Have you got yourself a trip planned to Sweden? Or do you perhaps have family and friends that are obsessed with the land of IKEA meatballs? Whatever your reason, there comes a time when you might want to look into Swedish souvenirs and things you can buy in Sweden for gifts. I’ve compiled a list of Swedish souvenirs to aid you on your hunt for all things Swedish; from craft souvenirs to food and fun souvenirs for kids. Not going to lie, writing this post has made me pretty nostalgic and I seriously considered buying a Dala Horse at one point. Hopefully you’ll feel just as inspired!
Swedish Craft Souvenirs
1. Dala Horse (Dalahäst)
I have fond memories of playing with my grandparents’ collection of Dala Horses as a child. The Dala Horse is a hand-painted horse made from wood which originates from the province Dalarna. They are traditionally red (the prettiest colourway if you ask me) but can nowadays be found in a multitude of colours. In my mind, Dala Horses are the quintessential Swedish souvenir.
During your visit to Sweden, you can visit the factories of Nils Olsson Dalahästar or Grannas A Olssons Hemslöjd in Nusnäs and witness the production of Dala Horses. Grannas is the older of the two factories, whilst Nils Olsson was started by two younger brothers from the same family.
The visits are free but you can also paint your own horse for a small fee (at Nils Olsson). If you can’t make it to the factories, then have a look at their webshops. At Grannas A Olssons they also reproduce antique patterns and make special editions, in addition to the traditional colours.
Nils Olsson Dalahästar webshop (no English website)
Grannas A Olssons Hemslöjd webshop (has website in English)
2. Lovikka Mittens (Lovikkavantar)
As I’m sure you’re aware, Sweden gets kinda cold. So if you’re visiting during the colder season Lovikka mittens would be both a practical and cute Swedish souvenir. They originate from the village Lovikka in northern Sweden and can only hold the Äkta Lovikkavante trademark if they have been hand-knitted in this village.
The Lovikka mitten was invented in 1892 by Erika Aittamaa, who had 8 children and knitted mittens to help support the family. They have a characteristic brushed texture with colourful embroidery that Erika added to attract Sami customers (indigenous people from northern Sweden/Norway/Finland). The most characteristic colour combination for a Lovikka mitten is white wool with red, yellow and blue embroidery.
You can buy real Lovikka mittens from the webshop Shop in Lapland (they also have a beautiful range of Sami jewellery):
3. Kosta Boda Glass (Kosta Boda Glasbruk)
Kosta Boda glass is a famous Swedish export. The company was founded in 1742 in the town of Kosta, which makes Kosta Boda the oldest glass makers in Sweden.
Kosta Boda have multiple ventures in Kosta: you can view the production process, try glass blowing yourself (limited times of the year), shop in their store and outlet shop or stay at their Kosta Boda Art Hotel which features a glass bar. I went years ago and was amazed by the supersized nail varnish bottles and glass shoes. Basically, if you’re looking for a more sophisticated Swedish gift, then Kosta Boda is perfect. The Tattoo collection by Ludvig Löfgren is beautiful!
Kosta Boda website (only webshop in selected countries)
4. Province Embroidery (Landskapssöm e.g. Blekingesöm)
Sweden is divided into “landskap”, roughly translating to provinces. Province embroidery, in turn, are ways of embroidery that are named after and characteristic for a certain province and place. One example is Blekingesöm which originates from southern Sweden and primarily uses soft blues, pinks and yellow.
Province embroideries are really traditional Swedish souvenirs and you might actually struggle to find them. Try to look for antique shops or independent artisans.
5. Wooden Butter Knife (Smörkniv i trä)
If there’s anything Sweden has a lot of, it’s trees. So understandably, we’re pretty good at making things out of wood. Wooden butter knives are a classic Swedish souvenir and you’ll find that Swedes with an interest in crafts make their own. Growing up, we had a couple of wooden butter knives with a burnt in pattern that my dad made.
Whilst you can get wooden butter knives in normal kitchenware shops, try to find artisans or even Christmas markets to get a more authentic Swedish souvenir. Alternatively, the company Skandinavisk Hemslöjd have an incredible range of Swedish made wooden items, including handpainted butter knives. Their website is mainly in Swedish (linked below) but a very small range of their brand can also be found at high street shop Cervera.
6. Birch Bark Baskets and Bags (Näverkorgar and Näverväskor)
Ok, we’re deep into traditional territory with this Swedish souvenir. As I mentioned earlier, Swedes can make anything (kinda) from trees. Traditional bark baskets and bags are no exception.
Woven birch bark baskets are great for foraging (another thing Swedes like) whilst birch bark bags are probably best classed as vintage. Although I did read an article saying that the demand for birch bark bags is increasing in Japan, so I guess they must be getting cool again!
For baskets, check out Skandinavisk Hemslöjd’s website again. For bags, you’re best off looking in vintage shops or contacting independent artisans. Handcraft of Sweden also have some listed on their website.
7. Wooden Clogs (Trätofflor)
I associate wooden clogs with summer in Sweden. The brand Hasbeen has risen to fame in recent years and they are great if you want a modern take on this classic shoe. However, a more traditional brand is Falsterbotofflan and these are the kind of clogs I associate with Sweden. Their clogs are handpainted and has been sold from a store in Falsterbo (southern Sweden) since 1939.
8. Höganäs Ceramics (Höganäs Keramik)
In the last few years you might have heard the word “fika”. As Scandinavia becomes more and more trendy, words from each Scandinavian language seem to spread worldwide. For Denmark, it was “hygge”. For Sweden it’ll be “lagom” or “fika”. Fika means to take a coffee break and ideally have something sweet with your coffee. And fika is serious business, some companies literally stop for 15 minutes in the afternoon for their employees’ fika break.
Now, for the ultimate fika experience, you need the ultimate coffee mug. Höganäs ceramics have produced just that since 1909 (so they probably know what they’re doing by now).
Höganäs products are not flashy nor extravagant, which in itself is very Swedish. They’re just high quality products that lend themselves to the most Swedish experience of all; fika. I quite like their latest range that comes with a little wooden saucer; perfect as a Swedish gift!
Fun Swedish Souvenirs
9. Cheese Slicer (Osthyvel)
A big surprise for me when I moved to Manchester was how difficult it was to find a cheese slicer. They can be found, but it’s not as simple as just waltzing into your nearest supermarket. In Sweden, meanwhile, they are a staple in every home. Might have something to do with our cheese consumption (11th highest in the world apparently).
So basically, if you like cheese and want a practical Swedish souvenir you can’t really go wrong with a cheese slicer. Get one with a wooden handle if you want something fancier. There’s also a, less common, version that can be used to grate cheese. You can buy cheese slicers in any store selling kitchenware including supermarkets.
10. Swedish Wooden Toys (e.g. BRIO and Kubb)
I loved my wooden railway set from BRIO growing up (especially the red bridges that looked like the Golden Gate in San Francisco!). Our living room would be covered in wooden train tracks and my sister and I would play with the little wooden trains that stuck together with magnets.
BRIO is nowadays owned by a German corporation but is still a typical example of Swedish wooden toys. They have even supplied the Royal Court of Sweden since the 1940s! If you plan to visit southern Sweden, you can visit their toy museum in Osby, where the company was founded in 1884.
BRIO’s webshop (available in different countries)
BRIO on Amazon (you might find shipping cheaper)
Another popular Swedish wooden “toy” is the lawn game “kubb”. The beauty of kubb is that both adults and children can play so it’s a perfect family activity. The basic premise is that you set up a rectangular playing field, divide into two teams, place wooden “kubbs” at both ends, a wooden king in the middle and then try to knock over the opposing team’s kubbs by throwing wooden batons at them. When you’ve knocked over the kubbs you proceed to knock over the king.
Kubb has become increasingly popular outside of Sweden and the Swedish island Gotland even holds an annual World Championship. You can buy the game in most shops that sell things for the garden, e.g. ÖoB, Harald Nyborg and Biltema. However, you’ll likely find that it’s too bulky and heavy to bring home in a suitcase. So, unless you travelled to Sweden by car, I suggest that you satisfy your Swedish garden game cravings on Amazon instead.
11. Children’s Books by Astrid Lindgren
Astrid Lindgren is one of the, if not THE, most loved children’s book authors in Sweden. Sadly she passed away in 2002 but her many characters live on, especially among those who grew up with her stories.
So if you want a Swedish souvenir that’s close to a lot of Swedish hearts, then a book by Astrid Lindgren could be an option. Her most famous character is Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump), a girl with super strength, but she penned 34 written books and 41 picture books, so you should easily find a favourite. Personally, I like Pippi Longstocking and Emil (Emil i Lönneberga) and find The Brothers Lionheart heartbreaking. You can find Swedish versions in any book shop whilst Amazon has a wide range of translated works.
Swedish Food Souvenirs
12. Swedish Shots (Snaps, e.g. Akvavit)
Swedes like to get their shot glasses out for special occasions such as Midsummer and crayfish parties. Shots of alcohol are referred to as “snaps” and are often accompanied by song (snapsvisor).
The most common shot is aquavit (akvavit), which is a clear spirit that by law has to be flavoured by at least caraway and / or dill. Other spices are allowed, but at least one of those flavours has to dominate. This could be a fun Swedish gift idea if you’re looking for something you can share with the recipient!
If you want to buy aquavit, you have to visit Systembolaget. Systembolaget is the only shop that’s allowed to sell alcohol in Sweden. Make sure you check their opening hours as a lot of them close quite early and are completely shut on Sundays!
13. Lingonberry Jam (Lingonsylt)
Whenever I try to explain lingonberry jam to non-Swedes I’m met with a lot of confusion. Jam? On savoury food?! What is this sorcery? Ok, no one has ever said the last bit but I know they’re thinking it.
Lingonberry jam is (amazing and) a popular condiment to things like fried or mashed potatoes, meat (incl meatballs) and cabbage. Alternatively, it can be used as an ingredient in desserts, such as soft gingerbread. When you look for lingonberry jam in the supermarket, go for versions that are called “rårörda lingon”. I recommend the brand Felix.
14. Crispbread (Knäckebröd)
Crispbread is a popular feature on Swedish breakfast tables. They’re like a supersized cracker and are traditionally made from rye flour, although you can find other versions too.
You should have them with boiled eggs and caviar from a tube if you want to eat them in a very Swedish way. Personally I think caviar is grim, but there are loads of toppings you can try. Cheese is really nice (get that cheese slicer out!) or you can try fish, ham etc.
Crispbreads are available in any food store. Wasa is a popular brand and they also happen to be the biggest producer of crispbread in the world. Their “Husman” is a classic but I like their non-traditional “Frukost”.
15. Candy cane (Polkagris)
If you’re going to travel through Sweden I suggest you stop off in the town Gränna to look at candy cane production. Gränna is famous throughout Sweden for their “polkagris” candy that was first produced in 1859. Polkagrisar come in multiple colours, but the red and white is a classic. The flavour is traditionally peppermint.
If you’re in town, you can watch them make the sticks and it seriously looks fascinating when they create the polkagris stripes (video in Swedish only, sorry!). One example is Grenna Polkagriskokeri, where you can view the bakers and even try to bake your own polkagrisar.
16. Chocolate Balls (Chokladbollar)
I stockpile chocolate balls (I must admit the English translation sounds pretty funny) in my suitcase whenever I go home to Sweden. These balls of wonder are made from oats, cacao and shed loads of butter (plus sugar and other unhealthy things). Once they’ve been rolled into shape, you can either roll them in coconut flakes or nib sugar (pärlsocker). For fancier versions, you roll them in melted chocolate first and then in coconut flakes or nib sugar.
When you go to Sweden, head to the nearest café and order one of these for your fika. You won’t be disappointed (unless you strongly dislike unhealthy things, in which case….move to point 15). Once you’ve realised that you also need to stockpile these in your suitcase, I recommend the brand Gillebollar (pinkish packaging). Chocolate balls can be found in any supermarket e.g. ICA, Willys and Coop.
17. Salty Liquorice (Saltlakrits)
Now, I will be the first to admit that I don’t understand the Swedish fascination with salty liquorice. I find it alright as part of other candy, e.g. chocolate, but otherwise? No thanks.
However, plenty of Swedes love it and it’s very popular in the Nordics so you should give it a try! Some brands are Marabou Saltlakrits (added to chocolate), Malaco Swedish Fish in a salty liquorice flavour, Häxvrål (ehm….translates to Witch Roar….it’s a tube shaped candy) and Djungelvrål (ehm. Jungle Roar. Cause salty liquorice makes you roar?). You can find salty liquorice in any Swedish supermarket. You can also order this Swedish souvenir online if you’re feeling daring and want to try Swedish candy from the comfort of your own home.
18. Swedish Candy (Lösgodis)
I remember when I first moved abroad to Denmark and walked into a supermarket. I was confused. Why, you might ask? Because, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find the pick and mix aisle. It had never even crossed my mind that other countries wouldn’t have pick and mix candy (or have it on a much smaller scale). As a matter of fact, my first thought was something along the lines of “but how do they eat candy….?”.
I have recovered from my initial shock 10 years ago and accepted that Sweden’s obsession with pick and mix candy is pretty unique. Which makes it a great Swedish food souvenir! You can find pick and mix candy (and lots of it) in any supermarket. If you want an even greater range and fancier brands, then try the store chain Hemmakväll. Some of my favourites are green frogs, vanilla balls and Fazermint.
19. Malmo Chocolate Factory chocolate (Malmö Chokladfabrik)
Last but not least, make sure you pick up some Malmö Chokladfabrik chocolate if you visit southern Sweden. Malmö is easily accessible from Copenhagen by train if you fancy a day trip! At Malmö Chocolate Factory you can go for a guided tour of their museum, do a chocolate tasting or just wander around at your own leisure.
The brand believe in creating a sustainable product and therefore use organic cacao beans whenever possible, support Fairtrade and only use pure ingredients, which makes Malmö Chocolate Factory free from nuts. They have some fab flavour combinations for you to try; lingonberry (obviously!), mulled wine, violet/liquorice or pear/cardamom, to mention a few. Another cool product range is the Lab Series, where they sell limited edition chocolate bars made from rare cocoa beans.
And that’s it! I hope you found a few ideas for Swedish souvenirs and gifts. Perhaps you even feel inspired to visit this beautiful country? If so, check out my guide to 24 hours in Lund. Please let me know in the comments if you have bought or want to buy any of these Swedish souvenirs! If you’re after gifts for a travel lover, you can also check out my gift guide for travel lovers here.
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