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Relaxing, beachy/cultural retreat suggestions for Sweden/Germany/Denmark

In May, my sister and I did a 20-day trip, mostly via trains, from Rome to Paris. I did all of the planning and we had a wonderful time. Now, the pressure is on to plan something for next summer. Don't get me wrong, I love the planning part. My MO is to do some research. open my mind for possibilities and let the concepts compost. By January, when I'll probably book, it should be very rich compost.

One of the many highlights of our last trip were the idle, beautiful days we spent in Cinque Terre. After sightseeing Rome and Florence, this was a good interlude before more sightseeing in Venice and Paris. We rented an Airbnb in Monterosso which was chilly but not too crowded. At this midpoint in our trip, we spread out for a bit, did laundry, cooked meals, drank a lot of wine and sat on the beach. After 4 nights, we felt refreshed, grounded and ready for more touristy stuff.

For our next adventure, I've considered starting in Amsterdam, Munich or Vienna with possibilities of Prague, Copenhagen or Berlin. Somehow, ending up in Sweden, our ancestral home, feels right. This trip could go many ways but it makes sense to start with the something we found so fulfilling. My criteria for our hidey-hole is that it be a place that has enough tourist stuff: markets, museums, shops, trails, churches, etc to give us some structure. It has to be reachable by trains or ferries. I know the Alps are a thought but I live in the foothills of Colorado. It would have to be a really, really special mountain place to tempt me. Greece, Spain, Portugal...these are all on the eventual travel list, too.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I hadn't heard about Cinque Terre until I started planning and am hoping someone might think of something just as delightful.

Thanks!

Posted by
56 posts

Thanks for the feedback. Maybe I can clarify these thoughts.

We're in our 60's and want a place where we can take a timeout from being a tourist. Like many travelers, we get itinerary-driven. My sister hasn't traveled much and she wants to see everything. We stay in hotels, plan carefully, start early and are on foot seeking the less traveled path. On our last trip, according to my Fitbit, we walked 166 miles.

Last summer, we did a week in England (I planned it) and a week in Ireland (part of a tour). We came home tired, achy and with sore feet. This year, we did 6 nights touristing, 4 nights relaxing, then 5 nights touristing. We came home refreshed and invigorated. Cinque Terre, the relaxing portion, was a place that we didn't have to go, go, go. We had an apartment where we slept late, shopped locally, watched the waves and listened to people speak Italian. If you understand the concept of somewhere that feeds your soul, you will know what I mean. It was a high point of our trip.

That's the kind of place I'm looking for. Does that make sense?

Posted by
1378 posts

Thank you, that helps me understanding. And you look for that in Sweden/Germany/Denmark? Correct? Date of travel is again May?

Posted by
1048 posts

I agree that your posts are a bit confusing, but if I've understood you correctly it sounds like you would enjoy Uppsala, not beachy (although you can go swimming close by) but very cultural. One of the oldest cities in Sweden and a major centre during the viking age, although the city was moved about 5 km in the 13th century so the old viking burial mounds are now found in the outskirts of the city. It is also the centre of the church of Sweden and has the largest cathedral and the oldest university (founded 1477) in the Nordics. The university means that the city is very relaxed and calm in the summer, but if you want some city life Stockholm is only 30 minutes away by train.

Other suggestions are Varberg, Mora and, as long as you avoid the busiest weeks, Visby. But it would be helpful if you could tell us which part of Sweden you plan to end up in.

Posted by
1378 posts

I was thinking of Malmö in Sweden or of Lübeck in Germany.

Malmö has museums, beaches, old castle, old center with good dining options, ... a lot to explore and with Copenhagen a wonderful day trip destination just across the sound. Some personal Malmö impressions in the lower part of the linked page.

Lübeck with beach villages Travemünde and Timmendorfer Strand is a really excellent location in Germany. The old town is enlisted as UNESCO world cultural heritage. So many things to explore: museums, shops, beaches, coastal hikes, od ship Passat, ... .

Tip: There is also a direct ferry from Travemünde to Malmö passing the famous Öresund Bridge ;-)

Posted by
1048 posts

I'm not sure I'd recommend Malmö. There are in my opinion better towns in southern Sweden, Lund or Helsingborg would be my choices.

Posted by
4435 posts

I enjoyed Visby on the island of Gotland. I was there after the peak tourist season (early September) and only for 3 days. I rented a bike one day and rode out to Tofta Beach, a lovely white sand beach. On other days, I explored Visby and the nearby area on foot.

You could also consider one of the larger islands in the Stockholm archipelago.

What time of year will you be traveling?

Posted by
56 posts

Ah, I feel like people are getting it. I'm in the planning stages where there are only possibilities. No plane tickets, no friends to visit, no itinerary, no timeline. It's all open and nearly a year away. There are plenty of churches, castles and historic sites in Europe and most of them would be new to me. Finding a place of peace and solace for a few days is rarer. It seems to me, building a trip around the rarest experience is a good place to start.

Thank you all so much. I will check out each and every one of your suggestions. I will see what resonates with me. I am a methodical planner and it has to feel "right", whatever that is, before I book it. It works, so what can I say? We've had fabulous trips. If you have any more suggestions, bring them on!

Posted by
6020 posts

You can look at Ystad Sweden on the south coast about 1-1/2 hrs by train from Copenhagen. If you're familiar with the Wallender series (books and TV series), this is the setting for the shows. There are beaches but we didn't go to any when we were there so I'm not familiar with what they are like. It's a great town and there are some medieval churches and a monastery. Also a couple of hours from there along the coast is Sandhammaren, which is a more beachy resort area.

Posted by
1378 posts

Just one more idea. Danish Helsingør is a good hideaway, e.g. Marienlyst Strandhotel. Very nice old town small and well-selected museums and mighty Kronborg castle are highlights.

If you think that this town is too small be informed that Swedish Helsingborg is just 15-20 minutes away by permanently crossing ferry.

Posted by
1048 posts

Visby is a great town that I can really recommend, but i can get very crowded during the peak weeks.