Sweden is the largest of the Scandinavian countries and the third largest country in Western Europe, with a population of only around ten million people. The typical landscape includes pine and birch trees with pristine lakes and fresh pure air all around. The south of the country also boasts some of the nicest beaches in Northern Europe. Its urban areas are small compared to the European standards and the vast majority is concentrated in the south. Of its cities Stockholm, the capital, is definitely the one standing out. This city seats on fourteen small islands and its richness in the terms of architecture, museums and cultural attractions is absolutely supreme. Located on the west coast, Gothenburg is the country’s second city. Its inhabitants have a reputation for being the most welcoming people in Sweden, while its network of canals is reminiscent according to many people of the Dutch city of Amsterdam. Other points of interests going further south are represented by the university town of Lund and the city of Malmo with its medieval core and its joyful nightlife. The north of Sweden, also commonly known as Swedish Lapland, seats within the Arctic Circle and it is the home of the Sami, Swedish indigenous people and some interesting fauna such as elks, bears and reindeers. Lapland is also the perfect place to experience phenomena like the midnight sun and the northern lights.
Sweden is perfect for nature lovers and some activities are definitely considered a must. In particular, dog sledding is a great experience to visit Sweden during winter time. Highly suggested is also to have a plunge in one of the 100000 lakes present on this vast territory and to visit as many as possible of the about 24000 islands that make the archipelago around Stockholm.
Generally speaking, Sweden is characterised by a very relaxed lifestyle and Swedish people are well known for their liberal and open-minded attitude for any aspect of life. Nonetheless, there is a very strong sense of civic obligation and great respect for others and the society highly appreciate honesty and straight talking.
Swedish food is based mostly on fish, meat, potatoes and vegetables. Dishes containing salmon or herrings are very common. In particular, one specialty to try at any cost is the surstromming, Baltic herring fermented for long time until it gets completely rotten. Very popular of course are also the Swedish meatballs. To accompany these dishes, beer is definitely the most common alcoholic all over the country, even if good wine is generally very appreciated these days, especially by the youngest generation. It is also highly recommended to try the akvavit, which is sort of chill liquor made from fermented potatoes, generally served in tiny shots and comes in all different flavours and variants.
One last curiosity about this incredible country: in Northern Sweden frozen rivers and lakes are often used by drivers as shortcut to reach their destinations. The national road service marks these ice roads and decides case by case when the ice is thick enough to support the weight of vehicles.