Things to do
Swedish parks and gardens
Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö are brimming with natural beauty spots, lakes, rivers, beaches and parks and gardens….and archipelagoes. Archipelagoes? Yes. The Stockholm archipelago speckles the Baltic Sea with its 24,000 islands (who’s counting?).
Gothenburg, with its big green spaces, also has the gall be the gateway to the fantastic West Coast and its gardens and islands. And Malmö has beaches in the middle of the city. It just isn’t fair.
With 26 city parks, you are never far from a green space in Stockholm. Popular parks include Hagaparken (forest, lakes and ponds), Rålambshovsparken (lakeside grass beach and fields), Vita Bergen (hilly picnic park) and the huge (6,671 acres) Royal National City Park, the world’s first national city park, known as the Ecopark where you can spot heron, roe deer and foxes, right in the city.
The Royal National city park contains 3 royal parks; Djurgården, Haga and Ulriksdal – connected by Brunnsviken Bay. And the surrounding islands of Skeppsholmen, Kastellholmen, Beckholmen and Fjäderholmarna are also part of the Ecopark. If you visit Djurgården don't miss the delightful Rosendals Trädgårdar (gardens) and its cafe.
Gothenburg and West Sweden parks
When Gothenburgers want a bit of R&R, they often congregate at Slottsskogen, a vast park in the southwest of the city. Much of it is covered in forest and it offers sweeping vistas of the city from its three high vantage points.
For a walk, or maybe even a kayak on the wild side, visit Delsjön Nature Reserve in the east of the city. It has two adjoining lakes (one named 'Big Lake' and the other 'Small Lake' - for obvious reasons) with tree-lined rocky cliffs and plenty of forest and dale to enjoy. Wintertime there is even downhill skiing.
For refined horticulture, plant collections and fabulous picnic meadows go to the Gothenburg Botanical Garden in the south of the city. It is one of Europe's finest and well worth a visit. It features 20,000 species of plants, flowers, trees etc., beautifully laid out across 175 hectares.
Outside Gothenburg visit Gunnebo Castle and Gardens and the baroque mansion of Läckö Castle on the shores of Lake Vänern. Walk around in the gardens, go to a concert and dine at the restaurant Hvita Hjorten. Further up the coast you can visit the Kosters Trädgårdar on the Syd Koster island, an organic kitchen garden with restaurant and farm shop.
Skåne and Malmö parks and gardens
The main parks – Folkets Park, Slottsparken (Malmö Castle Garden), Pildammsparken and Kungsparken– form a green band between the city beach at Ribersborg and the Stadium area of town. Other favourite parks include Raoul Wallenberg’s Park, Bulltofta and Bunkeflo ängar for picnics, walks and sports. And the (very pretty) Queen Silvia Rose Garden hosts open-air theatre performances and concerts in summertime.
If you happen to be in the town of Helsingborg (and you should, it has its own palm beach) you have to visit the gardens at Sofiero Castle, awarded Europe’s most beautiful and best park in 2010. Apart from being generally gorgeous, there are almost 500 types of rhododendrons spread among some 10,000 blooms that decorate two ravines here. There are also vegetable and flower gardens, panoramic views of the Öresund Sound and plenty of lawn for picnics. Not forgetting, of course, the castle itself; which is less a castle and more a former royal palatial home. There is a café, restaurant, plant shop and gift shop onsite.