From sophisticated Stockholm to mountain wilderness, Sweden offers the traveler immense variety.
Not long ago, Sweden was an introverted country perched uneasily on the edge of Western Europe. Many Swedes talked about travelling “to Europe” as if it was on a different continent. All that changed with the country’s admission to the European Union in the 1990s and the opening in 2000 of the Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark.
The Swedes finally became “good Europeans”; in turn, the outside world began to discover the country’s hidden delights. More visitors every year flock to the bustling cultural venters of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, or escape into the rural regions or the vast wilderness areas of Lapland.
Sweden is ideal for those who like the great outdoors and activities such as angling, golf, riding, fell-walking, skiing, sailing or canoeing. Even the capital city Stockholm, is a place of waterways and green spaces, flanked by thousands of uninhabited islands.
The flat, fertile south, including Skåne, was part of Denmark for centuries: a faintly Danish accent persists. South-central Sweden is dominated by the great lakes of Vänern and Vättern, the hub of a vast waterway network. Visitors can sail across the widest part of the country along the Göta Kanal, which links Stockholm to Gothenburg.
Sweden’s heartland holds Dalarne, a province that guards the country’s oldest folk traditions. From here, the lovely Inlandsbanan railway runs north into the Arctic, home to the indigenous Sami, many of whom still herd reindeer across Scandinavia’s remote mountains.
Culturally, state-of-the-art museums, well-oreserved historical sites like the Viking capital Birka, and the homes of artists such as Carl Larsson, who inspired the clean lines of contemporary Swedish design, are unique attractions.
Gothenburg’s Symphony Orchestra is in the top rank of world orchestras, and Sweden is increasingly admired as a center of gastronomic excellence.
In winter, visitors are lured by the Northern Lights, the renowned Ice hotel – and the magic of a Swedish Christmas, with its traditional markets, brightly decorated streets and St. Lucia processions.
Feature image (on top) From Fjällbäcka
Written by Tor Kjolberg.