Our Favourite Historic Sites in Sweden

Our Favourite Historic Sites in Sweden

With a history as a sovereign state stretching a millennium into the past, it should come as no surprise that the historic sites in Sweden are as vast and varied as the sweeping landmass they call home. The south features mythical castles that harbour the secrets of its long and dramatic history, the surroundings of central Stockholm offer opulent palaces and thought-provoking museums, and the north dazzles visitors with a different kind of historical phenomenon: the Northern Lights. Read on to discover the fascinating tales that can be found in this charming Scandinavian nation.

  1. Drottningholm Palace
  2. Royal Grounds of Gamla Uppsala
  3. Vasa Museum
  4. Kalmar Castle
  5. The Northern Lights


Drottningholm Palace

Nestled on the island of Lovön, just over seven miles from Stockholm, this 17th-century architectural feat is without a doubt Sweden’s best-preserved palace and, to this day, serves as the permanent residence of the royal family. The architecture reflects the European extravagance of its time, with a French baroque style found in both its interior design and delicate facade (giving it the nickname the ‘Versailles of Scandinavia’), as well as Italian Classical touches and a Nordic sasteri roof. Much of the palace is open to visitors all year round, however certain wings of the property are reserved for the private use of the royal family. As for the grounds, every inch of the French-style manicured gardens are open to the public free of charge, every day of the year.


Royal Grounds of Gamla Uppsala

Dating as far back as the sixth century, the three grassy mounds perched in the picturesque countryside outside of Uppsala that make up this elusive site have been the subject of legends, tales and mysteries for generations. Over the centuries, it has been believed by some to be the burial site of gods and kings, while others have simply claimed they are natural lumps of dirt. In 1874, a second excavation of the site concluded that the site was in fact a burial ground of royal status, owing to the luxury weaponry and gold-threaded clothing found alongside bodies. The surrounding area lends itself to cycling or walking after soaking in the historical significance of the site.


Vasa Museum

While the booming capital of Stockholm offers no shortage of beautifully curated museums, Vasa is a true time capsule, making it one of our favourite historic sites in Sweden. The museum was purpose built around the Vasa, a state-of-the-art warship that was commissioned by the royal family to be the most impressive and extravagantly designed in a fleet of warships during Sweden’s invasion of Poland in the early 1620s. The ship, however, turned out to be not so ‘state of the art’, tragically sinking just minutes into its maiden voyage after a light gust of wind toppled it onto its side in front of countless spectators. The ship was remarkably well preserved thanks to the high level of saline in the waters of the bay, making it the only surviving ship of the era. Audio guides, guided tours and other materials provide a detailed insight into everything from the making of the ship and the lives of its passengers, to a more general overview of Swedish maritime history.


Kalmar Castle

Located on an islet in the southeastern coastal region of Småland, this 800-year-old castle is steeped in history, having, over the centuries, been the site of fierce battles, international politics and royal weddings, as well as once functioning as a women’s prison. Kalmar Castle was originally built as a defensive compound to protect the important trading region from attacks by pirates and other foreign enemies (namely the neighbouring Danes), before later being reconstructed as a Renaissance palace in the 16th century. Today, you can enjoy exploring the nooks and crannies of the castle at your own pace or join a daily guided tour to deepen your knowledge on Nordic history.


The Northern Lights

While traditional historic sites in Sweden can be found in abundance in the more hospitable climates of the central and southern regions, we wanted to give an honourable mention to the icy lands of the north. And what could be more historical than the timeless Northern Lights? This astronomic phenomenon has been around for time immemorial, but its first cited recording can be found in Stone Age cave paintings dating back 30,000 years, which serves to put even the sixth-century burial grounds of Gamla Uppsala to shame. So, if you’re looking for an alternative sort of historic experience, head to Swedish Lapland to admire a magical light show that has been performing to the luckiest of humans for as long as history itself.