Though there are 3 months of summer vacation, us college students are fully aware that there is no such thing as getting a real break. We’re always hustling, whether it be an internship or taking summer classes to get ahead.
Fortunately, I have family in Sweden which gives me the perfect excuse to pack my suitcase and fly 5,197 miles across the Atlantic. The Western world mostly recognizes this country for its famous meat balls and everyone’s favorite affordable furniture store, Ikea. You’d be surprised by all the other things that make it such a fascinating country to visit. Sweden is one of the five Scandinavian countries located in northern Europe and is surrounded by bodies of water. There are over 97,000 lakes which adds to its natural aesthetics.
I’ve traveled a bit growing up, but never had the opportunity to indulge in the European experience. After years of vicariously living through other people’s Instagram posts, I am finally able to share my own journey. During my two weeks stay I’ve not only enjoyed my time, but also learned a lot about a part of the world I was so unfamiliar with. I woke up early in the mornings to natural, fresh air and sat on the porch admiring all the green surrounding me. After going on my gratitude walks around the neighborhood, I would munch on toast spread with orange marmalade and Swedish cheese. A simple breakfast, but very delicious and filling.
Each day, I looked forward to new adventures. Time went by like a breeze and I am now left with sweet memories of all the places I’ve explored. Ever since I’ve been back, I can’t stop raving about how beautiful and transforming my experience has been over the summer. Next time you find yourself planning a vacation to Europe, I’ve created a list of places I recommend visiting in Sweden.
Gamla Stan, Stockholm
In the heart of the capital city, there are multitude of things to do. Especially in Gamla Stan, which translates to “old town.” It is the most quintessential European town I’ve ever seen. Rich in years of history and medieval architecture, it’s the perfect place to begin exploring. Little shops and bakeries are abundant in every corner you go. On a sunny day out with my family, we walked by the dock where all the boats blended perfectly with the blue hues in the background and I enjoyed taking as many pictures as possible to capture every precious moment of this trip. My love for European architecture is ineffable; I’ve always been so impressed by its intricate details and hard work that went into the design process for each historical landmark. The beauty of this town is truly captured when present in real life.
An important reminder while you’re in Sweden is that public transportation is HUGE! One of the most common methods of transportation through the narrow streets of Gamla Stan is either biking or by walking. If you’re going to travel in Europe, might as well get used to the idea of trains, bikes, and lots of exercise.
Fryst: Gelato in Stockholm
What’s the best remedy on a scorching hot day out? Gelato is always the right answer! After walking ten thousand steps all over Stockholm in the span of 2 hours, we ended our day’s adventure by the marina while indulging the best gelato I’ve ever tasted! I got a combination of pistachio and salted caramel. I honestly surprised myself by how well these flavors complement each other. How much are you craving gelato right now?
P.S. A special thanks to my cousins for being the best tour guides this American foreigner could ask for.
Urban Deli Rooftop Café
One of the things I truly love is scavenging for hipster-esque cafés in any new city that I visit. In Stockholm, the rooftop café is a great attraction for having “fika.” Fika is a very Swedish word commonly used to express taking a break in between your busy schedule and socializing. The best part is sipping on a cappuccino while looking over the cityscape from atop.
Ever since I was a little girl, I imagined what it’s like to be a princess. Especially since the British royal family is highly broadcasted and known all around the world, but there are other monarchies in different parts of Europe. The Swedish royal family is well respected, and their family symbol is seen all over the country. Drottningholm Palace is one of the royal palaces built in the 16th century and open for tourists and visitors. Wandering the palace gardens and acres of open green space was truly a memorable experience. I may have made up a few imaginative stories in my head about a prince charming sweeping me off my feet while I was there.
I love classic European towns encircling little shops and being surrounded by nature. If you want to go on a walk with a spectacular view of the lake, there are trails for visitors and places to grab a quick snack. It’s also an ideal place to set up a picnic and relax in the evening. For me, it was an evening filled with philosophical reflections and gratitude for the present moment with the people I love and care about. I felt connected to the universe and the path of life I’m headed towards.
While the end to my trip was near, my family and I took a road trip to the coastal city of Malmö and stayed overnight to enjoy the beaches and more sightseeing. The scenery of the countryside made the long drive worth it and when we finally reached our destination, I forgave the long, tedious 6-hour road trip! I spent the first night enjoying a golden sunset by the beach and remembering a quote from one of my favorite movies, Before Sunset starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. “So often in my life I’ve been with people and shared beautiful moments like traveling or staying up all night and watching the sunrise, and I knew it was a special moment, but something was always wrong. I wished I’d been with someone else. I knew that what I was feeling – exactly what was so important to me – they didn’t understand.”
The Øresund Bridge is one of the main attractions and can be seen faded in the background of the beach. One of the biggest benefits is the city’s connection to Denmark by train. It’s also one of my favorite things about Europe, the easy access to travel to another country within a matter of couple hours. I wandered the narrow streets of Copenhagen on a cloudy afternoon, munching on bubble waffles with a scoop of ice cream on top. The highlight of that trip is finally being able to see Nyhavn in real life. Every time I search “Copenhagen” on the internet, this picture is one of firsts to pop up. Although I imagined being there a million times, the moment I stepped onto the busy entertainment district with thousands of people enjoying their summer, I was at a loss for words. The play of colorful rooftops and thousands of unfamiliar faces from all over the world completed the city.
I believe traveling changes people for the better and opens our minds to learning how diverse and beautiful this world is.