Traditional wooden houses on Stora Gatan street in heart of old town, Sigtuna, Sweden. Image credit Andrei Nekrassov via Shutterstock

9 Most Welcoming Small Towns in Sweden

Sweden is a popular destination for tourists year-round, renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, pristine natural setting, and Scandinavian lifestyle. It is also the perfect retreat for those looking to enjoy nature's light show – the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis – which brings the sky to life with colours ranging from pink to green from September through March. With so much to see and do, spend a summer or simply get away to enjoy the unmatched beauty and culture of the area.

Some of the country's most welcoming towns are the best ways to experience all the country offers. Whether this means historic tours in Visby or hiking through the wilderness of Rättvik, there is something for everyone. Astray from the urban hustle and bustle yet connected to nature, culture, and entertainment, tourists love these welcoming communities spread throughout.


A view of Visby on Gotland Island, Sweden.
A view of Visby on Gotland Island, Sweden.

Visby is a mystical and charming mediaeval town situated on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, which happens to be the largest island in Sweden. The whimsical destination is one of Sweden's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, famed for its mediaeval Hanseatic architecture, featuring church ruins from the period, such as St. Clemens, St. Nicolai, and Drotten’s. Each boasts unique stories that captivate visitors with centuries of knowledge. The Gotland's Museum is a great spot to delve into the area's past, including archaeological finds dating back to Viking times.

Back in the present, travellers may enjoy the great outdoors at the 2.5-hectare Botanical Garden or visit the nearby Tofta Beach. These sites are full of lush greenery and glistening water, making them perfect for outdoor activities. Biking is especially popular in the area since the land is mostly flat, while a hiking trip to Högklint offers unforgettable panoramic views.


The historic Church of Saint Olof in Sigtuna, Sweden.
The historic Church of Saint Olof in Sigtuna, Sweden.

Sigtuna is Sweden's first town, founded in the 10th century. To this end, the town has a rustic charm, which is palpable through the array of historic attractions. For example, the area houses several magical castles dating back thousands of years, such as the nearby Skokloster Castle, Steninge Palace, and Rosersberg Palace. Whether it is their mediaeval architecture or priceless furniture and paintings, these castles are a treat for history enthusiasts.

Other attractions in the town include the Sigtuna Town Hall, designed in the 1740s, the Sigtuna Museum, which details stories of Vikings and ruins, and the 13th-century Mariakyrkan (St. Mary's Church). There are also plenty of places to enjoy natural scenery, such as the Ingegerd Trail, Fysingen Nature Reserve, and Lake Mälaren. The best part is that Sigtuna is just an hour from Stockholm, offering easy access to the hustle and bustle of the country's capital city.


Kayakers on Lake Siljan near Rattvik, Sweden.
Kayakers on Lake Siljan near Rättvik, Sweden. Editorial credit: Alexanderstock23 /

Rättvik sits on the eastern shore of Lake Siljan and is an attractive destination for those who love classic cars and good tunes. The area hosts Classic Cars Week, attracting tourists from all over to partake in Sweden's biggest meet-up for nostalgic cars. Rättvik is also home to Europe's top outdoor arena, Dalhalla. It's the perfect place to attend a concert and enjoy the area's beauty and the music's excitement. 

Apart from the cultural vibrance and enthusiasm of Rättvik’s 4,700 locals, the town is an abode of outdoor scenery. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, such as the 4.5 km (2.8 mi) Enåleden trail or cycling tours in the Siljan area. These showcase a range of landscapes, from thick foliage to lakeside paths. Rättvik's golf course also offers a chance to relax among the breathtaking scenery, as does fishing on Lake Siljan.


Northern Lights in Kiruna, Sweden.
Northern Lights in Kiruna, Sweden.

Kiruna is Sweden's northernmost town, where many find the opportunity to view the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun, a phenomenon where the sun remains visible at midnight. It is also home to Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain, with an elevation of 6,900 feet above sea level and two mountain peaks. These peaks facilitate many hiking trails, such as the famous King’s Trail (Kungsleden), a scenic 467 km (290 mi) route that only the bravest can conquer. Dog sledding is another favourite among tourists and locals alike, with various tours from which to choose. For a more relaxing experience with nature, various guided fishing tours cover thousands of lakes in the area. A visit to Kiruna also means a visit to Sápmi, which is the land of the indigenous Sámi people, a culture deeply entrenched in the local community.


The historical center in Ystad, Sweden.
The historical center in Ystad, Sweden. Editorial credit: mehdi33300 /

Ystad sits on Sweden's southern coast in Scania county, well known for the mediaeval, pastel-coloured houses that line its main streets. It houses several historic attractions, easily accessible via a self-guided tour, including Per Helsas Gard, the 1267 Greyfriars Abbey, and the Saint Petri Church and Museum. These spots transport visitors to a bygone era, whether it is through the town’s fishing past or old railway connections.

Hand in hand with the past, the welcoming streets of Ystad are also full of shops and outlets, such as Stora Östergatan. This is Ystad's most prominent retail street, packed with local vendors and businesses, perfect for a day spent exploring. For film buffs, Ystad Studios is the place to be, as it is Scandinavia's largest film studio. Meanwhile, those seeking a relaxing vacation must visit Ystad Saltsjöbad. They can experience the bliss of its spa and surrounding scenery. 


Kalmar Slott Castle in Kalmar, Sweden.
Kalmar Slott Castle in Kalmar, Sweden.

Kalmar is a popular destination on the way to the island of Öland, though many celebrate it for its own historic charm, carefully crafted buildings, and breathtaking seaside views. The town sits on the shores of the Baltic Sea, with easy access to Öland via the Öland Bridge, featuring over 500 km (311 mi) of coastline that is ideal for a summer vacation. Visitors can take in the views through various pursuits, such as swimming, biking, and hiking. For those in search of a hiking trip, visit the Kalmarsund Selden trail and enjoy 200 km (124 mi) of pristine coastline.

Kalmar also has a rich and intriguing mediaeval town centre, home to the Kalmar Slott Castle, a fortified tower in the 12th century transformed into a Renaissance castle by King Gustav Vasa. The Kalmar County Museum offers travellers a chance to delve into the area's history. It highlights unique events like the centuries-old shipwreck Regalskeppet Kronan. On the other hand, kids adore "A World of Dinosaurs," Europe's largest dinosaur exhibit, which is open from June through October and features over 200 dinosaur skeletons.


Coastal view of Vadstena Castle in Vadstena, Sweden.
Coastal view of Vadstena Castle in Vadstena, Sweden. Editorial credit: Mikhail Markovskiy /

Vadstena has a history dating back to the 13th century, home to various landmarks that history enthusiasts adore. For example, it houses another castle from the era of King Gustav Vasa, Vadstena Castle, which was the first monastery of the Bridgettine Order and is now one of the most well-preserved castles in the country. A moat and high walls surround the castle, truly transporting visitors back in time. Vadstena Abbey Church is another option. Completed in 1384, it now showcases the religious heritage of the town.

Those interested in learning about the past can visit Wadstena–Fogelsta Järnväg, once a railway that connected the town to the rest of Sweden, and now a museum railway documenting the town's past. Vadstena also sits next to Sweden's second-largest lake, Lake Vättern, which offers water activities such as swimming, fishing, and canoeing, not to mention beautiful views.


Scenic river and houses in Trosa, Sweden.
Scenic river and houses in Trosa, Sweden.

Trosa is a vibrant place year-round, welcoming adventurous souls with its outdoor opportunities. Whether this is winter skiing at Trosa Ski Slope, biking on the Trosa Harbor Pier, or kayaking at the nearby Stendörren Nature Reserve, the possibilities are endless. The Heritage Trail is a great place to delve into the art and culture of the area, passing bridges, the town hall, an old schoolhouse, and more. There are also several galleries to explore, such as Galleri Nordostpassagen. Annual events for an especially memorable trip include the KonstTriangeln Art Triangle over Easter, vintage car meets on Thursdays from June through August, and the Midsummer celebration in June. Moreover, Trosa is a popular destination for families, with plenty of kid-friendly happenings, such as playgrounds like Spindelparken, the "find and guess quiz" on the Heritage Trail, and plenty of parks and green areas, including Västra hamnplan.


Colourful beach huts along the coast of Simrishamn, Sweden.
Colourful beach huts along the coast of Simrishamn, Sweden.

Simrishamn sits at the southeastern tip of Sweden and is the heart of Österlen, home to cobblestone streets, pastel houses, and alleyways straight out of a fairytale. The town houses the St. Nicolai Church with Carl Milles sculptures, as well as the Rose Garden that marks the town's centre. Travellers may explore the town on their own, picking up a self-guided tour map at the tourist information office on the south side of the fishing port. It also boasts close proximity to the coastline of the Baltic Sea, featuring a beautiful harbour and fishing port, ideal for anglers and boating enthusiasts alike. Plus, it is just 45 minutes from Ystad, meaning travellers may easily take a trip to both towns in one vacation!

Enjoy a Trip to Sweden!

Sweden is a blend of beautiful natural landscapes and vibrant cities. It is the ideal destination for those looking to explore both culture and unmatched natural beauty. Its most welcoming small towns offer an enchantment and warmth unlike any other, brightened by the natural scenery surrounding them, alongside each community's uniqueness and depth. Travelers are sure to find the local events and happenings enthralling, promising a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 9 Most Welcoming Small Towns in Sweden

More in Places