A Swedish cruise: lock, stock and historic steamer

October 21, 2010

Sweden. It’s not all about ice hotels, Stockholm and meatballs. The country has many sides and I recently joined a group of tour operators and travel agents to experience a Göta Canal Steamship Company cruise through its scenic heart. Although little-known outside its borders, within Sweden this is seen as a classic journey and they’re not wrong.

With three steamships operating in each direction between Gothenburg and Stockholm, these sedate trips evoke a stylish, more unhurried era of travel. Charmed by nostalgic accommodation and friendly staff on board, we travelled along the landmark Göta Canal, with its generous allocation of locks, along natural waterways and across great sea-like lakes. The scenery wafting by was absolutely idyllic and regular meals, coffee and pastry intervals gave us a fine, and often inventive, taste of Sweden. Perch and pike burger anyone? It was really tasty.

With stops at places of interest such as mighty Karlsborg Fortress, and the bonus of being serenaded by the Kindbom family, an elderly flower-waving religious group that lives along the way, the balance between peace, gentle distractions and excursions is just right. And then there’s Gothenburg and Stockholm, Sweden’s two greatest cities to delve into, either side of it all. Rob Looker.