The country's focal point is its capital, Stockholm, itself a jumping-off place for the remarkable beauty of the archipelago that lies to its east. On the west coast, Göteborg (Gothenburg) is Sweden's standout second city. To its north lies Bohuslän, to the south the Swedish Riviera: two coastal regions that buzz with life in the summer months. Sweden's southern tip is home to a lovely mix of farmland, forests, and châteaus, and includes the regions of Skåne, Småland ("The Kingdom of Glass"), and the island of Öland. Dalarna, the country's heartland, is centered on Lake Siljan and the town of Mora; this is where Swedish folklore and traditions are most visible.
Stockholm. Built on 14 small islands, the city is an intriguing mix of global commerce and local craft, modern design and ancient architecture, bustling metropolis and peaceful green space. In the summer months, life takes to the streets—and to the water. Summer is also a great time to take in what some say is Stockholm's best attraction: its mixed, modern, self-assured, beautiful population. People-watching has never been more fun.
Side Trips from Stockholm. On Stockholm's doorstep is one of the world's most beautiful archipelagoes; with more than 25,000 islands fringing the city, it's easy for everyone to find a space to call their own, even on the weekend when city dwellers flock here by the thousands. Farther afield is Gotland, whose Viking remains, unspoiled wilderness, and busy summer social life make for a holiday paradise. To the north of Stockholm is Uppsala, home to one of Europe's oldest seats of learning.
Göteborg (Gothenburg). Göteborg uses its position to its advantage. From as far back as Viking times the city has been a hub of international trade. Today Göteborg is a thriving, commercial, cosmopolitan place with a cultural and architectural status far beyond what you'd expect from its size. Its people remain down to earth, though, and have a reputation for being particularly funny and vibrant.
Bohuslän. Though this traditional nonadministrative province stretches directly north from civilized Göteborg, it couldn't feel farther away. The rugged, rocky coastline of Bohuslän is stunning in its wild natural beauty. Pastel-painted fishing villages, clinging for dear life to the exposed rocks, are a haven for summer sailors, tourists, and locals. Be sure to sample this region's extraordinary seafood out on one of its many boardwalks.
Swedish Riviera. Much like its more famous French and Italian namesakes, this is where Sweden's wealthy and beautiful come to rub shoulders and top up their tans. Unlike its namesakes, there's room for everyone on mile upon mile of glorious sandy beach. Inland, you'll find relics of a less genteel Swedish past; the region's medieval fortifications tell tales of centuries of bloody battles with neighboring Danes.
The South and the Kingdom of Glass. Dense beech forests and sun-dappled lakes are the lifeblood of Småland's isolated villages whose names are bywords for fine crystal glassware: Kosta, Orrefors, and Boda. Further south, the landscape opens up in Skåne where lush farmland, rolling coastal headlands, seemingly endless sandy beaches and the delightful city of Malmö are the main draw.
Dalarna: The Folklore District. Dalarna is Sweden's spiritual heartland and the focal point of most of the country's myth, symbolism and tradition. The region is centered on Lake Siljan, bordered by a road that takes you through beautiful forests and ancient villages with red painted farmhouses. Along the way, take in the places and landscapes that inspired Sweden's myths and legends—as well as Sweden's national symbol, the wooden Dala horse.
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