After our stay in Gothenburg, we rented a car and drove up to Läckö Slott. It is a medieval castle in Sweden, located on Kållandsö island on Lake Vänern, 25 kilometers north of Lidköping in Västergötland, Sweden.
It took us about two hours to drive there from Gothenburg.
Läckö castle has a long, sorted past with over 20 owners since 1298. It had really served as more of a trophy than a real battle castle. Kings would award the property to their most noble knights or generals. Each owner added a little more to the castle. Now it is owned by the Swedish government and is preserved and displayed for the public.
It is well presented and worthy of your time. They have restored some of the rooms with more recent 18th century furniture and art.
We stayed at the Naturum, which is conveniently located right on the castle grounds. It was a pretty good place. But book far in advance as there are only about 20 or so rooms. After our stay there, we headed towards Kebalvägen and the Strömstad Spa & Resort. But we made a couple of stops along the way.
Uddevalla Strandpromenaden (the Uddevalla beach walk)
Along the way, we decided to make a stop here to see for ourselves how spectacular this walk was. This is said to be one of the best walks in Sweden. It took us about an hour and a half to get there in the car. It is worth a little detour if you’re in the area. But keep in mind, this is just a very small segment of a much larger trail.
The beach promenade is a total of 9.3 km long and can be divided into three parts: the forest part, the city part and the beach part. It starts at the more than 10,000-year-old seashell banks in Kuröd and then extends via central Uddevalla all the way to the bathing place at Lindesnäs. Along the way there are many interesting places and beautiful views to see.
Above, you can see, this part of the path is suspended above the water and held by anchors in the side of the cliff. Masterful engineering and construction. The other picture is the same part of the walkway from afar.
The path leads to the cute little town of Uddevalla. We had a nice, cozy lunch sitting outside at the Cafe Snäckan. It was very relaxing to just sit and watch the ocean while eating. Once we finished there, we retraced our steps back to the car.
After the trail, we stopped at Litselby. Here you can see some authentic rock carvings, some dating back to 3000 BC. The carvings were added to throughout time, with the newer ones being from the viking era, 0-900 AD. The red ink was added so that you could see the carvings better.
You can toodle around in that area and see a few other displays of the caveman’s Facebook.
Now this is the place you want to go towards the end of your vacation. You can rest and unwind in style and luxury. The bar and restaurant are top notch, and the service is probably the best in Sweden. It actually rained the day we were here, so we took advantage of the spa services and it was fantastic! Of course, all this glitz and and glamor is going to set you back a bit more than the other places, but it was within reason for what you get and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
And that was the end of this segment. After our stay at the Strömstad (two nights), we drove back to Gothenburg, then stayed one more night there before taking the train back to Stockholm.
If you missed out Gothenburg tour, you can see it by clicking here.
Thanks for tagging along. Be safe and, see you out there.…
When I first started writing articles about Sweden over four years ago, I always felt obligated to include the Swedish notation on important words in the article. Gothenburg, for example, which is Göteborg in Swedish. And for some reason, this always felt a little pretentious.
But now we have been living in beautiful Sweden for over four years and we even own our flat and have learned a lot of the language. Now it feels wrong to use the English version of these words! Hell, I am even typing this on a Swedish keyboard! Anyway, I just thought I would share that tidbit of insightful trivia.
A word about the pandemic: There is no requirement to wear masks in Sweden (and generally, people don’t), but most of our activities were outside. Buildings like museums and aquariums were strictly controlled in terms of social distancing and how many people were allowed in the building at any given time. If there was a place inside of a building that required people to stand close together, that attraction was closed. Restaurants and bars adhered to the 3m distance guideline. This was not just in the Gothenburg area, but throughout Sweden. Everyone was offered free masks on the three hour train ride ( we had our own). The place where you are at the most risk is on the buses and trams, where social distancing isn’t feasible and there is no mask requirement. But taxis, Ubers, scooters, and bikes are always viable options.
I have one more thing to let you in on before we go. I have employed my programming prowess to make things a little simpler for you. This article is a little on the long side, so I have created some hyperlinks below that will instantly teleport you to that part of the article. So if you’re a traveler scanning through blogs for pertinent information about the area, click on the links below. The rest of you, however, are required to read the article in full…..
The City Sites – Canal tours, Botanical Gardens, the Palm House, Universeum
The Food – notable restaurants we enjoyed while in Gothenburg
Vinga Island – I threw this in as a bonus trip, check it out!
THE RETURN OF The Travelin’ Man!!
Wow, it has been a quite a while since we did any significant travel. Since the pandemic, we have canceled our trip to Denmark and our trip to the US. We also had three of our friends scheduled to come see us, who also had to cancel.
But sitting around and comparing which sanitizer is best and trying to stockpile paper towels and toilet paper just isn’t in our DNA (although I do prefer the flat one, leak-proof, fits in any pocket – ugh). So while international travel is gridlocked with the virus, we decided to broaden our travel experience within Sweden. This time, we are making the jump out to the west coast.
We have done quite a bit of travel within Sweden, most of which is documented on my blog (see the links below). There was a trip to Skåne, in which the Travelin’ Man did not participate. We also did a small, three day weekend a few weeks ago in the archipelago, also not documented. I regret not telling you about those trips, they were both awesome!
You may recall these previous trips we did in Sweden that I did do articles for you (hyperlinks below):
We love the SJ train systems in Sweden, but this time we took a different line. We took the MTRX train from Stockholm to Gothenburg. It was around three hours, departing Stockholm at 11:47am and arriving in Gothenburg at 3:15pm. There were three stops along the way, and the scenery was, of course, beautiful. But otherwise an uneventful leg of the journey. The MTRX line was a tad cushier than the SJ line, but otherwise, they seemed the same to me. The tickets were 700 SEK each, round trip, which is around 80 USD. There isn’t much of a price difference between the two lines.
No matter where you stay in Gothenburg, it’s not likely that you will be able to get everywhere you want to go by shoe. Requiring the bus and/or tram is inevitable. You should download the app “västtrafik to go”. If you are reading this on an Apple device, try clicking here to download the app. This will allow you to get an immediate ticket, or an extended one for a day or more. It will create a QR/barcode on your screen that their scanners can read.
Refer to the map, above. You can see the rough approximation of the train trip in red. I also circled Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo, Sweden for your reference. Note that Oslo and Copenhagen are hyperlinked so you can go check out those articles in a separate page. Those blue markers you see on the map were all places that We went on this trip.
The City Sights
Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden, the first being Stockholm. But the two could not be further apart in culture and feel. Stockholm has a stately feel. Traditional, refined, and very cultural from a Swedish standpoint. Gothenburg, on the other hand, feels very European, but honestly, I didn’t even feel like I was in Sweden. It has more of a devil-may-care, laid-back, and independent aura about it. Even the architecture of the buildings and the city layout is different from Stockholm. So if you live in Stockholm and are looking for a “getaway “, this fits the bill quite nicely.
Gothenburg caters to shopping and eating, and both activities are well represented here. Nice restaurants with outdoor seating and cool taverns line both sides of the streets in the main area of town. It feels young, vibrant, and very friendly.
We came during the summer, at the end of July. The temperatures in Gothenburg was a warm 65-70 F (18-21 C). There was an occasional light, cooling wind. I wore a short sleeve shirt with an over shirt that I could take on and off to regulate and it worked out well. And of course, I never leave home without my trusty hat.
For each location that we visit, I will include a small header that has the street address, telephone number, and a google reference. When you click on the google reference, it will open the location in your google map and bring up a nice description of the location.
This is a must see attraction for Gothenburg. From their website:“Explore Universeum. Animals, nature, chemistry, technology and fun experiments under one roof in the heart of Gothenburg.”
But sadly, we weren’t able to get in. Due to the pandemic, you have to book in advance on their website. But they only allow so many bookings per day and their quota was full the day we had planned to go. But on the bright site, this will give us a major attraction to see when we come back!
When we weren’t able to get in the Universeum, we rode the tram back to the botanical gardens. The entry was free, and they have public restrooms. We spent around an hour and a half walking around here, and we still didn’t see quite everything.
This place is an example of the tenacious outdoor beauty that is Sweden in the summer. For a place with such long, cold and dark winters, you would never expect such thriving, vibrant flowers and shrubbery.
They had a separate area dedicated to food farming. You know, corn, lettuce, watermelon, etc. It was very well done and they had some amazing things growing in there. It was just interesting in an almost-apocalyptic/survival sort of way.
Sure, it’s an extremely touristy thing to do, but what can I say, we love a good boat ride! This one lasts about an hour. As you would expect, it comes with a tour guide that tells you what you’re looking at with historical perspective. The cost was 390 SEK ($44) for both of us.
It takes you entire length of the canal, crosses the harbor and back around the other side. You’ll get to see some of the city’s best sites, including the Opera house (above), the old shipyard, and the fish church (also pictured above).
This place is spectacular. The grounds are absolutely immaculate, and the flowers were glaring with color. The greenhouse, er uh, palm house, doesn’t open until 2p, and frankly, it was kinda ho-hum. But it’s right off the main road, so just step in and check it out if you’re in the area.
The very first night, we went to a place called Made in China. Kind of like a Chinese tapas place. This turned out to be an outstanding choice. Very upbeat venue right on the Main Street. I strongly recommend it. The duck confit bun (pictured above) and the carmel pork were out of this world! But nothing in this place is going to disappoint including the wine and the cost. Many Chinese places fall short on wine selection, but this place had a wide assortment of really good ones. We liked it so much that we went there again on our last night. It is very close to the hotel Flora and has nice indoor and outdoor seating. It is extremely popular, so be sure to make a booking.
This was located on the 23rd floor of the Gothia Tower, which is located right next to Universeum. Just go into the main building there and find the dedicated elevator for Heaven 23.
As you would expect, the views are fantastic. We were able to get a spot right by the window. But remember that’s why you’re going there, for the view. The food was a definite “OK”, but that’s all. I had the Wallenbergare, which was the lunch special for the day. But instead of veal, it was a mish-mash of salmon, crab, and cod. And for a fish lover, it was probably pretty good. I mean, I am not what you would call a fish lover and I ate it. But they could have at least told me when I ordered it how it was different from the traditional Wallenbergare. Jana got the vegetarian dish, and she agreed that it, too, was “OK”. The wine was a little on the high side, especially for Gothenburg, where it is normally a bit cheaper than in Stockholm.
So go spend an hour or so gazing out over the city. It is a lovely restaurant, cozy and quiet, and I don’t regret that we went there. It was fun.
This is a Greek/Mediterranean venue. It was a five minute walk from the Flora Hotel. Cozy, warm and friendly, good food and great service. It has very nice indoor and outdoor seating. A good wine selection with good prices (we love that the wine in Gothenburg is generally cheaper than Stockholm). What else could you ask for?
I had the beef souvlaki with tzatziki, which was juicy and tasty. Jana had the lamb biftekia, also with the tzatziki sauce. The lamb was an interesting variation from the hamburger that we hadn’t seen before. And it was actually very good. I highly recommend this place.
We stayed in Gothenburg for the first three nights. Then we went off and did some other adventuring and came back to Gothenburg, which we then spent another night.
We stayed at the Hotel Flora for three nights (that last picture in the above collage I shot from the canal boat tour – pretty cool, eh?). It was 1000 SEK ($112) per night, which is really quite reasonable for this part of the world. Breakfast was included and was the usual hotel breakfast bar accommodation. There was a community coffee maker, where you took the coffee pods they gave you in your room down the hall to a community coffee maker. The bar was ok, if a bit cramped for pandemic social distancing. The room and the bathroom were spacious, especially by European standards. We were located very close to the tram, which we did use a couple of times, and overall the location was convenient for seeing the sights of the city including shopping at Haga and restaurants and pubs. All of these things considered, on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 8.
The Clarion is one of those places that just gets everything right. The price was 1341 SEK ($152) per night. A little high, but if you want the larger room and all the goodies, it’s worth it. The usual breakfast bar was included.
We stayed here for one night after we came back from our road trip (click here to see that article). Perhaps the nicest thing about this one was that it is literally across the street from Central Station, so it only took us ten minutes to get to our train the next morning.
Firstly, note that the map link I gave you above is for the dock area where you board the boat, not the island itself. The Island is a one and a half hour boat ride within the archipelago, located here:
The boat services were handled by Stromma, which is the same company that does most of the boats around Stockholm. We did the lunch cruise, which I recommend over the regular because, well, you get lunch, but also you get a much better seat and reserved seating. And as you can see, above, they were observing proper social distancing.
Lunch was a preassigned meal. We had the open-faced shrimp sandwich, which is a delicious shrimp salad served on dark bread (hidden underneath all the toppings) with sliced hard boiled eggs and loads of fresh greens and cucumbers. As with most Stromma cruises, they have wine, sodas, and coffee. They also had a decent selection of desserts. We opted for diet cokes (they were bottled and ice cold) on the way out. Coming back we had a nice glass of wine and some desserts. You keep your reserved seat for the return trip.
The open water was quite choppy both ways. It is a rather large boat, so we weren’t really tossed around much. If you are prone to getting seasick, you would probably be okay here.
The scenery during the boat ride was very different from the archipelago on the Stockholm side. It was rather barren and wind blown, reminding me more of Iceland than Sweden.
Aside from the barren landscape, the first thing you notice is the wind. And it has two speeds: really strong and gale force! I am not kidding on this, so be prepared. I would suggest, well, a good wind breaker for a jacket. Even though it was the middle of the summer, the wind and damp air made it a bit chilly.
I know I have used the word barren a couple of times, but don’t mistake that for uninteresting or unattractive. It is actually quite beautiful, especially once you have boots on the ground and are seeing it up close.
This island is located in one of the most dangerous areas of the archipelago in terms of ship passage. Back in the day, several families were permanently located here. Back then, there even enough children living here to warrant a small schoolhouse. The lighthouse required constant monitoring and maintenance, and the seas required constant scanning for ships, especially at night and during storms.
Even today, the lighthouse is still fully functional and there are several radar stations that use triangulation for redundancy and to pinpoint the exact course of any nearby ships. There are people still living here, but I don’t think they’re permanent, and even if they are, travel to and from the island is way more convenient than it was back then.
You would normally be able to climb to the top of the lighthouse and to explore some of the buildings, but they were all closed due to the pandemic. But that’s okay, there was a good bit of hiking, albeit treacherous at times, and other views to see on the island.
We stayed on the island for a couple of hours before returning back to the port in Gothenburg. It was an enjoyable escape and I would recommend it if you are looking to get out of the city for a bit.
And that concluded our events for the first three days. From here, we will be renting a car and driving through Kvantum and staying at the castle Läcko. It is located on Lake Vänern, which is the largest lake not only in Sweden, but in the entire European Union. So stay tuned to this channel for more about traveling in south western Sweden!
Ok, so as you probably know by now, we’re Americans living in Stockholm. We use public transportation exclusively. We don’t even have a car over here! And we love it! But we do sometimes yearn for the open road, cruising down the countryside under your own power. And so, we decided to rent a car and brave the open highways of southern Sweden!
For our first Swedish road trip, we decided on a small, but well known town along the eastern coast called Kalmar. It was highly recommended by the locals, was easy to get to, and was about a five hour drive.
Not only is it a great historic area with a still intact renaissance war castle, but Kalmar is also well known for its glass crafting. We did visit a couple of outlet stores while there and we bought some nice crystal glasses and bowls.
We really lucked out on the weather this time. For the first time since old man winter wrapped his icy fingers around Stockholm, the temperature was actually around 60 degrees Fahrenheit! By far the warmest day of the year. And since we were headed south, it would be even a little warmer than that.
Unlike most of our other adventures that begin with the subway, for this one we took the bus to the Hertz rental office. When we got to the office, there was no one there. The place was deserted. And mind you, this a work day, Friday around 9am. Jana wasn’t worried, she said she had special instructions in case this happened. So we went a couple of doors down. There was a keypad on the door. We entered our secret code from Jana’s special instructions, but nothing happened. Oh look, there’s another keypad over here. We entered the code into that one, got a confirmation buzz, then I pulled the door open and we stepped inside.
It was a small room with what appeared to be an elevator door. There was only one button: down. We pushed it. After a minute or so, the elevator door slowly parted open. It was a very small elevator. Following the special instructions, we stepped inside and pressed the button for negative three. That’s right, three levels down. There was a long pause. Finally, the inner door moaned and creaked as it slid shut, sealing us in. Then there was a violent jolt as we started our decent. I looked at Jana and said, “And they were never seen again.”
Ha ha, we had a good laugh. After a brief argument with an unmanned kiosk, we got our keys for our fancy Volvo wagon (it even had dual exhausts and a spoiler), and off we went. I leaned out the window and raised my fist as I yelled, “ROAD TRIP!” A column in the garage nearly took my head off. I knew it was there.
Söderköping (Mayberry, EU)
We had a great recommendation for a place to stop along the way. It was about an hour and a half into the trip. It was supposed to be a cozy ice cream parlor with an outdoor area that overlooked a beautiful canal. And it was there, and we found it. And it was cozy, and it was right on the canal. And it was closed due to construction!
But because it was closed, it forced us to explore this wonderful, quaint little Swedish town, er uh village. I swear this place was like a Twilight Zone mirror image of Mayberry. I kept thinking I would see Barney Fife (Bårnet Fifé) slapping a parking ticket on our fancy city slicker Volvo (with dual exhausts). For those of you who don’t know what the Twilight Zone is or have never heard of Mayberry, you’re too young to be reading this, so get out.
Since it was such a warm, beautiful day, we figured we would find another place with outdoor seating. We scoured the entire town, which took ten minutes. We found an area where a dozen or so people (half the population of the town) were waiting in line to get into this one place. Turns out, it was another ice cream place. I guess with the one by the canal shut down, this one was picking up the slack. But there was nowhere to sit, and I was ready for a frap or a latte. We did find a coffee shop, but it was a misunderstanding on our part, it was an actual coffee shop, as in coffe beans, ground roast, etc.
We finally found this one place that had outdoor seating (they had put out some lawn chairs). There were only six, but two were actually vacant. So I rushed to secure our territory, while Jana went inside to get our refreshments. Turns out it was another ice cream shop. This town really does love ice cream! It just added to the Twilight Zone aura. And even more weird thing, the whole time we were there, we didn’t see a single person using an electronic device.
We sat outside, eating ice cream, right off their main square. We were pretty sure we were the only tourists there. A young mom walked by pushing a stroller and chatting with her friend. Nothing unusual about that. Except that she was barefooted <play the Twilight theme music in your head>.
But the place really did do the trick for us. It displaced us from our hustle-bustle big city Stockholm mindsets and made us sit and relax in the warm sun enjoying each other’s company and some magical ice cream.
And then we were, that’s right: On the Road Again.
Driving to Kalmar
They say it isn’t the destination, but the journey that is special. And this trip was no exception. We had traveled many times along the waterways marveling at the beautiful archipelago scenery from a boat or ship. But this trip showed us what was behind all that, what rural Sweden was really like. And it was spectacular.
Wide open highways, gorgeous backcountry homesteads, spawling green pastures. Well, see for yourself below, but please forgive the quality as they were snapped while flying down the highway:
And it literally just went on and on and on. One really nice thing was that, apparently, in Sweden they have some strict laws about keeping the landscape free of billboard clutter.
A note on driving in Sweden. We didn’t really see it as being that much different than what we were used to in the US. Most of the signs were intuitive, and of course everything is in the metric system. The roads were smoother than any I had ever seen in the US. No construction to speak of, and not a single pothole. And yes, that is a warning sign for a moose crossing!
There was one oddity, however. As we were driving, the car would occasionally make a beep, like a warning tone. We checked the gauges and lights, but everything looked good. I did have my phone BT’d to the car and was streaming music and navigation, so we figured it had something to do with that. On the trip back, it started doing it again. I started exploring the visual tools in the car itself and brought up the navigation map. There was a symbol of a camera pointed at a car. I looked out the window and, sure enough, there was an automated camera taking pictures of speeders. The car had been trying to warn us of this. I can only imagine how many times the cameras must have caught us speeding. Hopefully, we won’t get deported as a result!
Like most European cities, Kalmar has a long and violent past. This is especially true of the cities that were on the coast. Particularly in the 1600’s, Kalmar saw a lot of war and bloodshed. At the time, it was located very close to the Danish border. The area just south of Kalmar used to belong to the Danish, but it is part of Sweden today.
See the model of the city, above, with the castle right on the water. This is a battle castle complete with moat, drawbridges, and cannons. It was under siege 22 times, but was never taken. Also note the walls encircling the entire city itself. The mark of a true war city. We all think of Sweden as a peaceful, neutral-ish country. Perhaps it was all the wars and violence from the past that made it that way.
But today, the town is bursting with charisma and elegance.
Stately European architecture that just takes your breath away.
Here you can see part of the original wall that once circled the city. The tower looking over it all is more modern, but awe inspiring to behold.
Magnificent parks, bridges, canals, and tunnels. Great restaurants, bars, and cafes. What else could you ask for on a long weekend getaway?
Definitely one of the better castles we have toured in Europe. You can see the effort they have put into keeping it in such great shape. It is integrated into the town’s landscape.
See above, the approach to the castle from the town. Stunning. Note that you can see two of the short cannon towers. There are four total, one on each corner. Here’s a closer view of one of the towers:
If those ducks think they’re gonna take the tower, they better think again! As I mentioned before, this castle had been under siege at least 22 times, but was never taken.
See below a view of the seaward defensive battery:
An all around fabulous castle. The interior was well done, too. Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of that. It was well presented and had lots of good information about all the rooms. Some of the ceiling work was still in its original form, but the pictures didn’t come out well (too dark).
If you recall, from the top of the article, the town is situated just west of a rather large island. There is a 6km (3.7mi) bridge that connects the mainland with the island. As you can well imagine, the island was ravaged and raided time after time during the wars. In fact, there are still remnants of old castles on the island dating back to the 300 A.D. Unbelievable!
We did venture over to the island. It is covered with farms, pastures, and homesteads. And it’s incredibly beautiful!
See below, we even ventured off the beaten path a couple of times in our city slicker fancy Volvo wagon with dual exhausts!
We stopped at one of the castle sites. Unfortunately, it had fallen to ruins. But not after hundreds of years of being the center of a war culture. It was built around 300 A.D. and was still in full operation as late as the 1200’s.
And that was really it. After touring around on the island, we returned to Stockholm. It was a great visit and a great town. Given enough time, we would gladly return to Kalmar and yes, even stopping again at Mayberry, EU.
This trip is another leg of our campaign to get out and enjoy the Nordic winters. Recall that we were abandoning the warmth of the hearth and getting out to see why so many people actually prefer colder weather environments. We conquered snowmobiling, reindeer sleds, and horse drawn sleighs in The Great Arctic Adventure . So it only seemed natural to take on snow skiing next!
About the Park
A lot of people from Stockholm like going to the Romme Alpin park in the winter. So many, in fact, that there are packaged deals available, where you pay a single fee and you get:
Bus trip to and from Stockholm Central Station
Rental skis, boots, helmets, plus whatever else you need
All day ski pass for the lifts on all slopes
We did the one day outing, where you go out and come back the same day. Our cost was 800 kr ($100) each, but the prices vary based on various factors, so be sure to check their web site. We were able to book our package from the web site. There are other packages available that are multi-days/weekends. There is a hotel at the park, so it is ultra convenient. There are three or four different restaurants that vary by price and food selections. There is also an indoor area with tables set up so that if you brought your own lunch, you would have a place to sit and eat. There are plenty of areas to store your things, like backpacks, shoes, etc. Essentially, these folks have thought of everything!
Transportation From Stockholm
As with most of our adventures from Stockholm, we began our journey on foot to the subway. For us, that’s about a five minute walk. We took the red line to central station. Once at central, go out and all the way up to the ground floor. There are actually signs for Romme Alpin, or ask an attendant for directions to the bus station if you get disoriented.
The morning buses leave at 6:30am, then another batch at 7am. Don’t be late! The bus ride itself was about two and a half hours. It was a standard, but comfortable bus, much like any tour bus. There was a bathroom on the bus as well.
Once you arrive, make special note of where your bus is parked, and what time it is going to leave. Ours left at 4:15pm. Be sure to allow thirty minutes or more for returning your equipment.
Not so fast! This was my very first time on snow skis! And Jana hadn’t been on them in a long time. So we booked private lessons. This is not part of the package deal and has to be booked and payed for separately from the Romme Alpin package deal. You will need to call the number listed on the web page to book your lesson.
Getting the lessons was a great idea! Our instructor, Maja, was so helpful. Once I got to where I was able to stand up and made it to the top of the bunny hill, she would ski in front of me, backwards. So she was able to talk to me the whole way down and even caught me and prevented me from falling several times. This really helped me get up to speed quickly.
There is a special break in the lines that allows people accompanied by an instructor to get right on the lift, so there is no waiting to try again. By the end of the two hour session, I was able to hold my own. I even went down the next hardest hill. I guess all told, I probably fell four or five times, but they were all low speed, so no harm was done. Jana only fell once (I think she did it just to make me feel better).
Was it fun? It was absolutely a great time! Am I hooked on it and can’t wait to do it again? Well… by the end of the day, I could get around okay, and yes I went down the next hardest hill a few times. I even got down it once or twice without falling! But I essentially spent the majority of the day worrying about keeping my balance, so I couldn’t completely relax. I am sure that once you get the hang of it, you love it. But I am going to have to reserve judgement until I have been a few more times and am able to relax and enjoy it a little more. We plan to go out at least one more time this winter.
Overview (stats courtesy Wikipedia):
Population: 149,245 (2015)
Density: 3,100/km2 (7,900/sq mi)
Elevation: 15 m (49 ft)
Weather: Cold winters, mild summers
Warm season: May – Sep
Language: Swedish, English is very common
Currency: Even though Sweden is in the EU, they do not accept the euro or any currency other than the Swedish crown (SEK).
Founded in the 12th century, Uppsala is 71 km (44 mi) north of Stockholm. Some scenes from The Girl With the Dragon Tatto were filmed here, and it is the hometown of the fictitious character Christine Daaè In Phantom of the Opera. There was also an episode of Vikings that took pace here.
But its biggest claim to fame is its impact on religion, especially during the 13th and 14th centuries, but still largely influential even today. It is also the locale where the famous Queen Kristina, daughter of Gustavus the Great, abdicated the throne in 1654.
The city is also home to the Uppsala Cathedral, where Gustavus Vasa is buried. And it is home to the oldest university in Scandinavia, built in 1477. There is a ton of additional history and sites here, so you can easily spend a day or two taking it all in.
We took the train from Stockholm central station. You don’t need an exact time to rush to; there is a train that leaves about every 20 minutes. You do have to commit to a time when you buy your ticket.
The train cost was 190 SEK ($30) for both of us, one way. Different trains will make different stops and so travel time will vary. Ours got us to Uppsala in about 40 minutes.
It was a very grey, overcast day, so sorry if the pictures are a bit dreary.
The Castle and Botanical Gardens
It´s a working castle and only has tours in the summertime, but the beautiful castle grounds and botanical gardens are open year round.
The gardens began construction under the rule of Queen Kristina (that’s not her in the pic, that’s my lovely wife Jana), but were turned over to the University in 1644 by King Gustav III as a botanical garden.
While this is not the University itself, it is affiliated with the university. I just included it here because of the fantastic Scandanavian architecture (above).
The Uppsala Cathedral is much older than it looks. It was built (inaugurated) in 1435 and is one of the largest in northern Europe, with towers reaching 118.70 metres (389.4 ft). And as I mentioned, the crypt of Gustav Vasa is in this cathedral. He is considered the Father of Sweden since it was he who raised the army that retaliated against and defeated King Christian for the infamous blood square. That battle was the catalyst that permanently separated Sweden from Denmark.
After the church, we walked around town some more. It´s a small and cozy town, easy to move around in and not over run by tourists (like us, haha).
Then we ended up at the nicest little Italian restaurant called Villa Romana. I had the pepper steak, and Jana had pasta with beef. Both were delicious! Great food and a good wine selection, highly recommend.
And that’s about it. We walked back to central station and took the train home. It was also around 40 minutes to get back. We want to go back in the summer to see the botanical garden in all of its beauty, but there is also a viking burial mound that we didn’t get a chance to see, so we will be back!
This is an index of all of the current Stockholm activities and places that I have documented. More are being added every week, so be sure to sign up for notifications at the bottom of the page so you will get notified when I add a new article.
Each entry below has a thumbnail image with the name and a description of the attraction. If you want to see the Travelin’ Man’s detailed article of that attraction in a separate window, simply click on the underlined text.
The attractions are grouped by which island they are on. The amount of time for each attraction is given. Use those two pieces of information to help plan a day of sightseeing in and around this beautiful city.
Fjäderholmarna [2-3 Hrs] Stockholm’s closest archipelago island, and the 30 minute boat ride was scenic and relaxing. It leaves from the Strandvägen ferry terminal. There are several great restaurants to choose from, some scenic walking trails, and a blacksmith that makes jewelry right on the island.
Vaxholm Dinner Cruise [3 Hrs] The cruise goes non-stop from Stockholm to the beautiful Vaxholm. You really can’t go wrong here, the dinner, drinks and cruise were all excellent; we and everyone around us had a marvelous time.
Drottningholm Palace Cruise [4-5 Hrs] Ok, spoiler alert here, in case you haven’t already heard, Drottningholm Palace (aka Summer Palace) is one of the nicest palaces in all the land! It is in this palace that the royal family actually lives.
Skokloster Palace – [8-9 Hrs] It’s a boat ride from Stockholm to the Skokloster palace and back. Experience the breathtaking beauty of lake Mälaren’s shoreline. On board cafeteria and bar, and the trip includes an onboard tour guide who will call out noteworthy sights along the way.
Skansen [4-5 Hrs] It’s a museum, a zoo, and a historical town replica. It’s all of those things and all outdoor. There are some rides and activities for children. It also offers some fantastic views of Stockholm.
Vasa Museum [2-3 Hrs] This museum displays an almost perfectly preserved ship that sank off the coast of Stockholm in 1628. They claim that it is the worlds only fully preserved 17th century ship. And it is completely intact.
The Viking Museum [1 Hr] The big challenge for museums is how to present their wealth of information in a way that will be interesting, and also to present it in a way that you will remember it. The Viking Museum does a pretty good job at both of these things.
Rooftop Tour [2 Hrs] Walk around on the roof of the old parliament house, eight stories up! Get a full 360 degree view with no windows, walls, or barriers. And the guides give great historical perspective on what you’re looking at.
Stockholm Free Walking Tour [2 Hrs] It’s definitely a tour worth taking, even for locals since you probably walk right past a lot of this stuff but don’t know its history.
Under the Bridges Boat Tour [2 Hrs 15 Mins] I listed this one under Norrmalm even though it cruises around Södermalm because the tour departs from the main island. This one was just ok, and didn’t get a good rating. Some good tour information on architecture and history.
Stockholm – Intellectual, fashionable, and very cultural. More than 100 museums, some world renowned. Picturesque, stately beauty of a city on the Baltic. Magnificent palaces, exquisite restaurants, unforgettable boat tours. By mid summer, over 18 hours of daylight per day!
Segway Tour [2 Hrs] We had a nice route that took us around Södermalm. I say it was a nice route because they kept us away from the heavy traffic areas and we had limited big intersections to get through.
Hagaparken [All day] This is a massive and beautiful sprawling park across the lake from The Stockholm University campus. Not only is it a gorgeous display of nature, but it also has the Haga Palace, King Gustav III’s Pavillion, botanical gardens, a Chinese pavilion and gardens, a Turkish Kiosk, and it is also the site of the Swedish Royal Burial Grounds.