Swedish krona, SEK
Sweden is a story of claims to leadership in Scandinavia, diluted by wealth and philosophy of prosperity - lagom. The main part of the country's cultural heritage is located in its southern part, but for the harsh northern landscapes it is worth going far north to the Sarek and Abisku national parks. The ancient Sami people live there, who speak their own language and lead a completely different lifestyle from most Swedes.
Top 10 interesting places and activities:
Take a walk along the gloomy pavements of Stockholm's Old Town
Admire luxurious Swedish architecture while strolling along Stockholm's central promenades and boulevards
Learn all about the Swedish Catholic churches in the Uppsala and Stockholm churches (churches of Gustav Vas, Katarina and Oscar)
Cross the Baltic Sea and see the ancient capital of the Hanseatic League - the island town of Visby
Take a picture against the backdrop of modern Malmö architecture
See the rock carvings in Tanum
Approximate costs (person/day):
Sights map of Sweden
Travel around Sweden
The history of Sweden is full of ordeals and great conquests. This is the land of freedom-loving people and brave warriors who have defended their claims over Scandinavia for many centuries. From the moment the Scandinavian lands were settled by the German Goths, Sweden was the territory of warriors and pastoralists who measured their strength until the end of the Age of Vikings - the end of the 11th century AD. At that time, Christianity finally established its strength in Scandinavia (with the exception of the Norwegians), destroying many ancient pagan beliefs. Under rule of Eric the Victorious, Sweden achieved incredible wealth and power by annexing the entire territory of the whole Scandinavian Peninsula, including Denmark, Norway, and part of modern Finland.
In the 12-14 centuries, Sweden waged continuous wars in the Baltic Sea, trying to establish constant trade with Europe and control over continental lands. So, Sweden tried to seize the Novgorod Republic (failure in the Battle on the Ice), the island cities of Denmark (was unsuccessful) and conclude an alliance with the growing Hanseatic League. By the end of the 14th century, Sweden had depleted its human and material resources, which led to a weakening of the king’s power and, as a result, to equal relations with Denmark and Norway (Kalmar Union). Nevertheless, the Swedes have repeatedly tried to break out of this humiliating situation for them, repeatedly organizing uprisings and revolutions. In the end, they managed to break the Kalmar Union during the reign of Gustav Vasa, who became the head of the rebellious Swedes and freed Sweden from long-standing dependencies with Denmark, the Hansa and the Catholic Church (Reformation). He is rightfully considered the national hero of the country to this day. With him, the largest and richest ship in all of Europe of that time was built, which, unfortunately, sank immediately upon leaving the Stockholm Bay (you can see it in the Vasa Museum today).
In the 17th century, Sweden regained control of Scandinavia, again subjugating the main part of the peninsula, as well as several lands in continental Europe. At that time, the nobility of the country flourished, they built castles and bought expensive interior items, many of which can be admired today in Drottningholm, Gripsholm, Kalmar and Vadstena castles, and many other places. The Swedish Empire spread its influence throughout the Baltic Sea, which, however, could not be kept, having been defeated in the Great Northern War by European countries and Russia led by Peter I. After the end of this war, the Russian Empire was founded with the capital in the new city of Saint Petersburg. For Sweden, the period of 17-19 centuries is a series of losses and defeats in domestic and foreign policy, which led the country to the loss of land and influence in Northern Europe. Only by the beginning of the 20th century, having eliminated all internal problems and achieved neutrality with Norway, which declared sovereignty, did Sweden take the path of development and prosperity.
The country's policy of non-intervention in the war continued until World War II, when, after the capture of Norway in 1941, the German leadership provide an ultimatum to the Swedish government. Sweden was forced to sponsor German industry and help in hostilities, but at the first opportunity rejected help and declared its neutrality in 1943. After the war, Sweden joined the Marshall Plan to restore destructions, which, however, was few compared to Poland and the Soviet Union. By rebuilding the economy and raising the standard of living of its citizens, Sweden quickly became one of the world leaders in terms of welfare and living standards, which it still has today.
Sweden is a country of incredible wealth, small social stratification and moderation in everything. Local philosophy lagom, which inherits the principles of life since the time of the Vikings, is based on the idea of moderation in all matters, as well as the harmonious combination of individual and collective state. Thanks to this philosophy, the Swedes were able to create a truly wonderful government that cares about its citizens and at the same time tries not to interfere excessively in their private life. Although “moderation in everything” often means conciseness and asceticism, in Sweden this principle leads to a completely different result. Here there is a very rich population, which also has many social benefits and guarantees (for example, free education and medicine). This situation is achieved due to extremely high taxes for individuals and legal entities, which are among the highest in the world and make up about half of the country's GDP. Unlike neighboring Norwegians, Swedes are a very religious nation. On Christmas Eve, most of them go to churches, where they praise the Lord and perform religious chants. If at this time you go to the Swedish church, you can see the figured miniature of the scene of the Christ birth and even some theatrical performances along with the choir and animals!
Wealth and luxury in Sweden are commonplace. It is enough to walk along the numerous embankments and boulevards of the capital of the country to see everything with your own eyes. Stockholm is the most populated and multi-ethnic city in Sweden; it is the center of the country's cultural and business life. From the first moment, the magnificent architecture of buildings made in the styles of classicism and baroque is striking. One glance at it is enough to feel yourself in a cultural capital, full of wealth and not knowing a lack of entertainment. The city is very different from the Norwegian capital in both architecture and logistics: it is located in a wide harbor with many islands on which old districts and entertainment centers are located. Many shopping streets are replaced by old quarters with narrow streets and overhanging colorful houses. In Stockholm, operates one of the most beautiful metro in the world. It is difficult to compare it with the Moscow one, because it was originally built according to other principles. Swedes learned to paint gray rainy weather with a variety of art forms, one of which was the amazing painting of the subway walls. Notwithstanding, it runs extremely rarely, but you can see all the stations not in a hurry. The capital of Sweden leaves a feeling of solemnity and familiarization with the high culture of Scandinavia, designed in classic and luxurious colors. Even in winter, there is something to look at: from the local museum of national life Skansen and the Nobel Prize Museum to the winding streets of the Old Town and the ship that sank 300 years ago in the Vasa Museum.
If the majestic palace architecture of Stockholm is not enough for you, be sure to look into the castles and palaces of the royal family not far from the capital: Drottningholm, Gripsholm, Kalmar and Vadstena castles. Directly from Stockholm you can take a ferry to the island of Gotland, to the ancient capital of the Hanseatic League the town of Visby, which delights with its ancient architecture and breathtaking northern landscapes. The main part of the country's cultural heritage is located in its southern part, but for the harsh northern landscapes it is worth going far to the north, to the Sarek and Abisko National Parks. In summer, here you can stroll through the dense coniferous forests and climb the mountain ranges, and in winter contemplate the northern lights and visit a curious ice hotel. In northern Sweden, the ethnic minority of Sweden lives - the ancient Sami people who speak their own language and lead a completely different way of life from most Swedes. Familiarity with their folk customs, reindeer herding principles and cultural traditions will be a great addition to a visit to Sweden.
Sweden is a rich Scandinavian country with a high standard of living and an equally high price level. Nevertheless, you can save a lot of money and get a lot of impressions at the same time if you will be smart and not afraid to walk. I invite you to see this amazing country with your own eyes!