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The best Northern Lights in 50 years (and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo mania to boot)

Word of Mouth"Mariefred on Lake Malaren is easily reached by boat from Stockholm," writes Fodorite Midnightsun. "You can stay in the Gripsholm Vardshus, which boasts of being the oldest continuously operating inn in Sweden. It's a very pretty place with a relaxed feel . . . The town of Mariefred itself is a friendly and quaint sort of place."

Why Go NowThis year will be the best time in over 50 years to see the Northern Lights, as the start of the solar maxim kindles skies over Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada, and Alaska. The timing of the lights, coupled with Hollywood’s recent spotlight on Sweden thanks to the U.S. film version of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, make Sweden our top choice to experience the phenomenon in 2012. Start your trip in Stockholm, then head north to Swedish Lapland (reckoned to be the general whereabouts of fictional Hedestad) to take in the glowing night skies from a treetop perch at Sweden’s inimitable wilderness hotel.

Where to StayTreehotel in Swedish Lapland, just miles from the Arctic Circle, cultivates exemplary, sustainable Scandinavian design amidst the majesty of surrounding pine forests; the mirrored cube room perched in a treetop is the standout. In Stockholm, the 201-room Nobis Hotel shows off contemporary Swedish style in a wintry color scheme. See more Stockholm hotel reviews.

Insider TipConsult auroral forecasts when booking your trip.

When to GoTravel in October, February, and March for longer nights.

Plan Your TripVisit Fodor's Sweden Travel Guide for the latest hotel, restaurant, and shopping reviews in Stockholm and beyond. Also, read about the Top 10 Places to See the Northern Lights.

Photo: Arild Heitmann/iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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