Smultronställen – An expat’s guide to 10 hidden gems in Sweden
In Swedish, a “Smultronställe” is a place considered a hidden gem that is hard to find if you don’t hear about it from locals. Although Swedes are exceedingly proud of these spots, it’s almost as if they want to keep them a secret in order to have them for themselves.
We have gathered a list of our favorite Smultronställen – spots that we think are must-visits when you are traveling through Sweden. The list is divided into two parts. We will begin with the great northern part, a mountainous landscape filled with endless forests and a coastline that will leave you breathless. In the second part, we will move further south to see what that part of Sweden has to offer.
In order to get the most out of your trip, it is a good idea to know some Swedish. Swedes are known for being relatively proficient when it comes to the English language, however, when spoken in their own language Swedes will open up a lot more. We have included some keywords that will help you in navigating Sweden and get a taste of what Sweden has to offer linguistically. Swedish for Professionals can help you learn the everyday language here in Sweden and enable you to better connect with local Swedes!
Jämtlandstriangeln, or the Jämtland Triangle, is an astounding hiking route in the province of the same name. A modern classic, the triangular-shaped route is comprised of the three mountain lodges of Storulvån, Blåhammaren, and Sylarna which make up its three corners. The lodges are open during both summer and winter seasons and offer accommodation for hikers. Hikers also camp in tents but this is only recommended during the warmer months of the year. The three lodges also offer restaurant service. At Blåhammaren, you are treated with a three-course dinner and new for this year is the restaurant at Sylarna. Happy hiking!
Orsa is located in inner Sweden, about a 4-hour car journey from Stockholm. An original site known for its great cross-country skiing area, although the hiking, the nature and the wildlife themself attract people from all over. Not to miss is the Orsa Grönklitt Bear Park, located just outside the village. Swedes are very much in love with nature and love to spend their days outside. Beautiful lakes and green parks are crowded on a sunny day and colder ones can be spent in forests picking berries or mushrooms.
Längdskidåkning is a word you might hear, it is cross-country skiing and is one of the most beloved sports.
3. Höga kusten
Breathtaking, grand, and one of the most beloved sites. A part of Scandinavia where mountains look down on small cities located near the sea and where people and wildlife meet. It has the highest coastline in the world and hiking here is more than just beautiful. What to remember when up here is the right pronunciation of the word “yes”. You might think it is simple. Ja is the official word but here you will hear people answering you with a strange breath-in sound. The right way to pronounce it is to “inhale” the word ‘sho’.
About an hour west of Östersund, the biggest city in the Swedish province Jämtland, lies Åre. Well known for its great skiing, this cute little village by the feet of great mountains attracts people from far, even during summer since there are amazing hiking routes. While you are here, why not try to bike up or even down a mountain? The location is great if you are also looking to visit Norway, a drive of barely 2 hours will take you to Trondheim.
Even if we, Swedes, have a lot of free space in our country, it is important to respect our personal space. Standing too close to a Swede or approaching one too fast might come across as aggressive or too intimidating.
Sarek is a national park in the province of Lapland and a remarkable place to visit! Old forests, vast valleys, and high mountains with peaks reaching above 2000 meters make it a go-to destination for hikers. Established in 1910, it is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. It is one of the few national parks in Sweden that offers no comforts for visitors, there are no cabins or marked hiking routes. Therefore, knowing how to navigate using a map and compass is vital for hikers.
Abisko is a national park in the heart of Lapland. A classic region with majestic mountains it is a popular destination for hikers from all over the globe. Here you can experience the midnight sun and excellent hiking during summer as well as skiing and the mighty northern lights during the cold winter months. Abisko is also the northernmost part of Kungsleden, one of the best and most well-known hiking routes in the world.
Sigtuna, the oldest city in Sweden is a must! Being founded in 980 this picturesque idyll place is full of stores with locally produced goods, located on the shores of the great Swedish lake Mälaren, and is one of the most traditional places you will find. Do not miss the cute little café Tant Brun which has a history reaching back to the 17th century.
The northern part of the Stockholm archipelago and the east coast of Uppland province is usually referred to as Roslagen. With small picturesque villages like Öregrund and Vaxholm, this is too beautiful to miss. From the coastline, you can find sailing tours, hiking, and canoeing. The huge rocks along the water make your holiday pictures look awesome.
A word to remember is klippa. It has two meanings; 1. To cut something. 2. Rocks – in this case, the ones you find right next to the sea. Normally you can see people sunbathing while laying on top of them.
Situated only an hour from Stockholm City by boat, Sandhamn is the historic coastal town of the island of Sandön in the western outskirts of the Stockholm archipelago. It is a haven for visitors who appreciate a vivid seaside with barren rocks and white beaches. The port is lively with many restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops. Sandhamn is an excellent destination for Stockholmers to escape the daily life of the city.
The quaint town of Trosa with its low houses, small alleys, and charming shops is a popular stop. The area around Trosa has been inhabited for centuries with monuments like runestones, barrows, and castles dating back to the Stone Age. The town is situated a mere hour from Stockholm by car and attracts many day-trip visitors.