Stories from my travels around the world

Updates:
Sweden
 
Regions of Sweden
    West Coast
      Gullholmen
      Käringön
      Marstrand
      Stocken
    Lake Mälaren
      Anundshög
      Eskilstuna
      Gripsholm
      Mariefred
      Sigurdsristning
      Strängnäs
      Örebro
      Garphyttan Nationalpark (blog)
    The Big Lakes
      Kaga
      Rök
      Vadstena
    Stockholm area
      Drottningholm
      Haga Park
      Stockholm
      Tyresta National Park
      Ängsö National Park
    Middle of Sweden
    Northern Sweden
      Rádunjárga
      Alesjaure
      Unna Allakas
      Padjelanta Hiking Trip:
      Tarrekaise
      Tarrekaise
      Såmmarlappa
      Tarraluoppal
      Tuottar
      Staloluokta
      Arasluokta
      Låddejåkkå
      Kisuris
      Akka
 
  National Parks Sweden
    Abisko
    Ängsö
    Sarek
    Tiveden
    Tyresta
       

Sverige / Sweden has 25 provinces; each of them has its own special character, culture and traditions. The landscape is highly varied, which is not surprising, given its 1600 km length from north to south and 500 km from east to west.

Skåne in the south is flat and fertile, Småland in the south east is a region of deep forests, and Bohuslän in the west has a rocky coastline. In the east Södermanland and Uppland share a unique archipelago, while further north are the region of Dalarna with its delightful Lake Siljan, the gentle mountains of Jämtland and the high peaks of Lapland - Sweden's highest mountain is Kebnekaise, 2,111 metres high, is up far north. The coastline is long and the two largest islands of Öland and Gotland lay in Östersjön (Baltic Sea).

I am using a map to show you regions of Sweden, which can sometimes include several provinces / counties. I'll describe then from south to north. I haven't been to all of them yet so this is a type of to-do-list that I have put together with help of books, the internet and my own Sweden guide Åke.

Southern Sweden

Southern Sweden
Southern Sweden

Area: Province of Skåne and Blekinge.

I am starting my round tour through the Sweden in the province of Skåne, the most southern part of Sweden. Skåne, that has belonged to Denmark for many periods, has a rather flat landscape with large plains in the south and west and forests in north and east. It has many soft ridges and also long sandy beaches. The typical alleys of willow-trees that are seen everywhere close to the farmhouses, has a historical background. They were planted by order of the King in 1643 to prevent erosion of the soil.

The province of Blekinge, that also for many periods has belonged to Denmark, has a dramatic archipelago and has for centuries been the Naval Defence Port. Many of Sweden’s navy ship and submarines are stationed at Karlskrona. It was here the Russian submarine run aground and got stuck 1973. The type of submarine was called Whiskey. So that is why the text “Whisky on the rocks” is often seen on T-shirts and in headlines in this area.

Interesting points to see in the area are:

  • Falsterbo - the most southwest part of Sweden. It has long sand dunes and around the lighthouse a beautiful golf course.
  • Kivik - an area with lots of orchards, especially apples but also a famous market (end of July). An old market with salesman that knows all the tricks in the book to make you shop. In Swedish the words "Hästhandlare från Kivik / Horse salesmen from Kivik" is a rude insult.... lol
  • Kullens lighthouse and Kullaberg nature reservation
  • The National Parks - Stenshuvud, Dalby Söderskog and Söderåsen
  • Castles - together with area around Mälaren - the region with the most of castles, most of them from 13th to 16th century. And I love castles, as you might have notice :-))
  • Naval town of Ronneby with Ronneby Brunn (=spring)
  • Naval town of Karlskrona (on the UNESCO list of world heritage site)
  • Blomstergården, in northern part of the province, is an unusual garden with miniatures showing pictures from fairytales as well as life in Sweden in different time ages. It also has an interesting curiosa museum. (www.blomstergarden.net)
  • Tjärö Island - beautiful island owned by the STF Swedish Tourist Association. Village and Hostels with well kept buildings and landscape from 17th century.
  • The West Coast

    The West Coast
    The West Coast

    Area: Provinces of Bohuslän and Halland

    The landscapes of the Västkusten (the West Coast) have been formed by the Inland Ice. Inland Ice is the name for the glacier ice that has been covering northern Europe during 100.000 of years, and nowadays only is present in Greenland and Antarctica. The ice has scraped the surface and grinded the landscape into smooth bare rocks. The some times wild sea has helped to wash the rocks clean. Inner parts of the provinces have lots of forests of birch and aspen.

    Interesting points to see in the area are:

  • Stocken: small fishing village on the northwest coast of Orust (Island north of Göteborg), with a good camping place. I've been here in 2004 for the first time, and I've fallen in love with it right away.
  • Mollösund and Hälleviksstrand: two small picturesque villages at Orust Island.
  • Käringön: Small island outside Stocken.
  • Gullholmen: Oldest fishing village in Sweden, 11th century. Very picturesque.
  • Flatön: small island north east of Stocken known from lyrics by Evert Taube (the in Sweden well known and loved song writer).
  • Smögen: Nice fishing village that ten doubles its inhabitants in summer.
  • The beautiful island of Marstrand with its historic Carlsten Fortress
  • Tanum: Rock carvings, on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
  • Varberg: Medieval town with a nice beach and tourist area Getterön.
  • Koster Islands: Swedish most westerly islands with unusual nature.
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    Click on the map to go to the destination pages.

    Around the Great Lakes

    The Great Lakes
    Around the Great Lakes

    Area: The Lakes of Vänern and Vättern and the area surrounding them.

    This area contains a lot of historical landmark but also different landscape. The deep and dark forest of Tiveden was for long a time a forest you would keep away from, due to pirates, thieves, trolls and other dangerous creatures. In the old days this was described as the border to the wild and unreliably people of the north.

    The area around Lake Vättern also has a lot of important historical sites like Alvastra Kloster, Visingsö and Vadstena. Göta Kanal the long waterway through Sweden with lots of channels and locks uses both of the lakes.

    If you want to visit some islands; Visingsö in Vättern and Djurö National Park in Vänern are good choices.

    Interesting points to see in the area are:

  • Vadstena: A beautiful little town with lots of history. Kungsgården for example which is the oldest preserved Royal building in Sweden, from the 11th century. You can also visit the impressive looking Vadstena Castle.
  • Alvastra kloster: Monastery founded by the only Swedish saint Birgitta.
  • Omberg: With remarkably nature and nice view from tower at the top.
  • Tåkern: The most important bird reserve of Sweden.
  • The National Parks of: Djurö (in Lake Vänern), Tiveden and Tresticklan.
  • Göta Kanal: the channel waterway across Sweden at Motala - Borensberg.
  • Vreta Kloster: A beautiful monastery.
  • Kaga: a lovely little church known for its beautiful frescos.
  • Gränna: with the Polkagrisar (typical Swedish red and white twisted candy).
  • Rök: Swedens most famous Rune Stone.
  • Rogslösa: With a door like you have never seen before.
  • The ruins of Brahehus
  • Visingsö: An island with a history. Location of the first Royal Castle.
  • Click on the map to go to the destination pages.

    The East Coast and the Kingdom of Glass

    The East Coast and the Kingdom of Glass
    The East Coast and the Kingdom of Glass

    Area: The islands of Öland and Gotland on the East Coast, together with the area around Växjö in middle of province Småland is generally called Glasriket or Kingdom of Glass.

    The Islands of Öland and Gotland have the best summer weather in Sweden, sunny but not too hot due to a smooth sea breeze. Öland you reach by a 6 km long bridge, Gotland by a ferry. Both islands have a unique and different flora and fauna compared to the mainland because of their limestone surface. Both also have a lot of historical memories. Visby, the ”Capital” on Gotland has so many that the whole city is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

    Tip: Buy strawberries before you leave Öland, they are particularly sweet and good here :-)

    Glasriket/Kingdom of Glass: Glassblowing was introduced in Sweden 1556, by the king Gustav Vasa. He brought the best glassblower of that time - a Venetian - here. Since then almost 200 small glass industries has been established in Sweden, half of them in the southeast corner of county of Småland. Nowadays there are around 15 left and some have merged to bigger companies of course. Kosta Boda is the largest and has incorporated the famous Orrefors Company also. Orrefors had a big epoch with the designer Simon Gate and Edward Hall in beginning of 20th century. Still you can find extraordinary glass art here.

    Tip: If you like hand-blown glass like me, go to the “Factory Shop” and buy second quality. You can’t tell the different from first class and the price is less then half. I especially love the light candles.

    Interesting points to see in the area are:

  • Blå Jungfrun National Park.
  • At Gotland there are 92 churches!! But the amazing part is that every one of them is built before 1350 AD on an island of only 3160 km2 !
  • Visby, medieval city.
  • Fårö, island north of the big island of Gotland.
  • Gotska Sandön, island far north of the big island of Gotland.
  • Fröjel, 30 km south of Visby; nice view over Baltic Sea and small islands of Karlsö.
  • At Öland: Borgholm and the castle ruin.
  • Eketorp Fornborg, extraordinary well kept museum in a fortification inhabited 300-1300.
  • Lighthouse Långe Jan at south end of island. Bird sanctuary and Nature reserve.
  • Bårby Borg, fort hill with astounding view.
  • Solliden Castle - summer residence of the Royal Family with nice garden open to the public.
  • At the Kingdom of Glass: Kosta-Boda, Glass ware.
  • Skruf, Glass ware.
  • Korrö, Nice hostel with Nature Reserve and old handicraft village.
  • Lessebo, Three hundred years old factory making paper by hand, open to tourists.
  • Norra Kvill National Park, With the largest oak tree in Sweden.
  • Lake Mälaren Area

    Lake Mälaren
    Around Lake Mälaren

    Area: The Lake Mälaren and the close area around it.

    Mälaren is the third in size lake in Sweden. It has a climate quiet different compared to other close by areas. It is more humid and warmer in the summer, but not as cold in the winter. This has created a specific flora and also a special fauna. Several species of flowers and trees only grow around Lake Mälaren and in the south of Sweden. The mistletoe for instance is rather rare in Sweden but we can see dozens of them from our window.

    Many fortifications and castles have been built around the lake. You can for instance visit 5 Royal Castles by boat on a 6-hour trip roundtrip from Stockholm. This building of fortification and permanent settlements began early, around 5000 BC, and there are many fort hills and archeologically sites around.

    Everyone has probably heard about the Vikings, and you can still find lots about them in this area. I live only a 10 minutes walk from a very important Viking monument: The Sigurdsristningen. Being so close to a site like this makes me feel in touch with this part of Swedish history and has made me fascinated by the early history of Sweden. Around Lake Mälaren there are many spots where you can find signs of early culture, like in Birka and Sigtuna. Along the roads you can see a lot of Runic Stones.

    Click on the map to go to the destination pages.
    Eskilstuna

    Interesting points to see in the area are:

  • Anundshög: old burial mounds from Viking Age.
  • Birka: ruins from old capital city of Sweden.
  • Mariefred with Gripsholm Castle. A picturesque village and a beautiful castle. In the castle is also the Swedish National Portrait Collection.
  • Sigtuna: old city with lots of historical background.
  • Sko Kloster: one of the most popular castles with a huge collections of painting, furniture and arms. The latter is one of the largest in Europe.
  • Sundby with Sundyholms Castle and the famous stone carvings from the time of the Vikings: Sigurdsristningen.
  • Eskilstuna: not a real tourist destination, but it has some nice places. My favourite of all is the Fors Kyrka (Fors Church). Also worth visiting is the Klosterkyrka, sculpture 'Hand of God' by Miles, the historic area of "Rademachersmedjorna" and the museum "Faktorimuseet".
  • Taxinge slott: Get a taste of the typical Swedish Christmas celebrations at the yearly Christmas market at Taxinge Slott.
  • Tidö slott: A beautiful castle with a toy museum.
  • Ängsö Castle A haunted castle from the 15th century and one if the many smaller castles in this area.
  • Strängnäs: one of Sweden's oldest towns. The highlight of this city is its beautiful cathedral.
  • Västerås: is one of the top 10 cities of Sweden. Suggestions: visit the park (Djäkneberget), interesting for the many boulders with inscriptions. The old part of town with historical houses at Kyrkbacken and the Cathedral.
  • Örebro: is an university city and the 7th largest city in Sweden. Places to see are castle from the 13th century and Wadköping, which is the old town and now open air museum.
  • Stockholm Area

    Stockholm area
    Stockholm area

    Area: City of Stockholm and the archipelago outside the provinces of Södermanland and Uppland.

    Interesting points to see in the area are:

  • Haga Park
  • Gamla Stan and Riddarholmen
  • Skeppsholmen
  • Djurgården
  • Stockholm City and Östermalm
  • Ladugårdsgärdet
  • Kungsholmen
  • Tyresta National Park
  • Drottningholm
  • The Stockholm Archipelago
  • Ängsö National Park
  • Central Part of Sweden

    Central Part of Sweden
    Central Part of Sweden

    Area: Roughly said: the province of Dalarna and northwards untill the border of Västerbotten.

    Dalarna is a county full of historical traditions, more numerous and stronger traditions then in many other part of the country. Here the Swedes go when they want to se a "real" midsummer-feast or enjoy truly genuine Swedish folklore and fiddler music. It is no coincidence that The Folklore Symbol of Sweden is a Dalahäst (= Dala Horse) and it is produced in Nusnäs and only Nusnäs in Dalarna.

    The main important industrial factor in this region has for many centuries been the copper mine in Falun. The company "STORA", that is using the mine, was founded in the 10th century and it is the oldest existing company in the world. An interesting spin off product from the mine is the red paint. This was originally a "waste" and not thought about for hundreds of years. That colour "Falu r?df?rg" (Falu red paint) is now by far the most used colour on houses throughout Sweden and has become a national symbol. Because of the high concentration of certain ingredients, the colour is a good conservator. And it is inexpensive! And as during 16th and 17th century red was seen as an "up class" colour, used only by the nobility, the country folk of course started to paint their huts and houses RED. Swedes are like that; they don't allow anyone to stick out too much ;-)

    Interesting points to see in the area are:

  • Falun Copper mine On the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
  • Lake Siljan
  • Rättvik and the view from top of viewing tower.
  • Sälen: winter ski resort and nice hiking area in summer.
  • Home of the painter Carl Larsson.
  • Vasaloppet: the largest and longest cross country ski race.
  • Click on the map to go to the destination pages.

    Northern Sweden

    Northern Sweden
    Northern Sweden

    Area: Norrbottens Län and Västerbottens Län

    Coast of Norrland: The coast of the area of Norrland towards the Gulf of Bothnia is almost 400 km long. It is an outflow for many of the rivers - called 'älv' - that transport the big amount of water from the Fjällen and the big "slopes" to the coast.

    The huge area for 3 big National Parks in the mountain area north in Sweden is an example of how the Swedes treat their precious heritage. This wild unbroken continuous area of National Parks and Nature reserves is as big as 9400 km2. That is a third of the size of Belgium! This is the last wilderness of Europe. Sarek National Park has not even hiking trails or huts.

    Kungsleden (= Kings trail) is the most known and the longest of the many hiking trails in Sweden. It starts in Abisko and goes in a southerly direction. It is passing thru Abisko National Park, Stora Sjöfallet National Park and then lingers on the border to Sarek National Park, continues further south, and the trail ends 450 km later. There are self-serviced mountain huts every 15-25 km at the trail. Good starting points for hiking are: Abisko, Ritsem and Jokkmokk.

  • National Parks of Abisko, Padjelanta, Pieljekaise, Sarek, Stora Sjöfallet, Vadvetjåkka and Haparanda archipelago National Park.
  • Views from Njulla, Pielekaise, Kenekaise and several in Sarek.
  • Rapadalen river valley in Sarek
  • Waterfall Stora Sjöfallet
  • Stalouokta mountain Hut in Padjelanta
  • Boat tour on Akkajaure
  • Piteå havsbad: beach of Piteå with the highest water temperatures and number of hour of sun during the summer
  • Umeå älv river valley, road 554 and E12 towards Lycksele
  • Gammelstad: on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The best-preserved example of a 'church village', a unique kind of village formerly found throughout northern Scandinavia.
  • Click on the map to go to the destination pages.