There’s something magical about West Sweden in the summer. Maybe it’s the exciting sense of an impending Midsummer celebration in the air from everyone you meet or the beautiful scene of flowers in full bloom all along the coast, or maybe it’s the discombobulating feeling that comes with the annual transition from sunny summer solstice days to progressively shorter breaks of sunlight before the dark and rainy winter sets in. But no matter the cause of the excitement, there’s no denying how alive Sweden becomes around this time of year.
Summer in Sweden is short, which is part of the reason Swedes love to celebrate Midsummer, the longest day of the year. Midsummer Eve is celebrated on the summer solstice, when Sweden is lush and green, and the nights are scarcely dark at all. All over Sweden, people can be found picking flowers and making wreaths to wear in their hair before dancing around the maypole and laughing with friends over a smorgasbord while drinking some Swedish beer and schnapps.
For my weeklong Midsummer excursion, I headed along the coast starting in Lyckorna. Then it was off to the island of Tjorn before taking a train to Helsingborg, and finally ending up in the beautiful city of Malmö, across the shore from Copenhagen. The sunny days made for easy travel and breathtaking views all day long for the drive/walk/train ride through this gorgeous countryside. While the entire trip was a virtual feast for the senses, each city brought its own characteristic flavor to the mix, making for one memorable experience.
This seaside town is as quaint as the numerous villas that line the peninsula. Lyckorna is incredibly laid back, making it easy to sink blissfully into a bygone era of an undemanding, casual lifestyle.
Where to stay: Villa Sjötorp, a restored gothic seaside villa built in 1901 and converted into a 14-room hotel and restaurant with great views and exceptional cuisine.
Where to eat: The restaurant at Villa Sjötorp is fantastic and offers an expansive wine, schnapps, beer and liquor menu.
What to see/do: The best thing to do while in Lyckorna is simply sit back and soak in the views. Although one night was plenty for me in this town, I’ll always remember sipping a glass of wine while lazily swinging from the tree off the back porch of the Villa Sjötorp and watching the sun slowly fade.
Known as a one of the largest herring fishing towns, this small West Sweden island offers tons of genuine Swedish flavor.
Where to stay: The Salt & Sill is Sweden’s first floating hotel, and provides guests with modest yet authentically Swedish-designed rooms aboard its modern deck, and is also home to the world’s fastest floating sauna.
What to see/do: The island of Tjorn is one of the few places that offers contemporary art in an ancient cultural landscape. The modern sculptures at Pilane are scattered around a landscape of some 90 judgment circles, standing stones, and other stone circles dating back to the Iron Age.
Situated across the strait from Denmark where Hamlet’s castle towers above the coastline, Helsingborg is one of the oldest towns in the country and is a wonderful contradiction of medieval and modern culture.
Where to stay: The Hotell Viking is a modern boutique hotel filled with romantic décor and conveniently located within walking distance to most of the bars and restaurants.
Where to eat: One tradition you can’t miss while in Sweden is the Swedish Fika (or coffee break), and the fairy-tale-style café Flickorna Lundgren is a great choice and offers the former king’s favorite pastry, a vanilla heart. For dinner, the popular restaurant Barfota by the Beach provides outstanding dishes and two courses of dessert from their glass enclosed dining room.
What to see/do: Check out the salt-fired ceramics workshop and storefront for an amazing experience and one-of-a-kind souvenirs at Hoganasgruppen (Made in Sweden). For some night-time entertainment, the beautifully named bar Bara Vara (which translates to “just be” in Swedish) has a chill vibe and a great wine selection.
The third-largest city in Sweden, Malmö is also known as the City of Parks and has a culinary scene that’s changing Sweden’s once mocked reputation for food.
Where to stay: Hilton Malmö is centrally located to just about everything to do, see, and eat in the city, whether it’s by car or by foot.
Where to eat: For lunch, the Slottsträdgården is a Malmö gem and serves authentic Swedish dishes with a local and ecological twist, where diners can eat on the lawn in the garden or inside an actual greenhouse. For a truly amazing dinner dining experience, head to Malmö’s No. 1 ecological restaurant, salt&brygga, where diners can take in a breathtaking view of the Öresund Bridge while eating local delicacies and arguably the best sourdough bread in the city.
What to see/do: For a guided tour of the entire city, contact the ever-so-adorable-and-knowledgeable Eva Roos [+46 (0)70 872 23 93]. She can guide you through such sites as the Malmö Brygghus, the only microbrewery in the city (try the Cacao Porter), the Malmö Chokladfabrik (try the salted licorice chocolate … trust me), or the fully-stocked candy store Gottelisa, carrying everything from original Swedish fish made in Malmö to the traditional candy “polkagris.”