sweden Malmø
Travel

Virtual Travel to Sweden

I wrote a guest post some years ago, for a travel blogger, about a favourite place that I had visited. As we cannot travel irl, virtual travel will have to do today. there is some formatting errors as it is written with the old editor. (Who uses that now?)

Choosing a topic for my favourite holiday destination, was both easy and difficult. Easy because I knew it would be somewhere in Scandinavia, (for those who know me, I hear you mumbling an audible, “of course,”) but difficult because I could only pick one Scandinavian country.

Each region of Scandinavia has its own beauty, personality and appeal and it is hard to choose one over them all. In today’s case, Sweden won out. Tomorrow I am sure it will be Denmark, and the next: Norway……

Sweden, or ‘Sverige’ (pronounced in Swedish svair-ri-ah), is one of my all-time favourites to visit because it is full of Nordic vitality, culture and unique sights.

Don’t let the threat of a harsh winter put you off a winter vacation in Sweden, because the warmer jet stream ensures that the winters in Scandinavia are no worse, and even sometimes better, than the American or Canadian version.

 

IMG_8896

I enjoyed “fika” ( Swedish coffee and cake ) in a traditional Swedish cafe

In southern Sweden, you’ll find a fast-paced modernity in the large, cosmopolitan cities, like Stockholm and Malmø, but you will delight in finding they are also peppered with ‘old world’ charm.

The central area of the country is where rural Sweden and the philosophy of  ‘Ikea’ at its best, with rolling green hills, a dusting of snow in Winter and a countryside dotted with ‘Falun’ red cottages, barns, medieval farms and quaint churches, some with amazing, intricately-painted ceilings dating back to medieval times.

You’ll also see age-old Swedish traditions alive and kicking, from one end of the country all the way to the other.

From painted horses in Dalarna to summers with wild ‘surstromming,’ (fermented fish), or Crayfish parties, or relaxing lazily on the west coast resorts, where a tourist-driven, laid back lifestyle predominates. A local beach on the Bohuslan coast might be a lump of bare sun-soaked rock, striking, attractive, yet it is appealing and extremely popular to visitors and Swedes alike.

And don’t forget the far north, where a Swedish winter adventure might include viewing the northern lights, going dog sledding, snowmobiling or experiencing a mix of arctic and Sami culture that transforms a cold, dark winter into a snowy, white wonderland one might associate more with Santa Claus and his elves.

Dalahest - Traditional horses
Traditional painted horses from Dalarna in Sweden

You might ask:What made this place so memorable?’

The Swedish people themselves have a proud and varied history, are gregarious, hard-working and cannot go for more than a few hours without ‘Fika’: coffee and cake.

Just my kind of people!

You will find cafes and bakery everywhere serving Fika, and this experience coupled with a kanelbolle, or cinnamon bun, made my Swedish experience memorable.

So what are the top ten sights/activities for this destination?

1. Vasa MuseumStockholm:

See the ill-fated, triple-decked centuries old galleon that sank on its maiden voyage in the Stockholm harbour, replete with cannons, crew and gold-encrusted decorations.   Nearby is the Nordic Museum that is also worth a look.    

                                                            

Vasa Museum
Vasa Museum
Nordic Museum
Nordic Museum

IMG_02392. Skansen/Liseberg – Stockholm: an open-air museum with vintage Swedish houses, barns, dancing demonstrations and delicious traditional food. Stockholm’s Zoo is also located there, so if you yearn to see moose, reindeer, or a bear, you can do that when you visit Skansen.  Then, burn off the extra calories on the rides at neighbouring Liseberg, Stockholm’s oldest amusement park.

Skansen
Skansen – open air museum – Stockholm

         

 3. Gamla StanStockholm’s Old Town: a mecca for foodies. Commencing at the Royal palace, the “Old Town” consists of narrow alleyways, cute cafes, oh- so photogenic painted terrace houses, and shops full of traditional souvenirs to take home. Money exchanges/plenty of ATM’s are conveniently located here to help you on your mission!

Gamla Stan
Gamla Stan

 

 

  1. Radhuset Stockholm’s Town Hall: like a ‘mentos sweet’: plain and dull on the outside, magnificent on the inside. The Town Hall, built in the 1930s, is not only the venue for the Nobel Prize ceremonies; it has a Council chamber with a unique roof. The roof’s design was inspired by an upturned and decorated hull of a Viking longboat and the Town Hall also has a third reception room that is equivalent to an ancient Egyptian Pharoah’s temple. Surprising, and a definite ‘must-see’. Guided tours usually operate daily.town hall stockholmcity hall stockholm

 

  1. Stockholm archipelago – A leisurely boat trip past idyllic islands, the occasional fortress and stunningly beautiful nature. A photographer’s dream on a good day. Departs from Stockholm or Stromstad. Alternatively, if you are not a water baby:  the sites mentioned in the Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millenium’ trilogy are a great way to see more of Stockholm. There is an easy D.I.Y. walking tour of Stockholm. Maps available at the tourist office.

 

Stockholm
Stockholm

 

  1. Malmø – Skane, Southern Sweden: see the impressive “Turning torso” building, a feat of modern engineering; and Malmohus, a renaissance castle; as well as historic buildings in the Malmø Town Square including the Town Hall from 1547, Hotel Kramer and the old pharmacy: Apoteket. If you still have breath or run out of things to do, take a thirty-minute train ride and you are in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

Malmø
Malmøhus

 

  1. Ystad –Skane, Southern Sweden: trace Detective Kurt Wallander’s footsteps, (from Henning Mankell’s famous novels and TV series). There’s loads of half-timbered cottages with thatch roofs too.

 

  1. Stromstad –Bohuslan, a beachside town on the west coast – see the Town Hall with its quirky history, take in drop-dead gorgeous views out to the archipelago,  and try the must-have Buffet lunch at Lalaholmen hotel.  You SO don’t want to miss the dessert. But you may want to skip the ‘surstromming’, (a fermented very smelly fish)and just party in the lively atmosphere and long hours of daylight hours in summer, or use Stromstad as a launchpad, for a high-speed boat trip to spend a day in Norway. 

    Stromstad
    Stromstad
  1. Lappland: Skellefteaa – track and hunt wild reindeer in their native habitat, go sledding, skiing or snowmobiling, or see Sweden’s oldest wooden bridge, and an utterly impressive Domkirke Cathedral, (a place of pilgrimage for centuries) and the pilgrim’s traditional cottages nearby.

 reindeer tracking

Skellefteå

Skellefteå Domkirke
Skellefteaa Domkirke

 10. Catch a glimpse of the mysterious Northern lights, or ski from February to June at Riksgransen, where, if you are lucky you may see the testing of pre-production European model cars that occurs in spring on the, still frozen, Arctic lakes.

frozen lake sweden

 If I could go again I would…

Spend more time relaxing on the Bohuslan coast, on a long summer night, visit Gotland to see the Viking relics and feast on Swedish delicacies such as reindeer, cloudberries, salmon, ‘Vasterbotten’ cheese and ‘Filmjolk.’

IMG_0175 unter - swedish supermarket

Is a Swedish holiday for you? Something for you to ponder about?