Skåne (Scania) is Sweden at its most continental. Connected to Denmark by bridge, its trademark mix of manors, gingerbread-style abodes and delicate, deciduous forests are a constant reminder that central Europe is just beyond the horizon. Dominating the scene is metropolitan Malmö, defined by its cosmopolitan culture and striking, twisting tower.
Uppsala & Central Sweden
This area, the birthplace of Sweden, offers the visitor much evidence of the region’s long history, including rune stones so plentiful you’re likely to stumble over a few. Pre-Viking burial mounds in Gamla Uppsala light the imaginations of myth-builders and history buffs.
Though often caught in Stockholm’s shadow, gregarious, chilled-out Göteborg actually has greater appeal for many visitors (and resident Swedes) than the fast-paced capital. Some of the country’s finest talent hails from the streets of this cosmopolitan port, including music icons José González and Soundtrack of Our Lives.
The region of Småland is one of dense forests, glinting lakes and bare marshlands. Historically it served as a buffer zone between the Swedes and Danes; the eastern and southern coasts in particular witnessed territorial tussles. Today it’s better known for the Glasriket (Kingdom of Glass), a sparsely populated area in the central southeast dotted with crystal workshops.
Sweden’s third-largest city has a progressive contemporary feel. Home to Scandinavia's tallest building, beautiful parks, edgy contemporary museums and some seriously good cuisine, the opening of the Öresund bridge in 2000 has also been undeniably positive, connecting the city to bigger, cooler Copenhagen and creating a dynamic new urban conglomeration.
Östergötland harbours gems on both sides of the Göta Canal, which threads diagonally across the region. Along its banks, the region’s main towns are mostly 19th-century industrial heartlands, laced with some impressive postindustrial conversions. The region’s west, bordered by the mighty lake Vättern, is a treat of flat, lush countryside steeped in ancient history.