Where??! Ten hard-to-pronounce place names in Sweden

Learning Swedish is tough for many because of the tricky pronunciation. Some words are very long, making them real tongue twisters. The same can be said for some place names – not necessarily long, but hard to say. Here are ten difficult-to-pronounce place names in Sweden:

1) Hjo. This small town positioned on the West Bank of Lake Vättern is actually pronounced something like ‘you’.

2) Ystad. This south coast town is a tricky one. It’s the ‘y’ sound that makes this one hard as it’s a vowel sound that we don’t have in English, and many other languages. It’s pronounced ‘ee’ but with the lips rounded.

3) Kristianstad. It might look straightforward to pronounce this town in county Skåne, but it’s not. It is pronounced something like ‘Krischansta’.

4) Jönköping. You have to know something about Swedish pronunciation to say the name of this town in county Småland. ’J’ is pronounced ‘Y’. ‘K’ is often pronounced as ‘Sh’ and ‘ö’ is pronounced like ‘er’ (as in her but without the ‘r’ sound). That makes this place name ‘Yernsherping’.

5) Örnsköldsvik. This is a town in the north of Sweden and is a tongue twister. Swedes often refer to it as ‘Övik’, just to avoid saying the full name. It is pronounced something like ‘ern-sherld-sveek’

6) Växjö. This is a town deep in the forests of county Småland. Pronounced ‘Veck-sher’ (kind of) it’s quite a tricky one.

7) Göteborg. The large west coast city of Gothenburg is a hard one to say in Swedish, which is probably why the name was changed to a more easily-pronounced English name. It is pronounced something like ‘yer-te-borry’.

8) Åmål. Once you grasp the ‘å’ sound, this one becomes easier. ‘Å’ is pronounced like the English ‘or’ but without the ‘r’ sound. So this town on the banks of Lake Vänern is pronounced ‘ormorl’

9) Skellefteå. This town in the northern county of Västerbotten is pronounced ‘Shell-efte-or’ (without the ‘r’ sound on the end).

10) Hamrångefjärden. This small village is outside the town of Gävle (also difficult to say). It is amongst the longest place names in Sweden, together with Skummeslövsstrand, Skinnskatteberg, Guldsmedshyttan, and Hälleviksstrand. (Try saying those!). Hamrångefjärden is pronounced something like ‘Ham-wrong-e-fyare-den’.

Top 5 Rude Swedish Place Names 


In Britain, and Sweden, there are many places with funny or rude names. 

What’s in a name? Does the name of a place say anything about its residents? For example, are the people of Uppsala upwardly mobile people? Or are the people of Sundsvall very sound in their values and morals? Maybe. If the name of place represents the type of people who live there, what does it say about the residents of these top 5 rude place names in Sweden? 

5) In the town of Mora there is a place called Rövhålet, which translates as ‘butt hole’. 

4) Bögs gård, north of Stockholm, literally means ‘Gay’s farm’

3) Kattsjärten in the county of Värmland is the evocative ‘cat’s arse’ in English 

2) Way up in the north of Sweden, you will find Sexträsk, which is the exotic place of ‘sex swamp’

1) But the most embarrassing must be the place called Djupröven, which is just outside of Uppsala. It means ‘Deep Ass’ in English. Says it all. 

There’s also a suburb of Stockholm which I’m always embarrassed to say. The suburb of Fittja sounds very much like the offensive word for female genitalia. Best to avoid saying it if you’re a foreign speaker of Swedish. 

What other funny or rude place names in Sweden do you know? 

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