Under a warm, late-summer sun, you sit outdoors at a large communal table gazing out at the sea and preparing to experience a longstanding Swedish tradition, the crayfish party. Colorful paper adorns the scene—from the funny conical hats everyone is wearing to the plates, tablecloth, and even the candle lanterns hung around the table. Soon, massive plates of cold crayfish begin to arrive, and as you dig into this tasty delicacy and enjoy the drinks that accompany it, the table erupts in song. As the party continues late into the evening, you realize it’s a moment you’ll never forget.
Seafood and freshwater fish have long been central to the cuisine in Sweden
, with shrimp, oysters, herring, salmon, and crayfish featuring prominently on the menus of the country’s leading restaurants and on the dining tables of Swedish families. In western Sweden, the most celebrated shellfish on the coast are langoustines—smaller cousins of lobsters, with a similar texture and delicately sweet flavor. Further inland, the preference is for freshwater crayfish. Both are amazing.
While some of Sweden’s fish and shellfish have limited seasons, langoustines are available year-round. And a meal of them is even more memorable when enjoyed on one of the long days of summer, ideally at a table overlooking the sea. That’s why, in August and September, one important tradition is to attend a kräftskiva
, or crayfish party. From north to south, people gather to fish for and enjoy crayfish, cooked the typical Swedish way with ale and crown dill. Lots of fun traditions have developed around these parties: Wearing those silly hats and bibs, drinking snaps
(similar to Scandinavian Aquavit), and singing songs.
This itinerary includes some of the best places to try langoustines and other seafood specialties in Gothenburg, its archipelago, and on Sweden’s west coast. If you’re serious about exploring Sweden’s cuisine, you may want to continue on to Skåne and Småland, where the classic red (or black before they’re cooked) crayfish is the local specialty. You can read more about that part of the country in our Celebrating a Crayfish Party in Sweden
And while it may be too late to fit a trip to Sweden into your summer schedule this year, Visit Sweden is inviting the world to a virtual Midsummer celebration
. Their Facebook page features videos of events from Skåne, Stockholm, Dalarna, and other parts of the country. After you experience a virtual Midsummer holiday in Sweden, you’ll want to visit the country in person soon—after all, there’s no way to virtually taste a succulent langoustine.