Famous for its pristine cities, its stunning Scandinavian landscapes and ABBA, Sweden is a country that features on many people’s bucket list of places to visit before they die. But Sweden is about much more than just the regular old stereotypes which are rightly or wrongly held by foreigners before the visit. A trip to the largest country in Northern Europe leaves many a visitor enchanted by the warmth of Swedish people and culture. If you have decided to pay a visit, here are four uniquely Swedish things that you should definitely not miss out on.
The word “fika” does not really have any direct translation in English. It basically means a “coffee and cake break”, but for Swedish people, it is a bit more significant. Swedes will explain with a nostalgic glint in their eye that fika is more of a state of mind than the simple practice of eating cake and drinking coffee. Fika is something that Swedes try to do every day and can only be enjoyed while in the company of others. Make sure to sit down and enjoy it at least once while you are in Sweden.
As you walk around the streets of Stockholm, Göteborg or Malmö, you may notice the strange sight of Swedes ever so naturally introducing small packages of something under their top lips. This may look pretty suspicious at first, but the truth of the strange habit is somewhat more mundane. What you are witnessing is the practice of taking snus, a moist powdered tobacco product. Although the taste is not for everyone, you should try it once to fit in with the locals. Make sure you ask someone for some tips on how to use snus to make sure you are doing it right.
- Swedish Massage
Swedish massage techniques are famous the world over, but there is obviously no better place to get one than in Sweden. The Swedish massage is a gentle technique that is designed to loosen even the tightest muscles. A trained masseur or masseuse will focus on the whole body in a way that is intended to promote deep relaxation and tension relief.
- Ice Swimming
Ice swimming is a tradition that has existed for centuries in Sweden. While not necessarily unique to Sweden (it is also practiced across Scandinavia and Northern Russia), Swedes have long been aware of the health benefits that the occasional dip in icy lake water can confer on those brave enough to take the plunge. Besides these benefits, it is also a whole load of fun to jump in and feel the tingling sensations either on your own or with some friends.
Sweden is a country which is full of surprises if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone. The four things mentioned about are definitely things you should try, but they only really scratch the surface of what Swedish culture is all about. Make sure to go out of your way to experience the real Sweden when you take that long-anticipated trip to the Scandinavian country.