Four Hidden Gems in Sweden

Four Hidden Gems in Sweden

In Sweden, they have a word for hidden gems: smultronställe. Literally translated it means ‘wild strawberry patch’ but ask any Swede and they’ll tell you that its true meaning is a special place or personal idyll that evokes feelings of happiness, joy and well-being. They’re not hard to come by in this part of the world either. From long-forgotten coastal castles and ABBA-certified folk sextets to minus 30°C markets in Swedish Lapland, it’s hardly surprising that locals are hesitant to share theirs. At Original Travel, however, we’re more than happy to pass on our favourite strawberry patches. Read on to discover hidden gems in Sweden – just don’t tell anyone else.

  1. Jokkmokk
  2. Kalmar Slott
  3. Orsa
  4. Ystad


Jokkmokk may be an IKEA antique stain table and chair set but did you know it’s also a densely forested municipality high in Swedish Lapland and one of the most beautiful villages in Sweden ? Rich in Sami culture and swoon-worthy looks, it’s not surprising that botanist Carl vone Linne declared the area ‘earth’s paradise…if not for the mosquitoes’. While we’re choosing to look beyond the mozzies, there’s no denying that this hidden gem has it all. From its main street that’s oddly reminiscent of small town America (think clapboard houses and shops), to its 400-year-strong market that celebrates everything from handicrafts and jewellery to reindeer racing and theatre, nobody can accuse Jokkmokk of not knowing how to put on a show – despite the -30°C temperatures. Spend mornings perusing Scandi shops (we recommend Care of Gerd and Jokkmokks Tenn) and afternoons getting to grips with the Sami way of life at Ájtte, one of only two national museums outside Stockholm. By night, it’s all about nature and the Northern Lights – if you’re lucky to spot them.

Kalmar Castle


Kalmar Slott

You need only have watched one episode of Game of Thrones to recall that the Swedes know how to build a good castle. And Kalmar is no exception. Originally a 12th century defence tower, its intention was to protect the area from pirate attacks. By the early 1200s, it was a fully-fledged city with additional towers, gatehouses and ring walls. And as it turns out, it’s a good job it was. From the Kalmar Union, which saw Sweden, Norway and Denmark unite together against the German Hanseatic League, to the Kalmar War, when the castle came under Danish control, Kalmar Slott has had its fair share of drama. But what makes it one of our favourite hidden gems in Sweden is its architecture. Think intricate frescos, spindly spires and ornate windows looking out over Kalmar Strait and you’ve got one of Sweden’s grandest secrets.



Swedes aren’t shy about their love of the outdoors. So, we’re sure they won’t mind us letting you in on Orsa, Dalarna County’s pretty little secret. A small town nestled on the northern part of Lake Siljan, it’s home to a ski resort, a wildlife park and a folk music sextet, Orsa Spelmän, that’s part of the one and only Benny Andersson’s (of ABBA) orkester. Spend summer days lolling round the sparkling waters of Lake Siljan, stopping for fika in some of Sweden’s most characterful little villages and even bedding down for the night in wildflower fields (thanks to allemansrätten – the right to roam Sweden’s countryside). In winter, it’s all about längdskidåkning (cross-country skiing). Forget Tignes and Val d'Isère, as here you can ski, snowboard and snowshoe without the crowds. Sounds Orsa-m, right?

Lake Siljan



Nordic Noir fans will probably have heard of this little town before. A hop, skip and a jump away from the bridge – yes, The Bridge – and the home of Henning Mankell’s fictional detective Wallander, Ystad feels like Sweden’s Somerset. Its streets are cobbled, its fields are velvety and its houses come in exclusive gingerbread-styles. There may be occasional make-believe murder but that’s not stopping us from crowning it one of our favourite hidden gems in Sweden. History buffs should stop by its 11th century monastery, which is still one of the best-preserved in the country, while budding photographers (and Instagrammers) should make a beeline for its Old Town. Complete with colourful houses festooned with flowers and flanked by stalls selling everything from fruit and vegetables to traditional Swedish souvenirs, it’s like Ystad knew to run with its coastal grandma chic memo. It’s also just a short train ride away from Malmö if you feel like swapping country lanes for Sweden’s third city’s cosmopolitan streets…