Bird’s-Eye Views of Stockholm: Where to Go to See the City from Above

Built on 14 islands at the junction of the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälaren, Stockholm is beautiful no matter how you look at it, but one of the best ways to get a feel for the city’s intricate maze of islands and waterways is to head to one of the viewing towers or scenic viewpoints where you can look down on Stockholm from above. Here are some of the best places to get a bird’s-eye view of the “Venice of the North.”

In Sweden, Easter is a Time for Witches

In the Christian calendar, the Thursday before Easter is a holy day that kicks off the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which culminates on Easter Sunday. In Sweden, it’s also a day when witches come out. Known in English as Maundy Thursday, the day is called Skärtorsdagen in Swedish — a name…

A Spring Spectacular: The Great Eurasian Crane Migration in Sweden

One of the surest signs of spring in Sweden is the arrival of tens of thousands of Eurasian cranes at Lake Hornborga (Hornborgasjön) in Västergötland, the most important stopover on their annual migration from Spain to their breeding grounds in the far north. The cranes typically begin to arrive around the second week of March,…

Gripsholm: A Renaissance Castle Steeped in Swedish History

In the pretty town of Mariefred on the southern shore of Lake Mälaren, just an hour southwest of Stockholm, sits one of Sweden’s most impressive castles, Gripsholm, constructed during the first half of the 16th century on the site of an earlier 14th-century fortress. Built in red brick with round towers, it has served as…

Döda Fallet: The Dramatic Story of Sweden’s Dead Falls

Once upon a time there was a waterfall known as Storforsen (the Great Rapids), which tumbled 35 meters (115 feet) out of Lake Ragunda along the Indalsälven river in Jämtland, Sweden. Yet in 1796, this mighty waterfall was silenced forever due to a combination of human interference and the power of nature. The site of one…

Unity and Conflict: Queen Margrete I and the Kalmar Union

The Middle Ages were a time of intermittent warfare in Scandinavia, with recurring power struggles and ever-shifting borders. Yet in the late 14th century, a remarkable woman, Queen Margrete I, managed to unite the three kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in what became known as the Kalmar Union. The decades leading up to this…

Raiders, Traders, and Settlers: A Brief History of the Vikings

“Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race, nor was it thought that such an inroad from the sea could happen. Behold the church of St. Cuthbert, splattered with the blood of the priests of God, despoiled of all its ornaments.” So wrote Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar…

The French Army Officer Who Became a Scandinavian King

In 1818, a Frenchman named Jean Baptiste Bernadotte ascended the Swedish throne as Karl XIV Johan. The new king was a career soldier whose life took an unexpected turn due to a combination of the Napoleonic Wars, the decline of Swedish power in the Baltic region, and the premature death of a Danish prince.

Free Museums in Stockholm

Stockholm has dozens of fascinating museums covering everything from history, archaeology, and natural history to art, architecture, design, and cultural traditions. Although admission to some of the city’s most famous attractions can quickly add up, especially for a family, there’s good news: There are plenty of museums in Stockholm that won’t break the bank. Here…

Sweden’s High Coast: A Masterpiece of Post-Glacial Uplift

In the province of Ångermanland, between Härnösand and Örnsköldsvik, lies one of Sweden’s most stunning stretches of coastline, known as Höga Kusten, or the High Coast. Thanks to its dramatic and varied landscape of mountains, forests, bays, and islands, the region was voted Sweden’s most beautiful natural area in a 2016 poll organized by Naturskyddsföreningen (the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation).

The Moose Man of Sweden

Leffe Lindh loves moose. He exchanges kisses with them daily and even sleeps with them on a regular basis. But lest you think this is some sort of kinky fetish story, allow me to explain.

Public Transportation in Stockholm: Getting to and around Sweden’s Capital

Stockholm has an excellent public transportation network of commuter trains, subways, and buses, making it easy to get around the city and its suburbs. For trips on the city’s abundant waterways, there are passenger ferries and excursion boats into the archipelago on the Baltic Sea side and into Lake Mälaren. The city also has extensive rail, bus, and air links to destinations throughout Sweden and beyond.

The Dala Horse Factories of Nusnäs: Where Sweden’s Most Famous Handicraft is Made

Few symbols of Sweden are more famous than the painted wooden Dala horses from the province of Dalarna, in the Swedish heartland. People have been carving wooden horses as toys and decorative items for hundreds of years, but it was in the early 1800s that the Dala horse began to take its classic shape, with bright colors and painted flowers. The production of Dala horses was localized to four villages outside Mora, especially the small community of Nusnäs, where they are still produced today.

On the Viking Trail through Scandinavia

A thousand years after Scandinavian raiders went a-Viking throughout Europe, their story continues to fascinate. The Viking legacy remains in the thousands of runestones scattered throughout Scandinavia, as well as in archaeological sites and museums where you can learn about how they lived, fought, and sailed the seas even beyond the boundaries of the known world.

A Walking Tour of Stockholm’s Old Town

No one knows exactly when people first settled the place now known as Stockholm, but the city was first mentioned in writing in 1252 in documents signed by the regent Birger Jarl and his son, King Valdemar. Walking through Gamla Stan is like walking through Swedish history.

Mine, All Mine! The Underground World of Sala Silver Mine

Deep underground at the Sala Silver Mine, my guide, Marcus, begins to sing. I close my eyes as the words of the psalm reverberate around me in the appropriately named Echo Chamber. There’s no other sound except this single voice bouncing off the soaring stone walls, 155 meters (more than 500 feet) beneath the surface. It’s unexpected and altogether magical.…

What to Read Before You Go: Scandinavian Crime

There must be something in the water in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark that helps authors write good mysteries, because Scandinavian crime writing has taken the world by storm. If you’re dreaming about an upcoming trip to Scandinavia—or reliving memories of a past visit—check out these authors. Stieg Larsson: Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the…

This Day in History: Swedish Traffic Switches Sides – September 3, 1967

You’ve heard of D-Day, but have you ever heard of Dagen H (Swedish for H Day)? H stands for Högertrafikomläggningen, or the Right-Hand Traffic Diversion. On Sunday, September 3, 1967, Sweden changed from driving on the left-hand side of the road to driving on the right. As you might imagine, this switch was anything but easy.