What is Sweden Famous For?

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Sweden is Europe’s fifth largest country and is one that has seen an influx of tourists in recent years. Sweden has a diverse range of attractions, historical sites and of course culture that many want to experience first hand. Sweden is a naturally diverse country, with the snow-covered tundra of Lapland to its sunny beaches in Skåne offering something new and exciting to explore. It is also home to historical cities such as Stockholm, picturesque and quaint villages and lush evergreen forests. Whether you are looking to immerse yourself in the local culture, learn a little about the countries history, or explore its beautiful natural landscapes, Sweden is a unique and memorable destination. Here are 15 things that Sweden is famous for to encourage you to look to this Scandinavian country for your next European vacation.

What Is Sweden Known For

1Swedish Design

Vibrant Row Of Swedish Apartment Buildings In The Snow
Swedish design and architecture is what Sweden is known for.

Sweden is iconic when it comes to design, and thanks to one particular furniture store, its flag has become instantly recognisable the world over.

Swedish design is so much more than simply Ikea flatpack furniture however.

The mantra behind Swedish design is simple; make beautiful things for everyday life.

This has allowed many of Swedens designers to produce elegant, environmentally friendly and attractive products that seamlessly combine functionality with form.

Iconic Swedish designers include Gillis Lundgren, the designer behind the Ikea must-have Billy Bookcase, and Bruno Mathsson, a furniture designer and architect who created the Pernilla chair in 1944 that swiftly became a design icon.


To experience the beauty and simplicity of Swedish design without visiting a store, head to one of the countries excellent design museums.

Some of the best design museums in Sweden include the Nordiska Museet, Moderna Museet, and Ark Des, the centre for Architecture and Design in Sweden.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Art, Architecture & Design Tour.


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When thinking of Swedish music, one of the first bands that comes to mind is ABBA.

ABBA soared to fame after their appearance on the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, when their soon to be hit Waterloo was performed.

The band’s win was Sweden’s first and rocketed the band to international fame.

Following their initial hit, they released iconic tracks such as Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia which topped international charts.

ABBA were the first non-English speaking band to repeatedly top charts in the United Kingdom, Australia and the USA.

The band’s fame is so great that numerous countries across the world now have ABBA experiences, and their music was shared with a new generation when it was used throughout the blockbuster film Mamma Mia, with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan starring.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: ABBA The Museum Entrance Ticket.

3- Fika

Coffee Time
Fika is what Sweden is known for.

The art of fika is one practiced across Sweden, and is one that is fast becoming a desirable lifestyle adaptation in non-Scandinavian countries.

Fika is all about enjoying a cup of coffee and something sweet with friends.

This simple coffee break is enjoyed by people of all ages and is something that is traditionally taken with colleagues, friends and family.

Fika has been around in Sweden since the 18th century when coffee was first brought to the country.

Following the introduction of patisserie in the 19th century, Swedes combined flaky pastry treats with their coffee, taking a purposeful moment to savour the experience.

The most popular treat to have during fika is a cinnamon bun, a lightly spiced swirl of dough often topped with a sweet icing.

Fika has become so important to Swedish society that some Swedish businesses have fika breaks built into their work day to ensure their employees can take part.

This introduction has increased employees well-being and has seen a surge in productivity.

During warmer weather you will see small groups of people enjoying fika in the forest or parks.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Guided Fika Tour.

4- Meatballs

Fresh Tasty Meatballs With Cranberry Sauce
Meatballs is what food is Sweden is known for.

When thinking of traditional Swedish food, only one dish comes to mind; meatballs.

Swedish meatballs are traditionally made using a blend of ground pork and beef, with cream, egg and onion.

They are served with mashed potatoes, gravy and lingonberry jam.

Swedish meatballs are available across the country and it is seen as a comfort food for many.

Some chefs in Sweden have further developed this traditional dish to elevate it to make it lighter and healthier, suitable for people with different allergies, and even pushing it towards fine dining.

For some of the best meatballs in Stockholm visit Meatballs for the People, a self-titled meatball boutique where 12 varieties of meatballs are available all made from local and organic ingredients.

Recommended tours:

5- Midsummer

Swedish Midsummer Headgear Traditional
Midsummer is what Sweden is known for.

One of the most popular festivals in Sweden centres around Midsummer.

If you are visiting Sweden around midsummer expect to see people adorning their hair with flowers, dancing, singing and eating and drinking traditional dishes, and celebrating this magical time of year.

Midsummer is traditionally celebrated in the countryside, with many city-dwellers heading out of town the day before to make the most of the festival.

The festival is so important in Sweden that shops and restaurants close, allowing everyone to take part.

Midsummer is a whole-family affair, with large gatherings of families and friends enjoying the height of summer.

Expect to find people taking part in traditional ring dances, decorating may-poles and making floral wreaths.

The festival varies each year, but typically falls between the 19th and 25th June, and is always held on a Friday.

At a Midsummer festival expect to find delicious dishes of pickled herring, potatoes boiled with dill, grilled meats and fish, and of course plenty of fresh strawberries.

6- The Swedish Royal Family

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
The Swedish Royal Family is another icon Sweden is known for.

Sweden’s Royal Family are a famous part of the country’s history.

While their role is largely ceremonial as the country is governed by a parliament, the Royal Family are key to representing Sweden abroad, and run many charity events across the country.

Sweden’s Royal Family is the Bernadotte Dynasty who have been on Sweden’s throne for more than 200 years.

The King of Sweden is Carl XVI Gustaf, who recently celebrated his 50th year on the throne.

The King is well known throughout Sweden for his commitment to the environment, sustainability and nature, with many of his projects encouraging positive development in these areas.

Recommended tour: 1-day 7h Royal Palace and Castle Tour from Stockholm.

7- Forests

Forests are what Sweden is known for.

Sweden is well-known for its leafy landscapes and forested hills.

The country is large in size but has a relatively small population of around 10 million residents, allowing it to preserve and nurture its green spaces.

The natural landscape of Sweden is covered in vast swathes of forest, and adding to this natural beauty are its 90,000 lakes, shore line and pebble beaches.

Sweden’s forests make up 1% of the world’s forested lands, however despite this small number the country is the second largest exporter of wood-based products in the world.

Swedish pulp, paper and sawn woods are shipped across the world for use in a variety of industries.

Of the 40.8 million hectares that make up Sweden, its forests cover a staggering 22.5 million hectares with trees including spruce, pine and birch.

As a country that prides itself on its sustainability initiatives, Sweden has sustainable forests that are replanted with species following felling, and that focus on the growth of indigenous species of trees.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Forest Mountain Biking Adventure for Beginners.

8- Vikings

Viking Stone Ship Burial In Oland Island
Vikings are what Sweden is well-known for.

One of the most well-known and famous things about Sweden is its Viking heritage.

Between the 8th and 11th centuries this fierce group of warriors, traders and settlers spread out across Europe.

The Viking Age in Sweden began in around AD700, however much of their travelling and fighting across Europe came much later.

The Vikings originated from modern-day Sweden and were a part of the larger Norse region, which also covered Denmark and Norway.

Vikings from Sweden were considered master shipbuilders and navigators, creating powerful and fast moving long ships.

Due to the creation of these ships, the Vikings were able to easily move around the world and travelled extensively.

Despite popular belief, not all Viking voyages were to pillage.

Many trips across Europe were to open trading routes to allow the Vikings to connect with the British Isles, the Baltic and the Byzantine Empires.

When Vikings settled in areas outside of Scandinavia, they introduced their traditional customs on the lands they arrived in, which gave countries such as Great Britain an influence of Norse mythology in their medieval writings.

In Sweden today there are clear reminders of the countries Viking heritage.

The legacy is shared through numerous museums and galleries dedicated to the Vikings and their influence not only on Scandinavia, but across much of Northern Europe.

Recommended tours:

9- Smorgasbord

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One of the most famous things to enjoy eating in Sweden is a smorgasbord.

The term is used to describe a large buffet of various different items, typically consumed at large family gatherings or festivals.

Smorgasbords often consist of both hot and cold dishes, with guests expected to contribute something to the table.

The literal definition of a smorgasbord comes from the terms used in Sweden for both open sandwich, however today it is customary to have a varied and plentiful spread.

Traditional smorgasbords include cold dishes typically featuring a variety of sea food including prawns, cured salmon and pickled herrings.

Other cold items may include hard boiled eggs, slices of cold meats, pickles, pates and condiments.

Warm and hot dishes are served during winter and include meatballs, rich and creamy mashed potatoes, roasted meats and miniature sausages.

These warm dishes tend to be replaced by chilled ones during the summer months, such as tarts and cheeses.

Smorgasbords also feature sweet dishes to finish the meal in the form of marzipan sweets, chocolates, or desserts using berries.

At Christmas, the traditional smorgasbord is elevated into a julbord, which follows the same structure but with more festive additions.

Expect find a potato gratin, fondues and spiced cookies on the julbord spread.

10- Avicii

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One of the most famous and most popular musicians to come out of Sweden was DJ Avicii.

Born in 1989, Tim Bergling aka Avicii created music that continues to bring people together.

His music reached the hearts of thousands, with more than 2 billion streams on Spotify for his biggest hits Hey Brother, Levels, and Wake Me Up.

Alongside performing and writing music, Tim also worked with many charities, co-founding the House of Hunger to raise money for various food charities, and in donating large sums of money to charities like RED to aid in their fight against HIV and AIDS.

Following his tragic death in 2018, the Tim Bergling Foundation was set up as a place where children and young people can be supported with their mental health, offering them opportunities to develop and improve their health, mental wellbeing and confidence.

The foundation was set up by Tim’s parents to honour the artist and to support young people who are going through similar difficulties.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Avicii Experience Skip-the-Line Entrance Ticket.

11- Sustainability

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In recent years Sweden has developed a reputation for being one of the most sustainable countries in the world.

The nation is so sustainable that they were named the most sustainable country on the planet at the end of 2023.

Their drive to increase sustainability includes the number of electric vehicles they have on the roads, how much renewable energy is generated and used, and a number of additional environmental protection laws.

Sweden’s population are big recyclers thanks to a range of encouraging strategies that allow them to be rewarded for their efforts.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Sustainable Tour.

12- Nobel Prize

Nobel Prize Stockholm Sweden
The Nobel Prize is what Sweden is famous for.

The Nobel Prize has been running since 29th June 1900, and is awarded to outstanding achievements in the fields of science, humanism and peace.

Alfred Nobel, the prize’s founder, was a chemist, engineer and industrialist who used his fortune to encourage the funding of future prize awards.

To date, there have been 621 Nobel Prizes awarded across 1000 laureates.

Contrary to popular belief, the prize is not an annual award, and years will be skipped if there are no works that are considered worthy.

Notable award winners include Malala Yousafzai, who won the award at age 17 for her ‘struggle against the suppression of children and young people for the right of all children to education’.

Other famous winners include Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr, and Marie Curie.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Nobel Prize Museum and Exhibition Entry Ticket.

13- Metro Art

T-Centralen Metro Station In Stockholm
Metro Art is what Sweden is known for.

One of the best things about using Sweden’s public transport network is experiencing its art work.

Throughout Sweden’s metro network there are hundreds of pieces of art work to admire.

Dubbed the ‘world’s longest art exhibition’, Sweden’s metro art train spans 100 kilometres (68 miles) with around 90 of the 100 stations in the network decorated with works of art from artists.

Each piece of art work covers a different media including mosaics, paintings and installations, and take in different themes, genres and styles.

Some of the best stations to visit to experience Sweden’s artistic metro stations include Kungstradgarden which translates to The Kings Garden.

This metro station allows access to one of the oldest public parks in Stockholm, with its unique green ceiling adding to its natural appeal.

Another must-visit artistic station to visit in Stockholm is Solna Centrum Subway Station.

The station is on the blue line and features a vibrant green and red landscape covering its walls and ceilings, depicting the forests and the setting sun.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Underground Metro Art Ride with a Local Guide.

14- Islands

Ferry In Sweden Islands
Islands are what Sweden is known for.

Sweden has more than 250,000 islands and islets across the waters surrounding the mainland.

Many of these islands are uninhabited, however this has allowed Sweden to preserve the natural landscape and the native wild life of each individual island.

Sweden’s capital city Stockholm is built across 14 islands which has created interesting and pleasant walkways along the waters edge.

One of the best ways to explore Sweden is on a boat tour along its rivers and canals, offering you a new view point of the beautiful landscape and interesting architecture.

Recommended tours:

15- Vasa Warship

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The Vasa is quite possibly one of the most famous warships from the 17th century.

In 1625 Gustav II Adolf had Henrik Hybertsson, a Dutch shipbuilder, begin designs on a warship, with the aim of creating one of the most formidable and powerful ships in the Baltic.

Following Hybertsson’s death in 1627, the warship was ready to launch.

It measures 69m (226ft) in length and 50m (164ft) in height, weighed 1200 tonnes and had 10 sails and 64 cannons.

Despite the fanfare around the ships launch, its maiden voyage was fated to be its last.

After ignoring worries from Sofring Hansson, the ships captain, around the alarming rolling of the ship, the Vice Admiral Klas Flemming was pressured into launching the vessel by the king.

The maiden voyage of Vasa should have been a sight to behold, however after making it a mere 1300m (4265ft) from the ship yard, a strong gust of wind caused the ship to rock leading water to pour through the open gun-ports, swiftly filling it with water.

It took mere minutes for the ship to sink down to the sea bed.

There were various attempts to reach the ship during the 1660s, with one successful mission using newly engineered diving bells bringing the majority of the ships cannons back to the surface.

Finally, after centuries of salvage operations, on 24th April 1961 the Vasa warship was finally pulled from the harbour, surprisingly well-intact.

It was displayed in the February of the following year in the former shipyard where it was first built.

In the decades that followed extensive restorations have allowed the ship to be as well-preserved as possible.

1990 saw Vasa’s story continuing as it was moved to a new and more permanent home dedicated to the fated ship and its history.

Since moving to the Vasa Warship Museum, Vasa has drawn thousands of interested visitors from across the globe to admire this huge warship.

Recommended tour: Stockholm: Vasa Museum Guided Tour, Including Entry Ticket.

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Sarah Holmes
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.