Travelling Alone in Sweden

| December 1, 2017

The Scandinavian nation of Sweden has an international reputation for being clean, safe and welcoming, making it the perfect European stop-off for a solo traveller. The Swedish are a friendly people and there are plenty of activities on offer where you can socialise with locals or meet up with fellow international visitors, as well as spending some time exploring on your own. Many Swedish traditions and celebrations revolve around spending time with family and friends, and building a strong community. However, locals are also dedicated to promoting the Swedish way of life and will happily welcome travellers into their midst to show them what it’s all about.

The Swedish word ‘lagom’ roughly translates as ‘Not too little, not too much, but just right’. Think Goldilocks and the bears’ porridge and you’ll have a good idea! For many people, lagom is a way of life and this translates into every area of Swedish culture. In Sweden, it’s all about balance and harmony, so be sure to sample a little of everything that the country has to offer. Offset your arduous (but rewarding!) hike through the lush pine forests of the north by letting loose in one of Stockholm’s stylish and chic nightclubs, before heading out for a restorative ‘fika’ the next morning. Just right!

The Scandinavian nation of Sweden has an international reputation

 

Getting Out into Nature

It’s a well-known fact that the Swedish people are enthusiastic about spending time in nature. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re absolutely surrounded by it. If you’re into hiking, walking, climbing or other outdoor activities, then Sweden is the place for you. When it comes to exploring breath-taking landscapes, you are spoilt for choice. The less populated north of the country is home to the Northern Lights, hiking trails, ski slopes and Europe’s last wilderness area, Swedish Lapland. Whether you fancy checking in to the infamous ICEHOTEL, or checking out the challenging off-piste slopes, there is plenty of action to be found up here.

The south of Sweden may be where the majority of the population lives, but that doesn’t mean that it feels overcrowded. I find that the vast beaches and dramatic coastline make southern Sweden a great place for introspection, soul searching and an old-fashioned walk.

Getting Out into Nature

 

Exploring Swedish Cities

Although the majority of Sweden is covered by forest, 85% of its population live in a city. This means that large cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö have a vibrant and dynamic nightlife with many restaurants, clubs, bars and casinos open until the early hours.

For a classy vibe, check out Gamla Stan in the heart of Stockholm’s Old Town with its relaxed but elegant atmosphere. Full of high quality restaurants and cosy bars, this is the place for quiet conversation and artisan cocktails. If dancing until you drop is more your thing, head to Gothenburg’s Avenyn which plays hosts to nightclubs like Park Club, open until 5am, and Lounge(s), a concept club with each level of the building boasting different music and décor.

During the day, there are many sights to see including Stockholm’s beautiful library, Stadsbibliotek, which is worth a visit for the architecture alone, and Gothenburg’s fascinating City Museum. Regular coffee stops are actively encouraged (more on this later) so feel free to settle down in one of Sweden’s many cafes for some solitary downtime. I like to make the most of these quiet moments by reading through my travel guide, writing in my journal or taking a break online with my games.

Fika

“Fika”

The tradition of ‘fika’ permeates daily life for many Swedish people. Although the word doesn’t translate perfectly into English, it essentially provides a chance for a coffee, cake and catch-up with friends, family, colleagues, everyone! ‘Fika’ can last any amount of time from 5 minutes to 5 hours and can occur at any time of day. But there is one staple ingredient: coffee. Sweden is crazy about coffee, and stands as one of the biggest coffee consumers in the world. Swedish people mostly take their coffee black, or perhaps with a dash of milk. Although you do now find everything from lattes to caramel macchiatos wherever you travel, I strongly recommend trying your cup of java the Swedish way. They’ve spent many years perfecting it and are positively fanatical about their daily cup (or three).

Along with a good strong cup of coffee, many people will have cake or another sweet treat for ‘fika’. Traditional Swedish baked goods include the iconic cinnamon bun or kanelbullar, the traditional sponge cake flavoured with cardamom (kardemummakaka), and the indulgent sticky, gooey chocolate cake (kladdkaka). Take your pick or have one of each. Traditionally, hosts should provide at least 6 different types of biscuit at ‘fika’ so you should have plenty to choose from. Why is the concept of ‘fika’ so important for the lone traveller? The answer is that it provides a great opportunity to socialise in small groups or on a one-to-one basis. If you’ve made connections with locals or fellow travellers, inviting them to go for ‘fika’ with you is a sure-fire way to get to know them better and participate in one of Sweden’s greatest traditions.

So, make sure you’ve got your walking boots, dancing shoes and appetite ready before setting off for Sweden!

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