Väsjöbacken is a small local hill in the northern suburbs of Stockholm. If you're looking for the Alps this is not the place to go, but if you're looking for somewhere to teach your children, or if you're looking for somewhere to go after work for a quick ski (this is what I used to do when I lived around the corner) or if you're looking for a place to go for a day when you're holidaying in Stockholm, then this is a great hill to try. The ski hire is excellent and the equipment if of the highest quality. There are minimal facilities beyond this, but that doesn't detract from the fun.
Sollentuna station + local bus routes
When I first went to the Stockholm archipelago I was left literally speechless by the sheer beauty of it and I still remember the trip to this day. There are many many ways to experience its sheer stunning beauty but by far the best in my opinion is from a boat, and even better is in a kayak, island hopping from spot to spot with your camping equipment.
This was my local lake when I lived in Stockholm. There are numerous great swimming spots along it's borders, but my favourite is the one very near the northern end on the northern shore, just along from Edsberg. It's great because you can jump in off some rocks for the plunge experience, there's a selection of grass and rocks to sit on and there's an easy entry point for those that don't want to jump in. Wild swimming as it should be.
There are better views in Stockholm, from Gondolen for example, and there are better settings for hotel bars - such as the Nobis on Norrmalmstorg.
But for grown up drinking, this bar simply cannot be beat. As part of one of Stockholm's hippest hotels, it's a place that concentrates on the details. An intriguing mix of classics and truly original recipes, all made with the best ingredients and just the right amount of theatre by staff who are friendly, knowledgeable and ready to suggest exactly what you should be trying next.
It's a wonderful place, and not to be missed.
The best thing to do when it's nippy is go for a long walk to get a flush in your cheeks then curl up in a cosy cafe and drink coffee. This is something the Swedes do very well and Stockholm, with its archipelagos, is the perfect place. The city is made for walking with its islands all manifesting a different kind of attitude from cobbled streets to the hipster hangouts of Sodermalm. My favourite cafe is Gildas Rum which looks a bit like it was interior designed by Helena Bonham Carter in terms of clashing eccentricity but that cakes are great, it's suitably cosy with big backed armchairs and if you sit at the window you overlook a little city park perfect for people watching.
Skånegatan 79 116 35 Stockholm, Sweden
Google map: bit.ly/StkNFe
The Museum of Spirits is a revamped version of an older museum, focusing on the history and culture of alcohol. The newly opened museum has three exciting exhibitions on show, and has a range of activities like wine and whisky tastings. Its a great place to visit, quite different from the majority of other museums. As a complement to their main exhibition, you can buy a tasting box with different kinds of flavoured vodka. The museum has an unbeatable setting: situated by the water at a little harbour in the middle of a green and leafy park. The real draw however is the restaurant and café. The restaurant menu is top notch, and the café does a cracking cinnamon bun and espresso. A class place for a glass of wine of a summers evening.
Easily Stockholm's finest lunch, in the most beautiful setting. Take the ferry from Slussen (return ticket costs about a tenner, leaves on the hour, trip takes 25 minutes) to Fjäderholmarna Island and go to the first restaurant on the left. It will appear incredibly busy but ask for a quiet table round the back, and if you're lucky you will have a whole sun terrace to yourself. Order smoked prawns to start and herring with mash and lingonberries for your main. Thank me later.
Rökeriet på Fjäderholmarna, 100 05 Stockholm
+46 8 716 50 88
Google map: bit.ly/MVtI3X
This lovely peaceful small guesthouse by a lake in the middle of the Swedish countryside is perfect for an idyllic break away from the crowds (not that there are many in Sweden!) The Dala-Floda Inn is in Dalarna county, supposedly the most 'Swedish' part of Sweden - it's chock full of beautiful lakes, pine and birch forests, and small red wooden cottages everywhere you look.
Evalotta, who runs the guesthouse with her husband Per, is the perfect host and had dozens of suggestions for day trips in the surrounding area, which has many interesting sights. In the evenings, you will be treated to a fantastic organic dinner, all with local produce, much of it from Evalotta's garden. There is also a great wine list with some really interesting organic and biodynamic wines.
The rooms are clean and simple Swedish style, and breakfast is delicious too! If it's warm enough, there is a swimming area just by the hotel where you can take a dip in the beautiful lake. There's also a sauna in the hotel, and one by the lake that you can pre-book.
If you want to experience 'real Sweden' and really relax, this is the perfect place.
Instead of getting a taxi for approx €60 or taking the Arlanda Express for approx €20-30, I'd recommend using the far cheaper public transport option.
There's a frequent bus from the terminal to a nearby station and a very pleasant train ride into the city centre.
The info desk in the airport are also very helpful and will point you in the right direction.
Google map: bit.ly/L7A0Nq
These beautiful islands, surrounded by a myriad of other tiny islands, just north of Gothenburg on Sweden's south west coast are so close you can virtually step from one to the other and yet are surprisingly different in landscape and even culture. Tjörn, the smaller of the two, is livelier and more cultural, with an internationally acclaimed Watercolour Art Gallery in Skärhamn and giant sculpture park in Pilane. Orust has yet to find its proper tourist mark but the landscape and stunning coastline more than make up for that lack. If live music is your thing then Slussens Pensionat, Sweden's Music Hotel, is well worth a visit. If you want a great place to cycle or kayak then the quiet roads and calm waters of this island make it ideal.
Orust is one of the larger islands of Sweden's south western archipelago, and it's a fantastic place to stay while visiting some of the smaller islands. Beautiful scenery, gentle rolling landscapes, a fantastic coastline, some great hotels and restaurants, and a favourable climate to boot. I love it all year round but if you want a relaxing family holiday with great swimming spots and watersport opportunities then head there in summer. Bear in mind that Swedish kids go back to school in mid August and a lot of places open for the season will close then.
Simply fantastic skiing and the most amazing tented BBQ-picnic spots all over the mountain. Breathtaking scenery and no French style lift queues. Having skied in Sweden it will take a lot of persuading to go back to the busy, concrete resorts in the Alps.
Google map: bit.ly/wvGTom
Top venue in Stockholm with all the best bands making a stop there, probably holds 400-500 and the crowd are right on top of the stage, prices pretty reasonable given its Sweden. We paid about £14 to see the Horrors who were superb. Drinks about £5.50 a beer, you can book in advance on line
Big hotel, that somehow retains the charm of a small boutique version, courteous staff, funky decor and decent rates. Breakfast was scrummy and it was a pleasant 10 minutes stroll to the centre
Rålambshovsleden 50 · Stockholm, 112 19 Sweden
Google map: bit.ly/y91AOd
The bright blue skies and startling snow and icy landscape during the day and a night sky lit by the incredible dancing Northern Lights takes your breath away. Four days of coming 'home' to the Retreat after a days husky driving, snowmobiling, cross country skiing or sledging was perfect - warm, cosy and intimate; lovely home cooked (mainly vegetarian) food; plenty of hot water and roaring log fires. Welcoming hosts, Mikael and Maya will arrange all the above and for those wanting something less adventurous there is, among other things, yoga, massage, cooking and felt making; and around Christmas time trips to visit Santa! With temperatures averaging -30 it is a real bonus that all the necessary Outerwear and boots are provided. We watched the Northern Lights 100yds from the guesthouse standing on the frozen Torne River with the snow laden forest stretching from the far bank towards Finland in the distance. A gem of a guesthouse in a remarkable setting.
I recommend the city of Stockholm, not only for its beauty but also for the mix of great shopping.
The Swedes are totally into fashion, H&M, hipster trends or uniform (black, black, black). But it is a city to be inspired of.
Most of all, I recommend Sodermalm, the south part of Stockholm with is total mix of affordable vintage, design furniture, catwalk brands and top end trainer shops and amazing cafes.
Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby (about 225 km SW of Stockholm) consists of “a theatre and theme park where visitors can experience characters from Astrid Lindgren’s books in their true settings. Everyone can meet the characters, they perform scenes from the books and improvise situations involving the children in the park”. Pippi remains a childhood favourite and who could resist seeing her come to life? While nearby you can also visit Astrid Lindgren’s childhood home, Näs, also in Vimmerby.
Prästgårdsgatan 24, 598 36 Vimmerby, Kalmar Län, Sweden
+46(0)492 76 95 82
Google map: bit.ly/qtVqJF
More details (and other children's literature destinations in Sweden) here: www.playingbythebook.net/2011/01/21/kidlit-destinations-in-sweden/
When you are walking through the parks in Stockholm, keep an eye out for allotments: they are nothing like the UK equivalents. More like small cottages with beautiful cottage gardens. Take a walk around, enjoy the atmosphere and the people taking a break from the city.
Tantolunden and Vitabergsparken, Sodermalm.
Google map: bit.ly/rmsE5i
This is the museum of the Nobel Prize Organisation. Not large or overly technical; very interactive, including videos and interviews describing why the work of particular winners was so significant. Particularly enjoyed the displays of items that had been donated. Check out the way the 2010 Physics Prize winners managed to achieve something no one thought was possible- there is hope for us all!
Walking in the late summer in Abisko, in the far north of Sweden, was a wonderful introduction to exploring the Swedish mountains. Suitable for novice walkers, families and experienced walkers, the Abisko region provides dramatic mountain scenery, Sami reindeer herds. beautiful autumnal flora and an opportunity to experience real wilderness.
A network of mountain huts provide overnight accommodation, cooking and camping facilities and an opportunity to meet fellow walkers.When we were there we found hut wardens baking fresh Swedish "bulla" for their guests and a mountain sauna fueled by a wood burning stove. During the war, these mountain huts were used by the resistance movement to cross into Norway. The network of huts can also be used in the winter months for long distance skiing.
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