10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home. | Photo by Hans-Olof Utsi, Image Bank Sweden.

Why Sweden Felt Like Home.

I realized that Sweden felt like home only a few hours into my trip.  I was actually rather startled to discover that Sweden was so similar to the USA, although the comparison was likely exaggerated because I had been living in Germany for a year.  Experiencing Sweden – the people, the culture, the food – was like coming up for a desperately needed breathe of fresh air.

My love for Sweden grew quickly and unexpectedly during the four days Mr. Meena and I spent in the Scandinavian country.  I’ve hardly stopped thinking about our visit and wondering when we can return.  In fact, it’s our goal to live in Sweden at some point – here’s why.


10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home.


1| Friendly people.

We had countless positive interactions with Swedes during our trip.  We found the locals to be friendly and everyone we encountered spoke English extremely well.  Furthermore, they didn’t mind switching languages for us (which is not the case in all European countries).  Overall, I felt very comfortable interacting with people in Sweden.


10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home. | Photo by Simon Paulin, Image Bank Sweden.

Simon Paulin / imagebank.sweden.se

During our day at the Kolmården Zoo, we shared a meal and an instant friendship with a Swedish family.  They were actually the first to recommend that we move to Sweden and tell us why we’d enjoy living there.  It was clear that they had deep admiration and pride for their country.


2| Money culture.

We exchanged a few euros for kronor when we arrived, to be safe, but we didn’t encounter a situation where we could only pay in cash (except for one bathroom facility).  Sweden is very credit card friendly, to the point where many Swedes don’t feel the need to carry cash.  This definitely felt familiar to us, as we hardly ever use cash in the USA and we were struggling with the cash culture in Germany.

Sweden also has really neat change machines if you do choose to pay in cash.  We observed these at grocery stores – a customer would pay in cash, and then coins would be immediately dispensed from the machine.  This made for a very efficient checkout process.


3| Great food.

Shortly after I arrived (hangry) at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport, I spotted a sign for Max Burgers proclaiming that they were Sweden’s favorite hamburger restaurant chain.  I had to try one, of course, and I’m still dreaming about how delicious that hamburger tasted.  Throughout our trip I discovered that Max Burgers is like the McDonalds of Sweden, except that it is so. much. better.

While it’s great to have tasty convenience food, true Swedish cuisine is even better.  We particularly enjoyed sampling Swedish pancakes and cinnamon rolls (kanelbulle) during our visit.


Swedish cinnamon rolls (kanelbulle). | Why Sweden felt like home.


We did wonder how Swedes manage to stay so fit and attractive with the abundance of sweets in the country.  Sweets are often paired with coffee during the popular Swedish coffee break called Fika.  These breaks are a way for people to slow down and savor life (and coffee).


4| Plentiful waterscapes.

I love water and so I was very excited about the many waterscapes in Sweden.  On the first night of our trip we couldn’t resist a trip to nearby beach despite our fatigue.  Fortunately we didn’t have to travel far, it was less than two miles to Sätrastrandsbadet from our hotel (Hotel Prince Philip in Skärholmen).


Enjoying Sätrastrandsbadet beach in Sweden. | 10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home.

Enjoying Sätrastrandsbadet beach in Sweden. | 10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home.


You’re never far from water in Sweden.  Did you know that there are nearly 100,000 lakes in the country?

The capital, Stockholm, is spread across 14 islands and 30% of the city is comprised of waterways.  I loved trotting across the bridges, hopping on a ferry, and taking in the city from across the water.


Stockholm. | 10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home.


My favorite waterscape from our trip was Bråviken Bay, located in the southeast part of the county.


Bråviken Bay from Kolmården Wildlife Park.


Consistently encountering bodies of water during our trip was another reason why Sweden felt like home.  I’d love to return and see more of the waterscapes, especially along the coast where Sweden has maritime borders with seven other countries.


5| Beautiful countryside.

I had a very brief yet incredible experience with the Swedish countryside during our hour long drive from Stockholm to Kolmården.  I wanted to stop and admire every field and I could hardly contain my excitement about the striking red homes along the route.


A Swedish home. | 10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home.


My fascination with the natural beauty of Sweden has only grown since our trip.  I want to explore the forested regions (nearly two thirds of Sweden is covered with forests), see the cold beauty of the Swedish Lapland, take in the northern lights, stay awake for the midnight sun, and so much more.  The list of natural wonders in Sweden is quite long.


6| A winter wonderland.

Growing up in the southeastern USA, I’ve experienced a handful of snow days (at best) annually.  For many years I’ve wanted to experience a colder climate and a “real winter”.  In fact, that is a large part of the reason why I agreed to move to Germany.  However, southern Germany failed to deliver a real winter (we got less than a week of snow days during our year there), so the idea of a snowy Sweden is even more enticing.  Furthermore, I am prone to sun sensitivity due to lupus, so I would be happier than most about the long stretches of grey winter days.

I want to watch fat snowflakes fall outside, celebrate a white Christmas, and be able to enjoy a snowfall for more than 24 hours before it melts away.  Oh, and did you know that Sweden has reindeer?!


10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home. | Photo by Asaf Kliger, Image Bank Sweden.

Asaf Kliger / imagebank.sweden.se / www.nutti.se

I’m convinced that Sweden is pretty much the perfect winter wonderland.


7| Roller coasters.

It would be hard to imagine living somewhere without roller coasters (as we love to visit theme parks).  Fortunately, Sweden has 12 theme parks with nearly 30 operating roller coasters.  During our trip we visited Kolmården, a rather unusual zoo that is home to both animals and coasters, as well as Gröna Lund, which is situated on the edge of Djurgården island in Stockholm.  We really enjoyed both amusement parks and that certainly contributed to why Sweden felt like home to us.


The first drop on Wildfire at Kolmården.


We hope to visit Liseberg amusement park in Gothenburg someday soon.


8| Crown royalty.

I was struck by the lovely crowns we encountered throughout Stockholm.  They were familiar because I am from (and currently live in) Charlotte, North Carolina, which is called the Queen City and has many crown emblems of its own (albeit no royalty).

Crowns and other royal symbols are very popular in Sweden, in fact the Swedish currency, krona, literally translates to crown.


A crown in Stockholm. | 10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home.


Sweden is a constitutional monarchy where the King and Royal Family tend towards ceremonial roles rather than political ones.  As I’ve learned more about the Swedish Royal Family I’ve found them to be lovable, admirable leaders.


9| IKEA paradise.

IKEA is one of the most useful places to find something for your home.  I love the clean Swedish design evident throughout their products and stores.  We visited one of the largest IKEA stores in the world (located here) during our trip.


IKEA Kungens Kurva, Stockholm. | 10 Reasons Why Sweden Felt Like Home.


I felt at home in IKEA and wouldn’t mind shopping there regularly if we lived in Sweden.


10| Finally, Sweden felt like home because I even loved its quirks.

There were a few things that I found strange yet endearing about Sweden.  Such as the Swedish love of herring – fascinating despite my inability to sample it (maybe next time).  I was also confused by quirky public artwork throughout Stockholm, as well as the trees that were covered in some sort of polka dot wrapping paper.


Tree in Stockholm. | Why Sweden felt like home.


Even the bad drivers on the highway didn’t bother me that much (although this could have been my extreme homesickness kicking in).  It was a nice break from the intensity of Germany’s autobahns and we didn’t need to drive much in Sweden, anyway.


I’m not the only one who felt a sudden, unexpected affinity towards Sweden.  Gabby from Packs Light had this to say about Stockholm:


Stockholm was a city I came to with no expectations and left crying to stay… And that’s what the biggest surprise about Stockholm was, really—this city that I knew nothing of, ended up feeling like home so fast.

– How Stockholm, Sweden Surprised Me


So there you have it, all the reasons why Sweden felt like home after only four days and why, if we ever get the slightest chance, we’ll be packing our bags and moving there.

Have you ever visited a new place and felt like you belonged there?

Why Sweden Felt Like Home (and Why We Want to Move There). Click To Tweet


Why Sweden Felt Like Home.


This post is linked up with Faraway FilesWeekend Wanderlust, Feet Do Travel, Wanderful Wednesday (with hosts Lauren, Van, Marcella, and Isabel), and Fly Away Friday:

Faraway Files  weekend wanderlust. Feed Do Travel linkup badge  Wanderful Wednesday Badge

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Featured photo (Swedish Flag) by Hans-Olof Utsi / imagebank.sweden.se

72 thoughts on “Why Sweden Felt Like Home.

  1. Loved reading your post! I think for me, anywhere I go that has extremely friendly people automatically makes me feel like I'm home because Germans can be so curt sometimes and I honestly miss how easy it is to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. #FarawayFiles

  2. I was also surprised how much I loved Stockholm – living in Copenhagen – I didn't think it would be so different, but it does have its own thing going on. There is a great outdoor culture in Sweden – we have loved exploring a little further south in Fjållbacka and Torekov in Skåne. So lovely. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, cheers from Denmark, Erin

    1. Thanks, Erin! Glad to hear that you liked it as well. I love how they’ve preserved the outdoors and made it freely accessible.

  3. I'm Swedish American and would dearly love to visit – for pretty much all the reasons you listed! Buuuuuuut their high tax rates and certain other socioeconomic-political policies would likely deter me from ever considering a permanent residence change. 😉 But those same feelings are what I experience when we visit Bavaria (plus the pull of actual family there, too), so I definitely relate to visiting a new place and thinking, Wow, this feels like it could be home!

    1. How neat to have that heritage, Katrina! I agree, the tax situation would be a big issue for us. We’d need an expat agreement in order to make it work, I think. I’m glad you understand what it feels like, though. 🙂

      1. The tax situation can seem daunting at first, but as an American who now “permanently” lives in Germany, where the taxes are similarly high, I find that the taxes are completely worth it. I get so much in return for my contributions that I have no desire to move back to the US, where taxes are lower but there is also much less security in terms of health care, social services, and the like. Even just the health care situation is enough to keep me here and willingly paying higher taxes. I get affordable, high-quality public health insurance that covers everything with no copays or deductibles, with “premiums” based on my income rather than health status or age. No one in Germany struggles or goes bankrupt due to exorbitant medical expenses that insurance wriggles out of paying, like happens in the US all the time. Just wanted to put it out there than higher taxes aren’t automatically bad.

        1. Good points, Danielle. The taxes paid are certainly worth it. I think the hardest part for us is that the taxes would actually mean taking a paycut. But once we got past that I think we’d feel the same as you!

  4. Oh I can so relate to your case of love at first sight with Sweden. We lived in Copenhagen for three years, and it only took one trip to Sweden, along the western coast north of Gothenburg, to feel an immediate affinity with this vast country. We spent a long weekend in Stockholm, which was fabulous, before heading into the Stockholm Archipelago. Oh my I still dream of going back…
    I hope you get to go back soon, and that your dream of living there comes true.

    1. I’m glad to hear that you felt similarly. It’s fascinating to hear that so many people have felt this way about Sweden. Thanks so much, I can’t wait to return!

  5. Ooh I just loved this post. We just booked a trip that includes a short stay in Gothenburg. I'm so excited to meet all the friendly people and discover the beautiful Swedish landscapes. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

  6. I find it fascinating how certain places speak to us and draw us in. Your love for Sweden shines through this post. I found it really inspiring reading. Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

  7. I enjoyed reading your post. I like this personal accounts with details supporting the central idea. For what you have written and for what I have heard, Sweden sounds as a fantastic country. Your thoughts about the food, people and countryside hit the rights chords. Really want to visit (and the other Scandinavian countries too). #WeekendWanderlust.

    1. Thank you, Ruth. I’ve only heard positive things about Sweden since I’ve been talking to people about it – many people feel the same way that I do. So I bet you’d love visiting – hope you can soon!

  8. We have not visited as yet but looks a beautiful place. Didn't know there were so many roller coasters there! Great post have pinned. #feetdotravel

  9. I am yet to visit Sweden properly (I have only driven through it as a kid) and your post is definitely making me excited about going there. I have a few Swedish friends and have heard many good things about the country, I love the idea of fika and those beautiful sweet baked delights! Fantastic to hear that a country has had such a positive impact on you! Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks! I bet you will love Sweden – I’ve only been hearing positive things about it – and I hope you get to visit soon!

  10. I love all the Scandinavian countries and would live in Norway if I could! It's so lovely to go somewhere and fall totally in love with it! #feetdotravel

  11. It's on the list – especially now that I found out that I have Scandinavian heritage that I didn't know about it. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Sweden is an awesome country! I have a couple of Swedish friends and they are such friendly people, I love them! I have visited Sweden on a number of occasions, a couple of times to visit my friend in Malmo and we also married in the Ice Hotel of Swedish Lappland so I totally agree with you about it being the perfect winter destination 🙂 #feetdotravel

  13. This is so interesting to read! I know Americans who moved back again as they didn't feel they could belong to Sweden after all. But then again, I guess it's all rather subjective. I for one absolutely love Sweden and always like to visit 🙂 It doesn't seem much different from Norway from the outside but I totally find people much friendlier and just in general more open-minded too. At least when it comes to politics, Sweden is more open to foreigners than Norway…

    1. I haven’t had the chance to visit other Scandinavian countries yet, although it makes sense that I would also like many of the same things about them. One reason why I’m so interested in Sweden (vs Norway or another country) is because it’s more of a reality for my husband to get a job with a particular Swedish engineering company. It’s great to hear that you find the people friendly as well. 🙂

  14. I'd really like to visit Sweden I'd like to take my children to Stockholm. How lovely that it felt like home to you. #WanderfulWednesdays

  15. I went to Sweden aged 6 and absolutely loved it but I don't think I was old enough to really appreciate it. Your blog really makes me want to go back! Thanks for sharing!

  16. So glad you found a place that instantly felt so homey to you! I went to Stockholm when I was 13 ( & only for 1 day ) but I remember feeling an instant draw to the city as well. I think I was also just in awe of all the tall gorgeous blondes! hehe … Honestly though with reindeer as cute as that and so many IKEAs close by, I could probably feel right at home too! 😀

    1. It’s so neat to hear how Stockholm / Sweden has affected so many people in the same way! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  17. I love Sweden and being from the neighbouring Estonia, have always felt we are somewhat similar. I love theme parks too and the snow is wonderful until it starts to melt and makes everything a slurry muddy mess haha! You made me want a cinnamon bun.. I wonder what you would say about Estonia.

    1. I can imagine the snow isn’t as pretty after a few weeks or once it starts warming up – but that is also something I’d like to experience for myself, ha. I’ve read a lot about Estonia and it looks so beautiful and enchanting, it’s definitely high on my must see list. I also know of a young Estonian preacher that has partnered with a church I used to attend, so I’d definitely like to visit him and support his church. Hope I can talk about how much I liked Estonia one day!

  18. I haven't been to Sweden in years and very much enjoyed reading your post. I loved that roller coasters made your list. Not something I think of when I think of Sweden, but am glad to know. Maybe one day we'll make it back and check some of them out.

  19. Why wouldn't you want to move to a place with great burgers and a dedicated coffee break that includes sweets? I'm thinking about moving there now! I think the language might be tough though, because I'd want to try to learn it. Sounds like an awesome place though! #FlyAwayFriday

    1. Haha, glad you liked it Katherine! The Swedish language is quite unusual (to me, at least), but probably not as hard to learn as others.

  20. How beautiful Sweden looks with its parks, waterways, & more. Lets not forget the yummy food! I have never been and would love to visit one day. I like your idea of sitting inside as big white fluffy snowflakes fall but someone else has to work the snow 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  21. So beautiful. Ikea must have been so cool in a different country. Scandinavian people are super sweet. We love swedish pancakes, but how much better were they in Sweden?

    1. It was very cool to see Ikea in its native country. I really liked how the Swedish pancakes weren’t so sweet in Sweden – they’re too sweet in the US. And they were very light, so I could eat a lot of them!

      1. That's the US for ya! Everything is too sweet with oversized portions. Even the bread here is full of sugar, bleh. I can't wait to try those pancakes one day! 🙂

  22. I think I would love Sweden just for the water. I feel the most content and at home when I'm near some body of water, be it a lake or even just a small stream. #FlyAwayFriday

  23. The reindeer convinced us! and the food.. Cannot forget the yumminess. Have to visit Sweden! #bucketlist #feetdotravel

  24. "Experiencing Sweden – the people, the culture, the food – was like coming up for a desperately needed breathe of fresh air." – I spent a week in Stockholm and this is EXACTLY how I felt. There's something so incredibly refreshing about every part of it. We were there for an extended layover before I flew to Asia – which I was really nervous about due to my health conditions – and I genuinely think it gave me the vitality I needed to handle the rest of the trip. Beautiful post – I'm so glad you shared this because I fee like Sweden gets an unfair reputation for being boring!

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! I’m glad to hear that you felt the same way! It’s so important to travel to locations that make you happy – especially when your health is not guaranteed. 🙂

  25. I've been dying to go to Sweden for some time now… looks like you had an amazing time. I can't wait to make it there myself. Well done!

  26. I feel the same way about Sweden. I definitely agree that the people are friendly and helpful, plus it has so many beautiful places to visit. I would definitely keep going back if I could afford it. #wanderfulwednesday

  27. So great post, Sweden is a great amazing country and polite friendly people. I love being living in Sweden ❤

  28. Great post. I spent one month in Sweden and I loved it. I like the fact they are such card friendly, especially when you don't like to change too much money. I found people to be friendly there but I haven't find the food to be quite tasty. I would love to return one day and discover more of it.

    1. Thank you, Oana. I mostly found the desserts to be tasty, since there are some strange / unsavory Swedish foods (like herring).

  29. Aww love those winter pictures. So gorgeous!! I'm dying to go to Sweden (my mom's family is from there :)) so will definitely book mark this post!

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