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Discover Sweden: Seven summer towns off the beaten track

With long summer nights and warmer weather, it's the perfect time to explore everything Sweden has to offer.

Discover Sweden: Seven summer towns off the beaten track
Sweden has lots of beautiful places to visit, for example Karlshamn. Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/

If you want to discover more of Sweden, but avoid the crowded tourist hot spots, here are a few places to try instead:

1. Tällberg, Dalarna

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Why go there? Tällberg is a little village made up of old, red Swedish wooden buildings nestled on the coast of lake Siljan. There are beautiful views of the enormous lake and classic Swedish architecture in a sleepy part of central Sweden. 

How to get there: It is 270 kilometres from Stockholm, and travelling by car or train takes roughly the same amount of time, just under three hours. Take the train from Stockholm Central station to Mora, and get off at Tällberg station.

2. Karlshamn, Blekinge

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Why go there? At the southern end of Sweden you’ll find Karlshamn, a cosy town next to Sweden’s most southerly archipelago. 

Explore the fortress island, Kastellet (meaning the Citadel), which is just outside of the town. Built in the 17th century, most of the fortification is still intact.

Karlshamn is also an excellent destination for fishing enthusiasts, with lots of people travelling to fish in Mörrumsån which is well-known for its salmon and sea trout.

The largest safari park in the Nordic is also situated in Karlshamn. Eriksberg Vilt & Natur is one of Europe’s largest game reserves and you can see animals like wild boar, European bison and deer.

How to get there: If travelling from Malmö, you can take the Öresundståg, which is a direct train and takes about two hours. Otherwise the drive is about 150 kilometres.

From Stockholm take the train down to Hässleholm and switch to the Öresundståg. Or, take the train down to Alvesta station and switch to bus 93941 or 93943, which will get you into Karlshamn Väst in one-and-a-half hour.

Travel to Kastellet by boat, which leaves from the guest harbour in the town centre several times a day. Check time tables here. Tickets cost 50 kronor for adults and 30 kronor for children.

3. Hjo, Västra Götaland

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Why go there? Situated on Sweden’s second largest lake, Vättern, this town offers beautiful views over the water, and traditional wooden houses. Take a stroll through the town to admire the architecture or bike around the Hjoåns Valley Nature Reserve.

Hjo is one of three towns in Sweden that make up the Tre Trästäder (three timbered towns) network. In 1990 it received the Europa Nostra medal of honour for its preservation of timber houses.

Interesting fact: Monks used to use the path alongside the Hjoån to travel to their monastery in Varnhem. According to local legend, a monk actually named the town. Having arrived after a stormy voyage across the Lake Vättern he exclaimed “Hic Jacet Otium” (here lies the tranquility). The initial letters of the Latin words formed the name H-J-O.

How to get there: It takes just under four hours to drive the 330 kilometres from Stockholm to Hjo. Alternatively, take a train from Stockholm to Skövde Central, and from there jump on the 402 bus to Hjo.

4. Umeå, Västerbotten

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Why go there? With summer days that never end, this town in Eastern Sweden offers plenty of activities, from kayaking and white-water rafting. You can visit Europe’s first elk farm, Älgens Hus, which also offers paintballing, kayaking and quad bike guides during the summer. 

At Umedalens Skulpturpark you can see sculptures by Tony Cragg, Anish Kapoor, and many more for free. The famous cheese Västerbottensost is also made in Umeå.

If you feel like exploring outside the city, take a trip to the island Norrbyskär, a former steam-powered saw mill plant, which was the largest of its kind in Europe at the time. Have a wander around the island admiring the old buildings, and visit the museum to learn more about the history of the place.

How to get there: Direct trains from Stockholm to Umeå take between six to ten hours. Flights between the two cities take an hour.

To get to Norrbyskär, take one of the hourly buses, either 11 or 126 from Umeå Vasaplan to Hörnefors Centrum. From there take the ferry (which runs several times a day) to the island. The ferry only takes cash, a return ticket for an adult is 67 kronor and 40 kronor for children. You can find the ferry summer timetable here

5. Mariefred, Södermanland

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Why go there? Just an hour outside of Stockholm, this picturesque town offers art, history and sea views.

Take a guided tour through Gripsholm castle and admire the Swedish state portrait collection and have a wander in the royal parks outside. There are three cafés in the park which are all open this year. The castlewas built by Gustav Vasa in 1537.

Steam trains over 100 years old run on the narrowest track ever used for public train services. A single return ticket costs 100 kronor, more ticket prices can be found here.

How to get there: It takes less than an hour to drive the 70 kilometres from Stockholm to Mariefred. 

You can also take the train from Stockholm to Läggesta Centrum and switch to bus 303, 305 or 306 which will get you to the town centre.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to enjoy fresh sea air, travel to Mariefred from Stockholm on the historic steamship Mariefred (yes, same name), which has been in service since 1903.

6. Sundborn, Dalarna

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Why go there? Art lovers should visit Little Hyttnäs, the former house of Carl and Karin Larsson, the Swedish artists who created a famous artist residency there. Carl Larsson is known for idyllic portraits of Swedish family life. You can walk around their home and visit an art exhibition displaying some of the the couples’ works. An adult ticket costs 220 kronor, a child ticket is 60 kronor, and it’s free for children under the age of six.

How to get there: Travel to Falun from Stockholm on either a direct train, or switch in Gävle. Direct trains take about three hours to reach Falun, with switching adding an extra hour or more.

When arriving in Falun, take the bus 237 from either Falun Resecentrum or Knutpunkten to Sundborn. 

More information on the Larssons’ house here.

7. Nyköping, Södermanland

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Why go there? An hour away from Stockholm, Nyköping is a haven for lovers of history and hiking.

Nyköpingshus is the castle where Swedish King Birger Magnusson locked his brothers into a tower to starve, and tossed the key into the river. Parts of the castle are now used by the Sörmland museum for their exhibitions. All visits to the museum must be booked in advance by calling 072-213 47 11 (Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm).

If you feel like exploring the archipelago, but don’t have access to a boat, take a trip to the Stendörren nature reserve, which has several suspension bridges linking different islands, allowing for a beautiful hike through the archipelago. The reserve can be reached with bus 554 from Nyköping.

For those who have had enough of nature, spend some time at the harbour and enjoy the atmosphere, mini golf and shops instead.

How to get there: There are several ways to travel to get to Nyköping from Stockholm. You can drive the 100 km, or take a direct train from Stockholm Central to Nyköping Central, or catch a bus. Flixbus offers direct routes four times a day. Alternatively, take the 515 from Nyköping bus station to Skavsta Airport and change to a Flygbuss from the airport, taking you directly to Stockholm City terminal. This route takes slightly over two-and-a-half hours.

Remember to travel safely and to keep up to date with national and local pandemic recommendations and restrictions. You can read more on, the official Swedish site for emergency information.

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