If you’re looking for a memorable European vacation, you’d probably be spoilt for choice. Should you go north to explore Scandinavia’s rich history and culture, or would you rather dive into the modern side of Western Europe? It’s close – but if you’re looking at these two geographic areas then the likely candidates for a great holiday destination would be either England or Sweden, respectively. If you’re still finding it hard to decide where to spend your limited vacation days (as well as financial resources), then just read on to find which place is more up your alley.
Visit England if…
You love a bit of pomp and pageantry
Not just restricted to the much-publicized recent royal nuptials, there are tons of experiences and places to visit that proudly reflect England’s royal heritage. First, stop off at Buckingham Palace, where you can watch the changing of the guard. Visit the Tower of London, where you can see the famed Crown Jewels and learn about famous executions and prisoners in its history. Drop by Westminster Abbey, the beautiful Gothic church that has been the location of many a royal coronation and wedding. Take 30-minute train ride from London to Windsor Castle, home of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House — the largest dolls’ house in the world!
You love a pint with friends at the end of the day
There’s nothing more English than communing around your local pub. This is where good friends gather to drink and talk; it’s the heart of social life in England and an experience not be missed. Make sure to drop by a few of the iconic pubs like The Nag’s Head, The Grenadier, The Lamb and Flag, and The French House in Soho, where you’ll find centuries worth of stories on the walls and friendly patrons who are up for a chat. Also, don’t be surprised if many of these older pubs do not have TVs and impose bans on using mobile phones!
You love variety in your cuisine
While the iconic fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and shepherd’s pie remain favorites, you’d be surprised at what the locals gravitate towards to when hunger hits. There are no end of Indian curries and Mediterranean kebabs to fuel people after a late night out on the town, and being such a diverse country, palates have been introduced to Italian, Chinese, and Mexican cuisine, making them wildly popular in big cities.
You love the game of soccer
If you’re absolutely batty for “the beautiful game”, then you can’t overlook how significant England is to the game of soccer. It’s home to the very popular English Premier League, which draws fans from all over the world. Take a tour of the legendary Webley Stadium or even home of Arsenal F.C., the Emirates Stadium. Visit Manchester, home of the popular Manchester United club, where you can learn up about soccer history at the National Football Museum. Whether its Liverpool, Newcastle, or Birmingham, you’ll find plenty of places where you can catch a game amongst some of the most colorful fans in the world.
Visit Sweden if…
You want to enjoy 24 hours of sunshine
As mysterious an experience as the Northern Lights, the midnight summer can be experienced in northern Sweden during the summer months, and boy is it a sight to behold! You can bask in 24 hours of sunshine in notable northern towns like Björkliden, where you can enjoy fishing and hiking and even tee off around midnight at its golf course that stays open for 24 hours. If you want to share this phenomenon with the indigenous people of the north, the Sami, and learn more about their interesting culture, then head to the town of Jokkmokk.
You want to celebrate the summer solstice in style
The midsummer celebrations in Sweden are a grand affair. People wear flowers in their hair, don traditional costumes, raise the midsummer pole and dance around it singing old-time drinking songs, and of course, do a fair bit of drinking. If you’re there around June 20-25, then don’t forget to partake in some traditional food as well, like herring and meatballs with lingonberry jam.
You like salty (and weird) treats
Swedes love their salty sill (pickled herring) and their super salty licorice. They also pull out the stops to celebrate around kräfta (crayfish). Crayfish parties usually take place in August and are affairs that include party hats, lots of schnapps, and drinking songs. If you love trying food that’s also a bit bizarre and you have an adventurous palate, then try some surströmming — Baltic herring fermented for around 6 months and considered one of the smelliest foods in the world!
You were a Viking in a previous life
If you’re passionate about Viking culture and history, and want to dive in head first and hands-on, then Sweden is the place to be. Make a beeline for Birka, where you can see Viking burial grounds and a Viking village that has been recreated around it. Stockholm’s Historiska museum has one of the world’s largest Viking exhibitions and should not be missed. If you’re traveling around Sweden then don’t forget to pillage through the Fotevikens Museum (an hour away from Malmö), which is a living history museum with costumed enthusiasts giving you a glimpse into what Viking life would have been like back in the day…with lots of humor thrown in the mix as well.