“Sehr schön (very beautiful),” said the German. “Ja, jag ser sjön (yes, I see the lake),” replied the Swede in an old joke that doesn’t lend itself for translation. But what it implies – that Germans find Sweden attractive – is an enduring truth. Like no other people Germans take to the Swedish nature with blue lakes, green forests and red huts. After the Norwegians, the Germans are Sweden’s most important tourist group, and their love for Sweden isn’t on the wane.

"Inga Lindström" soap
The German soap opera “Inga Lindström” has 5.5 million viewers and in it Sweden is presented as a country with free love in the archipelago, women with flowing blond hair and one beautiful nature scene after the other. Malin Zillinger, cultural geographer at Lund University is an expert on German tourists in Sweden:
“Sweden is attractive to Germans because our country is nearby, and we have historical bonds."
Last year 2.6 million guest nights at hotels and hostels around the country made the Germans the second largest group of tourists to Sweden.
“German press frequently writes about Sweden and it is always positive. Germans know a lot about Sweden, they watch Swedish films and read Swedish books. To Germans, there’s something very darling about Sweden,” continues Zillinger, who has researched how German tourists read Swedish guidebooks, and also interviewed German tourists. “Sweden has 23 inhabitants per square kilometer, Germany has 230. They like the fact that we have easy access to uninterrupted nature."


Sweden is a strong brand in Germany
Corelius Holtorf, an associate professor in archeology at Linnéuniversitetet (Linnaeus University), moved to Sweden from Germany and says that Sweden is a strong brand name in his native country. He says it is about Astrid Lindgren and the fact that Sweden is enormously child friendly. “When I tell my friends that we bought a cabin in Sweden, they invariably ask me if it’s red. When I tell them that it’s not, they get a bit disappointed, but when I say that our house is close to Vimmerby (a town with 7,827 inhabitants famous for its link to Astrid Lindgren, who was born here in 1907) they are again happy!” Felix Strohecker is a 16-year old tourist from Frankfurt visiting Stockholm. He says that what he likes best about Sweden is the nature and the people: “We’ve seen moose here, and it is very pretty. It was my mother’s idea to come here. We have been to Malmö and Göteborg and we went around an island in a boat. Now we’ve been shopping for clothes in Stockholm. Sweden is famous in Germany for its pretty women.”
The invasion of German tourists to Sweden increased after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. Tourist analyst Peter Terpstra at Tillväxtverket (Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth) believes it has to do with the fact that it is no longer as cheap as it used to be to tourist in southern Europe. “And when you’ve been to Majorca 15 times, you want to see something else. Germany is an enormous market, Germans travel a lot, there’s a lot of them and they are nearby,” says Terpstra.