The ‘city of stone’ crowned Sweden’s most beautiful
By John Sempill
The city of stone – known as Stenstan in Swedish – is the heart of Sundsvall. This historical city was recently named the most beautiful city in Sweden, and it has it all: mouth-watering food, pilgrim routes for hiking and cycling, ski slopes and a backdrop of fabulous nature.
Are you looking for the perfect Swedish getaway? Try Destination Sundsvall – consisting of the cities Sundsvall, Timrå and Ånge. Situated by the coast in central Sweden, yet still part of Sweden’s glorious northernmost land area, you’ll be close to fairy-tale nature and midnight sun, without having to forego the urban pulse – unless you want to, of course. But why leave Stenstan when you are surrounded by picturesque mountains?
The name Stenstan has a history. The city was built up in stone after areas of it were ruined by a fire in 1888. “Sundsvall is the city between the mountains, with Stenstan in the centre. Surrounding the city are the mountains Norra Berget and Södra Berget,” explains Anna Borggren, the business area manager of Hospitality Sundsvall.
Don’t be fooled by the assumptions related to mountains and northern Sweden. Although the region is perfect for cross-country skiing during the winter months, it’s a summer paradise come the warmer months. “Something that is unique for Destination Sundsvall is that there is something to do all year round,” Borggren says. “We have amazing beaches and a long coast, with maritime life and lovely nature. But we also have the dense forests towards Ånge. It really is a destination full of contrasts.”
No matter what you are looking for, Sundsvall has a lot to offer. Whilst staying at one of the many top-notch hotels, don’t miss dining at one of Sundsvall’s several restaurants. “We have a rich food culture with an interesting history. We call it ‘The Taste of Medelpad’ – the taste of our fabulous landscape, in other words. We have an amazing restaurant offering in Stenstan, including Chef of the Year winner Johan Backéus’ restaurant Naturaj,” Borggren says.
Pilgrim trails and city adventures
If you haven’t worked up an appetite yet, you’ll definitely want a bite to eat after a spot of cross-country skiing. Sundsvall has over 500 kilometres of skiing trails on offer and if they are good enough for nine-time Olympic medallist and cross-country skier, Charlotte Kalla, they should be good enough for anyone. “She lives here, trains here and built her success here,” says Borggren. “Many of our visitors are interested in Vasaloppet – the world’s biggest cross-country ski race. This is the perfect place to come to work and train for this prestigious event. It’s only ten minutes by car to our trails.”
There’s something for everyone, here. Perhaps you prefer downhill skiing. Why not try one of Sundsvall’s six slopes? Or, leave the skis at home altogether and have a traditional winter swim in the sea. What’s more, the pilgrim trail St Olavsleden starts here. “The trail goes from Sundsvall to Trondheim in Norway,” Borggren says. “This trail is 580 kilometres in total and offers amazing hiking. We compare it to Compostela de Santiago, in Spain. And it’s perfect for cycling, too.”
Younger visitors might prefer Himlabadet, an indoor adventure water park. And you won’t go wrong with a family outing at the city park Norra Berget – Sundsvall’s open-air museum with cafés, restaurants and animals.
If it’s nightlife you’re after, then nightlife you’ll get. The old train station, one of Sundsvall’s oldest buildings, has been done up and turned into Centralen – a space that features a nightclub, restaurants and conference facilities. But what would all this be without somewhere to wind down? At the top-class hotel Södra Berget, you can get toasty at the spa, enjoy a gourmet meal and some truly fabulous views. But beware, once you visit Sundsvall, chances are you won’t want to leave!
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