Sweden, with a population of 9 million people, beckons tourists with ornate architecture, open-air museums, forests, meadows and lakes. From Gamla Stan, the old town center, to the royal palace Drottningholm, to the vast archipelagos drawing you out of doors, Sweden has much to offer.
Drottningholm palace, home to the royal family, is a must-see historical landmark in Sweden's capital, Stockholm. Surrounded by formal gardens, the palace is open daily, and is also home to Drottningholm Slottsteater, a landmark theater. Kalmar Castle has a history that bridges over 800 years. To get a true taste of 16th-century history, consider attending one of the Renaissance dinners at the castle. Authentic dishes are served on replicas of dishes from the era. Another stunning palace to visit is Kungliga Slottet.
Visit Skansen, an open-air museum, to view homes and cottages on the Djurgården island and see a zoo stocked with Nordic animals. The Swedish Museum of National Antiquities traces Swedish history back 10,000 years, including the Stone Ages and medieval times; it has a collection of Viking paraphernalia with thousands of artifacts. The Nobel Prize Museum offers daily guided tours in English; it has rotating exhibitions, rooms for children, a bistro and a gift shop.
Consider taking a boat trip through Stockholm's archipelago. Thousands of islands begin in the center of Stockholm and stretch most of the way to Finland. Islands are medium sized, and can be rocky, sandy or green. Previously home to fishermen, the archipelago is now a popular tourist destination. One popular island to stop at is Fejan; a quarantine post during a 19th-century cholera epidemic, it is now a place to kayak. Finnhamn is another group of islands to check out for hiking and swimming. It has campgrounds, a hostel and a tavern, where you can rent boats and bikes to explore the island.
Visit Smaland, a southern province, for a glimpse of the natural landscape. Home to 5,000 lakes, many of which you can fish in, Smaland has many a landmark the nature lover cannot pass by -- not to mention it is the birthplace of IKEA and designer Bruno Mathsson. Many characters in Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren's books lived in Smaland. Whether you choose to pick mushrooms or berries, hike or fish, Smaland is the place to do so in Sweden.
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