Trips to Sweden
As a sparsely populated Northern European country, Sweden is a nation that is characterised by its love of nature, a strong sense of equality and environmental thinking.
The Swedes are a people not only renowned for their laid-back attitude but also for their ready willingness to embrace other cultures. Alongside a deep understanding of their own traditions, this is a trait which is all the more evident in the wilderness of Swedish Lapland where you can find some of Europe’s most magnificent national parks.
Part of the allure of this vast region is the opportunity to experience untouched nature firsthand. Fifteen percent of Sweden lies above the Arctic Circle, in a region characterised by its unending forests of pine, tumbling rivers and remote lakeside villages where it can be -40°C in the winter and +30°C during the summer months.
Northern Sweden is also the homeland of around 20,000 indigenous Sámi people, who have one of the oldest cultures in the modern world and parts of the region have been awarded a prestigious UNESCO status. Locals say that these large open spaces allow for large thoughts and indeed we find that it is in the wilds of Sweden that you can find the space to think.
With Artisan Travel, you can enjoy excursions deep into the heart of Swedish Lapland to experience all of its beauty and appeal. The people here have developed a reputation for speaking their mind, or indeed not speaking at all unless strictly necessary, which helps to confirm the image of Swedish Lapland as secluded and austere, yet deeply and endlessly captivating.Read more
In Swedish Lapland, the subarctic climate causes short, mild summers and long, cold winters. Snow covers the region from around mid-November onwards and lasts until late April with temperatures during this period ranging from 0°C to -20°C. The snow is wholly embraced as a vast arctic playground and is tackled with snowshoes, cross-country skis, snowmobiles and husky sleds.
Winter brings with it the darkness of polar light - a time when the sun doesn’t rise above the line of the horizon for up to 51 days. The darkness is by no means absolute though, as each day there are a few hours of unique polar light between 10am and 2pm which casts the region in a bluish glow which reflects off the snow.
By contrast, during the summer months of late May until mid-July visitors can witness the incredible spectacle of the Midnight Sun as darkness is seemingly banished from the region. The Swedes embrace this light-filled time of year, with late night activities and excursions to make the most of the phenomenon.
Food and drink
The huge impact of IKEA may have led to the impression that Swedish cuisine is all meatballs and cinnamon rolls, but fear not, as the foods, textures and flavours on offer present a veritable smorgasbord of offering to an enthusiastic visitor. Indeed, the ‘Smörgåsbord’ originated in Sweden as a traditional buffet of hot and cold breads, meats and cheeses.
As a culinary nation, Sweden is influenced by its countryside with dishes exuding the distinct and natural flavours of the landscape. As the food scene here continually evolves, chefs are looking to their culinary roots, rediscovering and reinventing Swedish classics, known as husmanskost.
These dishes tend to include ingredients such as pork, herring, crayfish, milk, cabbage and potato. Commonly enjoyed Swedish dishes include pea soup (ärtsopa) usually served with pancakes (pannkakor), meat stew with onions (kalops) and potato dumplings with a filling of onions and pork (kroppkakor). Pickled herring is used in vast quantities, due to its abundance in the North and Baltic Seas – indeed, Swedes have been pickling since the middle ages.
Endless varieties of bread can be found here too with flatbread, rye bread and crisp bread. The ‘open’ sandwich is also a common occurrence and dates back to the 15th century when thick slabs of bread were used as plates.
The light, long days and cool nights of summer lead to the slow growth of a variety of fruits, rich in flavours such as lingonberries and cloudberries. Sweet treats are also found in the form of pastries and waffles.
Beverage wise, Sweden is a nation of fanatical coffee drinkers, drinking cups several times a day. When it comes to alcohol, Sweden is historically part of the ‘vodka belt’ and plentiful varieties can be found here, in addition to locally brewed spirits and sweet ciders.
Economy and culture
The economy in Northern Sweden is dominated by heavy industry, with mining and foresting being the main occupations. Tourism here too is also a vital contributor to the local economy in both populated and remote regions of the country. Visitors from around the world are drawn to the stunning nature and untouched wilderness of the region, as well as the spectacles of the Midnight Sun and the Aurora Borealis.
Culturally, Swedish Lapland is highly influenced by the traditional Sámi culture and way of life. These native people settled in the Scandinavian Peninsula around 4000 years ago as nomadic hunters and gatherers. Today they are recognised and protected under international conventions.
Their primary source of income is reindeer herding, followed by farming, fishing, hunting and handicraft. For reasons both political and cultural, in certain regions, reindeer herding is reserved only for Sámi people.
Image credits: Graeme Richardson, Pier Rynback
Must see places
Discover our favourite destinations in Sweden.