With its cobbled streets, higgledy-piggledy houses and flourishing flower gardens, Västerås’ old town is an utter delight. But Sweden’s sixth-largest city is a place of two halves: head just a few blocks southeast and you’ll find modern shopping centres, industrial overloads and sprawling suburbs that bear no resemblance to the teeny lanes and crafts shops you’ve left behind. Indeed, if you're approaching the city from this direction, don't let initial appearances dismay – looking a little deeper will reveal some of Sweden's top museums, restaurants and attractions dotted throughout the city and in the surrounding countryside.
Västerås is also a handy base for exploring Mälaren lake and important pagan sites nearby and is the site of Sweden's newest (and zaniest) indoor water park and some of Sweden's most unusual places to lay your head.
All in all, quite the surprising package, really. Three cheers for the underdog!