This pleasant town by Lake Storsjon, in whose chilly waters is said to lurk a rarely sighted monster, is a relaxed and scenic gateway town for further explorations of Norrland. It's remote enough that if you are approaching by car, you can expect to see almost as many reindeer as cars. The town dates from 1786 and was a lucrative trading centre.
Today, its appeal lies in its air of relaxation: in summer, people flock to the terrace bars and cafes of this Unesco-designated 'city of gastronomy', or wander the pedestrianised shopping streets in the stroll-friendly centre. One of the best ways to appreciate Östersund is to take the footbridge across to the adjacent island of Frösön and gaze back at the city in profile, ideally around sunset. Seen in that light, this fun-loving university town is hard to resist.