Lapp ceremony.

3. Malmö

Malmo, Sweden Image

My hometown, Malmo, is pretty cool. Sweden’s third-largest city is a major immigrant center, and the city’s official food is falafel. Only 45 minutes by high-speed train from Copenhagen, Malmo has recently become famous for the gritty drama Noir Broen (The Bridge). The titular Eresunn Bridge is nearly 10 miles long and a spectacular ride across the open ocean with nifty wind farms in the distance. You can see this at most beaches, especially at Ribersborg, where Kallbadhus lets visitors jump off the pier into the ocean for about $7 (SEK 60).

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Take a stroll through the centuries-old Gamla Stan (Old Town) or enjoy the cozy atmosphere of Lilla Torg with the best stores; my favorite is Gudrun Sheden. In another neighborhood, Storget, there’s the stunning grandeur of the 16th-century Town Hall, and you can get a special Sound of Music in Spegeln afterwards. Visit the extensive museum complex at Malmö Slott – many different floors cover everything from fine art and antique wooden furniture to a rugged aquarium and regular exhibition visits. Then walk across the street to Teknikens och Sjöfartens hus, which is included with your museum admission ticket, and explore rooms of trains, planes, and astronomical history, and take a walk on a real decommissioned submarine.

If you’re more of a walker, pick up a Pildammsparken and circle around the lake until you find a place for ice cream. Head to Boulebar for brunch and indoor bowling, an exciting bocce-type game. Don’t leave town without a visit to Café Hesusbaren in nearby Möllevongen.

4. Ven

View of Ven island quay from a ferry Image

A short boat ride from Landskrona, a town 30 minutes north of Malmö, is the island of Wen. It is so small that you can bike in about an hour – provided you can get your bike up the steep slope from the dock. The ubiquitous yellow bikes can be rented as soon as you get off the boat, and you can use them to visit the Tycho Brahe Museum, where you can visit the famous astronomer’s underground workshop and observatory. After a sweaty ride up the mountain, reward yourself with freshly made local ice cream at Hvens Glassfabrik or slice right into the solids at Backafallsbyn, a local whiskey producer. Enjoy a leisurely drive along the coastal road; depending on the time of year, Vienna’s fields of rapeseed and wheat blossom into miles of yellow flowers. That plus stunning views of the cliffs. Be sure to book your round trip boat tickets in advance on the website. It’s pretty easy to do, and then you can avoid waiting hours for the next swim.

5. Kolarbin Eco Lodge.

Eco lodge in Sweden Image

Photo: Kolarbyn Eco-lodge / Facebook

Proudly calling itself “Sweden’s most primitive hotel,” Kolarbyn boasts small huts made of wood and turf without showers in the Skinnskatteberg forest about two hours from Stockholm. Formerly used as sleeping quarters for foresters, the tiny houses are covered with vegetation-you can pick mushrooms right on the roof. Inside, sheepskin blankets and a stone fireplace provide warmth. You can canoe in the floating sauna and enjoy the steam or cook dinner over an open fire. Although there is no kitchen, basic pots and cutlery are provided, as well as some basic food such as pasta and rice. Dress in layers, learn to swing an axe and enjoy the ride into the absolute wilderness.

6. Upsala

Autumn in a Swedish city Image

Upsala is mostly known as a university town, and from time to time something like the “Flosta Scream” circulates on the Internet, a nightly ritual of students in the academic district opening windows and screaming their hearts out in the night. If you need to blow off some steam, Upsala might be just the place for you.

In addition to screaming, you can also enjoy any of the countless cozy cafes and culinary hotspots. At Jay Fu’s, the fusion menu features macaroni and cheese with sesame bok choy and lobster foam; alternatively, there’s an artificial scallop hot dog served with ginger ketchup. If that’s too weird, wander into Kaffeerummet Storken, where soothing foods like västerbottenpaj (cheese cake) will warm you up with a mug of champagne tea. Visit the nightlife at Flustret, a mansion that is Upsala’s oldest nightclub and hosts a variety of events, including live bands and DJs.

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If you’re an early birder than a night owl, pack your binoculars and head to the Linnaeus Museum and Gardens for an in-depth look at the father of modern taxonomy. Learn about the history of bird and plant naming, wander the paths of Sweden’s first botanical garden, and then listen to a great fic at one of the many cafes nearby. Enjoy ancient history by visiting Kvarnbofalltet, a 2,000-year-old burial site with standing stones covered in runes. Connect with your Viking ancestor or walk through a nearby gorge and look for bats.

7. Treehotel

treehotel Image

Photo: treehotel / Facebook

If you’ve never had to sleep in the quiet swaying branches of a treehouse room, you haven’t lived … so get ready to live at Treehotel. Individually designed and architecturally stunning treehouses range from a bird’s nest type structure made of branches to a metal ball called a UFO. Each is unique and has fantastic views of the forest – and the northern lights in winter. Guests can also stay in the main building, where communal meals are served. There’s a forest sauna, of course, as well as some of the fancier activities like skiing, horseback riding and a “tree lunch,” during which you’re served a three-course meal on a 10-foot platform. Rooms for this unique adventure start at about $485 for double occupancy, depending on the season.

8. Kungsleden Hiking Trail

Long distance Hiker on the Kungsleden Hiking Trail in Lapland Image

If your ideal vacation includes backcountry camping and lots of hiking, Kungsleden is for you. One of the world’s most famous distance hiking trails, the 250-mile trail winds from northern Sweden through birch trees, past snow-capped mountains and through tiny villages. The trail boasts 16 cottages that are about 12 miles away. You can stay there and buy food from them, so in theory you can make the entire trip carrying only a backpack. Reindeer herding itself takes place all along the trail, and visitors should be aware of this traditional activity. Check with the STF hiking guide for more information or to best plan your trip. The trail is open year-round, so don’t let snow days be a deterrent! Northern Sweden is also great when it’s cold.

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7 cool places near Stockholm

Stockholm is a city that always has something to surprise you. Whether it’s a new pizzeria, a gallery, a trendy club, a golf course, or just one of the classic attractions. One thing is clear: you won’t get bored here. But if you’re in the mood for a change of scenery, to see a side of Sweden other than Helsinki without spending a fortune, you’re in for a treat. We’ve compiled a list of places close to Stockholm worth a visit – grab your lunch and let’s get adventurous.

The main feature of the area is the white pebble beach. Barefoot on it you will not walk – your feet will be mercilessly painful, but it certainly looks beautiful. Especially in combination with the waves, sea, pine trees and private villas. Speaking of waves, this is probably the only place in Sweden, suitable for surfing. Even on cold days you can see rare figures bobbing on the waves. The town comes alive during the warm season, when the summer houses are filled with visitors from Stockholm and other cities. The rest of the year, it’s usually quiet and peaceful. But this is more of a plus for those who just want to wander among the houses hiding in the woods, walk on the white pebbles of the beach and watch the waves. Besides the beach, there’s also a tiny church, a pier where you can rent a kayak, and a couple of cafes and restaurants.

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How to get there? The route is not quick but easy. At Stockholm City central station you need to take the train towards Nynäshamn. Note that this is not the subway but the train and the stops you can take it are marked J or Pendeltåg. Don’t be afraid, they have a simple city pass, you don’t need to pay anything extra. Check the stops, routes and schedules on sl.se or in the app. When you get off the train, look for the bus stop right near the station and take bus 852 toward Torö. Get off at Herrhamra. The whole trip takes about an hour and a half.

Lifehack. It is better to plan your trip in the morning, because in the afternoon transportation in these areas is pretty rare. Or not at all. Therefore, it is very important to check the schedule in advance. As we mentioned above, the SL app will do everything for you.

This national park is suitable for both those who like to spend the night in a tent in nature, and those who are more attracted to a short hike through the mountains or just a walk in the woods. The central entrance is located in the village of Tyresta By, so it’s best to start here. This is where you’ll get all the information on hiking trails, tips for hikers, and can buy food and fill up on water. The village itself is also noteworthy: the buildings were built in the 18th century and have been preserved in their original form. Hiking and camping in the park are free. If desired, you can order a basic tour of the territory, which costs 60 crowns per person (€ 6). The park really is something to see: 8 lakes, 55 kilometers of trails of varying length and complexity, a wide variety of animals and birds. If you want to stay longer and more comfortably, book a hotel room (you can get information about prices from Tyresta By there).

How to get there? You should get off at the Gullmarsplan stop on the green metro line and take bus 807 towards Svartbäcken and drive all the way to the end (40-45 minutes). From the stop follow the signs to Tyresta By (Tyresta Village), which is about 2 kilometers away.

Lifehack. In summer it is quite common for the state to ban open fires in public places (because of fires), so before planning a camping trip with a campfire, check whether it is allowed.

Artipelagstigen 1, Gustavsberg

Artipelag itself is a contemporary art center (one of the largest in Sweden). Its main feature is a peculiar fusion of art and nature. The gallery is located on an archipelago, on rocks that are surrounded by a forest on one side and a bay on the other. There is a hiking trail around the gallery, which begins near the main entrance and runs through some of the most beautiful places in the area. From the top of the mountain on which Artipelag is located, there is a view of the bay. The cafe terrace is also located there. The water of the bay is unbelievably clear and transparent. Naturally, when the weather permits, you can swim there or just sunbathe, as many visitors do, spread out on blankets on the rocks. The center most often hosts exhibitions related to nature or climate, but there are also completely different topics, such as fashion or architecture. There are also large and small sculptures and installations scattered throughout the area.

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How to get there? The easiest way to get there is to take the Slussen (red or green metro line) and take bus 474 towards Hemmesta and get off at the Gustavsbergs Centrum stop. Then take bus 468 towards Hålludden and get off at the terminal. The whole way from Slussen will take about 50 minutes.

Lifehack. If you take public transportation, remember that buses rarely run in the afternoon and it’s best to plan your trip by adjusting your schedule. If you happen to miss the last bus, try waiting in the parking lot (if there are cars there) and ask the visitors or Artipelag staff for a ride into town or at least to Gustavsberg – from there you have a better chance to get home.

Solna is a huge neighborhood on the north side of Stockholm. Mostly residential buildings, but apart from that you can find several interesting objects here. First, there is the Mall of Scandinavia, the second largest shopping center in Scandinavia. Nothing superfluous, but if you want to shop, great option because most of the popular brands (both local and foreign) are represented here, plenty of places to eat inexpensively, a movie theater and other entertainment. Also in Solne is one of the many unusual subway stations – Näckrosen, the ceiling of which is painted with water lilies. And nature lovers will be interested in the lake Brunnsviken and park Haga, located near it. Especially interesting is the fact that in the area around the lake you can see almost any landscape: rocks, cliffs, forests, parks, beaches, and much more. Also in the park is the Haga Palace, built in the 19th century, and two museums – the Park Museum and the Museum of Zoology.

How to get there? Take the train, for example, at the central Stockholm City station and go to Solna station (2 stops). There are several metro stations in the area, so plan your route depending on where you want to start from. If you want to go straight to the metro station we mentioned above, go to the stop Näckrosen (blue line) and start your route from there.

Lifehack. Ideally, rent a bike and explore the area on two wheels. There are bicycle paths all around the area, as well as around the lake, so you won’t have any problems getting around.

In fact, it’s just a big industrial area with garages. Only the garages do not function for their intended purpose. Instead, they serve as a canvas for graffiti artists. Throughout the year the drawings change, and in spring Snösätra hosts an annual festival (something like Minsk’s Vulica Brasil), during which local and international artists repaint the walls. Musicians perform at the festival and sell food, drinks, clothing, and accessories. The location is available year-round, and even in winter you can see guys painting over old graffiti. Feel free to approach them for a chat. You’ll learn a lot of interesting things about the project.

How to get there? Take the subway to Hagsätra (green line) and get off at the Rågsved stop. From there you’ll need to orientate yourself on the map on your phone because you need to walk and there aren’t any signs. Google Snösätragränd or ask people on the street. The walk will take about 15 minutes.

Lifehack. If you plan to buy something, food or goods at the market, make sure you have money on a card. Cash is probably not accepted anywhere.

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Vaxholm is also part of the Stockholm archipelago. It’s a very cozy little town surrounded by water. Its main feature – wooden houses, which are usually empty in the cold season and filled with life in the summer. Despite the fact that in winter there are not often crowds of people, the place is never empty. Throughout the year, people live here, working stores, cafes and restaurants. Vaxholm imbued with a special atmosphere, which resembles a resort town, placed in a Scandinavian nature. And on a tiny island nearby is Vaxholm Fortress, built in the 16th century. At one time the fortress was used to protect Stockholm, and now it is a hotel and museum. You can’t get to the island for free (unless, of course, you have a hotel reservation), but you may well have enough of a view of the fortress from the shore of Vaxholm.

How to get there? The cheapest (think free) way to get here is by public transportation. To do this, you need to take the red metro line train towards Mörby centrum. Get off at the Danderyds sjukhus stop and take bus 670 to Vaxholm. It is best to get off at the Söderhamnsplan stop. The whole trip will take about an hour. If you want to go crazy and take a ferry ride, choose Waxholmsbolaget. The price will depend on the location you decide to depart from. Rely on 100-150 kroner (€ 10-15) one way.

Lifehack. Try a ferry ride to the island and return to the city by bus. It’s a long way, but you will be satisfied with the view: bridges, lakes, rocks, forests and fields. And in general, you will be interested to observe the life of people living in small cozy villages nearby.

You’ve probably already heard of Uppsala as Sweden’s most college town. Perhaps you also know about Uppsala Cathedral (Scandinavia’s largest cathedral). But aside from these sights, Uppsala has a hundred other things you can easily occupy yourself with all day. This is a very cozy town, somewhat reminiscent of Amsterdam with its canals that run through the city center, as well as an incredible number of cyclists. The atmosphere here is very relaxed, and the student character of the city and its multinationality is clearly felt. Uppsala University (note: the oldest university in Scandinavia) for over 10 years is one of the best universities in the world. Besides all this, it is also worth visiting Uppsala Castle, the botanical garden, the university library, many small museums, and just to walk around the city, stopping at cafes and stores on the way.

How to get there? The easiest way to get to Uppsala is by train (pendeltåg), taking it, for example, at central station Stockholm City. Keep in mind that even though you can ride the train with a regular city pass, if you go to Uppsala or to the airport, you need to buy a separate ticket. They are sold at ticket offices, but also in vending machines. The price one way will be around 100 kroner (€10). The trip will take about an hour.

Lifecycle. It will be especially interesting and fun if you get to Uppsala during the holiday Valborg, which is celebrated on the night of April 30 to May 1. Originally, the holiday signified the greeting of spring, during which a large bonfire was lit, songs were sung, danced and drank. In recent years, it has become especially popular on college campuses because the date marks the end of exams, and students celebrate it desperately. So if you’re curious about how Swedish (and not only) students party, come to Uppsala these very days. But be prepared to stock up on food and alcohol beforehand and manage to squeeze on the train, because that can be a problem.

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