PassportPlease loves Sweden and especially Småland has conquered our hearts. This beautiful part of the Swedish kingdom lies in the southern part of the country and covers a huge area of almost 30000 square kilometres. Here you will find everything you need to make your holiday one to remember.
SmåLand might best be known for its famous glassware from Kosta Boda and Orrefors, IKEA or maybe world-renowned author Astrid Lindgren, mother of Pippi Longstocking. However, we think that Småland’s biggest attractions are about something quite different. We are fascinated by the infinite forests, the hilly landscape, the beautiful archipelago, the rushing streams and rivers and not least the many lakes in which to swim, sail and fish. And like polka dots on a piece of fabric, characteristic farmhouses and cottages are scattered in the countryside. Some are yellow, some are white but most are painted in the very special red colour called Swedish red. But the greatest luxury that Småland offers is peace, tranquillity, and silence in large extravagant quantities.
You can visit Småland all year but there is something about spring and summer when the landscape is as green as it gets and you can enjoy the long bright Scandinavian summer nights. It’s as good as it gets when you can take a dip in a cool lake, catch a fish and prepare it over the open fire and pick large amounts of sweet and juicy strawberries in the forests. Småland will treat you well.
We spend a wonderful week in Småland and even though we have been there many times we have only explored a tiny bit of this amazing corner of Sweden.
Usually, we rent one of the small and sometimes rather primitive cottages you will find all over the countryside. This is where you get the closest contact with nature and where you are most likely to encounter the animals of the forest. Check out www.swedcottages.se
There are so many experiences to have. For the sake of clarity, we give you our take on 5 top activities to do when visiting Småland.
An amazing way to see Småland is by bike. The bike gives you a beautiful sense of freedom and it can transport you into the distant corners. Many of the cottages will offer free bikes and if not it’s often possible to rent all you need on site. During our last stay we had free bikes available and they were used diligently. Although certainly not the latest models, they did the job excellently.
It can be quite strenuous to cycle in the hilly landscape and it feels like it’s only uphill but the beautiful views that await you at the top make you forget that you almost died on the way up. When we go for a bike ride we often just take random roads and we never know where we end up. This strategy led us through the small town of Skillingaryd and we had the pleasure of visiting Mofas Hus.
A fine little shop run by two very sweet ladies. These two lovely women sell handicrafts made by more than 25 local artisans and we had the privilege to meet one of the craftsmen who makes beautiful and unique finger rings out of old coins. It’s possible to bring your coin and within a week you will get your own and unique finger ring.
Not only the quirky shop was a great acquaintance but also the two ladies who had exciting stories to tell. Stories about how they promote local handicrafts and stories about how one of them made a cultural project possible by collecting more than 6 million Swedish kroner through funds. A project where young people from many different countries meet and get to know each other by sharing their cultures. If passing by Skillingaryd, be sure to pay Mofas Hus a visit, you will leave with a big smile on your face.
Another great way to explore the southern Swedish countryside is on foot. Tie the laces on your hiking boots and prepare yourself for wonderful nature experiences. There are many amazing places to hike throughout Småland. Hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails invite you to longer or shorter walks in this unique landscape. Many of the trails are marked and along many of them, you will find simple self-catering cabins. At local tourist offices, you can get detailed maps of the whereas routes located in the particular area you are interested in. We love hiking in the early hours when the forest comes to life. While wandering through a forest in Småland you might get lucky and bump into an elk.
There are reportedly more than 250.000 elks in Sweden and a large proportion of the population lives in Småland. The elk is the king of Swedish nature and it is a fabulous experience to meet such a giant on an early morning hike.
We love the water in all its forms and with more than 5,000 lakes, Småland is a true water Eldorado. Canoeing is one of the best ways to get to know the lakes and waterways of southern Sweden. We were lucky and had free canoes at our cottage but it’s also very easy to rent a canoe and life jackets from one of the many rentals you will find throughout the area. Paddling is for everyone. It’s a great sense of freedom you get when you get into the canoe and sit close to the water’s surface.
One of the highlights of our latest trip to Småland was definitely hours spend canoeing on a shiny forest lake. In the middle of the lake, we found a tiny island and we almost felt like Robinson Crusoe as we embarked our canoe. While we enjoyed our packed lunches we could observe the cranes as they were looking for food at the edge of the woods. It was a marvellous sight and the silence was only interrupted once in a while when the cranes began their trumpeting. We only saw a few but if you visit Småland during early spring you can see thousands of them as they assemble and perform their characteristic and spectacular crane-dance. The crane-dance is a fascinating sight and an important part of the birds mating ritual.
4. Road Tripping
At some point, you will probably get tired of all that activity and wilderness life. Then it’s time to start your car and go road-tripping. Småland covers a huge area and it will take many weeks to see everything there is to see. Visit the local tourist office and get inspired. Pick a few spots and attractions you would like to experience and off you go. No need to get stressed, remember you are in Sweden.😁
The first stop on our southern Swedish road trip was Taberg. A tiny mountain rising 343 meters above sea level. From this lump of iron ore, you have an incomparable view of Jönköbing, the Vättern, and southern Sweden. In clear skies, it is possible to see 80 kilometres away. The view gives you a good feel of the Småland landscape.
You can choose the easy way to the top and take the car like we did, or you can let your car stay at the foot of the mountain and take one of the nice hiking trails to the top. Taberg is apparently 1.2 billion years old and the area is today designated as a nature reserve.
After enjoying the wonderful view from the top of Taberg we headed northeast and ended up in the small picturesque town of Gränna at the shore of the mighty Vättern, the sixth largest lake in Europe. We instantly fell in love with this little gem of a southern Swedish town.
Along the narrow streets the most beautiful wooden houses lie like pearls on a string and in several of these old buildings, the inhabitants produce what the city is best known for namely Polkagrise, Polka-pig in English. A red and white striped candy-stick with peppermint flavour. Polkagrisen was first invented by a poor woman in the middle of the eighteenth century and is today BIG business in Gränna.
After spoiling yourself with sweets, it’s probably time for lunch. We can warmly recommend Fiket. An uncommonly charming 50’s cafe serving tasty food and the most delicious homemade bread. As you enter the door of Fiket you will instantly be catapulted back to 1955. This little pearl is truly a time warp. On warm sunny days, you can have lunch on the terrace overlooking the lake.
After a delicious lunch, we continued our road trip, this time to the east. After an hour’s drive, we arrived at Stalpet waterfall, which, with its 20 meters, is the highest in southern Sweden. It is possible to observe the beautiful fall from several viewing platforms, trails and bridges.
We were very impressed with the beauty of the area. It is also possible to enjoy the water and the gorge from a small cozy cafe. They have a beautiful garden with stunning views and in addition, they serve amazing homemade cakes, waffles and ice cream.
5. Simple living
Småland is a canopy of experiences and you can easily fill your holiday with different activities, but for us, the greatest attraction is the silence and the tranquillity found in the many forests and at the countless lakes. Our daily lives are busy and filled with all kind of things. We must constantly relate to one thing or another. Your phone rings, you must answer a text or email, there is a tv program you just have to watch. Most days our brains work on high pressure from morning until evening.
But in Småland we can disconnect. Just turn off our brains and relax. Turn off our phones and tablets, forget about jobs and work. It’s incredibly therapeutic to let the silence overcome you and just enjoy the tranquillity far from the city’s lights and sounds. It probably takes a day or two but slowly you can feel how the body settles down.
Småland treats its visitors well!
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Småland gallery – just enjoy or click to go to next image.