Surrounded by neighboring Nordic countries, Sweden is the center of Scandinavia and by many seen as the bigger brother of Norway, Denmark and Finland. Everything Scandinavian, you will find it in Sweden! This is a country of Nordic sophistication, design, art, music and urban culture. But it is also a country of rural tranquility, forests, lakes, frozen tundra and miles and miles of eternal wilderness. We’re sure you need more time than you plan for. Welcome to Sweden, all things Scandinavian!
In the very south, only half-an-hour by train from Copenhagen, lays the sunny and flat region of Skåne. With its many white, sandy beaches and plenty of cozy villages and towns, this is a destination well worth exploring. Why not rent a car in Malmö and explore Helsingborg, Kristianstad, Ystad and other out-of-the-ordinary destinations in the region?
Slightly further north awaits the paradise islands of Gotland and Öland on the East coast, the latter located off the coast of the historic city of Kalmar. This was where in 1397 the great Kalmar union was forged, bringing the three Scandinavian countries under one single crown for a 125 years to follow. And on the West coast, we have the equally spellbinding town of Halmstad where you will find Sweden’s longest continuous beach, the Laholmsbuktens Strand, that stretches a full 20 km towards the south. Sandy, white beaches are plentiful all over Sweden’s western, southern and eastern coasts.
If you’re in the mood for some Astrid Lindgren type of adventures, and long for the red Swedish cottage summer dream, then venture inland and head for the Småland region in the area of Jönköping, Värnamo, Vetlanda and Växjö. This is where dreams of lake angling and forest tranquility come true. Do you long for that midsummer feeling, do you have that midsummer dream? We know the feeling.
Further north on the West coast lays Gothenburg, Sweden’s second biggest city and probably the most overlooked urban gem in the country. Take your time to explore Gothenburg, but don’t miss out on the amazing archipelago that is so accessible right west of the city. Stay in a coastal bed and breakfast hotel and bike through sandy roads on islands connected by bridges and ferries. Or do a hop-on, hop-off type of tour. The archipelago starts here and stretches all the way north to the Norwegian border. Visit Marstrand, Lysekil, Smögen and Kungshamn, Fjällbacka, Grebbestad and Strömstad and be stunned by the wild, natural beauty of these endless archipelago islets, skerries and tiny beaches in combination with gorgeous village communities along the entire coastline.
On the East coast we have Stockholm, the proud Swedish capital. Travel here and leave the rest of Sweden behind. This is a different place. Yes, Stockholm too has a miraculously beautiful archipelago, a world of its own with over 30,000 islands and by far the biggest archipelago in the Nordic region. But Stockholm is so much more. This is the technology hub of the region. The fashion hub of the region. Matched by Copenhagen, the design, culture and arts hub of the region. And the party hub too. Stockholmers walk proudly with their heads held high, and for a reason. Go here, wander the streets of Östermalm, Norrmalm and the Djurgården park and you will understand why. Then go visit Gamla Stan and Södermalm to explore what more this wonderful city has to offer. No matter how you came, you will leave feeling inspired, mindful, and more self-aware.
When you leave, you might go north. Mind you, most of the country is still to be discovered and the remaining two thirds lies north. But with only a few exceptions along the coast, this is where urban modernity ends. Prepare to hit the wilderness: you are going north. Separating the town of Åre in the west, which is great for alpine skiing, and Umeå in the East, is a six-hour continuous drive through forest and wilderness. Sure, you’ll find a town and some villages underway, but this is the exotic part. You won’t find much more. Be sure to refuel when you can.
North of this stretch lays Swedish Lapland with all its might and natural glory. This is where you step into the Arctic, where reindeer roam wild and high-speed highways are endless unpaved dirt roads. This is a land of wonders, filled with wilderness, forests, lakes, rivers and mountains. A completely different Sweden, but still Sweden. You are in Lapland, the realm of the Sami people.
Piteå, Luleå and Kalix are the more central areas of the Lapland region and great starting points for adventures both at sea and on land. Be sure to spend at least one night in the Arthotel in Tornedalen, located right on the border of Sweden and Finland, and plan some time to hunt for the Northern Lights, go husky dog-sledding, fishing or cross-country skiing in Övertorneå nearby. Then head further inland until you reach Harads, where you can stay in the mesmerizing Tree Hotel cabins. We recommend the UFO or the 7th room. Or continue north and spend a night glamping in the authentic Sami camp of Sapmi Nature. Find all these adventures here on booknordics.com.
Still in the mood for traveling further north? Then continue onwards until you reach Kiruna, the understated capital of Swedish Lapland, and eventually Abisko national park where you should spend a night in the old radio station which is now turned into a delightful forest hotel. Kiruna and Abisko offer perfect conditions for hiking, kayaking, climbing and exploration during the summer, and husky dog-sledding, reindeer-sledding, skiing, snowshoeing, ice-climbing and all kinds of snow-fun activities in the winter.
Do you think you’ll have time for it all? We suspect you might not. Welcome to Sweden, all things Scandinavian You’ll want to plan some time.
Did you know that about 70% of Sweden is covered by wild forest, while the country is still the most populated one with a population approximately twice that of Norway, Finland and Denmark? And did you know that the Norwegian company Snøhetta who were commissioned to design the only building in the NYC September 11 Memorial Plaza also designed the Treehotel cabin The 7th Room in the middle of the Lappish wilderness?