Religion has been a strong influence in creating the modern country of Sweden, a fact acknowledged by choosing Saint Birgitta as patron saint for the European Union. A strong-willed medieval woman who had rather practical and administrative visions from God, a woman who told the pope (and everyone else) what to think and to do, who had eight children before she became a nun and who had travelled abroad – this absolutely not meek and otherworldly saint fascinates, and following in her footsteps gets you to some highly interesting religious sights.
When people go on a package tour to Sweden, there seems to be a pre-set itinerary: they tend to go to Stockholm with an excursion to Uppsala thrown in, and then they make for Dalecarlia to celebrate midsummer in traditional fashion. Midsummer not being an option, they may go on a day-trip to the archipelago outside Stockholm. And while Stockholm is fine, Uppsala has Sweden’s oldest university, and going on a boat tour is always nice, this does seem a bit of a pity – there is so much else to explore. So why not skip the package tour (at least the second time round), get a cheap flight to the middle of nowhere (that’s the airport for cheap flights, Skavsta – but it has train and bus connections to the rest of the country) and an Interrail pass valid for one country (Sweden in this case) and set out to explore the Swedish countryside.
Currently there are fourteen World heritage sites in Sweden, places or areas that are so important to the history and development of man, or to the planet we live on that they are listed by UNESCO as worth protecting for future generations. To visit them all may be too hard even for the most dedicated traveler (and after all, it’s a vacation you’re after, not hard work…), but if there is such a place nearby where you’ve decided to spend your holiday, it would be shame to miss it, wouldn’t it? So, let’s pick a few of these really spectacular sites from north to south, and for the rest there are two informative websites listed at the end of the article – choose your own particular favorite site to visit from them!
Planning to experience a close encounter with untouched nature and wildlife while hiking in Sweden? Wanting to sleep under the stars or in a secluded cabin deep in the woods, feeling like a time traveler to epochs long gone by? Or wanting a reminder of the fantastic diversity of the natural environment we should do all in our power to conserve for coming generations?