Excited about Swedish souvenirs? So are we, and here's why. Sweden is a storied Scandinavian country that has a rich history and is culturally diverse. Today, Sweden is perhaps most famous as the home of IKEA. However, Sweden is renowned for much more than IKEA; for example, regional arts and handicrafts, reindeer, Sámi jewellery and traditional dress from northern Sweden, ornate Christmas markets and, naturally, ABBA and Swedish meatballs, all of which make for classic souvenirs from Sweden.
Furthermore, Sweden souvenirs are not just limited to those made by Swedes. Sweden is home to the aforementioned Sámi, an indigenous Finno-Ugric people; Sweden Finns, who are a Finnish-speaking national minority; and the Tornedalians, who are also of Finnish descent. All of these ethnic groups have their own customs and traditions and produce their own culturally unique souvenirs from Sweden that will help you remember your trip to the majestic Kingdom of Sweden forever.
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Did you know that Swedes are experts at smoking reindeer meat and making kitchen utensils out of wood? They are also adept at crafting fine jewellery out of silver and make their own version of sturdy clogs, mixing leather with wood. Whatever souvenir from Sweden you choose, rest assured it will be made to last unless it is of the edible or drinkable kind.
The Sámi people, who live in the northern region of Lapland, are renowned for their handcrafted jewellery, particularly that made of reindeer leather and horn and silver. They specialize in reindeer leather bracelets with pewter and silver embroidery, as well as necklaces, rings and earrings. You can find Sámi jewellery in most towns and villages in Lapland, but if you can’t make it to northern Sweden fret not, as many jewellery stores in Stockholm sell Sámi jewellery. The Sámi are also known for their brightly coloured traditional dress, aka the gakti, a loose tunic, belted around the middle and worn by both men and women, which makes for a very distinct souvenir from Sweden.
All Things ABBA
ABBA is Sweden’s most popular music group, one of the country’s biggest exports and its top-selling act, having sold more than 375 million albums. If visiting Stockholm, no trip is complete without stopping in at ABBA The Museum, where you can “virtually” try on the band’s costumes, sing, play, mix original music and “become the fifth member of ABBA” by performing on its stage with the band.
Here you can also buy ABBA souvenirs, such as ABBA vinyl records, CDs, posters, postcards, bandanas, Christmas ornaments, “Dancing Queen” and other T-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, “Mamma Mia” aprons, keychains, jewellery, magnets, mugs and more.
Smoked Reindeer Meat
There are approximately 300,000 reindeer roaming around Sweden, and people have been herding them here for centuries. The Swedes use reindeer for many purposes, for the aforementioned Sámi reindeer leather and horn bracelets to smoked meat, which makes for a rather intrepid souvenir from Sweden. But fear not reindeer meat does not taste gamey. In fact, it is quite lean and mild tasting and is a popular Swedish dish, so finding it will not be difficult.
If reindeer meat is too adventurous for your palate, stick to liquorice, which is a Swedish staple. Keep in mind, however, that the Swedes prefer their liquorice extra salty, but you will be able to find plenty of liquorice varieties anywhere you go in Sweden, even liquorice covered in milk chocolate and liquorice coffee, to satiate even the most fanatical liquorice connoisseur. Some of the best liquorice shops in Stockholm include Pärlans Konfektyr, Lakritsroten and Choklad & Lakrits, which also specializes in chocolate.
Wooden utensils are practical, inexpensive, long-lasting and made all over Sweden. Plus, they are quite decorative, so you don’t actually have to use them, but can display them in your home to brighten up any room and remind yourself of your trip to Sweden. The Swedes carve wooden spoons, forks, bowls and even butter knives to perfection. You can also find Swedish hand-carved wooden utensils with hand-painted traditional designs.
If you want more wooden souvenirs from Sweden to go with your wooden utensils, why not buy a Dala horse (Dalahäst)? Dala horses are hand-carved and painted, and a symbol of good luck and Sweden. Dala horses come in many different types, as they are made with distinguishing features that are traditional to the region in which they are produced. The most authentic Dala horses come from the Swedish province of Dalarna, where the Dala horse originated but can be found throughout the country.
The Tornedalians migrated from Finland in the 14th century and mainly settled in Northern Sweden in and around the Torne Valley area. While they have long since adapted to the Swedish lifestyle, the Tornedalians retained much of their Finnish culture, which is infused into their handicrafts that allow you to take home a souvenir from Sweden with a touch of Finland. For example, jewellery, clothing, hunting and fishing knives and ceramics, to name but a few.
The Vikings originated in what is now Sweden, as well as Norway and Denmark. Today, Sweden still pays homage to its Viking past via artefacts and souvenirs. Sweden souvenirs of the Viking variety include Viking boots, hats, drinking horns, T-shirts, books, jewellery and much more. One of the best places in Stockholm to find Viking souvenirs is aptly named Handfaste The Viking Shop, some of whose best-selling Viking products include pewter tankards and goblets, beard rings, belt buckles and brooches.
Although Sweden does brew some quality beer, it is much more famous for Absolut Vodka. Absolut is one of the most iconic vodka brands in the world, and can be found everywhere, but why not pick up a bottle in the country in which it is distilled? But Absolut souvenirs from Sweden are not just limited to the bottle. After touring the Absolut distillery in Åhus, visit the gift shop where you will find a flood of souvenirs bearing the Absolut logo.
IFK Göteborg Gear
The Swedes are just as passionate about football (soccer) as any other people in Europe, and Sweden is home to many clubs, but one of the most popular and beloved is IFK Göteborg, which is based in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden. IFK have won 18 Swedish championship titles and plays at Gamla Ullevi, whose fan shop carries IFK Göteborg gear in the team’s colours, blue and white. If you can’t make it out to Gamla Ullevi for a game, any sports shop in Gothenburg will sell IFK apparel and accessories, including team jerseys, T-shirts, hats, scarves and a vast array of accessories bearing the team’s logo.
Borås Basket Apparel and Accessories
If you prefer basketball over soccer, look no further than Borås Basket, a professional basketball team based in the city of Borås. Borås Basket plays in the Basketligan, Sweden’s premier league, and NBA legend Magic Johnson once co-owned the team and played in five games for them. Borås Basket souvenirs include team jerseys, T-shirts, polo shirts, hoodies, jackets, beanies, bags, scarves, hats, keychains and stickers.
Wool Sweaters and Lovikka Mittens
If you don’t like soccer or basketball but still want to take home an article of clothing that says Sweden, purchase an authentic Swedish wool sweater. Because Sweden is a Northern European country that gets bone-chillingly cold, the Swedes have few competitors when it comes to making wool sweaters, as well as scarves, socks and blankets.
Look for sweaters with traditional Swedish folklore designs. Lovikka mittens, which originated in the village of Lovikka in Northern Sweden, are also very popular in Sweden and known for their colourful embroidery and tassels. They are handmade of 100 per cent Shetland wool and come in all colours and sizes for men, women and children. Pick up a pair at Swedish Handicraft in Stockholm, which also sells Dala horses, books, clothing, candlesticks, wooden utensils and many other souvenirs from Sweden.
During the holiday season, Sweden is swarming with expansive Christmas markets. Authentic Swedish Christmas ornaments are ornate, handcrafted and perfect souvenirs from Sweden that you can hang every Christmas for the rest of your life. Swedish Christmas ornaments range from Santa gnomes and straw stars to carved Viking ships and wooden hearts, and just about everything else you can think of that can be made into an ornament, including, yes, Dala horses. If you can’t make it to Sweden during the holidays, check out Indus in Stockholm, which sells ornaments year-round, as well as countless other souvenirs from Sweden.
Pippi Longstocking Paraphernalia
Pippi Longstocking, the most adored character in Swedish literature, was created by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, whose books have sold over 165 million copies worldwide. Lindgren and her work are so cherished in Sweden that there is an Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby, where her stories come to life. Here you will find Pippi, Villekulla cottage, Pippi’s home, Matt’s Forest and other settings and characters from her stories. You will also find all the Pippi Longstocking souvenirs you can imagine, including books written by and about Astrid Lindgren, costumes, jewellery, CDs, DVDs, Pippi pirate sets, Pippi wigs and so much more.
Swedish Designer Denim Souvenirs
Design is huge in Sweden, and that includes designer jeans. Some of the most popular and worn denim designs in the country, as well as Europe, include Nudie Jeans, ACNE Studios and Tiger of Sweden, which are made for men, women and children of all sizes. Keep in mind that every pair of Nudie Jeans comes with a promise of free repairs, no matter when or where you got them. Nudie Jeans has stores and repair shops in Göteborg, Malmö and Stockholm. ACNE Studios, a multidisciplinary luxury fashion house based in Stockholm, specializes in ready-to-wear denim. It has a store in Göteborg and six in Stockholm. Tiger of Sweden, a Stockholm-based fashion house established in 1903 with a heritage in tailoring, has stores in Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö and Sundbyberg.
Who would go to Sweden and not get Swedish meatballs? They are famous the world over, but unique to Sweden due to being half beef and half pork and seasoned with allspice and nutmeg. Once you’ve had your fill of Swedish meatballs covered in a creamy sauce, pick some up that are frozen or canned to bring home as a tasty souvenir from Sweden, as well as some Swedish wooden utensils to eat them with. Swedish meatballs are sold in just about every grocery store in the country.
Falsterbotofflor, aka Swedish Clogs
Swedish clogs, or Falsterbotofflor, are also unique to Sweden as they, unlike Dutch clogs, are made with both leather and wood, instead of all wood as they are made in the Netherlands. Falsterbotofflor, which were born in Falsterbo in southwest Sweden, have wooden soles and the rest is leather. You can choose traditional clogs that are handmade and handpainted with classic Swedish designs or modern ready-to-wear clogs. Although they can be found all over Sweden, one of the best stores in the country to buy them is Falsterbotofflan AB, located in the town where they originated, Falsterbo.