Shocking Swedish Architectural Wonders

The hostel-inside-an-airplane is only the beginning

When you think of Sweden, you think of unique pop music (ABBA, Ace of Base, and Robyn), furniture (IKEA) and clothes (H&M), and food (meatballs). While these elements of Scandinavia's most populous country are all unique, one of the most idiosyncratic things in Sweden is its architecture. No matter where in Sweden you plan to visit, there's an extremely cool—and probably also very strange—structure just waiting to be discovered.

  • 01 of 04

    747 Hostel

    747 Hostel
    Queen of the Hostels?. Brorsson via Wikimedia Commons

    If you're looking for a hotel in Arlanda, chances are you're on your way into or out of Sweden: Arlanda is where Sweden's main international airport is located. You might dread the thought of boarding another plane, particularly if you've arrived to Sweden on a long-haul flight, but you'll have to cast your worries inside once you lay eyes upon JumboStay. A hostel constructed inside the body of a retired 747 jumbo jet, JumboStay is one of the most unique accommodations in the world, let alone in Sweden—the Queen of the Skies, on land!

  • 02 of 04

    Lund Cathedral

    Lund's Cathedral is imposing, to say the least. Swedish Wikimedia Commons

    On the surface, the age of Lund Cathedral (just under 1,000 years) isn't spectacular compared to some of the other ancient structures throughout Sweden and Europe in general, its imposing Gothic façade notwithstanding. It becomes amazing, however, when you place its existence into the greater context of the history of Lund. It's a Catholic Church, you see, and the vast majority of those were destroyed in the mid-16th century as the Reformation swept into Sweden. It's unclear as to why this particular church was spared—perhaps it came from IKEA? Things from there are notoriously difficult to disassemble.

  • 03 of 04

    Helsingborg Town Hall

    Helsinborg Town Hall
    Helsinborg's Town Hall is impressive even in this photo taken the year it opened. Photoglob Zürich

    Like Lund Cathedral, the Town Hall of Helsingborg is most conspicuously amazing for aesthetic reasons. Unlike Lund Cathedral, however, Helsinborg Town Hall isn't particularly old, having been completed just 119 years ago. If your travels happen to take you to this city in southwestern Sweden, you'll just have to settle for the City Hall's impressive 200-foot bell tower, ornate façades, and countless spires.

    Boring, right? Well then, the beautiful music (note: neither ABBA, nor Ace of Base, nor Robyn songs) the Hall's bells play five times per day will lull you into a deep sleep quite quickly I imagine.

  • 04 of 04

    Malmo's Bridge

    Oresund Bridge
    Oresund Bridge at Sunset. Richard Dennis via Wikimedia Commons

    Poor Malmo! Although it's Sweden's third-largest city, with a population of more than 600,000, it often falls in the shadows of nearby Copenhagen, whose international airport sits just across the water.

    This is even more ironic (and sad!) in the context of Swedish history (this portion of the country was part of Denmark for centuries), but it is downright puzzling when you consider that one of modern Europe's most amazing architectural marvels, the Oresund Bridge, is just minutes from many Malmo hotels. Even if you discount the bridge's imposing size and cool design, the fact that it created a land connection between Sweden and continental Europe for the first time in history says everything you need to know about the bridge.

    One more unique thing about Sweden, before we say adjö (that's Swedish for "goodbye"): In spite of its small population (just under 10 million as of 2013), it boasts settlements all over its massive 173,000-square-mile footprint, even if...MORE some of them are abandoned Viking villages. Translation: There's a ton more here to discover!