This is an exclusive self-drive tour including a visit to the buzzing city of Copenhagen, ancient castles in Skåne in the south of Sweden, the Kingdom of Crystal, the medieval town of Kalmar and the sunny holiday islands of Öland and Gotland. You will also visit Stockholm; the capital of Sweden and Vadstena with its famous abbey before returning to Copenhagen via Skåne.
This tour can commence in: Copenhagen
Arrival in Copenhagen. In the charming city of Copenhagen one thousand years of history awaits you in the medieval streets; the same streets walked on by every generation of the world's oldest royal family, the same streets and canals which have inspired artists for centuries and been home and workplace to meticulous craftsmen and famous designers. Sights of interest include the Royal Palace, the Changing of the Guards, Parliament building, Christiansborg Palace, Tivoli Gardens and the Little Mermaid. Accommodation in Copenhagen.
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning you will travel by train across Europe’s longest combined road and rail bridge; the Öresund Bridge, which connects the Danish capital with the city of Malmö in Sweden. In Malmö you will pick up your rental car (not included in the tour). The area Skåne, which once belonged to Denmark, is today Sweden’s southernmost region and is characterized by endless open fields and wide, flat horizons and its magnificent castles from various historical eras. Start your journey by heading south towards the small coastal town of Ystad. Ystad has more than 40 km of sandy beaches and has some of the finest and best-preserved medieval half-timbered houses in Sweden. Ystad is also home to the fictional citizen detective Kurt Wallander, the character in the popular crime series written by Swedish author Henning Mankell and for fans of his books there is a special walking tour through town. In Kåseberga, 14km east of Ystad, you will find the megalithic Ale’s Stones, often referred to as Sweden’s Stonehenge. In the early ages of the Viking’s, about 500 to 1000 A.D. 59 megalithic stones were raised here in form of a Viking ship. Continue your drive north east towards Glimmingehus close to Simrishamn. Glimmingehus is the best-preserved medieval castle in Scandinavia, dating from 1499 and was built as a fortress meant to defend what was then Denmark. Visit the castle museum and join the guided tour. Accommodation in the region Österlen, situated in the south east part of Skåne.
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we recommend driving around the region of Österlen. You will find gently rolling hills, long sandy beaches and lush apple groves, famous for its unparalleled light. It´s this light, and the unique beauty and atmosphere of the region Österlen that has attracted many of Sweden´s authors, musicians and other creative people move here. During spring and summer there are many exhibitions and various events going on throughout the region. You will also find castles and hundreds of churches, some dating from the Middle Ages in this area. Drive north towards the “Kingdom of Crystal” (Glasriket) and visit some of its most famous glassworks. Here you can experience a close-up view of skilled glassblowers transforming the syrupy molten glass into beautiful works of art. The tradition of glass blowing started in this region more than 500 years ago. Today there are 13 glassworks in the Kingdom of Crystal, all located within a short distance of each other in the Småland region. You can find some of the most famous glassworks in the world; like Kosta Boda and Orrefors. Today Swedish glass is world-famous for its design and production. In the Crystal shop you can buy beautiful glass at factory prices. Your last stop for the day is the historic town of Kalmar, one of Sweden’s oldest cities dating back to the 11th century. Accommodation in Kalmar.
Breakfast at the hotel. This day is at your own leisure in Kalmar. We recommend an excursion to the island of Öland, the smallest province in Sweden. The island is 137 km long and has a width that varies from 4 to 16 km. On this island you will find 400 windmills, 34 churches, 16 ancient fortifications, 34 orchid species, the highest lighthouse in Sweden, the largest windmill in Scandinavia, one of Europe's longest bridges and the largest castle ruin in northern Europe, the Alvaret - a bare limestone biotype not found anywhere else in the world. In addition Öland offers more sun than any other Swedish province, drenching an endless variety of beaches and more than 50 places to swim. Accommodation in Kalmar.
Breakfast at the hotel. Today you will depart Kalmar after breakfast and head for Oskarshamn located one hour north of Kalmar (please note that in low season the ferry may depart in the evening instead). In Oskarshamn you will board the 3-hour ferry to Gotland, Sweden’s largest island. You will arrive to the medieval town of Visby with its city wall, winding cobblestone streets and alleys. Visby was an important Viking centre between the 12th and 14th century and it is the best-preserved fortified commercial city in northern Europe. It is today recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Gotland itself has many historic monuments, museums and ruins of churches and abbeys. More buried treasures have been found here in modern times than anywhere else in the world. From Visby, you can drive to a large number of interesting sites and attractions spread out across the island. Distances are short and you can experience a lot in just a day. We recommend a visit to the southern cape; Sudret, with its rocky coasts and barren, highly scenic landscape crisscrossed by ancient stone fences and dotted with windmills. All along the Gotland coastline, there are many beautiful beaches, rocky cliff areas and secluded spots for swimming and sunbathing in the summer. Accommodation in Visby.
Breakfast at the hotel. This day is at your own leisure to explore the island. We recommend driving north towards the remote island Fårö. You get to Fårö from Fårösund on Gotland with a free car ferry departing every 30 minutes and taking only 8 minutes. On northern Gotland and the islands of Fårö, rock formations called "Raukar" can be found. These are unique limestone formations and perhaps you recognise these rock structures from the films of Ingemar Bergman, who filmed extensively on Fårö. He often declared Fårö to be one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the world. You can also visit the north-western parts of Gotland to see the exciting Lummelunda Caves with beautiful dripstones and interesting fossils. The cave is almost 4 km long and the Lummelunda creek is flowing through the caves for approximately 1,3 km. Accommodation in Visby.
Breakfast at the hotel. Short drive to the ferry terminal where you will embark on a 3-hour cruise to Nynäshamn. Upon arriving at the coastal town Nynäshamn head north towards the Swedish capital Stockholm (50 minutes drive). Stockholm is built on 14 islands connected by old bridges and overpasses and is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved mediaeval city centers. It homes the country’s most important buildings and finest architecture. Visit the Royal Palace, official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden, with over 600 rooms. The Palace is open to the public and offers no less than five museums. Take an afternoon boat trip along Stockholm’s numerous waterways or try one of the evening dinner cruises sailing around the beautiful archipelago (see add-ons). Accommodation in Stockholm.
Breakfast at the hotel. This day is at your own leisure in Stockholm. Stockholm offers great shopping, quality eateries in abundance and a vibrant cultural life. You can get to just about all of Stockholm’s many attractions by foot. Visit Djurgården, an island in the eastern part of the city, offering spectacular surroundings and many museums. The famous Vasa Museum offers a unique insight into early 17th-century Sweden as well as the salvation of the ship wreck Vasa that was salvaged after 333 years under the sea. Other sights of interest include the Skansen Open Air Museum, City Hall, the Old Town (Gamla Stan)and much more. Accommodation in Stockholm.
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning is at your own leisure in Stockholm. Depart Stockholm and head south west towards Vadstena. We recommend a detour to Mariefred where you can visit the 16th-century Gripsholm Castle, a lavishly built fortress located on an island. The former royal barn which at one time housed cattle, horses and a hay-loft has now been beautifully renovated and has become the home of Grafikens Hus (the House of Graphics). The castle houses the Swedish state collection of portraits and here you can find portraits from the time of King Gustav Vasa to the present day. The charismatic town of Mariefred itself is well worth a visit with its narrow streets, colourful, low wooden houses and boatmen’s cottages. You will find many local specialities and handicrafts on offer. Continue to Vadstena, a town with a rich medieval history where practically every building has its own story to tell, the most prominent being the castle and the abbey. During the middle Ages, Vadstena was the location of a catholic monastery for monks and nuns of the Birgittine order. The abbey church was built by the directions of Sancta Birgitta and it was consecrated in 1430. Today it is one of the few still active abbeys in Sweden. Accommodation in Vadstena.
Breakfast at the hotel. Depart Vadstena and drive south along Lake Vättern towards Gränna. Here small stores are mixed with handicraft shops, restaurants, coffee shops and the famous peppermint rock bakeries. From Gränna it is possible to go by ferry to Visingsö Island, called the pearl of Lake Vättern. Sights of interest are Visingsborg Herb Garden with more than 900 different species, Tempelgården Art Centre, the Brahe Church and the castle ruins of Visingsö- and Visingsborg Castle. Also recommended is a ride with the Remmalag starting from the harbour (horse and carriage). After returning to Gränna continue south along Lake Vättern and head for Häckeberga castle in the countryside of Skåne. The castle was built between 1872 and 1875 and was originally the site of a stronghold built in the 1530s. Accommodation at Häckeberga Castle.
Breakfast at the hotel. Today you will drive the short distance to Malmö where you will drop off your rental car before returning by train to Copenhagen. Before arriving to Malmö we recommend a detour to the ancient university town of Lund, with its famous cathedral first consecrated in 1123. Arrival in Copenhagen in the afternoon where you have the afternoon at your own leisure. Accommodation in Copenhagen.
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure from Copenhagen according to your own itinerary. As an alternative we recommend combining this tour with one of our independent rail tours, i.e. Göta Canal: From Coast to Coast or Norway in a Nutshell.