With rich history, vibrant traditions and glorious nature wherever you look, Sweden is created for road trips.
The country’s extensive network of motorways and secondary roads is well maintained, and even gravel roads tend for the most part to be relatively smooth gravel and dust rather than wheel tracks with shaking suspension. Although many attractions are accessible by public transport, one of the joys of a Swedish road trip is all the unexpected discoveries along the way, from secluded lakes to endless views, charming towns and cities to archeological sites dating back a thousand years. Here, from north to south, there are nine driving routes that show the best of Sweden.
Best arctic road
Kiruna to the Norwegian border
Kiruna-Riksgränsen and back; 163 miles (262 km); allow at least one day
Mountains, lakes and forests are the main attractions on this wonderful 820 km (131 km) stretch of road E10, one of the northernmost roads in Sweden. The road encloses the southern shore of Torneträsk, Sweden’s largest mountain lake, which runs through Abisko, one of the national park system’s jewels, and offers fantastic views of Lapporten, the region’s iconic U-shaped mountain.
If you do not also plan to visit Norway, you have to turn around at Riksgränsen and drive back the way you came – no difficulties, because even the most panoramic view looks different in the opposite direction. You can easily make a return trip in one day, but if you have time, spend at least a night or two in the Abisko area to experience the national park.
Best road trip for wild alpine landscapes
Strömsund-Strömsund; 310 miles (500 km); 2-7 days
This way make a round through one of Sweden’s most spectacular alpine wilderness areas. Start in Strömsund, drive clockwise past a series of sparkling lakes and rushing rivers before climbing up the Stekenjokk Plateau, 2884 feet (879m) above sea level. This is Sweden’s highest situated paved road and is closed from mid-October to early June due to heavy snow. Once you have gone down, continue along more lakes and rivers to Vilhelmina, then circle back south to Strömsund to complete the loop.
Without a stop you could drive this route in one day and see lots of fantastic landscapes, but taking your time reveals many interesting sights and detours, including hiking trails, waterfalls, Sweden’s longest cave system, Sami camps and church towns, local cultural heritage and a variety of guided outdoor activities.
Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent directly to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.
Best road trip for exciting natural wonders
Indalsälven and Höga Kusten
Östersund-Örnsköldsvik; 240 miles (385 km); 5-7 days
This route connects one of Sweden’s large rivers with one of its geologically most interesting coastlines. When you follow the Indal River through the beautiful Ragunda Valley, worth stopping among other things The Dead Case (The Dead Falls), a striking display of the power of nature and human folly, and Thai Pavilion, an authentic Thai pavilion commemorating King Chulalongkorn’s visit to the region in 1887.
Continue to the coast to explore High Coast, a stretch of coastline that has risen steadily since the end of the last ice age. The region’s many attractions include hiking trails in the barren Skuleskogen National Park, spectacular views from Skuleberget, the once secretive Cold War fortress at Hemsö and boat trips to Ulvön. Do not miss the lookout point at the northern end of Sweden’s longest suspension bridge, Höga Kustenbron.
Best road trip for Swedish art and culture
Falun-Borlänge, 160 km (257km): 3-7 days
A road trip through Dalarna is an opportunity to explore some of Sweden’s most beloved traditions and cultural icons, as well as striking nature around Lake Siljan. The lake towns of Leksand, Rättvik and Mora are centers for local music, folk dance and craft traditions. North of Leksand, be sure to take the side road via the picturesque village of Tällberg. Near Mora, stop in Nusnäs to see hand-painted Dala horses made of wood. Along the western side of Lake Siljan, take the road over Sollerön, an island with many Viking tombs, and walk – or take the chairlift – to the top of 1686 feet (514m) Gesundaberget for panoramic views of the lake.
Other highlights are Falun, known for its historic copper mine, and the home of the famous Swedish artists, Carl Larsson, in Sundborn, and Anders Zorn, in Mora.
Best coastal road trip
Bohuslän’s coastal road
Gothenburg-Strömstad; 250 miles (400 km); 3-10 days
Just north of Gothenburg, Bohuslän is a fantastically beautiful region with a jagged coastline with picturesque villages and historic sites. By motorway, it is only two hours from Gothenburg to the Norwegian border, but taking time on the smaller roads along the coast quickly reveals why this is one of Sweden’s most popular holiday areas.
Attractions along the way include nature reserves, impressive fortresses, the outdoor art exhibition Sculpture in Pilane, thousands of ancient rock carvings at Tanum and Sweden’s first marine national park, the Koster Sea, off the coast of Strömstad. Smögen is one of the most beautiful communities with its brightly painted fishing huts; Fjällbacka, known to crime fiction fans by local author Camilla Läckberg; and Grebbestad, with a lively guest harbor and well-known oyster fishing.
Best road trip for castles and history
Around Lake Mälaren
Stockholm-Stockholm; 250 miles (400 km); 2-7 days
The heart of the Swedish kingdom for centuries, the Mälaren region is full of fascinating history and beautiful nature. Around the lake there are enchanting towns such as Sigtuna, founded around 970, and dozens of impressive castles including Skokloster, Strömsholm and Gripsholm.
If you are fascinated by ancient mysteries, do not miss Anundshög, Sweden’s largest burial mound; Bronze Age rock carvings at Boglösa and Häljesta; or Sigurdsristningen, Sweden’s longest runic inscription. If you love historic churches, the medieval cathedrals in Västerås and Strängnäs are a must see. For a look at daily life in days gone by, stop by Vallby Friluftsmuseum or Rademachersmedjorna. Near Södertälje, Taxinge-Näsby Castle is known for its rich selection of pastries – a sweet end to your Mälaren adventure.
Best road trip for different attractions
Around Lake Vättern
Jönköping-Jönköping; about 200 miles (321 km); wait 4-8 days
Long and narrow, Sweden’s second largest lake is the center of a diverse route that mixes history, nature and culture. Follow the eastern beach to Gränna, known for striped sweets and the beautiful nature reserve Ekopark Omberg. Nearby are the monastery ruins from the 12th century at Alvastra and Sweden’s longest runic inscription Rökstenen. Continue on to Vadstena with its famous medieval monastery and impressive Renaissance castle, and Motala, the “capital” of the Göta Canal, with Sweden’s longest lake shore, Varamobadet.
Tiveden National Park and Karlsborg Fortress are among the highlights on the western side of Lake Vättern. If you have time, interesting detours around the lake include Visingsö (by ferry from Gränna); Göta canal with multi-lock stairs at Borenshult and Berg; the medieval sites at Skara and Varnhem; and Hornborgasjön, loved by bird watchers.
Best road trip that combines nature and history
Kristianstad-Ängelholm; 250 miles (400 km); 7-10 days
Sweden’s southernmost province, Skåne, has a reputation for being flat, but as this stretch proves, it is only true sometimes. This road trip includes a varied range of landscapes, including rocky coastline, golden fields, apple orchards, wildflower hills and some of Sweden’s finest beaches. Other highlights are medieval cities such as Åhus, Ystad and Lund; the mysterious ancient ship environment of Ales Stenar; and Sweden’s vibrant third largest city, Malmö.
Skåne also has three national parks – Stenshuvud, Dalby Söderskog and Söderåsen – which protect special landscapes unique to the region. In the northwest, do not miss the magnificent gardens at Sofiero Castle and Kullaberg, a cave-dotted peninsula with dramatic coastal views, picturesque towns and Sweden’s most powerful lighthouse.
Best long distance trip
Cities and coasts
Stockholm-Gothenburg or vice versa; 620 miles (1000 km); At least 10-14 days
This route connects Sweden’s three largest cities and takes in many of southern Sweden’s highlights and follows the coast most of the way. At Södertälje, southwest of Stockholm, pick up the excursion route The excursion route, a scenic road that ends near Norrköping. Then follow the E22 south to Skåne, make detours inland or along the coast as you wish. Sights worth stopping include beautiful Söderköping by the Göta Canal, historic Kalmar with its iconic Renaissance castle and Karlskrona, a naval city with a view of Sweden’s southernmost archipelago.
From Kristianstad, follow the Skåneleden above to Ängelholm, from where the E6 goes straight up the beautiful west coast. If you have enough time, there are many alternative roads past nice beaches and attractive cities such as Halmstad, Falkenberg and Varberg, on the way to lively Gothenburg.