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Östersund’s central location, almost at the very centre of Sweden, gives the city proximity to both coastal landscape and mountains. The popular ski destination Åre is only an hour by train from the city and to Stockholm it takes about 50 minutes by air (or 5 hours by train). In summertime the city streets are lined by outdoor cafés and people of all ages – from near and far – socializing and making Östersund into a lively city. Storsjöyran, the annual festival, is one of every summer’s highlights. During the dark winter season, it is, besides the possibility to outdoor activities and the white snow, theatre performances, concerts and the troubadours, and not at least the chance to see a crackling Northern light that makes Östersund to a city to feel welcome in. The city of Östersund was founded in 1786, and was at the beginning a typical settlers community where lawlessness is said to have been widespread. Illegal bars were common and the streets were pitch black after nightfall. As late as in 1876, the first kerosene lamp appeared on the street! By the middle of the 19th century, trade and craft slowly increased and by the beginning of the 20th century several stately buildings had been erected as a sign of the increasing prosperity. 50 years later, Östersund was a military city with thriving industries. Today, Östersund is one of most pleasant Northern, medium-sized cities. Lots of small shops line the main thoroughfares through the city centre and the “outdoor factor” is remarkably strong – given that the ski resort of Åre is not far away. In proportion to its population, the city is also one of the most café- and restaurant-dense cities in Sweden, so you will definitely get the opportunity to enjoy a good coffee!Blue, white and green – the colours of Jämtland’s own flag testifies Östersund’s surroundings – the distant blue, mountains, the snowy winter landscape and the green forests. The wilderness is always close and the area around Östersund offers endless opportunities for exciting days out and not only those who want to find peace but also for those looking for an adventure. The island of Frösön, on the other side of the sound and just a walk across the bridge from the city centre, has been a gathering place for humans for thousands of years and today offers little of everything found in the rest of Jämtland.The county of Jämtland covers 12 percent of Sweden’s surface, but only 1.5 percent of Sweden’s population lives here. This creates large imaginary gaps in civilization, guaranteeing some of Scandinavia’s most magnificent nature.The Sami culture has obviously left its mark on the region and around 44,500 reindeer belonging to 11 Lapp villages, wander the land. And, with some luck, you might also spot moose, bear, wolverine, wolf, lynx, arctic fox and musk ox!
There is always something to do in Östersund. Below is a selection of activities and interesting sites to visit.
When in Sweden make sure you experience a real Swedish massage! The Swedish massage was developed by a doctor named Per Henrik Ling in the beginning of the 19th century. After being influenced by a Chinese martial arts and Tuina practitioner Per came up with the techniques that became the Swedish massage, (petrissage, effleurage, friction, tapotement and vibration) a deep tissue massage made for relieving muscle tension and increase blood flow. There are several establishments offering assorted treatments and spa packages whether it be facials, body treatments or why not get a make up consultation before the evening activities. It is customary to wear a swimsuit when at a spa. As a visitor you can also take the opportunity to work out while on your stay. Since Swedes are very health conscious and enjoy various types of fitness and training you can find a range of different fitness centers, sport facilities and health clubs, depending on your preference.
Östersund is one of the towns in Sweden with the highest density of cafés and restaurants in relation to the population. The best places serve food that smack of the mountains, fresh air and murmuring streams. Try, as an example, char – reindeer fillet, unleavened bread with soft whey cheese or cloudberry parfait.
Östersund is a pleasant town to shop in with several of the major Swedish retail chains mixed with lots of small shops along the streets and alleys. The traditional shopping strip is based on Stortorget – follow the pedestrian street to the Domus building and then back along the parallel street Storgatan.Music lovers immediately head for Skivhörnan at Stortorget, one of the few remaining genuine record shops in north Sweden. If you are looking for local delicacies, walk to the farm shop Ost & Vilt at Prästgatan 19, where you can sample and buy products from across the county – everything from selected boxes of delicacies to handicrafts and souvenirs. More souvenirs – mostly local handicraft – are found in Gaupa Hantverk on Z-gränd 1. The shop is run by a cooperative of five local handicraft companies.The outdoor factor is strong in Jämtland, and obviously the Swedish chain for outdoor clothing, Naturkompaniet (Prästgatan 31) has a shop here. If you are looking for quality products for hunting and fishing, visit Landbys on Storgatan 19. Scandinavian design can be found at Butik Annorlunda on Storgatan 37, selling clothes from brands like Marimekko, Gunilla Pontén, Nygårdsanna, Noa Noa and Bitte Kai Rand. They also sell jewelry from Snow of Sweden and the Danish Pilgrim.
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