Sweden’s Best Castles and Palaces

153569000Spring and summer are ideal times of year for a trip to beautiful Sweden. The short days are becoming longer, the wintry winds have subsided, and the place is abloom with flowers galore. The cities, like Stockholm, are waking up and you’ll find the hustle and bustle reappearing. Shops are sprucing up for the spring season and there’s just a general overall feeling of rebirth. The countryside is coming to life as well, ready for tourists to take to their bicycles and explore places like Ängsö National Park, the Scandinavian Mountains, or the beautiful Bohuslän Coast.

If you’re a lover of castles, palaces, and other grand edifices, spring and summer are the perfect time for exploring those structures as well…and Sweden has plenty of them, probably more than you might expect. Some of the structures date back as far as the 11th or 12th centuries and are still in good condition or have been lovingly restored. Others consist of interesting ruins. Many are a joy to photograph and are within reasonable driving distance of each other, so visiting won’t consume an excessive amount of time. Some have also been turned into hotels and provide a unique accommodation experience.

So, channel your inner King Gustav persona, put a shine on your armor, and take off for a road trip to some of the country’s best castles and palaces.

Drottningholm Palace

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stockholm’s Drottningholm Palace is one of Sweden’s “Royal” palaces. It was built in the late 16th century though it’s seen many renovations over the last 400 years. Currently the residence of the Swedish royal family (though they only occupy the south wing), it’s also open to the public and is a must-see on any trip to Stockholm. Aside from visiting parts of the main building, guests can also view the palace church and the beautiful gardens, which include both Baroque and English sections.

Castle of Bosjökloster

A former Benedictine convent, this one is located in the southern portion of the country in Scania. Dubbed the “Pearl of the Ring Lakes”, the castle dates back to the 12th century though it served as an abbey until the 16th. Painted white with a brick red-colored roof, it’s a lovely sight to behold and even more fun to visit. Though it’s privately owned, visitors are heartily welcomed and greeted by beautiful gardens, a café and restaurant, a lovely gift shop, and tons of special events like county fairs, concerts, and wonderful Christmas activities in December. You can also have your hotel concierge arrange to pack you a picnic and you can enjoy it on the grounds of Bosjökloster. A perfect summer activity!

Stockholm Palace (Kungliga Slottet)

Technically, this is the “official” residence of the King and Queen of Sweden, but they don’t live here. They do keep many offices here, however. This palace started as a fortress in the 13th century and was then converted to a palace about 300 years later. In 1690, it was rebuilt in Baroque style though later destroyed by fire and rebuilt again. It has 600 rooms spread out over 7 floors and on a tour you can (usually) visit the Royal Apartments, the Treasury, and the Tre Kronor Museum. During certain times of the year, the Museum of Antiquities is also open to tour participants.

Gripsholm Castle

This unique-looking castle was built as a fortress by Bo Jonsson Grip in 1380, hence, its name. It was rebuilt in the early 16th century as a fortified castle with circular corner towers and a defensive wall. However, it was rebuilt yet again just before the turn of the 20th century, adding a third floor and removing some early alterations. Today, it houses the National Portrait Gallery, one of the oldest portrait collections in the world. Guided tours of the castle are available and take about 45 minutes.

Läckö Castle

Situated on the shores of Lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden, this stately medieval castle is one of the most fairytale-like in Sweden. Lovingly maintained, it took nearly 400 years to complete its 250 rooms and – in the end – it turned out to be one of the largest castles in Sweden, surpassed only by the Stockholm Castle. Guests can tour the castle and walk around the stunning grounds. Be sure to take lots of photos, including one from across the water with the reflection of the castle in the pretty lake.

Kalmar Castle

This grand structure was the site of the forming of the Kalmar Union in the 14th century, which once joined Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, making it especially historic. Beginning in the late 19th century, restoration began and continued all the way until 1941. It includes a classic bridge, drawbridge, and moat, and is considered one of the best-preserved Renaissance-style castles in Scandinavia. It’s open to the public and is located in an area that has lots of other sights to explore, so you may want to take an entire day to visit Kalmar and the surrounding region.

 

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