Sweden’s got it all: postcard winters, golden summers, friendly people and a design aesthetic that never goes out of style. From the modern chic of Stockholm to the vast frozen lands of the Lapland, the sights of Sweden are so thoroughly enjoyed by its own people that it is hard for foreigners not to fall in love with this country as well.
Stockholm and Central Sweden
Trendy Stockholm is a capital any country would be proud of, with its picturesque crayon buildings and vibrant culture spilling from cobblestone streets of Old Town (Gamla Stan) to the edgy neighbourhood of Södermalm. Walk the grounds of the royal castle and learn how Swedes used to live at Skansen, the world’s first open-air museum. Admire the fine architecture of old gothic churches and shop till you drop in the upscale boutiques of Östermalm, or check out the independent fashion scene in Södermalm. Have a fika in one of Stockholm’s stylish cafes; coffee breaks are valued as a social institution in Sweden and is an essential part of its culture.
Gothenburg and the Western Archipelago
Gothenburg is a flourishing restaurant scene and a gorgeous archipelago. Its closeness to the sea has created a strong tradition among chefs to use local produce and seasonal ingredients in their culinary masterpieces. Sample fish smörgåsbord at Restaurant Gabriel; prime selects of fish from the market one level below. Both are housed in the Feskekörka, a ‘Fish Church’ which resembles a Gothic church. Indeed, seafood pilgrims have been patronising the market since 1874. Be sure to try herring in some form, it is an absolute staple in Sweden, and each family prepares it in their own way.
A 30-minute tram ride out is Sweden’s western archipelago, where in the summer, postcard bays and fishing communities meet live music concerts in the midnight sun. Take a boat tour from Kungsportsplatsen to explore the islands, or cycle around on a public bicycle from Styr & Ställ. The first half an hour is free! Swim in the crystal clear waters of Hållö Island with its distinctive pink granite rocks. Do some serious shucking in Grebbestad, Sweden’s oyster capital. If you just want to be alone there are many lighthouses you can rent for some blissful solitaire.
Swedish Lapland is where you can summer ski to a lake where it will be warm enough for a nude swim. Head to the national parks of Swedish Lapland such as Sarek and Padjelanta, where glaciers, ravines and magical forests form vast, wild world of their own. Go all out on a snowmobile safari and be taken on an adventure through campfires, ice fishing, wilderness picnics, Swedish saunas and cosy dinners in Sami teepees. In Jukkasjärvi, a hotel built of snow and ice promises an utterly ephemeral stay, and if you like the cold there’s no missing out on the northern lights from the Aurora Sky Station between March and October. In the summer months, this is also one of the best places to see the midnight sun.
Public transport in Sweden is extremely easy to maneuver- a combination of bus, trains and roads link the country, and the presence of the archipelagos mean there is an extensive network of canal boats, steamers and ferries which help you get around with maximum ease.
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