is a large, geographically varied and strangely little-known country whose sense of space is one of its best features. Away from the relatively densely populated south, travelling without seeing a soul is not uncommon. The
south and southwest
of the country are gently undulating, picturesque holiday lands, long-disputed Danish territory, and fringed with some of Europe's finest beaches. The west coast harbours a host of historic ports -
, which is now linked by bridge to Copenhagen - while off the
coast, the Baltic islands of
are the country's most hyped resorts, supporting a lazy beach-life to match that of the best southern European spots but without the hotel blocks and crowds.
, the capital, is the country's supreme attraction, a bundle of islands housing monumental architecture, fine museums and the country's most active culture and nightlife. The two university towns,
demand a visit too, while, moving northwards,
both make justified demands on your time. This area,
central and northern
Sweden, is the country of tourist brochures: great swathes of forest, inexhaustible lakes - around 96,000 - and some of the best wilderness hiking in Europe. Two train routes link it with the south. The eastern run, close to the
, passes old wood-built towns and planned new ones, and ferry ports for connections to Finland. In the centre, the trains of the
strike off through lakelands and mountains, clearing reindeer off the track as they go. The routes meet in Sweden's
- home of the Sami, the oldest indigenous Scandinavian people.