Sweden is famous for its breath-taking scenery, vibrant food scene and easy-going cities, but it’s also loaded with picturesque towns and villages. Choosing the most beautiful villages in Sweden is no mean feat, but the below list is a good starting point. Consider including these bitesize beauties in your next visit – you won’t regret it.
- Jokkmokk, Swedish Lapland
- Visby, Gotland
- Åre, Jämtland
- Sigtuna, Uppland
- Höljes, Värmland
- Djurgården, Stockholm
- Marstrand, Götaland
- Ystad, Skåne
Jokkmokk is a fairytale town in Swedish Lapland, where you can explore a winter market, watch reindeer racing and learn about the fascinating local culture. The town is best known for the Jokkmokk Winter Market, which has been a February fixture since 1606. The annual event draws thousands of visitors who brave the snow and sub-zero temperatures to browse handicrafts made by the indigenous Sámi people. You can also taste local food, feed reindeer, listen to live music and watch folk dancing. Be sure to taste the local speciality of surströmming (fermented herring), which has been a delicacy in Swedish Lapland for centuries. Another interesting Jokkmokk stop is Ájtte, a museum that specialises in the Sámi culture and the history of this stunning area of northern Sweden. The town also works as an excellent base for discovering the four national parks in the Laponia World Heritage area.
The medieval walls of Visby, an ancient Viking town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, are nearly 700 years old making this urban beauty one of the grandmas in our roundup of the most beautiful villages in Sweden. This quaint haven - located on the island of Gotland, east of the Swedish mainland - feels a world away from contemporary Scandinavia. It has been dubbed the ‘City of Roses and Ruins’ as flowers thrive on the limestone rock, and the centre is filled with centuries-old vestiges. Beautiful timber buildings line the cobblestone streets and the surrounding area is home to more than 90 churches, many of which were built before the 12th century. Every August, Visby hosts Medieval Week, complete with authentic dress, feasts and jousting, and it’s crowded from mid-June to mid-August. If you prefer calm and quiet, visit during the rest of the year when the atmosphere is quite different.
Åre is Sweden’s leading ski resort, beautifully positioned in a mountain valley by the shores of an alpine lake making it a worthy contender for any list of the most beautiful villages in Sweden. Visitors can take a scenic cable car up to the top of the mountain and then choose from a range of pistes coming down, all the way to the village square. There’s a snow park and a special ski area for families, while the Åreskutan is home to Northern Europe’s greatest vertical drop. Visitors can enjoy night skiing, when it is possible to catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights. And for those looking for something even more adventurous? Try a guided snowmobile safari which is sure to get your blood pumping as you whizz across snowy landscapes. Åre is also popular with summer sports fans, with an annual bike festival and plenty of opportunities for swimming, paddleboarding and running. The town has plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes and the hotels are the epitome of Swedish good taste and slick Scandinavian styling.
Step back in time in Sigtuna, Sweden’s oldest town. Located on Lake Mälaren in Uppland, this tiny idyll was founded in 980 AD and the picturesque centre has retained much of its medieval charm. Despite its small size, Sigtuna has been granted city status because of its historical significance and the Old Town is filled with craft shops, restaurants, charming cafés and boutique shops. Wander around the churches, ruins and rune stones located around town or take a boat out onto the lake. During the Christmas season Sigtuna becomes even more magical, as holiday markets pop up all over the city, selling local handicrafts, food and gifts.
With around 10,000 lakes, it’s easy to see why Värmland is known as Sweden’s Lake District. Close to the Norwegian border, it’s both peaceful and picturesque, with deep forests and gin-clear waters that attract nature-lovers who flock here for the fresh air and stunning scenery. This is the ideal place for gentle pursuits like kayaking, fishing, swimming and cycling. All that changes in July, when the little Värmland village of Höljes hosts the high-octane rallycross event World RX of Sweden. Out of town, you can pay a visit to Mårbacka, the former home of author Selma Lagerlöf, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, and lose yourself in the works of Swedish artist Lars Lerin at the Sandgrund Lars Lerin Museum.
Djurgården is an island located just off Central Stockholm, so while it’s not strictly a village, it certainly feels like one. Although small, Djurgården is full of great things to do, and visitors could easily spend a whole day here. Take a walk along the Djurgårdsbrunn Canal or enjoy some of Stockholm’s best tourist attractions, like the ABBA museum, the Museum of Ethnography, and the Vasa Museum, which is an open-air museum and zoo, an amusement park and more. The island is also heaven for foodies with plenty of excellent restaurants and cafés.
An hour’s drive from Gothenburg, Marstrand is a contender for Sweden’s swankiest town. A popular playground for the rich and famous, it boasts a colourful collection of wooden holiday homes and a harbour that plays host to the annual Marstrand Regatta, Match Cup Sweden and other major sailing championships. The scenic seaside town is spread over two islands in the Kattegat Sea and is home to Carlsten, a 17th-century stone fortress that’s well worth visiting. Marstrand is an ideal summer destination offering a wealth of outdoor activities alongside sailing, such as sea kayaking, fishing, swimming and hiking trails. Culture vultures will appreciate the contemporary art, photography and sculpture on display at Strandverket Art Museum, and visitors will also find world-class restaurants and boutique shopping.
Last up in our list of the most beautiful villages in Sweden is the popular tourist town of Ystad. Located in the southern county of Skåne, Ystad dates from the 11th century. Aside from being made famous as the home of fictional detective Kurt Wallander, Ystad has a wealth of heritage buildings, including its grand town hall, dotted around the main square. It’s also where you’ll find Greyfriars Abbey, one of Sweden’s best-preserved monasteries, and the striking St Mary’s Church. Just east of Ystad is the megalithic monument of Ales Stenar – an ancient formation of standing stones erected in the shape of a boat.
Our round up features just a few of Sweden’s small wonders. Which are you adding to the bucket list?