Sweden is the largest Scandinavian country in Europe and like its Scandinavian brothers, offers fresh air, naturally stunning landscapes, and thousands of miles of unoccupied land. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous with vast expanses of forests, thousands of crystal clear lakes and small islands, rough mountains, and gentler seascapes.

Sweden’s history begins with the Vikings a millennium ago with their infamous raids across Europe. In the 17th century, Sweden established itself as a European power with imperial colonies in the Baltic North and with occupations over Polish and Russian lands. But the country saw its empire dwindle and its might decline in the 18th and 19th centuries. Sweden has had strong connections with its neighbors, Norway and Sweden, over the years, with each country having ruled over one or the other at various times. Today, Sweden is viewed as socially progressive welfare state known for its Volvos and IKEA furniture.

The top destinations in Sweden include Stockholm, Malmö, Gothenburg, Lund, Helsingborg, Arvidsjaur, Uppsala, Falkenberg, Sälen, Kungälv, and Trollhättan. The Baltic islands are also popular among tourists. The largest island in Sweden is Gotland where you’ll find a number of medieval churches and buildings. Gotland is also home to the Kingdom of Crystal, a small area made up of several municipalities between Stockholm and Malmö, displaying some of the finest glassworks in the world. Some of the municipalities with glassworks include Nybro, Emmaboda, Uppvidinge, and Lessebo. The larger glassworks have accompanying museums, and the more famous of the glassworks list Orrefors Glasbruk, Kosta, and Boda.

Like Norway, Sweden is all about embracing the recreational outdoors – engaging in activities like skiing, hiking, canoeing, cycling, and ice skating. The nightlife in Sweden, on the other hand, is less than stellar. The clubs and bars are very expensive and hard to get into. On the flip side, Sweden is home to the Absolut Vodka and serves some of the best vodkas in the world.

Except if you are looking to go skiing, snowmobiling, or dog-sledding, the best time to visit Sweden is obviously in the summer months between May to July, as it can get cold and wet or too hot (in August) in the other months. Since many Swedes go on vacation in the summer, there are some weeks in the summer unfortunately when stores and shops in some towns are shut down.