Being the largest of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden offers you many opportunities for cultural and outdoor activities. Visit the cities and explore the country’s glorious past or the life in a cosmopolitan and modern society. If you need rest from the hectic city life, just leave for the countryside, and vast forests, 90000 lakes, mountains and the beautiful sea await you.
Though on the outskirts of Europe, Sweden was never a culturally outpost. The reigning royalty often invited foreign artists to their courts and also stimulated the development of local artists. Furthermore the Swedish developed their own traditions in design, painting and architecture. Gothenburg City hall was a widely followed example of traditionalistic architecture.
The three greatest cities Stockholm , Gothenburg and Malmö display three different characters. The capital Stockholm is beautiful, hi-tech oriented and full of history. This presentday capital is surrounded by its predeccesors Uppsala , Birka , Nyköping and Sigtuna . Famous is the trip by steaming-boat across the Getting There (the Blue Ribbon of Sweden) that connects Gothenburg with Stockholm.
In the south the more industrial Gothenburg at the western “front side” of Sweden is the industrial heart of the country. The city is dominated by the large international port. Malmö in the south is cosier and has a more common touch. This city is an easy daytrip from Copenhagen in Denmark.
Sweden’s great and vastly unspoiled nature is very diverse and offers you new and unexpected beautiful views every time you visit it again. The south has warm and sandy beaches, an open rural landscape with beautiful manors and patches of woods. In the central part, the coast is dominated by thousands of small islands, the skerries, consisting of more or less bare rocks carved and polished by the latest glaciation. The landscape becomes more and more dominated by the woods, spotted with many lakes and smaller agricultural areas. The further to the north you move, the more the woods take over. Skerries give you the impression of travelling through a chain of lakes all the way to the Finnish border, as you move along the coast. The rivers become greater, the forests darker, the people fewer in the north. Close to the Norwegian border, the mountains get higher and rougher. Lappland in the northwest, north of the polar circle, lets you experience the emptiness of polar tundra in alpine environment.
Sweden became rich and powerful thanks to its great natural resources, the iron ore mines in the far north and in the central part, the forestry-based industry and cheap electricity from water power. Today, the country is in the frontline of IT development and infrastructure.
Many travellers visit Stockholm, the Swedish capital, because of its natural beauty. Called the “Beauty on Water”, the city is situated on 14 islands. Its water is so pure you can both swim and fish right in the heart of town as well as partake of boat tours offering such treats as live music and shrimp buffets. Stockholm has an abundance of parks and fascinating museums, a rich cultural life and many excellent restaurants. Stockholm was founded in the 13th century and now has some 1.6 million inhabitants, including the metropolitan area. In Gamla Stan, or the Old Town, most buildings date from the 16th to the 19th centuries and house a variety of cafés, restaurants, museums, hotels and shops, in addition to the Royal Palace.
A lot of people visit the Vasa Museum – housing the 17th-century Royal warship Vasa, which sank 1628 and was salvaged in 1961. Also worth a visit is nearby Skansen, the world´s largest open-air folk museum complete with its own zoo. Adjacent to Skansen is the Gröna Lund amusement park. Millesgården, home of sculptor Carl Milles (1875-1955) and Waldemarsudde, home of Prince Eugen (1865-1947) – the “Painter Prince” – are other nearby attractions.
Gothenburg is the second city of Sweden and can be seen as the capital of the South. The city is quite different from Stockholm and something of a swedish beach destination.
If you like harbours, Gothenburg is the place to be. It has the only harbour in Sweden that doesn’t freeze over winter, and even though it’s not the thriving industry it used to be, the harbour still plays an important part in city life and atmosphere. This is reflected in the excellent Gothenburg maritime museum, where you can look around on about 15 ships and boats.
But it’s not all fish and ships in Gothenburg. There’s also plenty of shopping, culture and night life going on. It has some nice 17th century architecture. Gothenburg got it’s city rights in 1621 and was built by Dutch immigrants. This explains the gabled houses and the Amsterdam-style canal around the old centre. Walk around in the Haga part of town and see the many small but charming shops and Gothenburg,Pubs & Bars. Take in some culture in one of the many museums. Art, history, natural science, armies, you name it, Gothenburg has a museum about it. And of course no visit to Sweden would be complete without a trip to the Volvo museum.
When you’ve seen enough culture for the day, you can visit the Liseberg amusement park, the largest of it’s kind in Scandinavia. Situated right in the centre of town, it has entertained millions of people since 1923. You can ride the roller coasters or see popular artist perform.
Though not as beautiful and entertaining as Stockholm, Gothenburg has more than enough to offer to keep you occupied for a while.
Lund is a nice old city in the south of Sweden. It has an easy going atmosphere, there are lots of young people and it’s nice to stroll around the centre for a while.
The main sights include the cathedral and the old centre.
Malmo is a modern city in the south of Sweden. In the process of modernization, from industrial town to knowlegde trown, the town has lost most of its old charm. It is the third of Swedens towns in size and with a population of 255,000 inhabitants, has a modern and continental atmosphere. A 35 minutes short trip by train takes you to Copenhagen, over the newly build Oresunds brigde (expansion brigde). The train can also take you to the boat for Bornholm or Lübeck.
The major sight in Malmo is without a shadow of a doubt the Malmohus, the old citycastle which houses a series of museums. Otherwise try the Form and Design Center or the Rooseum, they have good collections of modern art. Furthermore you can find an architectural housing exhibition area (from the exhibition Bo01) on the westharbour. New ideas for living.
There are excellent air and sea connections linking Stockholm and the island of Gotland. Visby, its medieval capital, was an important trading center as early as Viking times and flourished during the Hanseatic period. Visitors with an interest in history delight in exploring Visby´s ruins, including the wall with 44 watch towers that encircles the city.
Uppsala (pop. 175 000) is located 50 mi/80 km northwest of Stockholm and it is one of the oldest and most traditional cities of Sweden. You can feel the winds of history at many places in and around the town. The UN world heritage Old Uppsala a few km north of the city is sometimes called “The cradle of the Swedish state”. Uppsala locals are proud of the 500-year-old university with its academic heritage, of Scandinavia’s greatest cathedral and of the 16th century castle. Even though it is Sweden’s 4th biggest city(!), it has preserved a rather small-town character. The student clubs (“Nations”) housed in mostly magnificent buildings form a considerable part of the night-life. Once a year, on 30 April, the 30,000 students take over the city completely. Together with thousands of visitors they welcome spring on Walpurgis Eve.
Stora sjofallet national park
Located in the north of Sweden, in Laponia. The main attraction of the park is a large waterfall (sjofallet means waterfall) where you can see water falling down 40 meters from one lake into another.
The Stora Sjöfallet National Park is a high alpine park with arctic characteristics. Large areas are devoid of vegetation, consisting of boulders, snowfields and glaciers. In the park there is a primeval pine forest.
The park is great fro hiking and for watching Rendeer.
Muddus national park
Muddus National Park has some of Swedens most unspoiled forests. Many older pines show scars of forest fires that have affected the landscape. There are also marsh areas here that have an abundance of birds.
Muddus is located in Lappland / Laponia. Other national parks in the area include Sarek National Park.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons.