A Nordic adventure: Sweden

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Nestled safely between Norway and Finland rests Sweden, home of Ikea and the world famous singing group ABBA. While both of these things may have found a special place in your heart, there is so much more to Sweden! From the bustling city of Stockholm to the coastline, city slickers and beach bums alike will be able to enjoy this Nordic country.

Start your trip to Sweden in Stockholm. Not only is it the capital city, it’s also the most populous city in the Nordic countries and is perched on 14 islands  interconnected by many bridges. After arriving in Stockholm and marveling the waterways, head to the Royal Palace to see the city’s history in one of its finest buildings.   

The Royal Palace was built in Baroque style and is the official residence of the Royal Danish Court. It was built by Nicodemus Tessin and made to look like a Roman palace. With over 600 rooms, including a treasury, museum of medieval history and castle church, there’s certainly enough to see to keep everyone entertained.

For history buffs that enjoy spooky legends and tales of murders, the ghost walk is a great opportunity. For 90 minutes, a guide will regale you with tales of Stockholm’s darkest mysteries, assassinations and ghosts. Tours are offered in English and start at Gamla Stan, or the Old Town city center.

There’s so much history in Stockholm, that the palace and ghost tours just don’t cover it all. For a truly unique look into the past, visit the Vasa Museum, which houses the world’s only preserved 17th century ship. The Vasa ship sank in 1628 and rested in the Baltic Sea for 333 years. Today, you can see the salvaged warship in person and learn about how it was made, what life was like aboard the ship and how the ship resurfaced in 1961. The ship wasn’t ready for viewing overnight, and the museum sheds light onto the many hours of work put into restoring such a magnificent piece of history.

Learning all that history is likely to work up quite the appetite, so head to Tradition restaurant for some local Swedish cuisine It’s conveniently located next to the Royal Palace and uses only the highest quality ingredients in its dishes without breaking the bank. You’ll find menu items like steamed cod, Baltic herring and black pudding with salted pork. Don’t worry, Swedish meatballs are indeed on the menu!   

If you want to escape from the energetic city, head south to the coastal town of Ystad. For total relaxation, hotel Ystad Saltsjöbad is the place to be. This 120 year old hotel, spa and conference facility sits right on the beach and offers a multitude of spa services. For the best spa day, go to the new experience-based facility called The Creek. Geared toward awakening your senses, this facility is modeled after a rainforest and encompasses air, fire, soil and water. Don’t be surprised when you step into a room covered in plants with flowing waterfalls that’s pleasantly hot and humid. If this sounds a bit overwhelming, you can be just as relaxed during traditional spa services like facials and massages that are also offered.

Once your mind is clear and your body is rested, visit the town itself. Ystad features a medieval town square, cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. This charming town is full of culture, traditions and historical sites. Greyfriars Abbey is a sight to behold, as it is one of the most well preserved medieval monasteries in Sweden. The monastery was originally built in 1267 but was used for many different reasons. It has been a Franciscan monastery, poorhouse, distillery, granary and most recently, a museum of cultural history. There are three main buildings, including the church, gatehouse and a preserved wing, all made of red brick, which make up the monastery. The outside of the monastery has both a rose and herbal garden.

For the perfect meal while relaxing in Ystad, dine at Villa Strandvägen. This hotel restaurant combo was built in 1899 and features rustic, classic cuisine made with seasonal ingredients. From beef to duck, this restaurant offers both three and five course meals sure to satisfy all your cravings. Don’t forget to book a table, as this restaurant is in high demand! The friendly staff and dedicated chef make the experience that much more enjoyable.

Sweden has so much to offer, the possibilities are endless. Whether you decide to hit up the city and take in the history, or opt for a more relaxing time along the coast, you’ll leave Sweden wishing you had more time to stay. Add this amazing country to your Nordic adventure and start planning today!

 

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