Lonely Planet Writer

West Sweden wants to help travellers get to know its locals and take part in traditional experiences

As travellers around the world clamour for authentic experiences while on the road, West Sweden has launched an initiative that matches travellers up with locals to take part in traditional Swedish experiences.

Fishing huts in West Sweden.
Travellers are being enticed to visit West Sweden through a new tourism initiative. Image by Johner Images/Getty Images

Meet the Locals will help to show off a local perspective of the region, which includes the city of Gothenburg, and Dalsland, Västergötland and Bohuslän. The West Sweden Tourist Board has created a database of locals around the region who want to share their everyday life or hobby with curious travellers.

Guests can take part in everything from hiking in the beautiful countryside, cooking traditional food or even enjoying “fika” – a traditional Swedish coffee or tea break. The locals are listed on the tourism board’s website, with a bit of information about themselves and what they are offering to guests. Anyone visiting can submit a questionnaire that will be sent to the local so they can make contact.

While meeting a local, you can do things like go to Majorna and visiting Klädoteket, a “fashion library” where visitors can rent fashion from Swedish designers, or meet up with Sigbritt and Calle who live in Fiskebäck, just outside of Gothenburg, and enjoy some food. You could also head to Alingsås – the capital of fika – and enjoy the traditional tea or coffee and sweets with Gunilla.

“One of the difficulties when travelling to a new country or region for the first time is meeting locals and getting a real understanding of the people and culture. We wanted to give visitors to West Sweden the chance to get much closer to the Swedish lifestyle,” said Ann-Charlotte Carlsson, head of marketing and communications for the tourist board, in a statement. “The fundamentally Swedish concepts of sharing, collaboration and equality are at the very heart of the initiative, from individuals who want to share their hobby through to activities that advocate the sharing or borrowing of resources.”

As companies like Airbnb are offering more programs that connect travellers and locals, Sweden has also run a number of interesting campaigns to pique the interest of tourists, such as listing the entire country on Airbnb.