Sweden is a land that invokes a plethora of mental images tied to its rich culture and history, stretching from its modern progressive society to the dreaded nightmare of dragonboats creeping up the waterways of medieval Europe. The country’s reputation is well deserved and offers a host of uniquely Scandinavian sights for the discerning traveler.
The capital city of Sweden, Stockholm stretches back at least into the 13th century and is one of the most popular destinations in Sweden. Located at the meeting point between the Baltic Sea and the country’s third largest lake, Stockholm stretches across a series of 14 islands in an archipelago that stretches out from the city for 60 km (37 miles) along the coastline. While enjoying your stay in Stockholm, you should endeavor to visit the Royal Palace Drottningholm. The palace is the private residence of the Swedish royal family and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Baroque and English gardens are world renowned for their beauty and services are conducted in the palace church on the last Sunday of every month. Additionally, if you are visiting the city in the summer, the palace theater opens for annual opera festivals.
Before leaving Stockholm, head on down to the Vasa Museum for a maritime treasure that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world. Nestled on the island of Djurgården, the museum preserves an almost fully intact 17th century warship, the only one that has ever been salvaged. This 64 cannon ship named the Vasa sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The ship was previously held in a temporary warehouse, until the Swedish government commissioned the official museum to be built, which was completed in 1990. In addition to the recovered artifact of the Vasa are four other museum ships located in the harbor outside.
Viking History Day Tour
If historical sightseeing is your style, there is an amazing day tour that will take you out of Stockholm and through the Swedish countryside to locations of historical importance to the Viking societies of the late middle ages. Your guided tour will take you to Arkils Tingstad, site of the national parliament of Viking era Uppland. The site is located on the shores of a lake on the outskirts of Stockholm and is still marked by the stone gathering area and two runestones. The tour will also take you to the famous church of Vallentuna as well as other ruins of Sweden’s bygone era and lasts roughly eight hours.
While many travelers would prefer to visit Sweden in the warmer months, one of its most breathtaking wonders can only be found from the freezing cold of December until the warm thaws of April. The Ice Hotel was the first of its kind, and was first given form in 1990. Each year tons of ice are taken from the river and stored in a production hall, where it is shaped into everything from art, to the intricately carved walls and floors, to even the glasses and furniture in the hotel. Expert artists from around the world come together to create this once in a lifetime masterpiece of ephemeral art, that takes new form each year.
Not all of the beauty of Sweden is man-made however, and the province of Skåne is the perfect wilderness retreat for someone looking to connect with nature in the distinctly pure and unpolluted way that is characteristic of the Swedish countryside. This peninsula is in the southernmost part of the country and is split between ancient hardwood forests and vast tracks of agricultural land. Take your time as you wander through deep wooded groves and bathe in the moonlight along its sandy beaches and rolling plains to give a sense of completion to your tour.
Sweden is not the most expensive holiday destination to visit and there are always plenty of fast holiday loans available for those who need to borrow in order to get away. Pack your camera and set off to one of the most beautiful and pristine countries the world has to offer.