I recently had the opportunity to visit Stockholm and Skåne in Sweden, two places I had yet to discover and was very much looking forward to seeing. Travelling with my colleague Rachel, we departed the UK on a Sunday evening flight to Stockholm Arlanda with Scandinavian Airlines. A comfortable two and a half hours later we arrived at our destination and following a 30 minute taxi journey we reached our hotel for the next two nights, the Hotel Hellsten in Stockholm.
Stockholm is spread over 14 islands, each offering the tourist a different perspective of Sweden’s capital and largest city. I was surprised at the fact that these islands are so close to one another and many parts of Stockholm are within easy walking distance. We started our exploration in the more modern part of the city, which is where the main shopping area and train station are located. A short walk over the bridge took us to the historic centre of Stockholm, Gamla Stan. Despite the rainy weather I thoroughly enjoyed the feel of having stepped back into the 13th century, exploring medieval streets with narrow alleyways and attractive squares. After a coffee break in one of the many delightful cafes and a short ferry ride to the island of Djurgården, we made our way to the Vasa museum. Once inside the museum, I was left speechless when my eyes fell on the wooden warship known as ‘Vasa’, which sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628 and is now on show after being raised from the depths of Stockholm harbour. Reluctantly leaving the museum we made our way back to Gamla Stan and then onwards towards the district of Östermalm, where on a summer day I could imagine myself taking in the view from the promenade of Strandvägen or enjoying lunch at Östermalms Saluhall food market, a popular with locals.
The following day, after collecting our hire car, we travelled out of the centre to visit the surrounding countryside. Clear blue skies, good roads and miles of beautiful landscape made our journey enjoyable and arriving at Häringe Slott in Landfjarden, featured in our Real Scandinavia brochure, only added to the beauty. Häringe Slott is a lovely property located in the Häringe and Hammersta nature reserve and is an ideal stay for those who are looking for tranquillity and relaxation as well as being within easy reach of Stockholm. This property is a favourite of mine and a meal in the restaurant, which uses the international Slow Food concept, is recommended.
During the afternoon we returned the car back to Stockholm Arlanda airport and then took our internal flight down to Malmö in Skåne. An early evening arrival meant we were able to have a pre-dinner wander around the historic centre taking in the cobbled roads, pretty little squares, restaurants and shops. This is the area where you will find Sunvil’s featured hotels, an ideal location which is also within walking distance of the train station that links Malmö with other parts of Sweden as well as Copenhagen.
Wednesday afternoon we ventured out into Skåne’s countryside, visiting Sunvil properties, with a stop en-route at Katrinetorp Manor. An unexpected stop but a delightful find, this manor house is located on the outskirts of Malmö and is an excellent visit for those with an interest in gardening or for those simply looking for somewhere a bit different to take lunch. We then continued on to view Sunvil property Ängavallen in Vellinge, passing by unspoilt countryside. The moment you step over the threshold of Ängavallen you forget that you are only a 30 minute drive away from Sweden’s 3rd largest city. We spent some time wandering around the property which is also a working farm with pigs, cattle and sheep. Our next visit was Häckeberga Slott in Genarp, which dates back to 1872, located in the heart of a nature reserve. Although isolated, this property offers an ideal base for those wishing to partake in activities such as walking, cycling and horse riding or for those exploring the area to enjoy an evening meal.
Thursday morning, I took the opportunity to explore Malmö on foot. Map in hand I made my way towards Malmö chocolate factory which was established in 1888, and after being closed down in 1992 re-opened during 2004. Visitors to the mini museum can learn about the history of the famous Mazetti products, watch a chocolatier at work or purchase a hot chocolate in the museum café.
From here, passing many restaurants and languages from different parts of the world along my way, I continued to Möllevångstorget Square where, during the day, a popular produce market is held (Monday to Saturday). After a stop for coffee I headed to one of the many parks, choosing Kungsparken which is the oldest public park in the city. Apart from being ideal for picnics or a peaceful stroll, the park is home to the oldest Renaissance castle in Scandinavia, Malmöhus castle and its museum. From the park you also get a view of the Turning Torso, the tallest building in Sweden at 190 metres, designed with a 90° degree twist. Unfortunately time was short so I headed back towards our hotel taking in Gamla Vaster, a picturesque area with colourful houses, restaurants and boutiques before crossing Lilla Torg, a charming square popular with tourists and locals.
After lunch it was time to commence the final leg of our trip, heading towards the historic town of Ystad on the south coast. Ystad has two medieval churches and the old part of town has remained the same as it was in medieval times – a place worthy of a visit. On the outskirts of town is hotel Ystad Saltsjöbad which has a spa offering various treatments, an ideal place for some pampering after all the travelling or as a nice finale to a multi centre holiday. On this occasion we were not able to sample any treatments as we still had one more visit to make to Karlaby Kro in Tommarp where we would be staying for the night. Karlaby Kro is a lovely property of a high standard offering a comfortable stay as well as good food.
Friday came too soon and it was time to head home, but not before a morning spent exploring Österlen, in the south-east of Skåne. Although driving through rain and snow I was still able to appreciate the miles of fields and forest, charming villages and a general sense of relaxation; and fully understand the attraction of the area especially during the summer. Along our journey we stopped at Kiviks Musteri, an apple juice factory where we took a tour giving us insight into cider and apple juice production in Sweden and afterwards enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Kärnhuset Café & Restaurant. There is plenty to do in Kivik for young and old, an ideal place to visit whether staying nearby or just passing through. Driving back via Ystad we stopped at Abbekås, a small fishing village, before continuing back to Malmö to drop off our car. A 20 minute train journey found us at Copenhagen Airport for our homeward bound flight.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was the Vasa museum and would definitely be a recommendation of mine. During the summer months you could combine the Vasa museum with a visit to the Nordic museum, Tivoli Gröna Lund amusement park or simply wander through the parkland which can be found on the island of Djurgården.
A cinnamon bun whether in Stockholm or Malmö is a must, washed down with a cup of coffee.