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If you begin your travels through Sweden in Stockholm, you will find the city's 14 main islands and surrounding archipelago are an intriguing mix of churches, palaces, museums, nightclubs, and bohemian atmosphere, connected by charming bridges and canals. Those looking for a Mamma Mia moment will find it in the local museum dedicated in entirety to ABBA. With over 100 languages spoken here, Malmo is the undisputed multicultural capital of Sweden, where its funky architecture and modern art galleries show off a more relaxed and fun-loving side of Swedish life. Gothenburg or Göteborg's attractions range from the Liseberg amusement park, countless museums, four-hundred-year-old fortresses and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Away from the cities, head to Gotland, where locals go to enjoy the sandy beaches or explore the many historic sites and ruins scattered across the island. To get a sense of Sweden's beautiful university towns, stop by Uppsala, Linkoping, or Umea before heading up to the famous Ice Hotel at Jukkasjärvi. The Vikings are long gone, but you can still find burial mounds and rune stones across the country and head to the Viking museums to look at some well-preserved artifacts up-close.
Outdoorsy types will love Sweden's untouched beauty in the wilderness of Lapland, where some Sami tribes still remain, but there are very few other settlements besides. Winter sports are an obvious draw, but the water sports, cycling, and trekking trails are great during the summer months too.
Sampling Sweden's Absolut Vodka is a good way to start the evening's festivities after a meal of herring, elk steak, or a traditional Smörgåsbord. But if you're after something a little lighter, spiced Swedish snaps or beers are also available.
International flights to Sweden are most likely to land in the South of the country to airports at Stockholm (ARN) and Gothenburg (GOT). Major international airlines such as Air Canada, Delta, Swiss, British Airways, KLM, and Air France fly to Canada via one or more stopovers. There are smaller airports at Stockholm (NYO and BMA), Gothenburg (GSE), Karstad (KSD), Kiruna (KRN), and Malmo (MMX) which deal with a limited amount of regional flights, charter flights, and budget airline traffic.
Canadian visitors can get the best deals on airfares by travelling via a US city such as New York, or via London, Copenhagen, or Reykjavik. The Öresund bridge connects Denmark to Malmo in the southern Sweden.
It may be a part of the Nordic countries but Sweden is not as cold as you might think it is —it's quite possible to sit out at night and get a tan under the midnight sun. The winters are cold, but shorter in the central and southern regions of the country, while the summer days have 19 hours of sun and temperatures averaging 22°C. In the Northeast, winters are harsh, but summers can also be quite warm at an average of 18°C and in the far North, the summers are short and winters very long, with snow ever-present on the high altitude areas.
Sweden is rather expensive so booking your trip in the non-peak seasons will help to cut down on your expenses. The period from May to September has the best weather, although June and July are peak seasons for the mosquitoes, so it's best to come well prepared. June to August are also peak tourist periods when locals and foreigners are on vacation, so try and book your trip for May or September. If you're there for winter sports, November to end-March or April is a good time to visit, with the exception of the peak period around Christmas and the New Year. Remember that daylight recedes the further north you go, so the odds are that you'll be in the dark for most of your visit.