Thanks to pioneering chefs and a culture defined by a deep respect for the natural world, Swedish cuisine has developed in recent years from its hearty, humble roots into one of the most exciting food scenes across the globe.
Consistently ranked among the most sustainable countries on the planet, Sweden is where you’ll find integrity and authenticity at the heart of exceptional dining that celebrates the essence of the country. For a trip brimming with delicious fodder and tasty meals to remember, here are nine unique food experiences that are too delicious to miss.
It’s touted as “the best museum restaurant in the world”, but Fotografiska is an exceptional dining destination in its own right. Set in Stockholm’s contemporary photography gallery, this sustainable restaurant, with chef Paul Svensson at the helm, spotlights organic, seasonal and locally sourced vegetables used in their entirety, with meat and fish playing second fiddle. No wonder it was both the 2019 winner of the new 360° Eat Guide Action! Prize for sustainable gastronomy and has recently been awarded a Green Star in the Michelin Guide. Fotografiska is also known for having one of the finest views in the city, overlooking the historic Royal Djurgården and Stockholm’s elegant waterfront. Visit the restaurant and you’ll get reduced entry to the museum.
Sweden’s frozen north is known as “the land of eight seasons”, a place where man’s bond with nature has been forged over millennia of hunting and gathering in the country’s harshest climate. There are many food experiences that can be enjoyed in Swedish Lapland, but an evening of food, drink and storytelling, with culture and culinary guide Eva Gunnare and Sàmi reindeer herder Helena Länta in Jokkmokk, showcases a true taste of indigenous Sàmi culture. It includes reindeer meat from Helena’s own free-range herd among the 25 dishes served, each of which represents tastes from each of the eight seasons, with an emphasis on foraged herbs and berries from the forests and mountains around Jokkmokk. Here, local produce from the forests is transformed into pickles, infusions, salts and cordials.
On Sweden’s west coast, you find Musselbaren, a picturesque restaurant in Ljungkile. The blue mussels are a culinary highlight, so if you love seafood, this must-visit spot should be on your itinerary. Here, the philosophy is clean and simple feel-good food that’s also kind to the environment. And curious travelers keen to learn more about their sustainable approach can book a fishing tour from April to October. A boat will take you out to the vast mussel farms where you get to harvest your own fresh mussels. Afterwards, you’ll prepare and cook them together with the guide to enjoy the delicious taste.
The Swedish crayfish party, or kräftskiva, is the stuff of legend – and for good reason. These wild, al-fresco feasts bring family and friends together from August to September to gorge on crayfish and celebrate the last days of summer in a tradition that dates back to the 16th century. The freshwater crustaceans are cooked in a broth of beer, dill crowns and spices, before being left to cool overnight, then drained and served cold with a dip including romsås, a creamy dressing made with fish roe. Add shots of schnapps washed down with beer, plus the obligatory singing and silly hats, and you’ve got one hell of a party.
Man has been cultivating and cooking food at Lilla Bjers, or Little Mountain, in Gotland since the Iron Age, as evidenced by the remains of a 2,500-year-old cooking pit and fields of ancient grains. Today, not much has changed. At this fully organic farm and shop, except perhaps at its on-site restaurant. A daily changing tasting menu presents the best of what the farm has to offer according to the seasons – think zucchini with brown butter and onions, tomato with cucumber, dill and gin and corn with lamb, beans and capsicum. Everything is sustainably produced and processed, right down to the 50 hens and chickens that make short work of any waste.
The Edible Country experience encapsulates much of what makes this country so special. Harnessing Sweden’s freedom to roam, the delicious pantry of Swedish nature and dedication to hyper-local cuisine, his quirky DIY dining concept places you at the centre of the action in a series of unique summer banquets. From May to September, handmade, sustainable wooden tables are set out in beauty spots countrywide ready to receive parties of up to 12 for a delightful cookalong. Inspired by recipes made by Michelin-starred chefs, each table is unique with their own local flavours and seasonal produce sourced across the country. This ranges from Swedish Lapland in the north – via the archipelagos in Stockholm and west Sweden – into the forests of Värmland, Dalarna, Småland and Skåne, and the sandy beaches of Halland. Booking is essential.
Librarian-turned-seaweed hunter Linnéa Sjögren offers seaweed foraging expeditions and masterclasses from Sweden’s rugged west coast. She will introduce you to one of nature’s most potent yet underrated superfoods; you’ll learn about what sort of seaweed is best to eat and how to harvest it sustainably, before paddling out into the Tjurpannan nature reserve in search of sugar kelp and sea lettuce (masks and snorkels are provided). Back on dry land, you’ll cook your haul and enjoy a family-style lunch served on the cliffs – including Catxalot’s legendary seaweed and chocolate cake.
Swedish wine? Seriously, it’s a thing. This boutique industry has grown from curiosity to international acclaim in recent years, with Swedish wines now served at some of the country’s top restaurants. One of the largest national producers is Ästad Vingård, an organic winery beautifully situated in the beech-rich Åkulla nature reserve in Halland. Sparkling whites are the speciality and – after an education in the peculiarities of making wine in a Nordic climate – visitors can raise a glass over dinner at Äng, the vineyard’s acclaimed restaurant. The team collaborates with up to 20 small-scale farmers, fishermen, game stalkers and brewers to deliver a tasting menu that it pairs perfectly with its wines. The best bit? After one too many, you can retreat to the on-site guesthouse or rejuvenate in the spa.
Plant-based cuisine gets a fine dining makeover at Växthuset, a restaurant that is redefining the boundaries of ‘green cuisine’ as more than just an alternative choice. Seasonally inspired and dedicated to using local produce (including some foraged from in and around Stockholm), Växthuset has become a go-to across the board for its epic plant-based tasting menu and ultra-sustainable execution – think Nordic preservation techniques such as pickling and fermenting to ensure as little waste as possible. The paired flight of natural and biodynamic wines comes highly recommended, as does a post dinner boogie at Under Bron, one of Stockholm’s favourite nightclubs that’s conveniently situated just next door.
Welcome to Sweden – when the time is right. To find out more about Sweden’s rich and varied cuisine, head to Visit Sweden.