This tour takes us west from Stockholm into the folkloric provinces of Dalarna and Värmland, the heart of Sweden. In American terms, it's equivalent to leaving New York and heading for the Midwest. This land of lakes and inland seas -- often called Sweden in miniature -- features mountains and rich agricultural plains. We think Lake Siljan is the most beautiful lake in Europe, although there are many who might dispute our claim. In just 1 week, you can hit all the highlights of these two provinces, including Karlstad, the capital of Värmland. You can also vary the scenery by descending into copper mines at Falun. Then it's back to nature again, as you visit four of the most scenic and idyllic resorts in the country, including Leksand and Mora, and our two favorites, Tällberg and Rättvik.
Day 1: Karlstad, Gateway to Värmland
On the morning of Day 1, leave Stockholm and head west for 248km (154 miles) on an express highway, E18. Once you check into a hotel for the night, we suggest a lake cruise aboard the Vestrag, which lasts an hour. The beauty of Sweden's lakes is reason enough to go to Värmland and especially Dalarna.
Back in town, you can visit the Värmlands Museum. If you have the time and inclination, you can also drive to the town of Karlskoga, 56km (35 miles) east of Karlstad, to visit Alfred Nobel's Björkborn on the edge of Lake Möckeln. This was the former home of the dynamite king who created the Nobel Prizes. If it's summer, you can cap off the evening at Mariebergsskogen, a park complete with rides, back in Karlstad.
Day 2: Sunne, Selma Lagerlöf Country
On the morning of Day 2, leave Karlstad and drive 61km (38 miles) northwest to Sunne, following Route 61 west to the junction with Route 234, which you take northwest into Sunne itself.
On Lake Fryken, Sunne offers boat trips, a golf course, and an old manor house (Sundsbergs Gård). In the afternoon you can drive 10km (6 1/4 miles) to the southeast to visit Mårbacka Minnesgård, the former home of Selma Lagerlöf, who won the Nobel Prize for literature. Return to Sunne for overnighting.
Day 3: Filipstad, Land of John Ericsson
On the morning of Day 3, leave Sunne and do some cross-country travel for an overnight in our next stopover at Filipstad, a distance of 128km (80 miles) east. The simplest way to reach Filipstad is to return from Sunne to Karlstad on Route 234. Follow the signs east along Route 61, bypassing the northern rim of Karlstad until you reach the junction of Route 63 heading northeast into Filipstad. You can also head east along Route 241 out of Sunne, taking a series of small country roads until you reach (we hope) Filipstad; you'll need a very detailed map to do that.
Once in Filipstad, you can visit Långbans Gruvby, the home of the Swedish-American inventor John Ericsson, who helped the Yankees defeat the Confederacy by creating the warship the Yankee Monitor. His house is found in a well-preserved mining village. You can also visit Lesjöfors Museum, which illustrates 3 centuries of Värmland history.
Day 4: The Copper Mines of Falun
On the morning of Day 4, leave Filipstad heading north to Falun, following Route 63, which merges with Route 60 before it reaches our goal. The distance is 173km (107 miles). The copper mines here are preserved under the guidance of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. In the old capital of Dalarna, check into a hotel for the night. Later, explore Falu Koppargruva, the world's largest producer of copper during the 17th century, where you can take an elevator to deep within the bowels of the earth. Yet there's a lot more to Falun than copper mines, as a visit to the Dalarnas Museum proves. With its folk costumes and exhibits, this is the richest folkloric museum in Dalarna province. Visits are also possible to the Carl Larsson-gården, the former home of one of Sweden's greatest artists, lying a 20-minute drive from Falun in the small village of Sundborn.
Day 5: Leksand, Doorway to Lake Siljan
Leave Falun on the morning of Day 5, heading for the lakeside resort of Leksand, 48km (30 miles) to the west. From Falun, head south on Route 60 to the junction with Route 70 going northwest into Leksand. At Leksand you can take boat rides along Siljan, Sweden's most beautiful lake, and see such attractions as Fräsgården, one of the best open-air museums in the province. You can also visit Munthes Hildasholm, the former home of Axel Munthe (1857-1949), the world-famous Swedish author and doctor. Overnight in Leksand.
Day 6: Tällberg & Rättvik
Even more enchanting than Leksand itself are the twin lakeside villages of Tällberg (our favorite) and Rättvik. If Tällberg's hotels are full in summer, you can try Rättvik, which is almost, but not quite, as charming. Tällberg lies 13km (8 miles) north of Leksand. Continue north on Route 70; the distance between Tällberg and Rättvik is only 3.1km (2 miles), and it too lies along Route 70.
Regardless of your choice for overnighting, both of these resorts are worth exploring. Their obvious allure is in swimming and boating on the lake. At Tällberg, you can visit Holen Gustaf Ancarcronas at Holen, a collection of restored wooden-framed buildings. The chief attraction of Rättvik is Gammelgården, an antique Dalarna farmstead.
Day 7: Mora of Anders Zorn Fame
On the morning of Day 7, leave either Rättvik or Tällberg and continue along Route 70 into the resort of Mora, which lies 45km (28 miles) west of Rättvik. Overnight here. Mora lies between Lake Orsa and Lake Siljan, so most visitors come here to have fun on the lake.
You can also visit the Zorn Museum, the former home of Anders Zorn (1860-1920), who competes with Carl Larsson for the title of Sweden's greatest painter. Since it adjoins the museum, you can visit the Zornsgården next.
From Mora, you can return to Stockholm if you're using that city as your transportation hub. The driving distance between Stockholm and Mora is 328km (204 miles).