Must see attractions in Southeastern Sweden

  • Top ChoiceSights in Visby

    Visby Sankta Maria Domkyrka

    Visby's church ruins contrast with the stoic and utterly awe-inspiring Sankta Maria kyrka. Built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and heavily touched up over the years, its whimsical towers are topped by baroque cupolas. Soak up the beautiful stained-glass windows, carved floor slabs and ornate carved reredos. The cathedral is used for intimate music concerts in summer. The best place to view the cathedral is from behind – climb all those stairs up the hillside for astounding views.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Kalmar Slott

    Fairy-tale turrets, a drawbridge, a foul dungeon and secret passages…Kalmar Slott has everything that a proper castle should. This dominant Renaissance stronghold was once the most important building in the land and is appropriately fortified outside and sumptuously furnished inside. You're free to wander around the castle as you please, but the engaging and fun hour-long guided tours (at least one a day, at 11.30am) included in your admission fee really help you appreciate the significance of this magnificent relic. Of the many highlights to be discovered, King Erik’s chamber is a real scene-stealer – Erik’s rivalry with his brother Johan was so great that he installed a secret passage in the loo! There’s also a superb suspended ceiling in the Golden Hall; mesmerising wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling marquetry in the Chequered Hall; an elaborate bed, stolen as war booty then carefully vandalised so that no Danish ghosts could haunt it; and a delightful chapel, one of Sweden’s most wanted for weddings. Visiting exhibitions add to the whole experience.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Öland

    Solliden Palace

    Sweden’s most famous ‘summer house’, Solliden Palace, 2.5km south of Borgholm town centre, is still used by the Swedish royals. Its exceptional gardens are open to the public and are well worth a wander. The idyllic cafe is ideal for a post-garden break.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Visby

    Gotlands Museum

    Gotlands Museum is one of the mightiest regional museums in Sweden. While highlights include amazing 8th-century, pre-Viking picture stones, human skeletons from chambered tombs and medieval wooden sculptures, the star turn is the legendary Spillings treasure horde. At 70kg it’s the world’s largest booty of preserved silver treasure. The museum is excellently laid out and explanations are in English as well as Swedish. Read about how the Black Death ravaged the island in 1350, about the Vikings' old Norse religion, about the fossils and coral reefs that surround the island, and about the astonishing 1999 discovery of all that silver on a farm in northern Gotland. A combination ticket (160kr) includes entry to the nearby Konstmuseet.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gotland

    Bergmancenter

    The Bergmancenter, honouring Sweden's most famous film director, the late Ingmar Bergman, a Fårö local, was inaugurated in 2014 and hosts exhibits, lectures, workshops and screenings, as well as a library and cafe. It's free to take a look around the centre but prices vary for screenings and special events. The centre can set you up with your very own Bergman guide of the area (125kr for one hour) or you can try a Bergman bus safari (tours every other Saturday in July and August from 3pm to 5pm, from 325kr) or during Bergman Week in late June.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Visby

    St Karins Kyrka

    One of the most stunning of Visby's medieval churches, it's often used for performances. In winter, local children skate on an artificial ice rink within the stone walls. Can you imagine?

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Blå Jungfrun National Park

    The Blå Jungfrun (Blue Maiden) National Park encompasses a 1km-long granite island also known as ‘Witches’ Mountain’ because, according to ancient folklore, this is where witches (continue to) gather on Maundy Thursday to meet the devil and talk shop. Charming. It's hard to imagine this by any stretch as you're gazing upon the fantastic scenery, gnarled trees, bird life and the big blue sea. But easier to picture when you come across the curious and somewhat creepy stone maze, Trojeborg. In 2014 a team of archaeologists visiting the island discovered evidence of ancient human life, similar to what has been found on nearby Öland and Gotland, including evidence of ritual practices that may lend credence to the myths about the island's pagan ties. It's said that if you remove a stone from Blå Jungfrun, you'll be cursed for eternity! Would you risk it? To get here without your own boat or broomstick, local launch M/S Solkust has summer sailings to the island that allows passengers about 3½ hours to explore. Contact Attraktiva Oskarshamn for the scoop.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Astrid Lindgrens Näs

    Astrid Lindgrens Näs is a fascinating cultural centre set on the farm in which Lindgren, author of the world-bestselling Pippi Longstocking books, grew up. There’s a permanent exhibition about the writer’s life and temporary exhibitions inspired by Lindgren’s stories and legacy. The real highlight are the 30-minute guided tours of Lindgren’s faithfully restored childhood home. Book in advance. Guides bring the place to life with entertaining anecdotes, which you can ponder over a decent coffee and a book at the centre’s cafe and gift shop, or just stoll around the beautiful gardens. When you’ve reached ginger-plait overload, wander down Storgatan for a fix of quaint 18th- and 19th-century wooden abodes.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gotland

    Stora Karlsö

    This remote island nature reserve is home to extensive bird life including thousands of guillemots and razorbills, as well as the maculinea arion (large blue butterfly). For nature-lovers, it's well worth the travel time needed to get there. You can visit the island as a day trip (with 3½ hours ashore) or stay overnight. From Klintehamn harbour, catch the passenger-only Klintehamn-Stora Karlsö Farje to the nature reserve one to three times daily from May to early September (adult/six to 15 years return 345/155kr, 30 minutes).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Husqvarna Fabriksmuseum

    Square-jawed men going hunting while their wives snuggle up to sewing machines: the Husqvarna Fabriksmuseum conjures up a vivid 1950s world and while that world might not be a picture of gender equality today, it is nonetheless intrinsic to our histories. This atmospheric museum in Huskvarna charts the company’s rise as an arms manufacturer before diverting into more wholesome developments such as motorbikes, microwaves and sewing machines. It's got a wonderfully authentic feel – fans of retro design could spend hours here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Glasriket

    Kosta Glassworks

    The site of one of Sweden's original glassworks, established in 1742, the Kosta Boda complex continues to reel in coachloads of visitors. It’s touristy, but the combination of gallery, glass-blowing demonstrations, eateries, and discount retail offerings, combined with the stunning Kosta Boda Art Hotel make it an attractive package. Book and begin 30-minute guided tours of the facility (50kr) from the Kosta Boda Art Gallery.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Östergötland

    Vadstena Slott

    Overlooking the lake, and considered one of the finest early Renaissance buildings in the Nordic region, construction commenced on Vadstena Slott, the family project of the early Vasa kings, in 1545. View their gloomy portraits inside, along with a modest historical display. The furnished upper floors are the most interesting, and be sure to visit the chapel, with its incredible 17-second echo! There are guided tours (in English, adult/child 130/90kr) from mid-July to mid-September; call ahead for times.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Öland

    Borgholms Slott

    Northern Europe’s largest ruined castle, Borgholms Slott looms just south of town. This epic limestone structure was burnt and abandoned early in the 18th century, after life as a dyeworks. There’s a great museum inside and a nature reserve nearby, as well as summer concerts, children’s activities and a cafe. Guided tours are recommended but must be booked in advance and aren't cheap at 400kr per person.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Glass Factory

    If you visit one place in the Glasriket, come to the Glass Factory on the site of the former Boda factory. The project houses Scandinavia's largest collection of art glass (more than 30,000) pieces and a variety of exhibitions narrating the history of the Swedish glassblowing tradition. You'll also see traditional glassblowers at work, then can try your hand at the delicate art in the 'Hot Shop'.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Malerås

    This eponymous factory in Malerås, 23km from Kosta, is the collaboration of acclaimed artist Mats Jonasson and four other glassblowing talents who produce original pieces ranging in style from kitsch to classic. Watch the artists at work, shop for pieces or try your hand at the craft (400kr). Up to three glassblowing exhibitions are offered daily.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Ekenäs Slott

    Built between 1630 and 1644, this is one of the best-preserved Renaissance castles in Sweden. Features include three spectacular towers, a moat, and furnishings from the 17th to 19th centuries. It’s located 20km east of Linköping; you’ll need your own transport to get here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Gotland

    Gotska Sandön

    Isolated Gotska Sandön, with an area of 37 sq km, is an unusual island with lighthouses at its three corners, 30km of beaches, sand dunes, pine forest and a church. There’s a fantastic network of trails right around the island. Contact Gotska Sandön Accommodation to book the basic but rustic beds that are available on the island: bring all supplies with you. Gotska Sandön Ferries run from Fårösund and Nynäshamn three to four times weekly when operating (895/1095kr return from Fårösund/Nynäshamn).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Gamla Linköping

    Located 2km west of the city, this is one of the biggest living-museum villages in Sweden. It’s a gorgeous combo of cobbled streets, picket-fenced gardens and around 90 19th-century houses. Just 300m through the forest is Valla Fritidsområde, a recreation area with domestic animals, a children’s playground, minigolf, small museums and vintage abodes. Highlights at Gamla Linköping include about a dozen themed museums (most free, with various opening times), an artisan shop, horse and carriage rides and even a small chocolate factory.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Småland

    Upptech

    Jönköping's science museum makes for an interesting and fun day out for inquisitive adults, though it's definitely geared towards the younger generation. The impressive 1.7-sq-km of hands-on exhibits includes a Lego Mindstorm area (programmable Lego bots!) and a miniature electric-car driving course for youngsters. Although the language is predominantly Swedish, most exhibits are quite hands-on in approach and challenge the visitor to 'figure things out'. If you get stuck, friendly staff speak beautiful English.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Visby

    Norderport

    The northern gate of Visby's city wall is a good entry point if you're short on time. Follow the wall in a southwesterly direction until you find the tallest rampart, ( Langa Lisa – six storeys high), and then continue on past the Maiden tower and the Love gate (holding someone special's hand?) until you reach the gunpowder store called Kruttornet – that's the oldest section of the ramparts, built around 1150.