When most individuals consider Scandinavian journey, they image fjords, mountains and the dramatic landscapes of the Arctic Circle. However for a slice of genuine Nordic life, take into account the lesser-explored central a part of Sweden connecting its capital, Stockholm, and Norway’s first metropolis, Oslo.

Scandi map
The route is generally flat, however passes stunning lakes, chief amongst them the spectacular Lake Vänern, the most important within the EU, and plush landscapes dotted with conventional picket homes, many painted vivid crimson. Greater than half the full land space of Sweden is roofed in forest (an space the dimensions of the UK), and particularly on the method to Norway, you’ll go farmland and woodland that give an thought of why friluftsliv, or “outside life”, is a cornerstone of the Scandinavian life-style. Many Swedish households spend weekends at their summer season homes (often much less extravagant than that time period suggests, not sometimes with out working water) to unwind in the course of nature.
Travelling by prepare between smaller cities, this itinerary isn’t for many who wish to cram sight after bombastic sight into their vacation. There are cobbled streets to walk, stopping for espresso and cake, dwelling museums to discover, and loads of alternatives to hike, cycle or canoe round huge nature reserves and fairly islands.
Trains run straight between the 2 capitals, however dividing up the journey permits for visits to charming smaller cities and to expertise nature at shut quarters. Sweden’s long-distance and regional trains are comfy, with wifi, food and drinks on board.

Concourse at Stockholm Central Station. {Photograph}: Hercules Milas/Alamy Inventory Picture
Trains depart from Stockholm’s central station, the place travellers can replenish on meals for the six- to seven-hour journey at one of many not too long ago opened stalls in the primary concourse. Hip chain City Deli provides enormous salads (from about £7) and take a look at historic cafe Vetekatten’s stall for espresso and a basic cinnamon bun.
The primary cease is Västerås, simply an hour away, with common departures and tickets beginning at £6. On the shores of monumental Lake Mälaren, the town makes a wonderful summer season base for exploring myriad islands by ferry, many with sandy seashores and unspoilt coves. One of many closest – simply 15 minutes away by common ferries from Västerås harbour – is Östra Holmen, with pretty sands and a 2.5km footpath round it. Additional out are stunning bigger islands, similar to Ridön and Björnö, with biking, mountaineering routes and hostels.
There’s loads to do in Västerås itself. The Kokpunkten water park (grownup entry from £8) has a spa and outside infinity pool for adults to chill out in, and water slides and swimming pools for all ages. The town’s excellent 13th-century cathedral is free to enter, and the small Frösakers Brygga Ship Museum (additionally free entry) has Viking-themed actions and an interesting assortment of boats. Guests may also spend a day at Anundshög, Sweden’s largest burial mound with iron age ruins.
Spherical off the day with a cocktail and sharing plates (from £7) and 18th-floor lake views from Locavore within the Steam Resort ), the place doubles with breakfast value about £74 however anticipate to pay nearly twice as a lot for a room with a window! Alternatively, these in search of a really distinctive keep can guide the off-grid underwater cabin on the Resort Utter Inn (sleeps two, £230).

The Resort Utter Inn. {Photograph}: IsKa/Alamy
The subsequent cease, about an hour additional alongside the road to Oslo, is Örebro, the “coronary heart of Sweden”. Begin on the island fort and have a drink or meal on the cosy Stallyktan pub, earlier than checking in on the Resort Borgen (doubles from £100 half-board).
The open air museum at close by Wadköping is free to wander round, however for many who are hankering after the everyday picket homes of the area, head to the superbly preserved city of Nora on the prepare (40 minutes, £10 return) or 302/801 bus for a day. Peek inside artisanal workshops within the brewery district and take a look at the do-it-yourself ice-cream at NoraGlass.
The subsequent day, catch the quantity 7 bus (or cycle) to the Oset and Rynningeviken nature reserve with its meadows, wetlands and forest. The restaurant Naturens Hus on the centre of the park provides massive lunches for round £8-£11. The park has an uncommon historical past; the realm was as soon as residence to garbage dumps, an oil port and a army coaching floor, however has been reborn as a wonderful panorama, wealthy in natural world.

Örebro Fort. {Photograph}: Sergey Dzyuba/Alamy
From Örebro, take a prepare to Karlstad (1hr 40minutes, £11), round two-thirds of the best way to Oslo. Throughout summer season, it’s free to borrow a motorcycle on weekdays from the Solacykeln (Sola Bike) cabin within the centre. Observe the river via the town centre, or head out alongside the cycle and mountaineering path Klarälvsbanan. For dinner, settle in at Br Olssons Elektriska (mains, similar to butter-baked char, from £22), whereas Artisan Bread is the place to expertise Swedish fika cafe tradition.
The town is on enormous Lake Vänern, and public transport is supplemented with water buses throughout the summer season. These permit for island-hopping via the archipelago or, for a half-day journey, head to Mariebergsskogen for mountaineering and different actions. Close by is the sunny yellow-painted Älvnära Mattress & Breakfast (doubles from round £70) with every of its rooms named after a flower .
Västerås, Örebro and Karlstad all have their very own appeal, however nature-lovers may take into account skipping one in every of them to construct in further time on the subsequent cease, Arvika (direct tickets from round £6 from Karlstad). It is a nice base for all types of outside actions, together with elk safaris.

Guesthouse Eleven Resort, Arvika.
The house owners of Guesthouse Eleven (doubles from £100 B&B), a renovated schoolhouse a brief bus experience from the prepare station, provide completely different packages to assist visitors expertise one of the best of the realm, maybe via canoeing, biking or mountaineering, and you may spherical off the day within the sauna and sizzling tub.
For these on a good timetable, take the bus to Storkasberget, the three.5km strolling path with a tower providing views over the entire space.
From Arvika, it’s attainable to move straight to Oslo on an InterCity prepare (tickets from round £11); there are two direct departures every day, within the early afternoon and night. Alternatively, cease at Kongsvinger on the best way; though it’s nicely off the everyday Norwegian vacationer path, its spectacular 17th-century fortress and charming outdated city are price taking the sooner prepare for, catching the later one onwards to Oslo.
Easy methods to do it
The Swedish nationwide railway firm SJ runs most routes and it’s attainable to guide tickets on its web site, even when the route is operated by one other firm. Reserving upfront will often lower your expenses; the route outlined right here prices from 235SEK one-way (round £20) and reductions for these below 26 and the over-65s can be found. Go to loco2.com for trains from the UK to Stockholm.
In search of a vacation with a distinction? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a spread of implausible journeys
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