Gotenberg - Sweden

Gotenberg Crest of Sweden

Sweden  is a large, geographically varied and strangely little-known country whose sense of space is one of its best features. Away from the relatively densely populated south, travelling without seeing a soul is not uncommon. The south and southwest of the country are gently undulating, picturesque holiday lands, long-disputed Danish territory, and fringed with some of Europe's finest beaches. The west coast harbors a host of historic ports - Gotenburg , Helsingborg and Malmö , which is now linked by bridge to Copenhagen - while off the southeast coast, the Baltic islands of Öland and Gotland are the country's most hyped resorts, supporting a lazy beach-life to match that of the best southern European spots but without the hotel blocks and crowds.

Made up of three islands, Stockholm's Gamla Stan, or old town, is home to the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral and the Melditsmuseum, which has historical reconstructions of the city in its medieval underground tunnels.

Lund
Lund is the most laid-back, eccentric city of Sweden's south. Its twelfth-century cathedral drips with atmosphere - legend has it that the stone figures that grip the pillars in the crypt are the mythological Finn the Giant and his wife, frozen as they tried to tear the building down.

Stockholm , the capital, is the country's supreme attraction, a bundle of islands housing monumental architecture, fine museums and the country's most active culture and nightlife. The two university towns, Lund and Uppsala, demand a visit too, while, moving northwards, Gävle and Gällivare both make justified demands on your time. This area, central and northern Sweden, is the country of tourist brochures: great swathes of forest, inexhaustible lakes - around 96,000 - and some of the best wilderness hiking in Europe. Two train routes link it with the south. The eastern run, close to the Bothnian coast , passes old wood-built towns and planned new ones, and ferry ports for connections to Finland. In the centre, the trains of the Inlandsbanan strike off through lakelands and mountains, clearing reindeer off the track as they go. The routes meet in Sweden's far north - home of the Sami, the oldest indigenous Scandinavian people.

 

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Stockholm Gamla Stan
Made up of three islands, Stockholm's Gamla Stan, or old town, is home to the Royal Palace, Stockholm Cathedral and the Melditsmuseum, which has historical reconstructions of the city in its medieval underground tunnels.

Lund
Lund is the most laid-back, eccentric city of Sweden's south. Its twelfth-century cathedral drips with atmosphere - legend has it that the stone figures that grip the pillars in the crypt are the mythological Finn the Giant and his wife, frozen as they tried to tear the building down.

Gotland
Visby, capital of the wild Baltic island of Gotland, was one of medieval Europe's most powerful cities. Now it throbs with young Swedes set to party - but not far beyond its crumbling city walls are wonderful stretches of empty beach and unexplored countryside.

Gothenburg - Gotenberg
Gothenburg is the place to go for a taste of student radicalism. The scruffy cafés and restaurants around Haga Nygatan and Linnégatan are not only cheap, but have a caffeine-fuelled political effervecence rare in modern Europe.

Inlandsbanan
Sweden is blessed with two excellent train journies: the Inlandsbanan that wends its way from Östersund through picturesque Dalarna to Gällivare in the Arctic Circle, and the train which goes from Gällivare through the mountains to Narvik in Norway - a truly breathtaking experience.

Ystad
Ystad, on the south coast, has to be Sweden's prettiest town, with its seventeenth- and eighteenth-century pastel buildings set along narrow, cobbled streets. In fact, apart from the busy international harbour, there are few modern eyesores.

The Stockholm to Turku Ferry
The ferry from Stockholm to Turku in Finland is legendary. Also known as the "party boat", it is full of Swedes and Finns hell bent on getting as drunk as possible, duty free. Do not attempt this trip sober.

Camping
Practically every Swedish town and village has a campsite, and camping is a pleasant alternative to hostels during the summer, but if you don't fancy shelling out for a pitch, Swedish law allows you to camp rough - as long as you don't make a nuisance of yourself.

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