Before the Swedish royal family moved their summer slot (palace) to Öland, they used to spend their precious weeks of sunshine right outside Helsingborg. When you first take in the glories of Sofiero, you'll have two immediate reactions: You'll want to move in, and you'll be puzzled why the royals decamped from such a beautiful castle in the first place.

One of the most famous buildings in southern Sweden, lying 5km (3 miles) north of Helsingborg, this castle was constructed in 1864 and 1865 to be the summer residence of King Oscar II and his wife, Sofia. It was bequeathed in 1905 to their grandson, Gustav Adolph, and his wife, Margareta, who enlarged the site and created some of the most memorable gardens in the country. Their interests supposedly sparked a nationwide interest in landscape architecture, which continues stronger than ever throughout Sweden today. After his coronation, Gustav Adolph spent his last days here, eventually bequeathing Sofiero as a gift to the city of Helsingborg in 1973. In 1993, many of the original gardens were re-created in memory of their designer, Queen Margareta. Today the most visited sites include the 1865 castle, which contains a cafe and restaurant; the rose garden; and the Rhododendron Ravine, with an estimated 10,000 rhododendrons, which are in their full glory in early June.