The midnight sun, snowy winters, meatballs, herring, Vikings and Volvos, ABBA and the Hives – whatever your pre-existing notions about Sweden may be a visit to this multifaceted country is required to confirm and confuse both them. Although it is unlikely that the bank was received by a crowd of drinkers of mead Berserkers in Viking ships, the evidence of the Vikings and their days of looting is easy to find. A walk in the Swedish field usually leads to a picnic in a burial mound of the ancient king. Cycling routes often pass through fields crowned tombstones shaped boat. In the cities and along highways, rune stones firmly declared the historical equivalent of “Ingmar was here.” But Sweden as a nation warlike days are gone. Instead, national and international policies serve as models of neutrality and consensus building. This is, after all, the birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize. Today’s travelers are more likely to be murdered by visions of pastoral beauty – intense green, impenetrable forests, red booths on remote islands, and everywhere, as you know the clear blue water of Sweden.
This does not mean that all the excitement ended for thousands of years – far from it. While tradition reigns in places like Dalarna in the Swedish heartland and the Sami in the north, much of Sweden today vibrates with a contemporary energy. A wave of immigration in recent years has added sparkle and variety to the cultural milieu. Urban centers such as Stockholm, Göteborg (aka Gothenburg) and Malmö consistently churn out cultural artifacts for an international audience (think IKEA, H & M, Absolut Vodka). The island of Gotland, situated approximately midway between Sweden and Latvia, is the richest history of Sweden, but also has a hip party atmosphere. Travelers come to Sweden for both clubs and pioneering flash new restaurants that do it for walks and visits to factories wild wooden horse.
In short, try the meatballs and dig the Vikings, but do not stop there – the story is not so.
An exceptionally attractive and rewarding place to hike, the 75 square kilometers, Abisko National Park extends from the southern shore of scenic Lake Torneträsk. It is less resistant than any of Sarek or Padjelanta, and easier to get, well served by trains, buses and scenic mountain highway between Kiruna to Narvik.