Swedish Lapland is ripe for hiking in summer
Swedish Lapland is ripe for hiking in summer

5 ways to spend summer in Sweden

Make the most of the midnight sun in Lapland or take a city break to one of Europe's coolest capitals

Chris Leadbeater
Monday 13 June 2016 13:51
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You could never accuse Sweden of lacking space. This vast slice of Scandinavia is the third biggest country in the European Union by area (173,860 square miles), but only the 14th largest by population (9.8 million). It stretches from a southerly latitude of 55°N (the same as Glasgow) to a top extremity of 69°N (the same as northern Alaska). It is, in effect, a colossal canvas for holidays – not least in summer, when the daylight never seems to fade and the scene is set for everything from city breaks to hiking tours.

Step into Stockholm

Scandinavia’s most populous city sits on the east coast, casting its spell across 14 separate islands on the cusp of the Baltic. Its beauty is encapsulated by Gamla Stan, its Old Town, whose 13th-century origins are readily visible in the Storkyrkan cathedral. In contrast, the Moderna Museet (modernamuseet.se; free) is decidedly contemporary – a fabulous gallery with a host of 21st-century artworks, plus pieces by Picasso and Dali. Three-night stays at the five-star Nobis hotel start at £819 per person, with flights, transfers and breakfast, via Kirker Holidays (kirkerholidays.com).

Grab a glimpse of Gothenburg

Stockholm’s west-coast rival is one of Europe’s loveliest second cities. Gothenburg is not huge, but it makes for intriguing weekends. Its Museum of Art (konstmuseum.goteborg.se; 40 krona/£3.50) is strong on Nordic painters, with art by Edvard Munch and Carl Larsson. And Liseberg (liseberg.com; day-passes SEK440/£37) is Scandinavia’s biggest amusement park – a whirl of ferris wheels and wooden rollercoasters. A three-night break at the Clarion Hotel Post, the city’s grand former central post office (built in 1925), costs from £296 per person, B&B, with flights from Heathrow on 14 July, through British Airways Holidays (ba.com/holidays).

Gothenburg's waterfront

Slip into the south

Sweden is scarcely busy – but if you want to sample it at its quietest, then Skane, its southernmost county, lives life at a whisper. Beyond Malmo, the capital, the rest of the region is a bucolic enclave of medieval castles, gentle hills, leafy orchards and lonely beaches. Discover The World (discover-the-world.co.uk) offers Discovering Skane – a seven-night fly-drive package, available between May and September, which explores the area at an unhurried pace. From £999 per person with flights, hotels and car.

Calm down in the Kosters

Just off the west coast, 100 miles north of Gothenburg (accessible from the city by train to Stromstad), the Koster Islands are archetypal Sweden – twin outcrops (North and South Koster), awash with clean air and fresh seafood, where cars are banned and days of cycling await. Better still, the islands’ shorelines, and the waters around them, are protected as Kosterhavet National Park – a haven where sea birds soar. Simply Sweden (simplysweden.co.uk) sells seven-day summer trips to the archipelago from £1050 per person, with flights, transfers and breakfast.

Ekenas, Koster Islands

Leap into Lapland

A snowy playground in winter, Swedish Lapland (swedishlapland.com) is an oasis in summer – particularly for active visitors. The Kungsleden (King’s Trail) is a case in point – a 270-mile walking route which flashes south between Abisko (almost on the Norwegian border) and the village of Hemavan. Nature Travels (naturetravels.co.uk) runs guided hikes which tackle the northernmost section of the path, including the part that curves past Kebnekaise – a rocky beast which, at 6882ft (2098m), is Sweden’s tallest mountain. Three Midnight Sun Tours are scheduled to depart in the coming weeks (26 June; 2 and 8 July) – from £782 per person, excluding international travel. Scandinavian Airlines (flysas.com) serves nearby Kiruna from Heathrow, Edinburgh and Manchester via Stockholm.

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