Sweden is a Nordic country, located in Europe. The population consists of about 10 million people. It does not matter what time of the year you choose to visit. During spring time, you can chill out at an open-air cafe. Experience the beautiful green and yellow fields (rapeseed fields) in summer. Autumn is a color explosion. You’ll understand what I mean when you get to see the color of the leaves. The winters are magical. How come? Oh, when the snow has fallen on the rooftops and trees. Thats when you start to wonder if you’re in a winter paradise. And the answer is yes (check out the picture of Uppsala castle further down).
- Sweden is famous for its music group ABBA, which started in the early 70s.
- The company “IKEA” was established in Sweden in 1953.
- “Fika” (the well known concept) was created in Sweden. Read my article about what “fika” is, here.
The beautiful city of Uppsala
I don’t think many travelers know about Uppsala. Most tourists know about Stockholm since it is the capital of Sweden, but you know what, if you are visiting Stockholm, you are one hour away from Uppsala. It only takes an hour by train. And if you are interested in history, culture, architecture and art, Uppsala is a must visit. There is especially a lot of history surrounding its university. Since it’s a university city, and has been that way since 1477.
- Uppsala is the fourth- largest city in Sweden.
- Back in time, it was spelled with one P: Upsala.
- The city was called “Östra Aros” until the 12th hundred century.
- It’s famous for its heritage after Carl Von Linne (a professor).
Scandinavia’s biggest cathedral
A church rich in history
Uppsala Cathedral (“Domkyrkan” in Swedish) is an example of gothic architecture. The church is the biggest in Scandinavia. It’s a part of Uppsala’s skyline. And an appreciated place for visitors. Domkyrkan has about 500 000 visitors yearly (not counting worship visitors).
Millions of people have searched for their way here for 7 centuries. It is located in the middle of Uppsala. With a rich and unique history to offer.
Tourist attractions on the inside are: a medieval polyptych, a pulpit from the 17th hundreds and the relics of Erik the saint. There are also modern artworks worth seeing, like a light carrier. Made by the local artist ” Olof Hellström”. A tableau. Created by one of Sweden’s most famous church artists, “Eva Spångberg”. A modern interpretation of Maria is called “the return” or “Återkomsten” in Swedish. The sculpture is made of silicon and real hair. She is also clothed in a coat, skirt and winterboots. An artwork by the artist “Anders Widoff”.
- Many royalists and scientists are buried inside the church. One of them was Carl von Linne.
- Kings and queens were crowned in the church until 1719.
- Nelson Mandela visited the church in 1990.
- Built around 1270 and finished in 1435.
- The spires are around 119 metres high.
University main building
Feel the Hogwarts vibes
The university’s main building is called “Universitetshuset” in Swedish. It was built in a Roman renaissance style. The appearance of the building is similar to what it used to look like (during the 18th century). Despite many modernisations and new features. And the interior gives a notion of the best in Swedish architecture from the 18th century.
Lectures, concerts, conferences, academic feasts and other events are being held here. It’s worth a visit because of its Hogwarts vibes and the beautiful sights inside. Together with its artsy details from the floor to the cupolas.
The building had its opening ceremony in 1887. It meant a lot for educational advancement. The students have more lecture- rooms now. Many of the lecture-rooms are still used today. Before that, the teaching had been held in two cold rooms in Gustavianum.
Location: Biskopsgatan 3
- The architect is “Herman Teodor Holmgren”.
- Once upon a time, an academic stable was located where “Universitetshuset” stands today.
Take a look at unique objects
Museum Gustavianum is the oldest building preserved by Uppsala university. It is responsible for many vulnerable and unique objects. For example, the Greek and Roman collections. Plus archeological finds from the Viking age.
It is worth a visit because it embodies several thousand years of history. Here you can take a look at: mummies from Egypt, Viking helmets, ancient coins and the thermometer that belonged to Celsius. You can also find objects and instruments that tell stories about the university. And the scientists who were active here. Which were: Celsius, Linne and Rudbeck.
Don’t forget to check out the incredible art cabinet, called “Augsburgska art cabinet”. “Gustav II Adolf” received it as a gift in 1632, by the councillors from Augsburg. It is embellished and imaginative, with drawers and secretive cases. Containing thousands of objects.
- The top of the building is an anatomical theatre. Built in 1660, for dissection of humans.
The 3 legendary hills
Gamla Uppsala is one of Sweden’s most important historical places. And an area with ancient remains. Which includes 3 big hills. The hills are called: piles of the kings. The hills are legendary, which makes them even more interesting.
Close to the piles of the kings, lies the museum “Gamla Uppsala”. Here you can take a look at old helmets, spearheads, coins and runic stones. You can also find more information about the projects the archeologists are working on. The many treasures that are found in the area are visible for display here. Take the chance to learn more about the Viking age and Nordic mythology.
According to folk memory and mythology, the piles were raised in honor of : Egil, Aun and Adil (kings of Sweden). This happened during 500 A.D. But some myths say something else. For example, that there are 3 Asa Gods buried here. And they are called: Tor, Oden and Frej.
During the Viking age, the “Svear” (North Germanic tribe) gathered here. To make religious sacrifices. But when Sweden was Christianized, during the 11th century, Gamla Uppsala became the seat of honor for the new religion.
To relax and eat
Dont worry if you get hungry while you are here. The restaurant and Cafe “Odinsborg” are located within walking distance. By the way, they have served mead here since the 16th hundreds.
Location: north of central Uppsala. You can get here by bike or bus from the city.
A magnificent library
Carolina Rediviva is the library of Uppsala University. It’s one of the oldest and biggest research libraries in northern Europe. Including precious and big collections. That is a part of a cultural heritage.
Take a look at the exhibition inside. There you can find the unique manuscript called ” Silverbibeln”. It is a world renowned book. And the main source of what we know about the language “Gotiska”. Which is extinct. Because of that, it’s priceless when it comes to the science of culture and language.
You can also learn about the development of scripts. And how the art of printing originated. Also, about how scientific discoveries in print form were being spread.
Location: Dag hammarskjölds väg 1.
- The library was established in 1620 by Gustav II Adolf.
- The first collections were donated by Gustav II Adolf.
Check out the art museum inside
Gustav Vasa (king of Sweden from 1523- 1560) started building the castle in 1549. It’s a place that has witnessed a lot of history. Many crucial events in Swedish history have taken place here. Today it is used as accommodation for the governor.
Two thrilling museums to visit here are: Uppsala konstmuseum/artmuseum and Vasaborgen (a ruin). Uppsala artmuseum offers a lot more than just art. They have 3 floors which display their collection and temporary exhibitions. The shop can be found in the reception. For more information, check the website.
Vasaborgen is a ruin from the 15th century. It consists of the remains of the original castle. The museum offers unforgettable stories and experiences. More information on their website.
Would you like to see a beautiful view of Uppsala? Then you must book a walk at the top of the castle here.
- The castle was severely damaged by a fire in 1702.
Romantic to know:
- You can get married in Vasaborgen (more about this here)
A living museum
Botaniska trädgården is a magnificent baroque garden. It is one of Upsala’s most popular tourist attractions. Described as a living museum and a living textbook by the website: linneuppsala.se. Allow yourself to take inspiration for your own farming. Here you can also visit the orangery, which is 200 years old. And get lost inside the tropical greenhouse (the only rainforest in Uppsala).
The baroque garden is open to visitors year-round. But its shape is extra distinct during wintertime. And during that time it is extra nice to get inside the tropical greenhouse (which is warm).
- It is said that Linne had fights with the gardener in the castle garden. About who should have most of the horse poop/manure from the academic stable. Linne argued that his flowers were in more need of it than the melons at the castle.
Uppsala city park
Stadsträdgården is Uppsalas city park. Also described as a green oasis next to Fyrisån. And as the green living room for locals in Uppsala. It is a place they constantly return to. Because of its beauty, charm and variety of activities.
It is a perfect place for families with children. Since there is a big playground nearby. It’s also a good place to chill by the pier, with yourself or a friend.
Have a cozy picnic on the lawn. Enjoy the beautiful rose garden in summertime. Visit the summer cafe inside “Gula Villan”. Admire outdoor art. Attend an event on the outdoor stage “Parksnäckan”. There are often famous Swedish artists who perform there during summer. Stadsträdgården has something for everyone.
- Back in time, the city gardener used to live in the yellow house. And when he saw people stepping on the grass, they would get an earful.
The most famous cat in Sweden
Peter- No- Tail is the most famous cat in Sweden and in Uppsala. He is called “Pelle Svanslös” in Swedish. “Pelle” is a fairytale character, created by the famous author “Gösta Knutsson”. “Gösta” was born in Stockholm in the early 19th hundreds. He moved to Uppsala during his lifetime and studied at Uppsala University. He eventually became a famous profile in Uppsala during his lifetime. Because of the children’s books, he wrote about “Pelle Svanslös”.
Short about Pelle
He was born in the countryside. And brought to Uppsala by a mistake, or because of his curiosity, you can say. He was very lucky. And happened to end up with a very nice family in Uppsala.
The one thing that made Pelle different from other cats, was that he didn’t have a tail. Therefore, most of the other cats mocked him. To sum up, the fairytale explores the theme of exclusion, bullying and being different.
Pelle Svanslös is often marketed with the reminder to kids, to: “be brave enough to be kind”. In other words, to stand up when they see someone being bullied.
Things to do and see, related to Pelle
- Let the kids play at “Pelleparken”. It is located in “Engelska parken” or “Carolinaparken” (same place, different names).
- Take a look at the Pelle Svaslös statue. Located in” Stadsträdgården”. (Feel free to sit on it).
- Check out the aperture, located at “Åsgränd”, to see how he lives in miniature.
- Take a walk along a path in “Engelska parken”, called “Gösta Knutssons promenad”. Promenad means “a stroll” in Swedish.
- Go on a guided Pelle Svanslös tour. Book your ticket here.
Explore the first city in Sweden
Sigtuna is the oldest and first city in Sweden. Back in time, it used to be a trading city. Its ancestry goes thousands of years back. It is described as a charming, romantic and picturesque city.
Here you can take a walk through the cozy environment. Have fun taking pictures of the colorful and charming houses. Or sit down and relax at one of the many cafes. There is an aesthetically beautiful playground for families with kids. I highly recommend taking a stroll along the lake “Mälaren”. There are piers where you can sit down and enjoy the beautiful view.
Location: next to “Mälaren” (the third largest lake in Sweden), north of Stockholm. Between Uppsala and Stockholm. You can get here by taking the train. And then switch to buses.
- About 48 000 people live here.
- The city was established in the year 980.
- China has built a copy of Sigtuna outside of Shanghai.
- It is a county that includes: the city of Sigtuna, Arlanda (airport), Märsta (regional center) and Rosersberg (conurbation).
Cafes worth your visit in Uppsala
Having a cake and a coffee has its own term in Swedish. The swedes call it “fika”. You can read about that part of Swedish culture here.
(The cafes are randomly numerated)
- Konditori Fågelsången (beautiful paintings and a great supply of bakeries)
- Cafe Victoria (wonderful open-air cafe during summertime)
- Kardemumma (modern interior, located close to the library)
- Güntherska hovkonditori & Schweizeri (variety with quality and a beautiful environment)
- Cafe Linne Hörnan (cozy, charming and feeling-at-home cafe)
- Cafe Linne Konstantina (homelike, old-fashioned and of ancient lineage)
- Slottscafet (a nice cafe with one of the best views in Uppsala)
- Cafe Årummet (modern and cool interior. Eye-catching details on the pastries on your plate)
- Ofvandals hovkonditori (a famous cafe, marked as a cultural heritage)
- Kafferummet Storken (beautiful paintings, grandma environment and a calm open-air cafe)
There are more cafes than on this list.
Where to eat tasty food
(The restaurants are randomly numerated)
- Restaurang Hamnpaviljongen (located in a beautiful environment, in the heart of Uppsala)
- Zócalo (mexican food)
- ASPA SUCHI (friendly staff)
- Odinsborg Restaurant & Cafe, located in Gamla Uppsala. (Swedish homely cooking)
- Domtrappkällaren (one of Uppsala’s oldest restaurants)
- PONG (Asian food)
- Hambergs Fisk (a gastronomical meeting-place)
- Peppar Peppar (a flavorous tap house)
- Basilico (an Italian restaurant)
- Stationen (a brasserie with a taste of Paris, a bar with the pulse of London and a Cafe with the smell of Rome)
There are more restaurants than on this list.
How to get around
It is easy to get around in Uppsala. You can choose to walk, go by bike or bus. The distance between tourist attractions in the city is short. If you are going to Gamla Uppsala, I recommend going by bike (takes 30 min) or bus. To get to Sigtuna, take the train and then switch to a bus. It takes about 1 hour to get there.
Places to hire bikes
- “Ski Total Cykel”, location: Dragarbrunnsgatan 46.
- “Stationsgatan cykel”, location: Stationsgatan 62.
- “Aktivt Uteliv Sunnerstastugan”, location: Dag hammarskjölds väg 270.
There are, of course, more places than these to hire bikes.
Where to stay
(The cafes are randomly numerated)
- ArenaHotellet (offers a beautiful view of the city)
- Clarion Hotel Gillet (4 star hotel)
- Radisson Blu Hotel Uppsala (the best location, beside Uppsala central station)
- Clarion Collection Hotell Uppsala (homelike environment)
- Best Western Hotel Svava (located in the heart of Uppsala, close to the city)
- Elite Hotel Academia (health centre with relaxation and sauna)
- Hotell Fyrislund (3,5 star hotel)
- Grand Hotell Hörnan (so close to Uppsala you can get)
- Hotell Kungsängstorg (3 star hotel, close to Uppsala University)
- Duvan Hotell & Konferens (simple hotel, close to some of the tourist attractions)
There are more hotels than on this list.
Welcome to my hometown
Uppsala is a perfect city if you are into culture, art, history and anthropology. Because of its art galleries and museums. There are, of course, more things to do than on this list. But this travel guide is a good beginning. With that said, welcome to my beautiful hometown.