Stockholm and its surrounds

  • 1 Week

This itinerary brings you the highlights of the area around the capital, including ruins from early Swedish history and a few suburban delights.

Start in Stockholm, where mandatory attractions include the Kungliga Slottet (Royal Palace), Gamla Stan (the lovely Old Town) and Skansen (a family-friendly open-air museum that's basically Sweden in miniature). Kick off with a short boat tour of the city's waterways. You can do all of those in a couple of days, which leaves an evening for enjoying some nightlife in Södermalm – try the clubs and bars in the SoFo district. On day three, visit a museum or two.

The next day, check out the cathedral and palace at Uppsala and delve into early Swedish history via the burial mounds and museum at Gamla Uppsala. On the way back, explore Sigtuna, with its old-fashioned buildings, adorable cafes and atmospheric church ruins. The following day, visit the sculpture museum at Millesgården, or make a pilgrimage to Greta Garbo’s memorial at Unesco-recognised cemetery Skogskyrkogården. Finally, take a leisurely boat ride out into the Stockholm archipelago, hopping off to explore one of the islands or even staying overnight if time allows.

Stockholm and Gothenburg

  • 2 Weeks

You can see a good stretch of Sweden in the space of two weeks. This itinerary makes its way through the heart of the country, taking in lush landscapes as well as the relics of industry.

To get a sense of the things that make the place so quintessentially Swedish, we suggest spending the first week of your trip exploring the sights in and around stylish capital Stockholm. Then, make your way west toward Gothenburg, Sweden’s so-called second city, a worthy destination in its own right. Take your time getting there – you’ll want to stop along the way to visit the lively college town of Örebro, tour its moat-protected castle and wander through the nearby Stadsparken, one of Sweden’s most beautiful city parks.

Continue heading southwest, between the huge inland lakes Vänern and Vättern, and into Gothenburg. This engaging city is easily worth a few days of exploration: visit its theme park and museums, notably the nostalgiafest that is Mölndals Museum, but don't neglect to do some Michelin-star dining and trend-focused shopping, perhaps in the attractive and well-preserved Haga district, Gothenburg’s oldest suburb. Take the whole clan along for the rides at the huge amusement park that is Liseberg, one of Sweden’s most visited tourist attractions. Pick up some picnic supplies at Feskekörka, a fish market shaped like a church, or settle in for some locally sourced, gourmet burgers at Restaurang 2112. And don’t miss the cool, retrofitted art space at Röda Sten, a gritty power-station-turned-gallery that exhibits some of the edgiest artwork around and has a range of evening events to boot.

Spend the rest of week two exploring the craggy coastline and rickety fishing villages of the Bohuslän Coast. Check out the Bronze Age rock carvings on the Tanum plain, then have a go at making sense of them with the help of the Vitlycke Museum. Cross the bridge from Stenungsund (on the Swedish mainland) to the island of Tjörn, a favourite of landscape artists and sailors alike. Wander the tiny villages admiring sailboats, have a summer barbecue on the deck of a youth hostel or make a meal of smoked fish from Åstols Rökeri.

Stockholm to Kiruna

  • 2 Weeks

The journey from Stockholm to the northernmost city in Sweden actually merits the term 'epic'. You’ll cross vast stretches that seem to be populated by nothing but reindeer. You’ll also see the fertile, forested breadbasket of the country.

From Stockholm head toward the lovely Lake Siljan region, home to carved wooden Dala horses, red-painted huts and hobbitlike villages. Spend a day or two hopping between Mora, Rättvik and Leksand.

Continue north, tacking east towards the Höga Kusten region for glorious scenery and cliffside hiking. From there, it’s an easy gulf-side journey up to the cool urban centres of Norrland: Umeå and Luleå. From Luleå, jag inland to Arvidsjaur for a dogsledding or snowmobile tour, and then on to Jokkmokk, whose Sami museum, Ájtte, mustn’t be missed.

Continue to Kiruna, outpost of the north, to explore some of the world’s last truly wild landscapes. Start with a hike in the accessible but vast and untamed Abisko National Park, a short train ride from Kiruna. From Kiruna, zip over to Jukkasjärvi for a look at the famed Icehotel and a chance to visit a Sami reindeer camp. Completists might opt to visit Karesuando, the northernmost village in Sweden.

Stockholm to Malmö

  • 3 Weeks

You can cover a lot of the southern part of Sweden in three weeks, including two of the most dynamic urban centres in Scandinavia – Malmö and Gothenburg – as well as some gorgeous coastline and fishing villages.

Start your journey in Stockholm. The wonderful capital city will hold your attention for as many days as you can devote to it. When it’s time to move on, head toward dynamic Gothenburg and its surrounding coastline, whose charms include pretty fishing villages and spectacular, otherworldly light. Make your way along the coast, jagging north to enjoy the eye candy in upscale Marstrand, then edging south to dodge mopeds in beachy Brännö.

Stop in at Varberg and see the preserved body of Bocksten Man displayed in its medieval fortress. Continue south to Lund, Sweden’s second-oldest town, with a striking cathedral and the great cafe culture that goes along with a large student population. Just south of here is Malmö, a diverse and lively city that sometimes feels more a part of neighbouring Denmark – no surprise, really, as Copenhagen is only a bridge away.