Six outdoor activities to enjoy in Uppsala this summer

Finally! Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy Sweden’s great outdoors. After all the restrictions so far this year, you're now free to enjoy travel within Sweden so long as you don't have coronavirus symptoms and follow other health and safety rules.

Six outdoor activities to enjoy in Uppsala this summer
Photos: Destination Uppsala/Getty

The historic cultural gem of Uppsala has plenty that’s open to visitors – and is little more than 30 minutes from Stockholm by train or an hour by car. Sweden’s fourth-biggest city, Uppsala has something for everyone in summer – urban explorers, culture vultures, families, history buffs and those looking for something more adventurous.

With a wide choice of bars, cafes and restaurants as well, why not make a weekend of it?

1. Stroll through glorious gardens – and ‘meet’ a legend

Now the sun is here, why not follow in the flower king’s footsteps? That’s the catchier nickname for botanist Carl Linnaeus, otherwise known as the ‘father of modern taxonomy’ for his classification of plants, animals and minerals. Uppsala’s beautiful green oases are the legacy of 50 years as his home and research base.

Get a guided tour of the Linnaeus Garden from the great man himself, played by an actor in the finest 18th century attire. Look out for the huts on poles once occupied by his beloved monkeys!

Photo: Linnaeus Garden/Destination Uppsala

The city’s Botanical Garden – at a different location but still within walking distance from the city centre – is home to more than 8,000 plant varieties. The Baroque garden and park is filled with brightly coloured flowers, alpine plants, trees and shrubs. 

Something for everyone: find out more about Sweden’s cultural gem with these essential guides

2. Be charmed by Swedish castles

Like many mid-1500s Swedish castles, Uppsala Castle’s past is full of conflicts and bloody episodes – some of them major events in national history. But don’t let this imposing landmark’s less than lovely history stop you from being charmed by it today.

Photo: Uppsala Castle/Destination Uppsala

The brightly-coloured façade, faithful to its 1740 reconstruction following a devastating fire in 1702, can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. So, it’s easy to work out where to head for a picnic in its gardens, a guided walk on the castle roof or a visit to one of its three museums. 

A short distance to the north lies Salsta Castle, built in 1670 and boasting a Baroque exterior. Venture inside to find out why it’s known as a castle of All Times due to its varied interiors reflecting different periods.

3. Entertain the kids – on the trail of No-Tail

Kids within a whisker of sending you mad? Don’t worry. Uppsala is home to an unusual cat long known as one of Sweden’s best-loved children’s characters. 

Set out on the trail of Peter-No-Tail (Pelle Svanslös to Swedes) and his friends and foes from the classic books and animated film. Take a walk around key locations as you learn more about characters to cherish (like Molly Cream-Nose) or avoid (like Mean Mike).

Photo: Destination Uppsala

You’ll find a portal to this magical world through the playground in Carolinaparken. Just don’t blame us if the kids refuse to leave. Nearby, you’ll find Sweden’s only crossing for cats – and eagle-eyed children may glimpse Peter’s home on Åsgränd through a basement window.

Find out more about the unforgettable sights and experiences Uppsala has to offer

4. Take a time machine to meet a Viking

Walk along the fabled Royal Mounds dating back to the 6th Century at Gamla Uppsala, one of Scandinavia’s most important archaeological sites. Legend has it that the three most impressive contain pre-Viking kings. The area is steeped in centuries-old myths, including claims from one 17th century professor that it was the site of the lost city of Atlantis. 

Photo: Gamla Uppsala/Destination Uppsala

Exhibits at Gamla Uppsala Museum include finds from archaeological digs and tales of Viking victims, pagan gods and Iron Age conflicts. During summer, it offers daily guided tours in English.

Download Augmented Reality apps to transform your mobile or tablet into a time machine – then explore areas close to Uppsala Cathedral in the Middle Ages or perhaps run into a Viking as you wander the streets.

Get top tips for the best trips outside Uppsala city centre

5. Get active (but not wet) with Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Discover the natural beauty of the landscape along the winding Fyris river, while also getting a workout. Starting at one of two locations just outside the city, you’ll paddle at your own pace for 4.5 kilometers or 8 kilometers (about two or three hours).

Photo: Getty

Book with Aktivt Uteliv and you’ll be met in central Uppsala or at your hotel by adventure guides and taken to your starting point. Never been on a Stand Up Paddle Board before? It’s easier than it might look and you’ll be given full instructions. If you can swim, you’re in! You’ll also have time to enjoy a Swedish fika, as well as the magnificent views.

6. Hit the Swedish heritage trail

Home to the country’s first university, Uppsala and its surroundings offer a wealth of heritage delights. Browse your way through artisan offerings and antiques at the handicraft village of Ulva Kvarn, just 7km north of Uppsala.

Built around a mill house dating back to the 1300s, Ulva Kvarn is also home to a silversmith and Sweden’s finest master glassblower. You can enjoy a picnic or go fishing – but will you be bold enough for a cooling dip at Fyrisåns beach?

If you want cultural heritage and the chance to kick back for a few hours, try the Lennakatten Heritage Railway

Photo: Lennakatten Heritage Railway/Destination Uppsala

You’ll be transported back to the early 1900s as you travel by steam locomotive, old-fashioned railcar or vintage bus on one of Sweden’s most stunning rail routes. Heritage that’s a hit with all ages!

Want to discover something new in Sweden? Find out more about the incredible variety of attractions and activities you can do in Uppsala this summmer.


How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules