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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Sweden.

Visby – Gotland, Sweden

An Island Retreat Rich in Medieval History

It takes very little time to fall in love with Gotland, a mysterious sea-swept island in the middle of the stony gray Baltic off the southeast coast of Stockholm. The largest of Sweden’s islands (78 miles long), it is definitely not typically Swedish, although it officially became part of the nation in 1679. Once a strategic hub of Hanseatic trade in the Baltic Sea, Gotland today offers serenity and a landscape of lush meadows that are tapestries of orchids (thirty-five different varieties thrive here), poppies, and wildflowers.

You’ll also find desolate moorlands, stone walls, close to 100 unspoiled medieval country churches, and pristine farmlands that date back to the 6th-century Vikings (nowhere else in Sweden have so many Viking or medieval treasures been discovered).

Dramatic stone pillars, the island’s monumental “sea stacks” carved out of soft limestone by the wind and waves, dot a coastline marked by long empty beaches, tiny fishing villages, and steep cliffs. Gotland’s highlight is the once prominent Hanseatic town of Visby, a living shrine to the island’s 14th-century heyday when it was a country all its own and Visby boasted sixteen churches. Its defen­sive walls, more than 2 miles long with forty-four lookout towers, are some of the best preserved in Europe, often compared to those in Ávila, Spain, and Carcassonne, France.

During the summer, festivals come thick and fast, and Gotland finds itself at the forefront of Sweden’s artistic and cultural life (Ingmar Bergman lives and filmed here, on Gotland’s ancillary island of Farö in the north).

Book much in advance (preferably into the restored 19th-century Wisby Hotell, the nicest place on the island, located in the his­toric center) for August’s annual Medieval Week, when the townspeople go about their business in colorful gowns and velvet dou­blets, and minstrels and street theater bring the city back to its Hanseatic trading days when it was as vibrant, rich, and powerful as London or Paris.

  • a couple of years ago
  • Sweden

Göta Canal – Götaland, Sweden

Gliding Through Sweden’s Scenic Heartland

This four-day cruise among the 100,000 lakes of Sweden’s lake district is a highlight for boat lovers and those who fancy the chance to see Sweden at the romantic pace of times gone by.

The Göta Canal, the “Blue Ribbon” connecting Göteborg on the North Sea and Stockholm on the Baltic, was dug out by almost 60,000 soldiers, who removed more than 200 million cubic feet of earth and rock, creating fifty-eight locks. Century-old ships brimming with character traverse the 322 nautical miles via a series of canals and lakes and even a stretch of inland sea.

Canalside towpaths serve as bicycle paths, and land excursions to a number of small towns alternate on east and westbound trips, encouraging round-trip jour­neys. Gliding along, you’ll pass well-tended farms, monasteries, castles, and medieval churches.

The old-fashioned Soderkopings Brunn Inn makes it tempting to jump ship and stay a few days. The picturesque town of Soderkoping, a bustling trading center 1,000 years ago, was issued a royal charter in 1774 for its curative springs. Spa services are still avail­able, but most guests seem more enticed by the rambling hotel’s famous waffles and punch served on the long Victorian-style veranda.

  • a couple of years ago
  • Sweden