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Vast subarctic tundra in the north, mountainous terrain in the west, coastal cities and skerries in the south – the geography of Sweden is surprisingly diverse. Of the 21 counties that comprise the country, the following seven are the most popular as they're home to the cosmopolitan cities of Stockholm (by far the biggest draw), Gothenburg, Malmö, Lund, and Uppsala, as well as quaint fishing villages, prime spots for outdoor adventures, and Swedish islands.

Sweden Cities and Regions

Stockholm County (Stockholms län)

Sweden’s lively capital city occupies 14 islands in a 24,000-island archipelago in Stockholm County. The city exemplifies two Swedish passions: the outdoors and architecture. Its main claim to fame is its 750-year-old Gamla Stan (Old Town), but its spacious parks and fascinating museums are equally compelling. Visitors will also find a vibrant art scene fed by dozens of galleries boasting contemporary interior designs. See our Stockholm Travel Guide

Norrbotten County (Norrbottens län)

Bordered by the Gulf of Bothnia, this northernmost county in Sweden, also known as Swedish Lapland, is home to the port city of Luleå and its UNESCO heritage site, Gammelstad Church Town, as well as the indigenous Sami people and Jukkasjärvi in Kiruna where the world-famous Ice Hotel is located.

Uppsala County (Uppsala län)

The oldest university in Scandinavia (Uppsala University, founded in 1477) is located in the city of Uppsala in this eastern county. Just 45 miles north of Stockholm, Uppsala has a diverse and vibrant culture fed by its local university students – many Stockholm visitors choose to explore the city as a day trip.

Västra Götaland County (Västra Götalands län)

Hundreds of fishing villages dot the coastline of Västra Götaland, a major port region in Western Sweden. The county also holds Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg (Göteborg), with a population of roughly 500,000. Gothenburg is known for its maritime flair and for housing Scandinavia’s largest amusement park, Liseberg.

Skåne County (Skåne län)

This southernmost county is home to Malmö, touted as the “gateway to Sweden” for its cosmopolitan aura and its close proximity to Copenhagen, Denmark (just 20 minutes by car). Skåne County is also home to the popular university town of Lund.

Västerbotten County (Västerbottens län)

Boasting yet another popular university town, Umeå, this northern county serves as a launching point for tons of outdoor activities such as fishing, dog-sledding, kayaking, hiking, and cross-country skiing.

Kalmar County (Kalmar län)

Kalmar County borders the Baltic Sea in the southeast corner of the Sweden and is home to one of the country’s most popular vacation islands, Öland. Most of the land in Öland has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, thanks to the fact that it has been settled for some 5,000 years.

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