Drottningholm Palace and Theater (Drottningholm): Lying 11km (6 3/4 miles) from Stockholm on an island in Lake Mälaren, Drottningholm, or "Queen's Island," has been dubbed the Versailles of Sweden. It is a magnificent royal residence, a gem of baroque architecture with a palace, gardens, a Chinese pavilion, and one of the most remarkable court theaters in Europe. Since 1981, Sweden's royal family has occupied the south wing.
Kungliga Slottet (Stockholm): One of the few official residences of the royal family that is open to the public, this palace in Gamla Stan (Stockholm's Old Town) dates back 700 years. Encompassing 608 rooms, it is used today by the Swedish king and his family mainly for ceremonial occasions. The 18th-century Royal Apartments, with their painted ceilings, glittering chandeliers, and heirloom tapestries, are the highlight of any visit.
Castle of Bosjökloster (Lund): The origins of this former Benedictine convent date from 1080. Closed in the 1500s, at the time of the Reformation, it fell into disrepair but has since been restored to some of its former glory. Situated on the shores of Lake Ringsjö, today the castle is surrounded by a recreation area with beautiful gardens. The great courtyard here is one of high drama, with thousands of flowers and exotic shrubs. You can bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds.
Kalmar Slott (Kalmar): Once called "the key to Sweden," this historic castle was the setting for the Kalmar Union that temporarily united the thrones of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in 1397. The original structure dates from the 12th century, but in the 16th century, King Gustav Vasa rebuilt it, and his sons eventually transformed it into a Renaissance palace. The castle is the major site in this port city in southern Sweden, which also makes a good base for exploring the "Kingdom of Crystal," the bargain-filled area of glassworks manufacturers .
Läckö Slott (Lidköping): Lying in the vicinity of the pleasant little town of Lidköping, this castle on the waters of Lake Vänern is straight from a fairy tale. Between 1298 and 1681, 250 rooms were built, many quite large; only the royal palace in Stockholm is larger than Läckö. As you approach from a distance, its distinctive white walls, towers, and turrets seem to rise out of the water. The palace furnishings eventually were carted off and the rooms left bare, but over the years many of the original furnishings have been reclaimed and returned. A visit here and a walk through the once-royal grounds is a highlight of any trip to the waters of Lake Vänern.
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