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Visiting Sweden feels like stepping into a glossy lifestyle magazine. The people are beautiful, interiors unashamedly design-led and the raw, unfettered natural beauty is undoubtedly one of the country's biggest selling points. Lose yourself in a lonely archipelago or try New Age Scandi cuisine in its sophisticated cities but above all, don't miss the chance to enjoy the great outdoors. A diverse country, Sweden is streets ahead in design and backed up by wonderful scenery and natural phenomena. No trip to Sweden would be complete without a visit to one of its vibrant cities;soak up some culture and enjoy a city break in cosmopolitan Stockholm, taste world-class cuisine in Gothenburg or explore Sweden's third largest city, Malmö, home to the only bridge in the world that connects two countries. Compared to other European countries, large parts of Sweden are uninhabited which makes exploring off the beaten track much more accessible. Discover the myriad islands in the south or head north to the forests and mountains of the ethereally beautiful region of Lapland. Home to the midnight sun in the summer and the mysterious Northern Lights in winter, you'll also find the indigenous Sami people in Sweden's most northerly towns. Whatever you decide to do, one thing's for sure: Sweden will not disappoint.
Sweden with A&K
Sweden has spawned the likes of IKEA and Abba, and Umea has been awarded the European Capital of Culture for 2014. This diverse country, streets ahead in design, is backed up by the most wonderful natural scenery and natural phenomena. Enjoy a short city break in Stockholm, Malmo or Gothenburg or adventures in Swedish Lapland or combine them both, whatever you decide Sweden will not disappoint. The objects you see and experience in the museums of Sweden cover everything from the diamond and gold dripping 'Tre Kronor' crown jewels to fermented herring, a delicacy from northern Sweden.
Northern Sweden, or more correctly Lappland, epitomises European wilderness at its best. Not only home to the midnight sun in summer and the spectacular Northern Lights in winter, Sweden's most northerly towns and villages are also home to the Sami people, the only indigenous people of Scandinavia to be recognised and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples. Gain a real insight into the Sami culture, and to life in Swedish Lapland, at the Ajtte Museum, where you can see everything from traditional Sami clothing and silverware to 400 year old shamans' drums. Other activities in the region include dog sledding in Abisko National Park, fly-fishing for arctic char (a local delicacy), hiking the King's Trail or perhaps just a bit of shopping and museum visiting, whatever takes your fancy. The cities of Lulea with the UNESCO Gammelstad Church Village and Kiruna are highlights of the Arctic Circle and provide a distinct contrast to the glamorous cities of the south.
Compared to other European countries, large parts of Sweden are uninhabited; this makes exploring off the beaten track much more accessible. Explore the forests and mountains in the north or the myriad of islands in the south. You will more than likely encounter the abundance of wildlife that resides here; track wolves and spot seals, observe brown bears as they forage through the forest or head out on a porpoise safari in Skåne.
No visit to Sweden would be complete without a visit to one of its vibrant cities. Taste world-class cuisine in Gothenburg and visit some of its many art museums boasting works by Munch, Zorn, PS Krøye and Carl Larsson amongst many other national-romantic Scandinavian artists from the late 19th century. Time on the water is second nature to most Swedes - Sweden has the most recreational boats per capita in World - and many people spend their summer sailing amid Stockholm's stunning archipelago of over 30,000 islands. Boat lovers will adore the Vasa Museum, which houses the only surviving 17th century ship with wooden sculptures, and is a definite must see. The southern city of Malmo is connected to Copenhagen by the only bridge in the world to connect two countries. Sweden's third largest city is home to Malmohus Castle, which displays the largest collection of 20th century Nordic art in Sweden, Stadsmuseet.
There is a lot more to Swedish cuisine than just meatballs and fish-shaped sweets. Stockholm's restaurants are a feast for the senses and many are now gaining Michelin recognition. The country is blessed with an abundance of excellent produce, including fish, mushrooms and berries coupled with oysters and lobster abound. Food is traditionally simple with a strong local influence. Sweden's most famous delicacies include lingonberry jam and the controversial Surströmming, the foul-smelling fermented sour Baltic herring. Be sure to experience the huge café culture in the small fishing villages of the Gothenburg region which will rival that of Italy or France.
Best time to be there
Best visited during the long summer days from May to September when the midnight sun brings 24 hours of daylight, ideal if you are planning to spend much of your time outdoors.
Despite the very cold winters, there is still a great deal to do and see, from husky sledding to ice hotel stays and, between November and March, the chance to witness the Northern Lights.
Stockholm, Malmo & Gothenburg
GMT + 2
Below are some of our suggested places to stay:
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I am most grateful for your (Nicola Wallington) guide selection. Our guide was knowledgable, patient, polite, considerate, perfect in German and can be highly recommended. It was a stroke of genius on your part to have him with us during the whole trip. We would have been lost without him.
- CE, Switzerland