Sweden is a land of incredible contrasts, from the dense pine forests and craggy mountains of the north, to the rolling hills and glossy golden beaches of the south. But the diversity doesn't stop at the suburbs, with each of Sweden's seven major cities boasting its own character, history and unique architectural style.
Bordered by Denmark to the south, Norway to the west and Finland to the east, Sweden, the largest of the Scandinavian countries, boasts a long mercantile history that has made it one of the most culturally open and welcoming in Europe.
The instantly likeable capital Stockholm has long been synonymous with style and its sharply tailored brand of chic has percolated throughout the wardrobes of the world. Hipsters notwithstanding, Stockholm, with its 14 islands and medieval beauty, has much to offer those in search of culture, art and historical treasures. However, perhaps the most surprising city is Malmö, which has belied its unfairly grim reputation to become one of the country's liveliest destinations.
Beyond the cities, Sweden's countryside has a gentler charm than the rugged landscapes of neighbouring Norway. Much of Sweden is forested and there are thousands of lakes, including the large stretches of water between Gothenburg and Stockholm. The border with Norway is home to the spectacular Skanderna (Scandinavian) mountain chain, while in the far north you'll find wonderfully bleak Arctic tundra, where you can see the Northern Lights. The south is dominated by emerald forests, the cerulean waters of the Gulf of Bothnia and the jagged Baltic coastline. Of all the lovely spots in Sweden though, the awe-inspiring panoramas of the Stora Sjöfallet National Park take some beating. Part of the UNESCO-listed Laponian region of northern Sweden, the park's majestic waterfalls, soaring peaks and crowded clumps of fir trees make it one of the country's greatest natural treasures.
The Swedes are proud of their green country and believe the great outdoors should be available to everyone. Allemansrätten – the everyman's right – is a constitutional right that allows the public access to public and privately owned land for recreation. As long as you do not disturb or destroy nature, or infringe on the privacy of others (such as by walking too close to their house), you are free to roam the countryside. This right even allows people to pick wildflowers, berries and mushrooms – unless they are endangered.