Sweden – the land of moose, the Northern Lights, forests, meatballs and lakes. I am drawn to the north at least once a year, always in a different place, in another city, to another lake.
As different as my holidays are, there are some adventures that I never miss when I head north to Scandinavia. The best thing is that you can experience them almost everywhere in the country, they cost little or no money at all, and will inspire you time and time again. Whether you’re going to Sweden for the first time or you’re an expert on Scandinavia – if you haven’t tried the following things, now is the time to discover new things to experience in Sweden!
1. Moose watching in Swedish forests
In Germany you’ll most frequently see them in zoos and wildlife parks, or perhaps on television. What am I talking about? The moose.
In Sweden, they can actually be found everywhere.
About 350,000 of the animals call Sweden their home, and the probability of running into one is quite high, especially in Central Sweden. Moose can commonly be seen while travelling by car. The large, impressive animals are careful of pedestrians and disappear before they are even heard – but they don’t seem to be disturbed by cars. They are content to continue to groan peacefully whenever a four-wheeled vehicle passes by.
Here’s my tip: do your shopping in Sweden at dusk and by car, and above all keep an eye out for moose at clearings and the edges of forests.
2. Place a bet and win money in harness racing
What is hardly noticed here in Germany is this extremely popular sport: harness racing, or trotting races, regularly attract many spectators to the courses and to the betting offices. A trip to the next race is definitely worthwhile – even if you don’t know too much about trotting. Particularly exciting is the visit to one of the three biggest racetracks: Jägersro near Malmö, Åby south of Gothenburg and Solvalla near Stockholm.
A must: be sure to hand in your betting slip! This will help you get wrapped up in the sport and make the tension rises to its limit. You don’t even have to dig deep into your holiday fund: the Swedish betting system also allows you to use small sums of money. But be careful! It’s easy to let things get out of hand and small amounts can quickly turn into big ones. It is best to set a budget beforehand and make sure that nothing stands in the way of a pleasant day at the races!
3. Chokladbollar and coffee during Fika
Coffee and cake time in Sweden is called Fika – and is celebrated by both young and old. The Swedes love coffee; every Swede drinks 3.5 cups of coffee on average every day, and they take their time for that.
Whether at work (even during a meeting) or in their spare time: Fika is something these Northern Europeans often partake in several times a day. As someone on holiday, you should simply join in if you can. Even if your stress levels are low, and your pace during your holiday in Sweden is kept casual, you should deliberately plan a coffee break every now and then. I can especially recommend sweet Chokladbollar – delicious chocolate balls, which are available with coconut or sugar coating in every café. Delicious!
4. Drop a line in the water and catch your dinner yourself
I’m not a fishing pro, I admit it. I don’t even like eating fish.
Nevertheless, fishing is still on my agenda for every holiday in Sweden. It is said that not much is needed to pull a fish out of the water in Sweden, but despite there being so many fish, I have yet to catch one of my own.
But success does not have to be the focus of a fishing trip. As is so often the case, the journey is the real destination. The fishing process is beautiful if you can row over the lonely lake with a small boat, enjoy the view over meadows and forests and just listen to nature. The country has almost 100,000 lakes to offer – so it’s no wonder that the Swedes are never put off by overcrowded fishing and swimming locales.
For angling holiday goers this means pure relaxation! The beautiful thing is that in Sweden you can fish without a fishing licence. For most public lakes, all you need is a fishing permit, which is simply an easily procured card. This is not expensive and fits into any budget.
5. A burning sky – Sweden’s breathtaking Northern Lights
When the deceased try to make contact with the locals, shimmering and mystically shimmering lights appear in the sky – at least according to the legends of the Swedes and other Nordic peoples.
Anyone who has ever seen the Northern Lights can understand this perfectly. All physics aside, when the Aurora Borealis appears in the sky, it drives tears into my eyes. The spectacle in the sky in front of the snow-covered forests and lakes seems too unreal. The payoff is always worth overcoming a few obstacles: a trip to observe Northern Lights is not exactly cheap, the offer of accommodations is rather small – there are hardly any cities so far to the north.
But this has a decisive advantage: it is quite easy to find a place with low light pollution – a prerequisite for enjoying the Northern Lights in their full splendor.
[This article has been adapted from its original German version, written by Judith Kuhl]