By just about any measure, life in Sweden is good. The average Swede lives more than 80 years. Ninety-nine per cent of the population over 15 years old can read and write. Everyone has health care. Downsides? The only natural hazard seems to be the ice floes in the waters off the Northeastern coast that can get in the way of boat traffic. That, and winters are low on sunlight and even lower in temperature.
To experience Sweden, Go-Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has Stockholm city specials and independent fly/drive packages that allow you to explore the countryside at your leisure. Built on fourteen islands with medieval stone bridges connecting the various neighborhoods, Stockholm offers architectural wonders, expansive parks and urban waterways practically around every cobblestone corner. A three-night air-inclusive vacation departing out of New York-JFK or Newark International Airport costs $789 per person for travel through December 14, 2006 and January 4 to March 7, 2007. This package must be booked by November 16, 2006 to lock in these prices. Accommodations are at the Quality Hotel Globe near the Globen indoor shopping center and sports arena (about two miles from the city center). The hotel is a nine-story structure with modern amenities and a sauna. Daily continental breakfast is included in the price. Departures from Boston cost an additional $30, while Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. are $40 more. Security fees and departure taxes are not included in the price of the trip.
For roughly the same price, Go-Today also offers a seven-night fly and drive package with airfare and a seven-day Hertz rental car included in the price of the package. Packages start at $779 per person (based on double occupancy) for trips from January 4 through March 7, 2007 with a mandatory booking deadline of November 16, 2006. For visitors traveling in fours, the price drops to $699 per person.
Scandinavian Packages (tel. +011 46 7316-9501; www.scandinavianpackages.com) is a local Stockholm-based tour operator offering multi-day, land-only tours of Sweden. Its three-night Crystal Tour of Sweden includes accommodations in three-star hotels with daily breakfast, airport transfers, sightseeing tours and all inland transportation. Excursions and cultural meals are available as optional add-ons. This trip spends one night in Stockholm and two in the town of Kalmar, one of the oldest municipalities in the country -- some of its buildings date back to the Stone Age. The region around Kalmar is named Glasriket (the kingdom of crystal) and has long been known for its rich history of glassmaking and crystal. Cost of this four-day tour with accommodations, sightseeing and all transportation comes to approximately $660.
Scandinavian Packages also has a two-day, one-night Moose Safari where you spend a night in the pristine wilderness sleeping in forest huts and two days of tracking the great moose of the Scandinavian woods. Kolarbyn, the base camp in the region of Bergslagen, is a primitive hostel in the woods where guests enjoy a bonfire and a "wilderness dinner" cooked at the camp fire. Due to the winter cold, this trip takes place for two-day stretches from May through September. This land-only Swedish adventure costs approximately $400. An extended three-day, two-night version of the trip departing at similar times costs $530.
For a lengthy combination trip that visits Norway and Denmark in addition to Sweden, Cosmos Travel (tel. 800/942-3301; www.cosmostravelagent.com) has a thirteen-day Focus on Scandinavia tour with a land-only price starting at $1,510. (Call a Cosmos representative for the air-inclusive price of the trip.) This package visits Copenhagen, Frederikshavn, Odense, Gothenburg, Telemark, Fagernes, Lillehammer, Karlstad, Oslo and Stockholm. Travel is via luxury motor coach with a cruise of the Sognefjord waterways and ferry trips between the countries. Eleven buffet breakfasts and five dinners are also included in the price of the trip. Departures in 2007 begin in April and last through late May. Spaces are available for this package for eight different departure dates. Departures are out of New York for the air inclusive price. Security fees and departure taxes are not included in the price of the trip.