Stockholm is widely celebrated not only as the capital of Scandinavia, but also as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, built where lake meets sea, on fourteen islands, with ten centuries of history and culture. The Swedish Royal Capital is also widely known for its remarkable modernity, progressiveness and trend sensitivity in everything from lifestyle to fashion, design, food and drink and usage of new technology. The combination of magnificent scenery, ancient history and tradition, and a pervasive innovative spirit combine to give Stockholm its truly exceptional character and charm.
The Stockholm Archipelago
One of the most fantastic parts of Stockholm and Sweden is still a secret for many — the magnificent Stockholm archipelago. This maritime landscape of more than 30,000 islands, islets and skerries, of which just some one thousand are inhabited, is unique in the world both in summer and winter.
City breaks don’t often come more perfect than they do in small, beautiful Gothenburg, the capital of West Sweden. Here you can discover quaint canals, the cobbled streets of historical Haga and countless green open spaces, including Sweden’s biggest botanical garden, boasting over 16,000 species. Immerse yourself in the Swedish lifestyle, soaking up the buzzing outdoor café culture with ‘fika’ (a break for coffee and a sweet bun) or indulge in the intriguing food markets, impressive museums and multitude of enticing restaurants — five with Michelin stars, including the most recent addition to the list, Thörnströms Kök. What’s more, there’s the city archipelago right on Gothenburg’s doorstep — easy to reach via a half-hour tram ride and a short passenger ferry trip.
Malmö is the biggest city in Skåne and a multi-cultural place full of energy. In recent years, Malmö has developed into an exciting city with a focus on cultural offerings, innovative architecture and a strong organic social character. Malmö was certified as Sweden’s first Fairtrade City in 2006 and this has spurred the city’s organic and fair trade offerings. In Malmö, it’s easy to shop with a clear conscience and to enjoy ethically produced food and drink. Here, you can dine at one of Sweden’s most acclaimed organic restaurants and shop for the latest fashions made with the environment and ethics clearly in mind.
Located in Jukkasjärv, ICEHOTEL is the world’s largest hotel made of ice and show. The 5,500 square meter complex includes an Ice church and an Icebar. It is constructed anew every November-December and melts in April-May, but you can, of course, visit the area all year round. ICEHOTEL’s accommodation features snow rooms, ice rooms and Art suites. Additionally, guests may book a wide range of snowmobile excursions such as Arctic Trail that takes one through the wilderness trails of Swedish Lapland’s aboriginal people, the Sami, whose life is integrally tied to reindeer migration. Fishing for char, trout and grayling, sauna and dinner programs, ice driving, moose watching, ice sculpting, Northern Lights viewing, and dog sled safaris are just a few more of ICEHOTEL’s tour options.
Sweden’s first Marine National Park, Kosterhavet is centred around the car-free Koster Islands, only a two-hour drive up the lovely coast from Gothenburg. Once on the Kosters, you’ll see small fishing villages surrounded by an amazingly beautiful landscape, with many different plants and flowers. The appeal focuses on the unique seaside location, with beaches, rocky islands and the enchanting ‘Koster light’, which has inspired many artists on the island. You can rent bikes and enjoy a guided tour or a boat trip to see this marine wonderland. It’s the perfect environment for lobster safaris during the region’s renowned Shellfish Journey, as well as seal safaris, diving and sea kayaking.
Located only an hour’s drive from Gothenburg, Marstrand island is Sweden’s version of Hollywood as the playground of royalty and celebrities, boasting a rich, intriguing history. Enjoy an impressive vista from grand Carlsten’s Fortress, looking down upon the island’s colourful collection of wooden holiday homes and sailing boats of all shapes and sizes, alongside rugged rocks and the navy-blue ocean. Stay at the former residence of King Oscar II, Grand Hotel Marstrand, or the new Havshotellet Marstrand, just opposite the island, which has a superb spa (designed to reflect its natural coastal setting, with treatments to match) and a restaurant that lets guests watch the sunset over the island.
No other city in Scandinavia and few cities in Europe can boast such a complete and ‘living’ picture of bygone days as Ystad. Many of the 300 half-timbered houses and other buildings bustle with restaurants and shops, and picturesque corners are alive with surprises and bargains.
Skåne’s wonderful nature is a holiday paradise in more ways than one. Here, you can indulge in fantastic views and exciting natural phenomena as well as complete silence and tranquillity, long, light evenings and the luxury of walking on a path in the middle of the forest all by yourself.
Skåne is a province of contrasts. It has vast forests with light and airy deciduous trees and many forest-clad ridges that rise above the landscape. There are glorious fields with fertile soil and, like the peninsula that Skåne actually is, wonderful, chalk-white beaches stretching along the different seas.
Visby is Gotland’s gateway, as it has been for centuries. Sitting on the west coast of Gotland, the port city of Visby has a long history stretching back to the Middle Ages, when it was prosperous member of the Hanseatic League, a medieval trading alliance in northern Europe. Relics of this past exist to this day, most notably the Ringmuren, a two-mile medieval stone wall that encircles the city. The wall and Visby’s many other preserved medieval structures have earned its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.