Sweden, which gave us the

Vikings, Abba, H&M, Ikea and the Nobel Prize, has many tourist attractions especially lakes — supposedly 100,000! The capital Stockholm is the gateway and where many attractions are found.

TOURISM HIGHLIGHTS

Visit the Vasa Museum to admire a wooden battleship dating back to 1628 plus the Abba Museum and Grona Lund Amusement Park, both located in Djurgarden Park (there’s also an open-air museum and zoo here).

Walk along the famous Skeppsbron (a street and a quay) to admire the fine buildings like the Stockholm Palace. The Nobel Prize is staged in Stockholm in the Concert Hall every December.

The Stockholm Archipelago (Skargarden) on the east coast includes some 24,000 islands that can be explored by ferry, private yacht or vintage steamer.

In summer, the Swedish travel here to stay in colourful wooden holiday homes and to enjoy outdoor adventures like kayaking and biking.


Stockholm view (CREDIT Ola Ericson imagebanksweden.se)

Gotland is an island in the Baltic Sea; and Sweden’s largest island (130km long) and home to rolling farmlands dating back to the Vikings, Medieval churches, summer festivals (Medieval Week in August) and a dramatic limestone coast. Especially visit Visby to admire its cobblestone streets and historic wooden buildings.

Enjoy a cruise along 322 nautical mile-long, man-made Gota Canal linking Goteborg (on the North Sea) to Stockholm (on the Baltic Sea).

Take a day trip by steamboat and return on the narrow gauge steam train to the 16th century, Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Svealand.

Enjoy the thrilling rides at Liseberg Theme Park in Gothenburg and for something cultural; admire the 12th century architecture of Lund Cathedral.

HIDDEN TOURISM GEMS

Parts of Sweden are north of the Arctic Circle where the sun doesn’t rise

from December to January but where reindeer safaris, fishing, dogsledding, cross-country skiing and visits to the native Sami people are possible.

Taking in the eerie Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Akerstrom is a rite of passage in this part of the world (the sun stays up until well after 9pm in summer in the middle of the year).

Head to Sweden’s northernmost town of Kiruna in Lapland close to the border with Norway and Finland and experience the midnight sun from May to mid-July. Ride the Lapland Railroad westward to Narvik on the Norwegian coast.

In winter, check into the Ice Hotel (obviously not permanent as it melts away each spring). It is located in the northern Swedish village of Jukkasjarvi (Norrland) and includes a sauna, bar, cinema and chapel all made of ice.


Ice Skating (CREDIT Helena Wahlman, imagebank.sweden.se)

Equally unusual is the Utter Inn at Lake Malaren that has only one tiny room which is 3m underwater - perfect for admiring the fish. Not far from the lake is the fairy-tale Drottningholm Palace located on Lovo Island and the official year-round home of the Swedish Royal Family built in 1622 (a 45-minute strumma boat tour from Stockholm).

Travel on SAS Airlines and use the efficient train system within the country.

Get more travel tips from Swedish Tourism (www.visitsweden.com). The Swedish krona is the currency used.

CULINARY DELIGHTS

Did someone say smorgasbord? The Swedes know a thing or two about the culinary art form they brought to the world. Herrings, smoke eel, shrimp, reindeer, Swedish meatballs and a multitude of berries (lingonberry and cloudberry) are other local specialities.

Yule table with gingerbread houses is a central part of the Christmas celebrations as are Xmas markets set up in most towns through December.


Christmas Market (CREDIT ola ericson imagebank.sweden.se)

In Stockholm, dine in the Operakallaren (within the Royal Opera House across from the Royal Palace), Esperanto and Frantzen (with Chef Bjorn Frantzen).

For what’s called hyper-Swedish dishes, head 600km north of the capital to Jamtland and Faviken Magasinet where Chef Magnus Nilsson is making diners sit up and pay attention.

Enjoy popular alcoholic beverages of aquavit, beer, vodka and schnapps especially in the hip bars located in the maze of backstreets in Stockholm.

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