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Five incredible places to visit in Sweden when the pandemic is over

Five incredible places to visit in Sweden when the pandemic is over
Summer in Sweden. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
Sweden this week announced it is lifting domestic travel restrictions from June 13th, as long as people follow other guidelines and practise social distancing. Here are some of the places we want to revisit when it's safe to do so.
We urge all readers to follow official recommendations and do what you can to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. But second-best to the real thing is fantasising about your next adventure. Here's some daydreaming material for Sweden trips that, fingers crossed, will be possible at some point in the future.

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Hiking and camping along one of Sweden's most spectacular trails and pilgrim routes

One of the most accessible and low-budget – yet spectacular – forms of domestic travelling is hiking along one of the country's multiple-day trails. The options are many, varying from fairly easy, family-friendly strolls to routes covering greater distances and more challenging terrains.

Kungsleden, the 'King's Trail', in the far north, is probably the most popular – but there's much more to choose from. STF, the Swedish Tourist Association, owns huts, stugor (cottages) and vandrarhem (hostels) throughout the nation, even in remote and unexpected corners. Note that, due to the coronavirus crisis, all STF accommodation has to be booked in advance and might have limited availability this year.

Another cheap and adventurous option is, of course, to go camping. The famous Swedish allemansrätt grants visitors the freedom to roam, to leave the beaten track and to set up camp in the wilderness. 

But a venture into the woods, equipped with only a tent and a backpack filled with freeze-dried meals, is not everybody's definition of a holiday. For all holiday-makers who want to explore more no-man's land than available at the family camping site but who prefer to (partly) delegate the planning: the following are some suggestions for well-organised yet unadulterated Swedish friluftsliv – life in the open air.


Kungsleden. Photo: Cara Anna/AP/TT

Raft-building and floating down the Klarälven river

Klarälven, Sweden's longest river, meanders through the entire length of the province of Värmland. Traditionally, the river was used to transport timber from north to south, until the arrival of hydroelectric power stations interrupted the waterway.

But you can still experience life on the river: the organisation Vildmark i Värmland provides the supplies and instructions to build your own timber raft. At a speed of about two kilometres per hour, you float down the river on your self-made vessel, for the duration of somewhere between two days and a week. 

Once you're off, there's nothing but your raft, the river before you, the sandy banks and the treelined hillsides. At the end of a day's worth of floating, you can moor at one of the region's official campsites and spend the night in a cabin. The alternative is to tie up your raft and camp in the wild.

Back-to-basics living in Värmland's Nature Village

Near Säffle, in the southern part of Värmland, lies Naturbyn – Swedish for nature village. Owner Thomas Pettersson single-handedly built six huts on a piece of woodland that he inherited from his father. Three of the stugor, the wooden cottages, are on land; two are tree houses, and the last one floats on a lake. It can only be accessed by canoe. Or swimming, for those not carrying any luggage.

If you choose to spend the night in the highest of the two tree-houses, you'll find yourself ten metres above ground. The hut, rocking in the breeze, has been built around the pines as to avoid harming the trunks. A glass facade offers a broad view over the lake. The entire structure, including its interior, is of Pettersson's own creation. One could call it 'Scandinavian design' – or just simple, yet charming.

Practically everything here has been forged from timber: the walls, the bed, the tree trunk seats and the coffee table. Responding to a question if Pettersson has made the furniture himself, he commented dryly: “I didn't feel like spending a fortune.” The huts here have no electricity, no running water, no wifi; they do, however, have a terrace, beds made with ecological linen, a wood stove, a kerosene lamp, an endless amount of tea lights. And, thank goodness, a fire extinguisher.

Pettersson has also assembled a sheltered outside kitchen in his nature village. All necessities are available and ready for use: firewood, matches, cooking pots, utensils. Fresh drinking water flows directly from its source. The only work left to do is lighting the fire and preparing your food.

Toilet visits take place in the forest or one of the two composting toilets, hidden between the bushes. Bathing: in the lake, preferably after visiting the sauna.

Find a foodies' paradise in Skåne

Skåne, in the Swedish south, is known as the country's larder. The region produces high-quality fruits, vegetables and (organic) meat. It's said to be in the middle of a gastronomic revolution, with local restaurants preparing some of Scandinavia's most interesting plates using seasonal and local produce.

Foods specific to the southern region are, for example, asparagus, red deer, peas, cabbage, canola oil and fresh potatoes. Many of these ingredients can be found on the menus in one of Skåne's gourmet restaurants or in the many farm shops.

Wine enthusiasts also have good reason to come to Skåne. With its relatively mild climate, is has become an established wine region, complete with its own route du vin: Vinvägen. Today there are over 20 wineries on this route, which means that there's plenty of wine tasting, guided tours, and viticulture courses to be explored. 


Wine production in Skåne. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Visit magical Gotland

Whether you're one for culture, history, nature or a sandy beaches – the island of Gotland, positioned off the Swedish east coast in the Baltic Sea, truly has something for all. The first thing you see when you get off the ferry is the fairytale-like, medieval town of Visby, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Visby is a well-preserved, Hanseatic town dating back to the 12th century, and is surrounded by a ring wall with many of its original, 800-year-old towers still intact. The wall encircles the historic yet lively town centre, and was originally built for protection against foreign enemies and assailants from the countryside.

Once you've left town, you'll soon find yourself near one of Gotland's over hundred nature reserves. These include Brucebo, north of Visby, and Ekstakusten, to the south. The island's scenery ranges between barren landscapes, dramatic rock formations and sunny meadows. And there's always the proximity of the mesmerising sea.

A visit to Gotland is incomplete without taking another ferry across to the small island of Fårö. This island derives its fame from both the 'raukar', the natural limestone pillars standing tall against the coastline, and the fact that the world-renowned Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman lived and worked here for over 40 years. The Bergman Center is a cultural institution dedicated to the legendary film director, and is (generally) open to the public.


Visby. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT


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