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Things to Do in Uppsala

With a history dating back to Viking times and a wealth of well-preserved medieval architecture, the picturesque city of Uppsala is a popular day trip from nearby Stockholm. The city is also home to the 15-century Uppsala University, and is the seat of the archbishop of the Church of Sweden. 

The Basics
Uppsala's charming small-town atmosphere and close-knit attractions make it easy to explore on foot. As you stroll, admire landmarks such as the 15th-century Uppsala Castle, home to the Uppsala Konstmuseum; the grand Gothic Uppsala Cathedral; and Sweden's oldest university, which dates back to 1477. Other points of interest include the ancient burial grounds and stone churches of the Old Town of Gamla Uppsala, the Botanical Gardens, the Upplands Museum, and a museum dedicated to Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus. Due to the city's rich history, Viking history tours from Stockholm typically stop in Uppsala. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Tourist information centers located around town offer maps and brochures, answer questions, and give tips on current events, sights, and activities in Uppsala.
  • Although Swedish is the country's official language, most residents also speak English. 
  • Sweden's culture is generally a very child-friendly; Uppsala offers many amenities for kids and the city center is stroller-friendly.

How to Get There
Located just an hour from Stockholm, Uppsala is an ideal day trip from Sweden's capital. While guided tours typically offer round-trip transportation, it's also possible to arrive by car via the E4 highway. Buses and trains also depart regularly from Stockholm's city center and Arlanda Airport.

When to Get There
You can visit Uppsala year-round, but Sweden sees its most pleasant weather in the late spring, summer, and early fall. Shops and museums are typically open during regular daytime hours, while Uppsala's student population provides a bustling nightlife. 

Walpurgis Festival
The 30th of April is known as Walpurgis (Valborg, or Sista Abril) in Sweden and is celebrated as winter's absolute last gasp. Uppsala is known for its raucous Walpurgis Festival, which includes student floats running the Fyris river, herring lunches, the donning of the caps at Carolina Rediviva, and huge parties. It is well worth planning a visit to Uppsala around this event.
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Uppsala Cathedral (Uppsala Domkyrka)
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The laid-back and charismatic university city of Uppsala is bisected by the River Fyris and dominated by its landmark castle and cathedral. The latter began life in 1270 to house the reliquary of King Eric IX, who spread Christianity through Sweden and is the patron saint of the country. Constructed in austere red brick and today much renovated, the cathedral is Gothic in style and has two spiky spires that stand 120 m (394 ft) above the city’s rooftops. Its vaulted interior is delicately ornamented with biblical scenes and illuminated through slender stained-glass windows; the side chapels contain the relics of Eric IX in a gold-plated coffin as well as the marble tombs of several Swedish monarchs, including King Gustav Vasa, who commissioned the building of Uppsala Castle in 1549. The botanist Carl Linnaeus, who lived in Uppsala in the 18th century and introduced a classification system for plants that is still in use today, is also buried in the cathedral.

A small treasury museum in the northwest spire exhibits royal funeral crowns and a collection of medieval Far and Middle Eastern textiles. However, pride of place in the museum goes to the tattered doublets and breeches belonging to three members of the Sture family who were murdered at Uppsala Castle in 1567 by the schizophrenic King Erik XIV. Close inspection of the surrounding burial ground reveals Viking runes carved on several gravestones.

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Uppsala Castle (Uppsala Slott)
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Uppsala is one of Sweden’s most historic cities; squatting on the banks of the River Fyris, it sophisticated, leafy and dominated by its landmark castle, cathedral and university. The royal castle overlooks the town from its perch at Kasåsen and began life in 1549 at the behest of King Gustav Vasa, who built his fortified home in neat, symmetrical Renaissance style. Over the centuries, it has seen its share of ceremony, intrigue and violence, from coronations to political assassinations and abdications. The shocking murder of three members of the Sture family by the despotic and schizophrenic King Erik XIV took place here in 1567 and their tattered doublets and breeches are on show in Uppsala Cathedral.

The castle was virtually burnt down in 1702 – and much of its fragmented remains plundered to build the Royal Palace in Stockholm – but was subsequently reconstructed in 1740 with its dusty pink façades punctuated by towers on each wing. Today it has a distinctly more peaceful role as the home of three museums: Uppsala Art Museum, where funky modern ceramics from Uppsala Ekeby pottery are displayed along with contemporary Swedish artwork; the Fredens Hus (House of Peace), which highlights social and political conflicts and attempts to resolve them; and the fascinating Vasaborgen in the ruined bastions of the original castle, where the dark deeds of past Swedish monarchs are recounted in graphic detail.

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Botanical Gardens
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Opened in 1787 by Sweden’s King Gustav III, the University of Uppsala Botanical Gardens are one of the city’s most popular destinations. In addition to outdoor gardens and a tropical greenhouse, the grounds house a café, special exhibition hall, and gift shop.

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