Year after year, Sweden ranks high on lists measuring quality of life, equality and happiness, making it a fantastic place to live. The country, known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, burgeoning foodie culture and picturesque Medieval towns, is a superb travel destination. Don’t miss these beautiful spots on your next visit.
Located in Sweden’s southernmost region, Skåne is a province perched on some of the most fertile soil in the world. Beautiful farms, forests and lakes decorate the land, on which there are nearly 300 castles and gardens from the 12th through 19th centuries. Fields of crops and flowers look endless on the flat, wide horizon, and the calm beaches on the coast are effortlessly inviting. Restaurants in the area serve farm-fresh vegetables, fruits and meats, with goose, eel, mushrooms and asparagus as regional delicacies. After a meal and a visit to the Sofiero Palace, take a walk on the Skåneleden Trail, a 1,000km (621mi) trek through the southern countryside, or opt for a bike ride through the well-signposted region.
The ski slopes in Åre are some of the most highly rated in the world. The town has a range of restaurants and shops in addition to entertainment options but most travellers visit for its excellent skiing conditions. The Åreskutan is home to Northern Europe’s greatest vertical drop and in the winter, visitors can enjoy well-lit night skiing expeditions, during which it is possible to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. For those looking for something even more adventurous, try a guided snowmobile safari.
The walled Medieval town of Visby has been called the Pearl of the Baltic, and its standing as a Unesco World Heritage site gives the old Viking town some well-deserved credit. Visby is the best-preserved fortified commercial city in Northern Europe according to Unesco and the walls are nearly 700 years old. Strewn with wild roses and centuries-old ruins, the quaint city has yet to adopt the modern, streamlined look of contemporary Scandinavia. Gorgeous, 100-year-old timber buildings line the twisting cobblestone streets. There is no need to worry about running out of ruins to see; Gotland is home to more than 90 churches, many of which were built before the 12th century.
Located up in Lapland, Abisko National Park is a prime location to set up camp and search for the Northern Lights. The Aurora Sky Station on Mount Nuolja, a mountain 900m (2952ft) above sea level in a nearly pitch-black area, is one of the world’s best viewing spots. In the summer, travellers can hike through forests, walk along Trollsjön – the clearest lake in Sweden – and go caving. The natural beauty can still be enjoyed in the winter when telemark skiing – traditional downhill skiing using cross-country skis – becomes popular. Ambitious explorers can also try out a dog sled or find a spot to ice fish. Spend the night in Abisko Mountain Station, a mountain lodge that has been used for more than a century.
The Göta Canal is a 190km (118mi) waterway that dates from the early 19th century. The canal links Stockholm in the northeast to Gothenburg in the southwest. Along this canal there are a total of 47 bridges and 58 locks. Enjoy a relaxing ride in a passenger cruise vessel or hire a boat and make your own tour. For those unskilled in the art of boating or looking for a cheaper way to view the stunning countryside, bicycles are available for hire along with guides for the canal area. The canal is open from May to September.
Take a historic outing in Sigtuna, Sweden’s oldest town. The idyllic city, located on Lake Mälaren in Uppland, north of Stockholm, was founded during the Viking era around AD 980. Despite its small size, Sigtuna is still allowed city status because of the historical significance of the area. The picturesque Medieval town centre is filled with craft shops, restaurants, charming cafés and other small boutique shops. Tour the Medieval churches, ruins and rune stones located around the city. St Mary’s Church, a brick Gothic building, is a great place to start.