by Ariane Sains
STOCKHOLM, June 25 (Xinhua) -- As Swedes begin their long summer vacations, tourists are flocking to Stockholm and other parts of Sweden.
Everyone is hoping for good weather, sunshine and the chance to relax during the long summer days.
The Lonely Planet guide book company ranks Sweden as the fourth most exciting destination in the world after Brazil, Antarctica and Scotland.
The fastest-growing groups of tourists to Sweden come from China, the United States and Germany, according to the official statistics agency Statistics Sweden.
In April, the agency said that the number of tourists from China staying overnight in Sweden increased 20 percent in the first four months of this year compared with the end of 2013.
"Sweden has a good reputation in China. We have good trade relations so it's natural that people are curious and want to come here," Ann-Charlotte Jonsson, a spokesman for Stockholm Business Region, said in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.
She thinks that Stockholm attracts more and more tourists because it is both green and "trendy." She points to the city's reputation for being a gaming center, Sweden's reputation for fashion design and music that's known around the world.
Overall, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth said Wednesday that tourism to Sweden increased by 4 percent in 2013.
Statistics Sweden added ice cream has become cheaper since 1983, when the agency began keeping statistics on one of the Swedes' favorite foods.
Increasingly, tourists are coming by cruise ship to the Swedish capital of Stockholm. The old town, Gamla Stan, is usually a top attraction. So is the Vasa Museum which houses the Vasa ship commissioned by King Gustav II Adolf, which sank in 1628.
There's also the newly opened Abba museum, a certain attraction for fans of the famous Swedish pop music group.
For those staying in Stockholm a few days, getting off the beaten tourist track can offer a very different perspective on the city. The island of Sodermalm, for instance, south of the center of the city, is one of the "in" places for Stockholmers with bars, restaurants, cafes and many small boutiques.
Fotografiska, which features a wide variety of international photography exhibitions, is also on Sodermalm. The museum, in an old customs house on the water, has a cafe with panoramic views that some find even better than the exhibitions.
While much of the tourism focus is on Stockholm, there's plenty to do in the rest of the country, from the Ice Hotel above the Arctic Circle in Jukkasjarvi to a Viking market in southern Sweden June 27-29.
Originally, the Ice Hotel was only open during the winter through April but it's now open year-round although the spectacular rooms built entirely from ice are still only available in winter. But summer activities include boating on the Tornio River and tours of the massive ice locker where blocks of ice that will be used to build next winter's hotel are stored.
The tourism organization Visit Sweden has a list of events throughout the country as well as sightseeing information. There is also extensive information about accommodations ranging from hotels to camping sites and farm stays.
The Swedish government wants to make it easier in less populated areas to use mobile phones and access data. To that end, the government has set up a regional program to improve mobile networks.
The government plans to spend about 700 million Swedish kronor (104 million U.S. dollars) from 2014-2020 to improve services in rural areas for both residents and tourists.