Aside from a trip to Helskini, Finland a few years ago, the majority of my travels in Europe have taken me south. However, today’s guest post by Ben of offtoeurope.com has me dreaming of adventures to the North.
Sweden is an enterprising country which has given much to the world including the famous IKEA furniture designs and the clear spirit vodka.
In winter, you will probably need a tipple or two to warm you up, but the Gulf Stream keeps the Swedish climate relatively mild unless you go north to the subarctic region. There you can do all those winter wonderland things that people dream of – sleeping in an ice hotel, riding reindeer in Lapland and marvelling at the mystical colours of the Northern Lights.
Here’s list of 10 things that everyone should do before they leave Sweden.
1. Explore Stockholm
Flights to Sweden will take you into the capital, Stockholm, so this is a good place to start your trip. Stockholm is the birthplace of the Nobel Prize and you will find its inhabitants to be accordingly open-minded. This is a very cosmopolitan city but Stockholm has kept its identity, despite the large influx of immigrants. Make sure you see the fantastic architecture of Gamla Stan, the old town.
2. Take a walk through a woodland cemetery
The Skogskyrkogården, a suburb to the south of Stockholm, is famous for its architecture and has been made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cemetery is open all year around and the wonderful buildings and statues were the work of a design competition held in 1915.
3. Visit the islands surrounding Stockholm
Taking a boat out is the best way to experience a beautiful clear day in Sweden. Palaces and castles rise up out of the water as you take a tour of this archipelago of islands, such as Drottningholm, a residence of the royal family. Vaxholm also has a stunningly beautiful citadel.
4. Look for remnants of the Viking era
The Swedish countryside is full of burial mounds which commemorate the fallen Viking leaders. Although the Swedes are a peace-loving people, they are proud of their warrior heritage. The Museum of National Antiquities has plenty of impressive Viking artefacts.
5. Pick up a souvenir or two from the Kingdom of Crystal
Sweden is famous for its glass blowing and your quest for glass souvenirs will take you to some charming towns and villages. The Kingdom of Crystal is located between Växjö and Kalmar and there are numerous glassworks here which do great work.
6. Eat herrings and meatballs
Sweden has a fine Nordic cuisine. While most people will be happy to try delicious Sweden meatballs, there will probably be fewer takers for surströmming. This fermented herring is left in a can for so long that the tin starts to bulge and absolutely reeks when finally released. Only for the very strong of stomach.
7. Go to Lapland
Stunning scenery greets those who are brave enough to travel to Lapland. You will want a camera on hand to record sights such as the Lapporten mountain pass and other epic landscapes.
8. Enjoy the medieval locality of Visby
The Hanseatic town of Visby has been granted UNESCO status for its beautiful medieval city and this is as popular with local tourists as it is with foreign visitors.
9. Head to the beach in Gotland
Gotland is the largest island in the Baltic Sea but easily accessible from the mainland and a very popular place to go and catch some rays during the summer.
10. Whatever you do, do it outdoors
Sweden is a nature lover’s paradise. There are numerous places to camp, trails to walk and hike, water sports on offer for the summer and skiing and ice skating for the winter.
This is a guest post from Ben Savill. Ben runs offtoeurope.com, a travel website that specializes in Europe travel and vacations. When Ben isn’t staring into his computer monitor, he enjoys traveling to unique destinations, red wine and art house cinema. You can follow offtoeurope.com on Twitter @offtoeurope and you can also subscribe to the sites RSS Feed.