by Meryl Hanmer
From every direction, the most inexplicably beautiful landscapes await in the sparsely populated Nordic country of Sweden. From the steep alpine peaks and flowing rivers in the north, to the rolling countryside and countless beaches in the south; from the alluring archipelagos in the east to the rocky coastline laden with hidden lakes in the west, Sweden cries out for the adventurous and nature loving alike. Few other countries can boast the same expressive power, with the summer bringing the midnight sun and the winter featuring the dancing display of the northern lights. Being consistently voted as one of the best countries in the world to live, Sweden is not only a country gifted with breath-taking landscapes but with peaceful and forward thinking citizens as well. As one of the most creatively thriving countries in the world, it is no surprise that the cities are as enchanting as the nature.
Commonly referred to as ‘beauty on water’, Stockholm is spread across fourteen islands connected by either bridges or ferries. The city’s historic core of ‘Gamla Stan’ is one of the most well preserved city centres in the world and the perfect starting point for any traveller. Stockholm is easy to explore either on foot or by boat and offers an injection of culture with the truly fascinating Vasa museum and Viking museum, which both lay on the green island of Djurgården.
Sweden is famed as a country for its close connection with the water, and Gothenburg is the country’s home for all things nautical. This walkable city is bursting with ships, aquariums and sea-related museums, all of which tell tales of the countries intriguing history of Viking pillaging and exploration. As a hub for culture and social events, Gothenburg gives the best opportunities for tourists and locals to come together and share experiences.
Sweden’s third largest city is home to Scandinavia’s tallest building, that elegantly twists its way skyward and overlooks the vast Öresund bridge which connects Sweden to Denmark. Malmo really is a city where old meets new, from the modern engineering to the thriving art scene and the majestic Thirteenth Century fortress.
Swedish cuisine is predominantly centred around cultured dairy products, bread, berries and various meats, with big differences depending on the region due to the large north-south expanse. For example, game dishes and reindeer meats are more common in the north of the country, often being served simply with vegetables. Whereas the south is more exploratory with flavours; meatballs served with lingonberry jam being an obvious traditional dish.
No article on Sweden is complete without reference to the highly important tradition of ‘fika’. Fundamental to the Swedish culture, fika is loosely translated to mean ‘coffee break’. It is a chance to pause the day’s activities, share coffee and pastries with friends or family, and profit from an intimate exchange of conversation. Fika is frequently hailed as an aid in preventing mental health issues from festering.