People traveling to Europe don’t necessarily think of Sweden as being one of the premier destinations for watching football. Just last year, a prominent sports site ranked the most entertaining leagues in world football and made no mention of the Allsvenskan (which for those who aren’t aware is the top flight in the Swedish football league system). This is fair enough. It’s not a large league by comparison to some of its neighbors, and some of the best Swedish players seek bigger spotlights (and paychecks) in other European leagues.
That said, Sweden is a perfectly strong football nation, which makes the sport an interesting option for tourists. The country has produced one of the world’s most entertaining (if polarizing) stars in the form of Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Sweden will also participate in the 2018 World Cup. Sweden was drawn into Group F with Germany, Mexico, and South Korea, and was described as being worth keeping an eye on by one early assessment, with a decent chance to advance to the knockout stages.
This is to say that despite the domestic league not being a particularly big deal, this is quite a good time for Swedish football. So if you’re visiting and happen to be a fan, or you just want to experience what football in Sweden might be like, here are some of the venues to keep on your list.
For all intents and purposes, Friends Arena is the “main” Swedish football stadium. It’s a beautiful arena, situated by a lake just outside of Stockholm, with seats for nearly 55,000 people and a retractable roof for inclement weather. Also known as Nationalarenan, it’s the home venue for the Swedish national team, but it also hosts AIK, one of the stronger clubs in the domestic league. The sheer quality of the venue will impress visitors, though the AIK “Black Army” of fans is also a treat.
Malmo Swedbank Stadion
Malmo Swedbank Stadion is the home of Malmo FF, and the third-largest football stadium in the country. It’s somewhat simple yet charming, like a mid-level Premier League venue, and it benefits from hosting arguably the most internationally famous club in the Allsvenskan. You should typically expect a quality match from the home side at least, which makes it an excellent place to watch football.
Another modern stadium just outside of Stockholm, Tele2 Arena holds about 30,000 spectators and has an argument as the most fun football atmosphere in the country. Djurgardens IF is the main club for the arena, and a few years ago an article about the best football fan experiences said Djurgardens supporters were the best and loudest – even at away matches. That gives you an idea of how it can be inside Tele2 Arena for a bit match.
This is a 2009 update on a stadium of the same name that previously stood in the same location. It’s the home of IFK Goteborg, one of the more successful clubs in Sweden year in and year out, and a pretty, comfortable place for a match. It should certainly make your list as well.
With all of these and more interesting venues in a relatively small country, football can easily become part of your experience on a trip to Sweden. It’s a nice way to see different towns, experience some of the culture, and keep yourself entertained. Plus, as mentioned, the coming year should be a particularly enthusiastic time for Swedish football, given that we’re in a World Cup year!