Spotlight on: Sweden

27 July 2017

Visiting Sweden means ticking off many 'firsts'. The world's first ice hotel, a reside in a red cottage, riding a snowmobile, and seeing the awe-inspiring natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights can all be experienced from a diverse destination merging cosmopolitan delights with stripped back natural landscapes.



Capital and largest city:
Stockholm, containing 22% of the nation’s population

Population: 9.2 million, of which 85% live in metropolitan areas

Language: The official language of Sweden is Swedish, while many Swedes can also converse well in English  


Did you know

• The first ice hotel in the world was built near the Arctic Circle in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

• Sweden contain nearly 100,000 lakes over 100 metres by 100 metres, making up for 9% of its total landmass

• There is a golf club on the border between Sweden and Finland containing half the holes in one country and half in the other

• Capital Stockholm is built on 14 islands, with the city virtually situated on water

• The Royal Palace of Stockholm built in 1697 is considered one of the world’s largest palaces still in function

• Europe’s largest shopping mall is the Nordstan in Gothenburg, with 180 shops and 150 offices spanning over 320,000 m2

• Sweden ranks second in Europe after Finland for technological innovation


When to visit Sweden

Whether you’re planning on heading to the north or south of the nation, it’s commonly believed that May to September are the best months to visit Sweden. Summer temperatures are like that of the UK, although thankfully there are more hours of sunshine and crucially, much less rain.

Much of Sweden is blanketed by snow come October and November, with snow showers often lasting until traditional spring months of March and April. If you do want to visit Sweden in the winter months, it is advised to travel to the milder southern regions, with winter temperatures in the north falling as low as a chilly -30C.
The winter months can, however, be particularly appealing for those wishing to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, with the northern stretches providing the best vantage point for catching the Aurora Borealis on a clear night.


Landmarks

• Drottningholm Palace - Situated on the island of Lovö is the 17th Century, fairytale-esque Drottingholm Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site west of Stockholm city centre, and one of the few palaces in Europe still used as the official residence of the Royal Family.

• Stockholm Archipelago - Sweden’s answer to Venice exists within some 30,000 islands within Stockholm’s archipelago, making for a series of exciting tours and excursions to untouched isles offering a perfect vantage point of the city from a distance.

• Djurgården Park - Providing a variety of amenities and quirky museums, immerse yourself in a charming destination at its best during the Scandinavian summer months, with traditional cafes, restaurants and even hotels complementing visits to Abba the Museum and family friendly Gröna Lund amusement park.

• Ice Hotel at Jukkasjärvi - The world’s first ever ice hotel exists near Sweden’s northernmost town of Kiruna, and is regenerated every year using fresh layers of snow and ice. The spectacular natural phenomenon of the midnight sun can also be seen here from mid-May through to mid-July, and represents a great winter or Christmas period snow-sprinkled destination.
 
• Lund Cathedral – Sweden’s most frequented cathedral can be found in the southern province of Skåne, a more obvious statistic when you are faced with the grand Romanic structure and its famous twin towers, making up the oldest and most renowned Romanesque church in the country.

Things to do

Visit a music festival - Swedish music doesn’t begin and end with its ABBA legacy, with a host of international artists such as Zara Larsson, Robyn, and Avicii helping keep the rhythms flowing as the country celebrates a diverse range of genres at annual festivals such as Summerburst, Swedish Rock and Way out West.

Hike the Höga Kusten trail - Walking and hiking enthusiasts are spoilt for choice when visiting Sweden, with a host of hikes and trails including the famous Höga Kusten trail rewarded with scenic views of the Slåttdalskrevan coastline and forestry surrounds

Visit a Swedish castle - Medieval and history enthusiasts can visit an array of old castles in Sweden, particularly in the southern reaches of the country, with Kalmar Castle and Gripsholms Castle particularly appealing

Stay in a red cottage - Synonymous with Swedish identity and its peaceful culture are the red cottages dotted throughout the landscape, which are available to book for a stay in making for a memorable romantic or fun-packed adventure within the throes of Mother Earth  

Ride a snowmobile - A hugely popular pastime in Northern Sweden with its abundance of snow across many months, snowmobiling is a great way to get around and one of the most thrilling activities to try as a tourist in the country

Unwind in a sauna – Relax and rejuvenate mind and body by visiting a sauna during your stay in Sweden, with tradition dictating that you should take a bath in ice cold water or skinny dip in the snow before entering, although it is a healthy and revitalising experience whichever way you prefer to enjoy it   


Food and drink

• Swedish breakfasts in your hotel will often consist of a mixture of cheese, ham, sausage, egg, bread and sour-milk yoghurt

• Smorgasbords and buffet style feasts are common in Sweden, including an array of Baltic enthused dishes such as herring and smoked reindeer

• It is customary to begin a smorgasbord meal with seafood options such as raw pickled salmon, before moving on to cold meats and vegetable salads before hot dishes such as the famous Swedish meatballs

• Meal times tend to be 8-11am for continental breakfasts, midday to 2:30 pm for lunch, and 5:30pm until 8:30pm for dinner services

• Lunches tend not be overly lavish, generally consisting of one course, particularly when staying in larger towns

• Dinner is undoubtedly the main meal of the day, with menus spanning appetizers, main course, side dishes, and desserts

• A popular seafood dish includes kraftor (crayfish), eaten with the fingers and often entertaining to watch its consumption, found mostly when in season during August and September as a succulent delicacy well worth trying

• An increasing amount of vegetables and fruits are fundamental to the Swedish diet, with potatoes and fresh salads particularly abundant when dining in the larger cities

• The universal drink of Sweden is coffe, or kaffe, while Coca Cola is also ubiquitously available and Schnapps regularly accompanies smorgasbord meals  


Contact your Travel Counsellor today to find out more about this fantastic destination and to book your next getaway.

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