Touring Sweden - off the beaten track

ABBA, Ikea, Volvos . . . Wilderness? Find the hidden treasures of Sweden.

ABBA, Ikea, Volvos . . . Wilderness? It's an odd thing, but think of Sweden and thoughts can drift to its brands as much as to its wild. An odd thing indeed, considering Swedes have Europe's largest expanse of monumental, uninterrupted wilderness. In Sarek National Park in far north Swedish Lapland there are no cabins, roads, amenities or trails, just 200 summits in excess of 1,800m and maybe a hundred glaciers. And that's just one park!

Stockholm's Vasa Museum, a short walk from the labyrinth of the city's cobblestoned Old Town was built to house the pride of the Swedish Imperial fleet – but which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. Bad for the crew, good for us. The Vasa is 95% original, and seeing it will leave you breathless.

As will the 19th century, 190 km-long Göta Canal, the country's premier engineering feat linking Stockholm to Gothenburg via 58 locks and still plied by boats such as M/S Juno on a cruise that will provide you 3 of the most serene and contented days of your life.

The West Coast Archipelago north of Gothenburg is as beautiful a coastline as you'll ever see with its smooth, sculpted granite outcrops enveloping fishing communities filled with doll house-like white timbered homes that'll have you enquiring about real estate and mortgage rates. Add to that the 30,000 islands of the Stockholm archipelago and historic jewels like Visby with its 13th century 3 ½ km-long defensive wall and 44 towers, and its guaranteed you'll never look at a Volvo the same way again.

Be sure to discover some of the new attractions opening in Sweden this year - the Arctic Bath and Hot Air Ballooning over Swedish Lapland.

For more information about our Swedish tailor-made self drive holiday, please read here

Guest writer: Barry Stone

Image credits: Anders Ekholm/Folio/, Staffan Widstrand/, Ola Ericson/, Per Pixel Petersson/ and Henrik Trygg/