Most foreign visitors, certainly those touring Sweden by car, head to the south after they leave Stockholm. If you follow the 1-week tour outlined above, you'll actually reach three of the south's highlights: Visby on the island of Gotland, the port of Kalmar, and the Kingdom of Crystal, centered on Växjö. On this tour we extend those 4 days by 3, allowing you to take in the medieval town of Ystad, the university city of Lund, with a final stop at the port city of Malmö, the third largest in Sweden.
Days 1 & 2: Stockholm: Gateway to Sweden
On Day 1, arrive in Stockholm as early as you can so you will have more time for sightseeing. After checking into a hotel for 2 or 3 nights, set out to explore the capital of Sweden.
There is no better introduction to the city than our 3-hour walking tour of Gamla Stan or Old Town. After lunch in an Old Town tavern, head for the Royal Palace, which is the official address of the King and Queen of Sweden.
In the afternoon, explore Scandinavia's top attraction, the Royal Warship Vasa, a 17th-century man-of-war pulled from the bottom of the sea. For a night of fun, go to Skansen on Djurgården, which is an open-air museum with a vast array of attractions. It stays open until 10pm in summer.
On the morning of Day 2, set out to see all the highlights you missed on Day 1. The two greatest attractions that remain are both outside the city. If you work out the transportation details, you can see the first sight, Drottningholm Palace and Theater, in the late morning and the second attraction, Millesgården, by the end of the afternoon. For your final evening in Stockholm, head to Gröna Lunds Tivoli, an amusement park. It's not as great as the original Tivoli in Copenhagen, but it's still fun.
Day 3: Sigtuna & Uppsala
On the morning of Day 3, you can still use Stockholm as your base, returning that evening, or you can stay in Uppsala.
Head northwest of Stockholm for 48km (30 miles) to visit the ancient town of Sigtuna on a north arm of Lake Mälaren. This is Sweden's oldest town, founded at the beginning of the 11th century. To reach it, drive north on the express highway, E4, until you reach the turnoff leading west into the center of Sigtuna. Spend 2 hours wandering its old streets before returning to the E4 for the final lap to Uppsala, a distance of 68km (42 miles) northwest of Stockholm.
Have lunch in this old university city. In the afternoon visit Uppsala Domkyrka, the largest cathedral in Scandinavia; continue with the Linnaeus Garden and Museum, founded by the world-famous botanist; and end the day at Gamla Uppsala to see what remains of Old Uppsala, founded 15 centuries ago as the capital of the Svea kingdom.
Day 4: Gotland & Visby
On the morning of Day 4, leave Stockholm, or Uppsala as the case may be, and drive 219km (136 miles) south of Stockholm to catch the car ferry at Nynäshamn heading for the island of Visby, taking 3 hours and 15 minutes.
After disembarking, visit the medieval walled city of Visby for a 2-night stopover. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring its medieval streets.
Day 5: Simrishamn & Ystad
On the morning of Day 5, leave Växjö following Route 30 southeast to the coast, which will put you on a larger highway, E66, heading west to the city of Karlshamn. Continue west on this road until you come to the junction with a secondary coastal road, Route 10, heading to the village of Kivik. Here you can stop to see a remarkable find, the Kivik Tomb, discovered in 1748. This site contains Sweden's most amazing Bronze Age relic. After a visit, continue on Route 10 southeast along the coast into Simrishamn, a distance of 192km (119 miles) from Växjö. After wandering its ancient streets for an hour or so, continue on Route 501 southwest to Ystad for the night, a distance of 40km (25 miles).
En route to Ystad, there are two major attractions along the way, including Glimmingehus, lying 10km (6 1/4 miles) southwest of Simrishamn. This castle from 1499 contains the best-preserved medieval keep in Sweden. Once back on Route 501, stop next at Backakra, the farm of Dag Hammarskjöld, the former United Nations secretary-general. The site is found 31km (19 miles) southwest of Simrishamn. After driving on to Ystad and checking into a hotel there, you can wander its medieval core at night, taking in some 300 half-timbered houses in its maze of narrow streets.
Day 6: The University City of Lund
Leave Ystad on the morning of Day 6, cutting across the southern tip of Sweden along an express highway (E65). At the approach to Malmö, avoid the city for the moment, and head northeast along E22 into Lund. Mileage between Ystad in the east and Lund in the west is 73km (45 miles).
After checking into a hotel in Lund for the night, visit its major attraction, Domkyrkan, the Lund Cathedral, the finest manifestation of Romanesque architecture in Sweden. There are many treasures to view here, and you should allow at least 1 1/2 hours for a visit. Afterward, you can visit the Historiska Museet, the second largest museum of archaeology in Sweden. In town, secure the makings of a picnic lunch to be enjoyed in the Botaniska Trädgården, Lund's botanical gardens. In the afternoon, plan a visit to the Kulturen, the Museum of Cultural History, one of the finest open-air museums in the south. The rest of the day can be spent browsing through local shops and wandering Lund's medieval streets.
Day 7: Malmö, Sweden's "Third City"
On the morning of Day 7, head southwest for only 18km (11 miles) to Malmö, following the E22 express highway. After checking into a hotel, set out to see the city's attractions in 1 day, which is possible if you move fast enough.
Start out by visiting the city's two most historic squares, Stortorget and Lilla Torg, before descending on Malmöhus Castle, with its array of museums. You should be out of this vast compound in time for a 1pm lunch.
In the afternoon, call at the Malmö Konsthall/Art Gallery, one of the best art museums in the country, and visit St. Petri, or St. Peter's Church, a Gothic edifice from the 14th century. Between May and September, you can wind up the evening by going to Folkets Park, the People's Park, which boasts a vast array of gardens and dancing pavilions.
Malmö is a major transportation hub for Sweden, so you can fly or take the bus easily from here. Many international flights also leave from Copenhagen in Denmark, which is now within easy reach of Malmö across the spectacular bridge over Öresund Sound.