In The Land of the Dragon Tattoo
It looks as though many more of us visited Sweden last year than the year before and mostly that is due to the impact of Stieg Larsson’s crime novels. He has a fictional town of Hedeby which some believe is the northern city of Ostersund. So Swedish tour operators have been quick to offer tours of this city.
But most still visit the capital, Stockholm and easily accessible cities like Gothenburg, Malmo, and Uppsala.
Stockholm has four airports but for visitors, Arlanda is the preferred being just 20 minutes from the middle of the city by fast rail. (Bromma is closer in distance, but apart from Brussels, it serves only other Scandinavian destinations.)
Two things stand out for me on my visits there-the Vasa, a seventeenth-century ship that has been restored and is housed in its own museum and the other is the archipelago. Stockholm is built on an island so a ferry service operates between the thirteen that make up the city. But the archipelago is much bigger and there are 25 boats carrying over 4 million passengers per year. On the tours, you’ll pass uninhabited islands, islands where people have holiday homes and smaller skerries big enough just for you to have your own personal spot. It is claimed there are 30,000 islands but who counts? It does make up the largest archipelago in the world. And in winter large chunks freeze over and some people skate between them. And this is a place to see seals, sea-eagles and other bird life.
Don’t be put off by the fact that Gothenburg is Scandinavia’s largest port. It supplies its heritage as well but it’s not the busy, grimy place that some ports are. Go down to the Haga area where the old timber houses are or to Liseberg where the huge (20,000 acres) amusement park is. Or to Klippen, once the home of breweries and foundries but which today is a trendy eating and crafts area. There are very strong links between the city and the UK and in particular the Scots; there are English churches there, porter wine was introduced by us and engineers helped build the canals. At one stage, there were two places out of twelve places on the local council just for the Scots!
Uppsala is a university city so, despite the fact that t is one of the most historic cities in the country, it has a youthful appeal derived from the presence of so many students. There is no airport but it is about an hour from the middle of Stockholm. If you fly, make sure your flight goes to Arlanda rather than Skavsta or Vasteras. Both are a long way from the city (and from Stockholm!) Whilst there, the cathedral is a must being the biggest in Sweden and to see it all you need do is look up. It really is one building that can’t be missed! The castle is the other dominating sight. Rebuilt after a huge fire in the early 1700’s, today it also houses an art museum as well as being the regional government base.
Malmo, in the south, is linked to Copenhagen in Denmark via the Oresund Bridge so many visitors choose to use Copenhagen Airport as the entry point. In summer this becomes a beach resort as Swedes come to what they call Sweden’s Copacabana. Not a lot of people know that, as the saying goes. In many ways, the city is modern but it still retains its historic heart. Now though, the wharves have been redeveloped and an array of restaurants has mushroomed.
For the visitor, Sweden makes a different destination. There are ideal cities for short-breaks and there are regional air services to the country as well as London ones. And low-cost airlines fly there ( but be aware of where they land.)
For more information about Sweden click here