Vasteras: Everything Cool about Sweden in One Small City
PHOTO: "Turbinhuset September 2014 04" by Arild Vagen - Own work. (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons)
Sweden is expensive, but it is also accessible and user-friendly. Anglophone travelers don’t need to know Swedish, for the most part, because virtually everyone they will encounter will speak flawless English. Public transportation is extremely useful, there are plenty of resources for sightseeing and day-trip planning, and the overall vibe of the country is quite relaxed.
I've already mentioned the costliness of a Swedish stay. Perhaps this is why most people never get beyond Stockholm. Sure, they might take some time to sight see in Gothenburg, cruise the islands or make a dash north to ski, see the Aurora Borealis or just tag the Arctic Circle. But everything in between their Point As and Point Bs is usually just a blur.
Then there are all those cultural attractions: sites related to Abba or the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (or Ingmar Bergman and Franz Berwald if your tastes lean more towards the highbrow). For travelers whose interests are business and design oriented, attractions related to IKEA and Volvo may be on the itinerary.
Sweden’s other cities generally fall off the tourist map. Time, expense or a simple lack of awareness mean that most international visitors, even those who consider themselves really plugged-in travelers, miss this Scandinavian country’s smaller metro areas.
Take Vasteras, for example. This town of a 150,000 sits on Lake Malaren. It is only about an hour from Stockholm, but the people who do make it here generally rush to the Lake and ignore the city.
Modern, with a small dose of history
Perhaps Vasteras could have been a bigger tourist attraction. It has a long history; its narrative dates back to the 10th century. However, many of the old buildings were torn down during an ambitious modernization project in the second half of the 1900s.
The city’s Kyrkbacken area was not demolished during rebuilding. Many of the old structures here have been converted into art galleries or handicraft shops. For fans of Viking-era sites, the Anundshog Burial Mound, Sweden’s largest ancient necropolis, is located near the lake.
Design with a whimsical sense of cool
The biggest reason to visit Vasteras, however, is its unique designs. Even if Sweden, which in widely known as a hotbed for innovation, Vasteras stands out. Some of the city’s most whimsical accommodations, for example, were created by artist Mikael Genberg. These hotels include Hotell Hackspett, an adult-sized treehouse, and the Utter Inn, an underwater guesthouse.
The modern architecture in the city is appealing if you are a fan of such things. There are plenty of pleasant squares from which to view the buildings. These plazas are nice even if you wish the city had kept its old structures intact.
The full Swedish experience
In many ways, Vasteras is the ideal city to get a full Sweden experience. The modern design, history and the nature of Lake Malaren are all within walking distance of one another. It’s no wonder that Sweden’s English language news outlet, the Local, called Vasteras one of the country's most underrated destinations.
More by Josh Lew
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