Come summer, a holiday in Sweden beckons - the country's roadways and waterways alike unfurl into ranging expeditions through picturesque countryside. Similarly, cities come alive with renewed optimism as Swedes take to parks, fjords and rural hiking trails for a summer luxuriating in the sun.
Gothenburg – something of an undiscovered gem – hides 17th century canals, parks and botanical gardens among its multi-coloured rooftops and timeworn skyline. Neoclassical architecture lines its historic old city while concert halls, museums and theatres add a cultural dimensions. Highlights include the Mölndals Museum, which brings to life everyday objects from the 18th to the early 20th century. Equally overlooked are the delights of Malmö, now connected to Copenhagen via the staggering engineering achievement that is the Öresund Bridge. Enjoy Scandinavian design at its finest with trips to contemporary museums and the region’s tallest building. Or, settle into an artisanal café for excellent Nordic cuisine. Of course, in Sweden’s city gem – Stockholm – you’ll find a historic hub of cobblestone streets lined with royal palaces countered by experimental cuisine and forward-facing design principles.
A driving holiday in Sweden is idyllic. Start from Gothenburg for drives along the country’s scenic west coast through Ljungskile, a charming region whose rocky outcrops are spotted with old fishing villages. Stay in Fjallbacka, whose cobbled lanes and independent cafés give travellers a taste of the rural ideal along with some of the best seafood around. Then, continue your drive to the locks and rapids of the Gota Alv River where you’ll swap village stays for art-nouveau manors with Bjertorp Slott. Alternatively, start in Malmö, taking the scenic coastal road via Trelleborg to Ystad where you’ll stay in a spa hotel overlooking a sandy beach and its colourful huts. It’s also perfectly poised to combine the trip with a visit to nearby Copenhagen, Denmark.
For something different, head north to Swedish Lapland, where you’ll be able to experience one of the world’s most arresting visual phenomena. Here, the Midnight Sun sheds ethereal light on picturesque archipelagos where kayak tours bring you between untouched flora and fauna. You can also head into the surrounding countryside for mountain bike and hiking trails or simply take the opportunity to laze by the beach with a good book. Finish your visit with a stay in the inimitable Treehotel – a collection of canopy-strung treehouses that range from mirrored cubes to wooden ‘nests’. For some time on the water look to the Göta Canal. Tying together Gothenburg and Stockholm, it takes three days to wend past lakes, obelisks and castles along with endless rural vistas.