Sweden has been at peace, maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. The union with Norway was peacefully dissolved in 1905, leading to Sweden’s current borders. Though it was formally neutral through both world wars, Sweden engaged in humanitarian efforts, such as taking in refugees from German-occupied Europe.
Population: 9.7 million
Dialing code: +46
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. Swedes like to claim that Stockholm is a city that has all of the qualities and allures of a major international metropolis but few of its usual downsides. It’s a city where it’s easy and efficient to move around, where the air is fresh and the waters clean, with vast green areas permeating the city with plenty of space for everyone to roam freely. Few other places let you experience the pleasures and enchantments of nature, urban sophistication and cultural history, all in a single day
2. Kiruna, Lapland
Sharing the same latitude as central Greenland, Kiruna is Sweden’s northernmost town. It’s also the chief town of the largest commune in the country, which borders both Norway and Finland. The midnight sun is visible here from mid May to mid July. Originally a Lapp settlement, the town began to develop when mining of iron ore started around 1900. Incredibly, due to subsidence caused by mining, the entire city is being slowly moved northwest to the foot of the Luossavaara Mountain. The world’s first ever Ice Hotel at Jukkasjärvi is about 17 kilometers outside the city; Sweden’s highest mountain, Kebnekaise, is 90 kilometers west; and 95 kilometers northwest is Abisko National Park where the Lapland Railroad runs west to Narvik on the Norwegian coast.
3. Liseberg Theme Park, Gothenburg
Liseberg is one of the most popular destinations in Sweden and each year, the park lures more than three million visitors. It has a huge range of attractions, from children’s carousels and a fairy-tale castle to adrenalin-pumping rides for speed demons, bumper cars, and four roller coasters. The park stages concerts in summer too and it’s a real favorite with both Swedish families and visitors from abroad. At Christmas, the park hosts an excellent market. There are plenty of places to eat and beautiful flowers in bloom during the summer. For the best views in Gothenburg take a ride on the Big Wheel.
4. Visby, Gotland
Steeped in medieval history and brimming with ruined churches, the rose-entwined, walled town of Visby, on the island of Gotland, is a huge draw for visitors from around the world. Quaint cobblestone streets snake about the town, and when exploring, it’s all too easy to lose your sense of being in the modern world. Adorned with stepped gables, many medieval trading houses remain, as well as some timber buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Clearly, Visby’s reputation as ‘the pearl of the Baltic’ and UNESCO World Heritage Site status are both well deserved. A self-guided or guided tour of the magnificent walls, which date back some 700 years, is a must. Built into the structure are some 44 defensive towers, and the walls still bear the scars of attack in the form of two breaches. Direct flights are available from Stockholm and several other Swedish cities as well as excellent ferry links.
5. Vasa Museum
The Vasa Museum in Stockholm is Sweden’s most popular museum and now attracts around a million visitors annually. More than 20 million people have visited since the museum opened in 1990, and it’s not hard to see why. In 1628 the pride of the Swedish Imperial fleet, the Vasa battle ship, sank on its maiden voyage. The ship lay below the icy waters for more than three centuries until, in 1961, an incredibly ambitious salvage operation took place. Now visitors from across the world come to see this fascinating time capsule. The museum caters to tourists of all nationalities. A visit to the Vasa, which houses ten separate exhibitions, is a day out in itself.
Hours: Open Daily 10am-5pm (Wednesday 10am-8pm), September-May; 8.30am-6pm June-August
Admission: Adults SEK 130, Under 18s free
|Best Western Hotel Corallen||Gröndalsgatan 35, 572 35 Oskarshamn,Sweden||+46 491 76 81 81|
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