Freshwater Lake Mälaren dominates the countryside west of Stockholm, and provides the backdrop to some of the capital region’s most appealing day-trip destinations. Boats sail frequently to Drottingholm, home to the Swedish royal family, as well as pretty Mariefred, an enchanting little town on the lake’s southern shore with a magnificent castle. Sweden’s main settlement during the ninth and tenth centuries, Birka, an island in Mälaren accessed by boat from Stockholm, is great for anyone interested in Sweden’s stirring Viking past. The main city on the lake is Västerås, a modern and thoroughly enjoyable place with good sandy beaches and some impressive Viking remains, too.
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