***Stockholm, the spirited, handsome capital city has a medieval centre, a maze of waterways and plenty of activities. Stockholm Pictures Guide
Ferries around Stockholm are one of the pleasures of tourism in Sweden, either short trips upriver or further out into the Archipelago. (Get a boat pass).
***Take a ferry out to a few of Stockholm’s 24, 000 nearby islands known as The Archipelago – with varied attractions, harbours, parks, castles and beaches.
**Visit Vaxholm, an idyllic little town with castle, 1 hour from the city.
Sandhamn in winter by Arild Vagen.
*Sandhamn (Sandon) is popular among summer sailors, one and a half hours from Vaxholm.
***Mariefred, a peaceful town with wooden houses and narrow lanes, famous for its spectacular 16th century Gripsholm Castle. 1 hour by boat, 75km/47m by road from the city.
**Sigtuna, this small, tranquil town dating from AD 970 is the oldest town in Sweden. 46km/29m from the city.
**Uppsala, a quiet, ancient university town with the largest cathedral in Scandinavia and a few good museums. Forty minutes from the capital by train.
Goteborg port by moonlight. Photo by Amjad Sheik.
Outside the Stockholm area
**Gothenburg (Göteborg, West coast). Sweden’s largest port and arrival point for herds of tourist cars, Gothenburg is also an attractive, spacious, canal-crossed city with grand buildings from varied eras, fine cultural offerings including a stunning opera house and some excellent museums. Liseberg, a high quality amusement park will give the kiddies a break from culture overdose. nb. the road to Gothenburg from Stockholm is dead boring but the coast north of Gothenburg is rocky and appealing.
**Dalarna and Värmland Provinces (NW, adjacent to Norway, north of Göteborg): the best of traditional Swedish countryside, unspoilt forests, lakes (esp. Lake Siljan) and ancient villages retaining Swedish folk customs.
***Malmo (SW tip). Contains one of Europe’s most engaging medieval centres and a fast route to Copenhagen (Denmark) via a long bridge.
***Skane Province, SW. A beautiful rolling area of castles and windmills known as chateau country.
***Kalmar (SE island, connected to Oland island), another charming medieval town with a huge history and a fantastic castle.
Visby’s town walls, Gotland.
***Gotland (SE island). This large island in the Baltic Sea, 90km off Sweden’s east coast, provides some of Sweden’s best landscapes, sailing, relatively good weather, sandy beaches and the spectacular medieval walled town of ***Visby, with its 100 ancient churches and 3km wall. (A car is not needed, go by train and ferry)
**Beaches: Sweden’s south-west coast has many excellent beaches while the southeast islands of Gotland and Oland hosts restrained beach resorts and the country’s best climate. A lot of crystal-clear lakes are also swimmable if so posted. We don’t need to mention the water is cold?
**Lapland (far north), a massive, wild and unspoilt place of reindeer, mountains, waterfalls, forested valleys and roaring rivers peopled by the Sami (Lapps).
**Gammelstad ‘Church Village’, Lulea (Norbotten County, NE), a World Heritage Site of 424 tiny old wooden cottages built solely to accommodate visitors to the 15thC church.
Langholmsbadet beach near Stockholm at a slightly busy time. Photo by Holger Ellgaard.