Sweden Road-trip Guide & Interactive Map

Sweden Road-trip Guide & Interactive Map

Sweden, western Europe’s best kept secret that has hidden depths and a diversity to appeal to every single visitor.

 

Sweden is such an unknown entity despite its musical foursome and Nobel Peace Prize inventor. It remains in the shadows of its geologically dramatic neighbour, Norway and yet stands firm in its own identity. As we headed off on our Summer in Scandinavia tour 2019, we had high hopes, Bucket Lists and anticipation of what this Nordic country could show us. Would it surprise and delight us as we searched for the ‘road less travelled’ or would people’s warnings of being boring haunt our expectations? Come with us on our road-trip as we create our own Swedish experiences that delve deeply into its culture and its landscape. Perhaps through our eyes you can then make up your own minds about what Sweden has to offer.  For a more detailed look at travelling to Sweden in a camper, then check out our comprehensive Top Tips Guide by clicking here. 

 

Our Sweden Interactive Route-map

As our initial offering, we present a comprehensive interactive map that gives you our specific route, visual treats with our images and co-ordinates of each and every place we called home. Click on the map image below to get access to our unique journey. 

 

Sweden – Did you know?

We love finding out about the country we are about to call home. So many interesting facts that create a really solid understanding of a place and its ‘raison d’être’. Here’s 15 things that we discovered from our research, Swedish friends and the locals we met along the way…

 

  1. Sweden has over 97,000 lakes! Yes 97,000. That’s a lot of lakes and they really are so beautiful. They tease you as you drive through the countryside, peaking their brilliant blue through the forest of green.
  2. There are over 350,000 moose and 260,000 reindeer so keep your eyes open. Strangely though, you are more likely to see reindeer especially in Lapland. Moose tend to be a bit more illusive and camouflaged amongst the trees.
  3. Alfred Nobel may be best known for his Nobel Peace Prize, although he made his fortune through the invention and selling of dynamite. 
  4. Sweden is approximately 1000 miles from north to south.
  5. Sweden has 56 days of complete daylight.
  6. Swedes use 54% of renewable energy and actually buy other people’s rubbish to convert. 
  7. Temperatures can average -16º in the north
  8. The nomadic Sami people are one of the world’s oldest cultures and were close to being wiped out by the effects of Chernobyl in 1989.
  9. Sweden used to have a real alcoholic problem and now booze is only available from Government-run stores in an attempt to curb the drinking culture. 
  10. 2/3 of Sweden’s landmass is covered by forest. 90% of properties are made of wood. The iconic red paint comes from a derivative of the important iron ore and copper mines around the country. 
  11. Sweden is home to the world’s first Icehotel, created in 1989.
  12. The Swedish Royal family are the oldest monarchy in the world. 
  13. The Sami’s calendar has 8 seasons each related to a cycle in the herding of reindeer. 
  14. Sweden has 29 National Parks
  15. Cost of living here is not as expensive as you might think. If you think up-market supermarket prices rather than Lidl then you will have the general cost of living here. 

 

Sweden – Our Top 10 Highlights

Trying to limit our favourite highlights and experiences from our 34 days is a tough one. With canals, magnificent coastlines, beaches, forest, archipelago and mountains, how are we meant to choose? Although select I must for the sake of your reading eyes.

 

1 – West coast beaches, for coastal lovers

From the minute you cross from Denmark over the famous Øresund Bridge, which is an experience all of its own, Sweden embraces you. The draw of the beaches are always strong with us. There’s something about the sea that just connects deeply with me. From the star fortress at Landskrona to the Royal Palace at Helsingborg, there are spots all along the coast to enjoy the sea. The views of Denmark and the Konberg Castle of Hamlet fame are so appealing and a great way to start a Swedish adventure. 

Check out our gallery of images below.

 

2 – Göta Canal – for water-sport enthusiasts

Stretching from Gothenburg in the west through two major lakes over to the eastern Baltic shores at Soderköping, Sweden’s Göta Canal is a must-see. It’s one of those ‘off-the-beaten-track’ places that only the Swedes tend to visit. Following the canal along its navigational route, gives you a unique view of Sweden’s countryside as you sweep over it on small lanes passing through authentic Swedish villages. Tempted by canal tow-paths bordered with artwork and pink floral cheerleaders, the Göta canal will delight you with its simplistic elegance. Whether you choose to do all or part by boat, SUP, cycle or camper, this central southern region has it all. For more information on the canal, check out our dedicated blog here.

Check out our gallery of images below.

 

3 – Stockholm, for city-break lovers

Sweden’s capital provides a unique stage for the humble visitor. First it has 14 archipelago that need exploring. Then there’s the old town (Gamla Stan) with its historic buildings, cathedral and Royal Palace. And the modern face of Stockholm with it countless museums, canals, Art Gallery underground stations, grand architecture and parks, all combine to give you a holistic experience. Whilst we’re not great city fans, having created our own ‘Alternative Tour’ of the city, we could certainly see the potential for a good 3 day visit here. Check out our City Tour Guide with a twist here.  

Check out our gallery of images below.

 

4 – The Baltic coast and Höga Kusten for outdoor lovers

In dramatic contrast to the west, Sweden’s east coast has the influence of the Baltic Sea. Thousands of year’s worth of natural history is evident along these shores. And it is here where you will experience Sweden’s most authentic personality. From Iron Ore mines dating back to 17th century at Galtström to atmospheric fishing villages tucked away in coves that still rely on the sea for their livelihood. Characterful red, stilted houses that sit on the water’s edge will transport you back to another era. Fågelsundet is the most incredible example of Sweden’s genuine fishing legacy and it will have you magnetised for hours as you step back in time. 

And as you head ever north in search of Santa perhaps, the Höga Kusten or High Coast is a sight to behold. 10,000 years of history engraved into this land where the forces of nature have collided to create the world’s highest coastline. Archipelago, lakes, forests of pine home to bears and moose give this region a secret beauty that so many by-pass. Stretching out from Härnösand to Örnsköldsvik, you can discover a treasure of untouched land, that is now protected by UNESCO, such is its importance. And it has been voted as Sweden’s best area of outstanding natural beauty. 

At 286m above sea, this coastline is a record breaker and each year it’s still growing; an estimated 8mm per year. With its plunging coastline, deep forests and lakes and dramatic mountains, the High Coast is a must for nature lovers and hikers. The Skulekogan National Park is littered with hikes ranging from boardwalks suitable for wheelchairs to day-long hikes with shelter cabins for the more adventurous. Why not experience the High Coast Trail which is a gruelling 78 mile (129km) trail that takes in the complete stretch of the UNESCO region and takes between 5-7 days. 

Check out our gallery of images below.

 

5 – The Midnight Sun for Bucket List seekers

You can’t come to Sweden in the summer and not head north for a glimpse of the Midnight Sun. It is one of the most incredibly special parts of our trip. Coming from UK, we always have that balance of light and dark. Sometimes one rules over the other more dominantly, although there’s always a yin and yang. Although not so in Scandinavia. Here one is the king for at least 2 months.

Our first initiation was actually in Grenen in the northern most peak of Denmark. And whilst it is too far south to be the traditional midnight sun, the balance of light to dark was most certainly tipped in the favour of the day. As we headed further north, that dominance grew more and more and it enthralled me. Do you ever remember those conundrums at school? If you were plunged into 24 hours or darkness or 24 hours of sunlight, how would it impact on your life? 

I never imagined that I would be living that question. How tricky to manage sleep when it is light all day. The sun never dies; it has a perpetual circle where the light gives life to all its subjects. Midnight and the bees are still collecting pollen, the birds are still singing and animals are going about their normal daily habits. Our sleep patterns were definitely affected, as were our energy levels. Bizarrely although I would wake up regularly wondering what the time was, I rarely felt sleep-deprived. My productivity and creativity went through the roof, energised by this most incredible deLIGHT.  We could travel as far or as long as we wanted without the darkness forcing us to bow to its supremacy. Although the most amazing insight has been, how quickly the body adapts to this phenomena. After a mere two weeks living and breathing the midnight sun, we rarely even thought about it. Our minds learnt, our bodies shifted and soon we were living life like a Midnight Sun local. 

Witnessing the never sinking sun will remain one of my most memorable moments. As we scampered to the top of  Arjeplog’s mountain in Lapland, at 2345, we watched in awe as the sun’s arc kissed the horizon gently and then continued on its passage into the next day. What a humbling experience. In the far north, you can bare witness to this incredible event, depending on the weather until mid-July.  

 

6 – The Arctic Circle 

One of my three Swedish Bucket Lists was to stop at the Arctic Circle. Whilst I’m not a trophy hunter, I’ve never travelled so far north and to reach the Arctic Circle seemed momentous for this home-bird. Plus there’s always something to learn from these landmarks. 

I hadn’t realised that the circle is not a static line – it is forever shifting. Whilst it is approximately on the 66.5ºN axis, it can move up to 48ft every single year. The Arctic Circle is defined by the tilting of the earth away from or towards the sun, which can fluctuate around 2.4º every 40,000 years. This is known as the precession.

How incredible to come face-to-face with this incredible lineage. We arrived on the longest day of the year and it was damp and grey, although to me, the weather mattered not a jot. It was amazing to park up here and feel the energy of the place and its symbolising of universal movement. 

 

7 – Lapland’s Wildlife, for the nature lovers

Someone told me that north of Stockholm, Sweden becomes boring. And whilst we respect everyone’s travel experiences, I was determined to decide for myself. For us, it was anything other than boring. We adore wildlife, nature and forests, and Sweden has them all in bucket loads. Long, straight roads taking you north through the wilderness piques my interest, as hidden behind the wall of trees is a whole existence beyond our comprehension.

Whilst I would love to have seen a bear, they remain an illusive beast for us and so we had to satisfy ourselves with reindeer and the odd female moose. What a privilege they were. On deserted roads we often found ourselves travelling alongside a small family of reindeer as they decided which way to roam. They were so close and so tame. We even saw one on a beach! Well even Ruldoph needs a holiday! 

If you are lucky you may see Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles and Rough-legged Buzzards. We saw the latter although everything else was hanging out with the bears on our trip. One of these days we’ll see one, of that I am sure.  However, the anticipation was enough to have our eyes peeled like oranges.

Check out our gallery below.

 

8 –  Jokkmokk, gateway to Laponia and the Sami

Sweden is full of culture – and it seems that in every pine needle from the endless forest treasures, there will be an ancient legacy held in its pores. The further north you venture, the more you will learn about Sweden’s Sami, who have been recognised by UN as indigenous people, granting them permission to maintain their identity, practices and semi-nomadic lifestyles.

If you really want to understand Sweden, then look deep into the soul of the Sampi – which is Sami territory. Nestled in the heart of the Arctic Circle, Sami communities support their ancient heritage dating back thousands of years. Their partnership with the earth is key to their culture and there is no better a place to learn about their lives than in this region.

Having passed the heady heights of the Arctic Circle, 4 miles up the road is the small town of Jokkmokk. In summer it has a deserted feel about it, almost as if tumbleweed would look at home here. And yet when you venture into its avenues you uncover a colonial feel. As the epicentre for Sami culture, Jokkmokk is a must-visit destination if you want to learn about this important part of Sweden’s tapestry. The Ajtte Museum is your first port of call and for a mere 90SEK (£7.60) you can easily while away a couple of hours learning about Sami’s nomadic life in the wilds of Laponia.  Then a saunter down to the incredibly helpful Tourist Info centre and Sami craft shop will arm you with plenty of Sami knowledge.  

In February this humble town takes on a whole new guise as it erupts with its 400 year old Winter Market. On the first Thursday in February, the market begins, and the Sami come from miles around to sell their handicraft. Visited by tens of thousands of people from around the world, the market is unique, in part because of the harsh winter conditions through which the Sami seem to live effortlessly. 

Not far from Jokkmokk, you can further expand your Sami understanding by entering into the heart of Laponia. This is a fabulous landscape famed for its partnership between man, history and nature. This region vibrates with Sami culture, geological significance and intense natural beauty. Hence is another of Sweden’s World Heritage sites thanks to its symbiotic relationships. With nine Sami communities, rocks dating back 2,000 million years and an often inhospitable landscape, you can begin to appreciate the geological importance of this off-the-beaten track region.  Deep lakes, high mountains, gushing rivers and thriving forests all combine to offer a natural wonder to all who enter through its gates. Why not take the road from Porjus and start your Laponia adventure, seeing the road before you melt into the arms of the snow-covered mountains. Check out the Naturum Centre, where their passionate staff will share their knowledge of the area and the nomadic Sami people. 

Check out our gallery below.

 

9 –  Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi – for thrill seekers

I don’t know about you, although being cold is not really my idea of fun. Although when we headed to Swedish Lapland’s northern most reaches of Jukkasjärvi, there was one big, cold Bucket List tick to be had for me. The Icehotel is an incredible and world-renowned establishment that fuses art and nature together under one snowy roofline. The first hotel of its kind was founded in 1989 and since that time 29 winter Icehotel Art Galleries have been uniquely created and duly melted thanks to Mother Nature. With the extraordinary talents of artists from around the globe, the Icehotel has become a winter institution for those looking to experience the Northern Lights, winter sports and sleep in rooms made of ice.

And now, sleeping in your own personal art gallery, can be a year-round activity thanks to the newly created 365 Icehotel. This is a permanent construction made possible by solar panels energised by the 24hrs daylight. Enjoy a tour around these uniquely created suites and partake in a little drink from the Icebar with glasses carved out of ice and dressed in Arctic capes that ward off the chill. For an intimate look at our Icehotel experience – camped up in their campingplats, we hasten to add, check our blog and video here.

Beyond the hotel, Jukkasjärvi can stand proudly as having its own landmark for visitors which makes a visit here doubly worthwhile. Check out the Sami church with its incredible carvings and the Museum and restaurant that have recreated Sami life underneath the canvas. Try a Coffee Cheese – that will blow your mind. 

Check out our gallery below.

 

10 – Abisko National Park, for nature and hiking lovers

Just when you think your Swedish adventures are about to come to an end, you arrive in Abisko. With your vehicle laden with supplies before the expensive heights of Norway, you make your way along the E10. Now this is no normal road. This is the piéce de resistance of border crossing routes. With the landscape taking a dramatic turn from the grey outlook of Kiruna, you will find your mouth quiet literally wide open. I defy you not to gasp in awe at this incredible panorama. Granite boulders strewn like giants’ tiddlywinks, crystal blue waters and ice-white waterfalls cascading from the still snow-capped mountains. This is the world of the Abisko National Park. 

Armed with your hiking gear, this is the starting point of the world’s most famous hiking trail – Kungsleden. Created back in 20th century the King’s Trail is over 240 miles (400km) and is as demanding as it is long. It crosses peaks and valleys, passes through mountain villages where reindeer husbandry is evident and meanders around lakes, tarns and rivers. And it all starts (or ends depending on how you see it) in Abisko. You can do parts of the walk from here and the Stora Sjöfallets National Park, where the trail also passes. Or choose to do the whole thing using the cabins along the way to rest and sleep. We chose just to do a small section at Abisko following the path of the canyon and it was absolutely stunning. 

Abisko implores you to stay for more than a day, with its full range of walking trails suitable for everyone. With a cable car going up to the mountain, surely from here the Midnight Sun and Northern Lights are a guarantee. It is known to be one of the best parts of Sweden to see the lights and with it microclimate, offers the sun worshipers great chance to see the never sleeping sun. 

This was a real highlight to our 34 days in Sweden and has our memories dripping with evocative images of ice-blue canyon waters, classical u-shaped valleys and towering mountains. And as Norway beckoned, we were eased into the geological masterpiece that we would soon be calling home. 

Check out our gallery below.

 

Practicalities

 

Getting there

Arriving into Sweden is easy, despite its northerly position. Flights to Stockholm, as a major international hub, are a breeze. In fact there are no less than four different airports to choose from;

  • Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN)
  • Bromma Airport (BMA)
  • Västerås Airport (VST) 
  • Skavsta Airport (NYO)

There is the train from Denmark across the Øresund Bridge which takes you straight into Malmo, Gothenburg or Stockholm.

Ferries are plentiful offering you travel from:

  • Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Russia
  • Norway and Finland

If you are coming by road then it does depend which direction you are coming from and indeed from which country. There are three main country routes into Sweden;

  • Via Finland you can cross the border at Haparanda on the E8.
  • Via Norway; from the north the E10 entry into Abisko is an outstanding route or on E6 in the south, crossing at Seläter.
  • Via Denmark crossing the Storebælt and Øresund Bridge (which are chargeable.) 

 

If you are travelling with your camper, then why not check out this comprehensive blog offering you our Top Tips for Touring Sweden in a Camper?

 

Things to remember

A couple of tips worth remembering whilst you are in this delicious country.

  • Sweden has its own currency – Swedish Krone  –  SEK. We used XE.com to get a handle on the exchange rates.
  • Sweden is generally a cash-less society, so don’t load up with too much of the paper stuff. Just your pre-loaded cards will do fine. Even for small amounts, cards are generally used. 
  • Shopping in Sweden is more expensive than some of its European cousins further south, although in comparison to say UK, is on a par in many ways. Prices particularly in the cities will be significantly higher as a general rule.
  • Swedes are great linguists and many will speak excellent English, although coming armed with a few Swedish phrases will be appreciated. 

 


 

Our Conclusions

Sweden has been a fabulous experience. Three Bucket List ticks and a host of fabulous memories to add to our Travel Journal. Warmth, generosity, community spirit and an enchanting land await you. Sweden stands firmly in our affections for all that it has given us and is another country we can add to our Must Return To list. We hope that this inspires you to put Sweden on your travel agenda and explore it wealth of natural, historical and cultural offerings.

 

 

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10 Tips for Touring Sweden in a Camper

10 Tips for Touring Sweden in a Camper

 

Sweden may be Europe’s best kept secret although this country seriously deserves our time. Hidden behind the dramatic shadows of its sibling rival Norway, Sweden neither begs nor demands our attention. Instead it sits quietly, assertively and comfortably in its own skin and happily follows its own drum. When you visit though, make no mistake, this country will embrace you emphatically. With a warmth that will set you aglow whatever the weather, Sweden will feel like home within two footsteps and be a firm favourite in your heart forever. 

We had 34 delicious days touring Sweden, determined to feel its soul before we hit the visual explosion of Norway. Our Summer in Scandinavia road-trip has been, without doubt, a highlight of our full-time travels. 

Whilst we respect other people’s travel perspectives, we have been surprised and delighted by Sweden’s captivating appeal and found it neither boring nor uninspiring, as we had been led to believe. I’m sure that Norway’s geological masterpiece will blow our tiny minds in two, although there is nothing that will dislodge my feelings about Sweden. With her soft exuberance, gentle curves, charming natural energy and effortless elegance, Sweden’s landscape and profound culture will hold firm in my photo-album of memories. 

And with our diverse experiences in this Nordic pleasure-zone, we wanted to share our Top Tips for getting the most out of this awesome destination. For a closer look at our route and highlights check out our Interactive Map here.

 

1. Getting There

Arriving into Sweden is not as difficult as the map might suggest, despite its northern position. Depending on which direction you are coming from, entry is not only straightforward, it is also rich in options. With your camper you have two options for your arrival;

1. By Ferry.  Ferries are plentiful in this Nordic land. You can travel from:

  • Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Russia
  • Norway and Finland

Check for the best routes and budgets for your purse by clicking here.  

2. By road.  If you are coming by road then there are three main country routes into Sweden;

  • Via Finland you can cross the border at Haparanda on the E8.
  • Via Norway; from the north, the E10 entry into Abisko is an outstanding route or on E6 in the south, crossing at Seläter.
  • Via Denmark crossing the Storebælt and Øresund Bridge (which are chargeable.) 

 

A point to note for UK travellers

If you are coming from UK, then head from Calais across northern Netherlands and Germany. We recommend crossing the Elbe river at Wischhafen on the ferry, rather than getting caught up in Hamburg. For €20 (for a 7.5m van) you are across the water in 30 mins.  Check out our footage of this easy route to Denmark here. 

This is our route into Denmark, which had a couple of diversions to explore Netherlands and see friends, although you will get a flavour of the direction you too could take. 

 

2. Driving

Sweden has, on the whole an excellent road network. In the south particularly, driving is effortless and noise free. Of course the summer holidays will undoubtedly bring more traffic, although during our road-trip, Stockholm was the busiest place we encountered. Otherwise we could drive for hours and only see a handful of vehicles. Here are some additional driving tips we can offer.

All of Sweden’s roads have regular pull-ins or parking areas where you can park up for the night. Many of them have dry toilets and offer opportunities to fill up with water too. Along the motorway network, there are regular places you can stop, many of which have latrines for emptying your black waste. Here’s a map of the main motorway rest areasAnd these are safe to park up areas unlike those in France.

As you head north into Lapland, the roads in summer become unpredictable as it is when they carry out their winter repairs. So take this into account when planning your travel. Often you will come across road works for up to 12 miles (20km) and the tarmac will just disappear, replaced by gravel and potholes and seemingly no-one working on them. This will reduce your speed significantly and could add up to 1 hour to your travel time. So be prepared for this.

When you see a sign for a motorway on the map, just bear in mind that this is not a motorway on the same scale as its European cousins. Often it is just a single carriageway route, especially in the north.

There are no motorway tolls in Sweden. Although they do have two City Congestion Charges and two chargeable bridges that require payment via Vehicle Registration Recognition. In both Stockholm and Gothenburg, if you travel through the city during the week, there is a charge depending on the time of day and your vehicle. Although weekends and public holidays are free. Although these roads can generally be avoided by taking the ring roads. The Motala and Sundsvall Bridges both have charges to help pay for their construction and upkeep, although again they can be avoided. Otherwise all roads are free to travel. For more info on the charges, check here.

Some of the roads in Lapland are more narrow than those in the south. Whilst not impassable with two vehicles, it is worth just being mindful when a lorry or another motorhome passes.

There are plentiful speed cameras everywhere in the south. Whilst they always warn you of their presence, because there are so many of them, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball and miss one. So do watch your speed. Once you head into the central backbone of Sweden from the High Coast, the cameras strangely disappear.

There were no height restrictions or roads that were off-limits. We never once had to turn round because the road was impassable for a 7.5m van.

As you head north into the wilderness, watch out for the roaming wildlife. Whilst you are more likely to see reindeer than moose, either could be encountered on your route. Advice we got from the locals; if a moose crosses your path, do not swerve. Slow down and go behind them as they never retreat. When it comes to Rudloph’s mates, then they have a more skittish feel about them. They truly wander; from one side of the road to another. There is nothing predictable about them at all. So go at their speed and allow them to find their own course across the carriageway into the forest.

 

3. All things Money and Shopping 

Despite being in Europe, Sweden has its own currency – Swedish Krone, SEK. We used XE.com to get a handle on the exchange rates.

Sweden is generally a cash-less society, so don’t load up with too much of the paper stuff. Just your pre-loaded cards will do fine. Even for small amounts, cards are generally used. The only exception was an Aire we stayed at.

Shopping in Sweden is more expensive than some of its European cousins further south, although is on a par with UK, on many levels. Petrol Stations are about the same and food is more like an upmarket supermarket price bracket, like say Waitrose.

In terms of supermarkets, you have plenty of options; Lidl, ICA, Hemköp, Willy’s and Stora Coop. We particularly liked Coop for its range of food and layout and ICA was pretty good if not a bit more expensive. It’s worth noting that Lidl, whilst is prevalent in the south, starts to thin out as you head north. The last one in the central north region is Östersund and Skelleftea on the Baltic Coast. Once in Lapland then you will rely on ICA and Coop mostly.

Alcohol is more expensive than many countries in Europe, although again similar to UK prices. Whilst you can buy low alcohol beers in supermarkets, stronger stuff is only available in Government run stores such as Systembolaget.

 

 

4. Diesel and LPG

Sweden’s petrol stations are profuse. They are mostly self-serving and payable at the pump. Most often you will also find water that you can fill up your tanks with too.   Some petrol stations have Latrines for emptying your black waste.

Bizarrely, we found the prices of diesel more expensive in the south and as we headed east towards Stockolm, it was cheaper. In June 2019 prices ranged from 16.30SEK around Mälmo to 15.39SEK in Sundsvall.

For LPG, these are not attached to garages and are most often found in Industrial estates, set up as separate businesses. In the south there are generally plenty of places to fill up, although in the north there are few to none. The furthest north you will find a station is in Piteå on the Baltic Coast. There is nothing up the central spine or in Lapland. So plan carefully especially if you are visiting in autumn and winter when the weather gets colder.  Check the LPG.eu website for more information on up-to-date locations.

 

5. Eating and Drinking

Whilst we didn’t eat out much in Sweden, partly because of the prices, we did have a couple of outings. One thing you must do whilst here is to indulge in a Fika. It’s coffee and a little something to eat. Consumed at any time of the day, this is a very cultural Swedish experience and won’t break the bank.

Experiencing a bit of Sami culture is essential to your Scandinavian adventure. And if you can try their food, you’ll not  be disappointed. Their Coffee Cheese is interesting – stove boiled coffee with chunks of cheese lurking in the bottom of your cup –  hum interesting!

Whilst your views on meat may lean you towards vegetarian, for meat lovers, Reindeer sausage is an interesting meat. Much like venison, it is a very dark meat and we had a lovely Sami dish with slices of sausage on their delicious flatbreads with a horseradish and creme fraiche dressing. 

If you decide on a city visit to Gothenburg or Stockholm and decide on eating out – just be aware of prices. Much like any other city around the world, food prices can double. We had a much needed cider and beer in Stockholm, for the princely sum of £14. Whilst that might be standard for London lovers, for us, that was steep. 

 

 

6. Conversing

Swedes are excellent linguists and English is just one of their many tongues. Although we have always found that being able to converse in a country’s local language is so important and respectful. Here are some key phrases that we used to help us blend in, just a little. 

 

  • Hej, hej  – hello
  • Hej då (pronounced do) – bye
  • Tack – thank you and please
  • Kan jag på (pronounced po) – can I have?
  • Är det möjligt – is it possible?
  • Pratar du engelska  – do you speak English?
  • Ja och nej – yes and no
  • Kan jag betala – can I pay?
  • Kan jag stanna – can I stay?
  • En natt tack – one night please 

 

7. DIY and campervan crisis

We can never guarantee a hiccup-free road-trip to any country and whilst we can have the best stocked tool-kit in the world, it rarely covers every eventuality. So if like us, you experience issues that need a bit of DIY fixing until you get home, then Biltema is the place to head for.  Biltema is an incredible one-stop-shop that sells almost everything for bicycles, all types of vehicles, boats, gardens, electrics and plumbing. We used them on a couple of occasions and they are a priceless resource. Also they have Dollar Stores, which are a bit like the Chinese stores you find across Europe.

 

8. All things Camping 

Camping in Sweden is effortless whether you like wild camping or the security of an Aire or campsite. Whilst we only used two campsites during our 34 day stay, there are plenty available. Check out this site for more campsite information. The two sites we used were for a city visit and get washing done. The typical routine is that you book a 3 hour slot and you can do as many washes and tumble dries as you like during this period. Some charge for this service and others it is free.

If you enjoy the in-between version of an Aire – Sweden call them Campingplats, then there are lots of these too  –  especially in the south and around the Göta Canal. They all have full facilities and idyllic locations. Be aware though that many of them are payable by Swish, which is a Sweden specific mobile payment system. Generally for us foreigners, there is a warden who will come around to collect your money. This is the one time that having cash will be important. 

We are wild camping lovers and Sweden is bar far the best country we have visited that offers effortless overnight parking. And after the joys of Greece, that really is saying something.  Whether it is parking up on a sandy beach (yes, right on the sand is permitted and safe), alongside rivers and lakes ideal for swimming or beside authentic fishing villages in the middle of no-where. Sweden offers it all. Just be mindful that in the summer mosquitos come out to play and with so much water it can be a bother. We had one particularly bad night, although otherwise it wasn’t as bad as we expected.

In terms of emptying and filling, this is simple too. With free services for motorhomes dotted everywhere, dry toilets that allow you to eek out your own facilities, and garages where you can also fill up with water, it really is so easy. We used Park4Night for a majority of our overnights, together with Google Earth to find our own quiet spots for the night.   And all our entries have been added to SearchforSites. I have never felt so safe as in Sweden and we really did end up in some remote spots.

Sweden has a freedom to roam policy. So if you are coming with a tent or camper, then this is camping heaven. You are allowed, by law to camp, walk, pick berries and kayak in the wilderness. In fact you can stay anywhere as long as it is not in a private garden or close to residential dwellings. 

 

9. Coping with the Midnight Sun

This part of the world is blessed, during the summer months with 24hrs sunlight for a couple of months. From mid-May to mid-July you will begin to experience seriously long days. Even in the south of Sweden, light evenings at midnight are common around 21 June. Although as you head towards Arjeplog in Lapland you are in for a midnight treat. This is the furthest south you can experience the Midnight Sun. Thanks to the tilt of the earth, this solar ball never sinks below the horizon, it just tickles it and continues on its way into the next day. 

Coming from UK, not having dark nights is a strange experience. There’s something about how our bodies are conditioned to feel tired when the light fades and awakens again with the dawn. This far north those definitions don’t exist – at this time of year at least. So birds sing all night, insects go about their business undisturbed and time for sleep never seems to arrive. It really is an adjustment. Although adjust you will.

We love sleeping with blinds open, although to trick the mind, either get black-out curtains or close your shutters so you can block out the sunshine. You will wake up in the middle of the night and feel disorientated as your mind tries to work out the time. If you really struggle, take eye masks so you can sleep. Although it is worth adding that after a couple of weeks, your body will soon adjust and your internal body clock will naturally want to sleep.


There are so many upsides to these super long days; it inspires immense creativity, aliveness and time to travel for as long as you want. You can start out on the road early and still have plenty of time
 to explore your destination. We have felt so energised by this 24hr light and it really feels so exciting even 6 weeks on.  And one of the best bits for us wild campers; we can go to bed with our batteries at 12.4 and wake up to fully charged fellas because of the constant solar. It makes living and travelling here so easy.

 

10. Preparing for the weather

We’d love to be precise about the weather in these parts, although given our experiences of snow in Spain, earthquakes in Italy and flash floods in France, I’m not sure we are best placed for predictions. Scandinavia generally in summer has some gorgeous weather, reaching the heady heights of mid-twenties. Although depending on what is happening in Southern Europe, Scandinavia can have reverse fortunes. On 29th June we were sat in a snow-storm in Abisko. 

As the days become shorter and the summer submits to the force of autumn, the weather will start to change. Snows can come as early as October in the far north, so make sure you have de-icer or screen wash in your reservoir and snow socks as a precaution.

One thing is sure, we came to this area knowing that we would not be encountering a heat-wave. OK so 2018 was perhaps an exception! It’s important though to not be ruled by the sun or heat because we are a long way north. We found that there was a definite weather pattern. We would have three or four really lovely warm days followed by two cold, wet and grey ones. Tune your heads into cooler weather than you might expect if you head south to Spain. Pack layers, waterproofs and solid walking boots. Shorts can have their place in your packing cubes, although manage your expectations and you will enjoy the area so much more. Much like anywhere, the weather is, what the weather is.

 


 

 

A road-trip to Sweden has never been more accessible. With a warm welcome, a diverse and beautiful landscape and 1000 miles north to south, there are endless options for your adventures. Coastline, mountains, forest, castles, canals and lakes – every interest and outdoor pursuit can be satiated in this enthralling country. Start planning for your trip now and experience the magnificence that Sweden has to offer. For more on the route we took, our highlights and overnight stopovers, check out our comprehensive blog here

 

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Icehotel, Sweden – where nature and art fuse

Icehotel, Sweden – where nature and art fuse

The Icehotel, a sensory experience that goes deep beneath your skin, penetrates far beyond your iris and seeps profoundly into your soul. A place where you can sense, touch and see the simplicity of nature fusing with art, nestled in the heart of the Arctic Circle. 

 

Visiting the Icehotel has been on my Bucket List for years; for as long as there have been cobwebs in the corner of my bedroom.  And as our 2019 Summer in Scandinavia road-trip with our camper took shape, I knew that a visit was inevitable. My Bucket List was about to get a great big, fat tick.

I had been in touch with the Icehotel and found out that we could park our camper at their campingplats. So that was it – we set our course north. With my mind focused, I planned our route through the spine of Sweden searching for moose, reindeer and the Midnight Sun along the way.  All the while my excitement began to blossom. Quietly at first and then it transformed into a galloping herd of stallions.  With every day, my anticipation became as sharp as a razor blade and my fear of disappointment lurked surreptitiously in the shadows. Would the reality create an overcast sky on my sunshine bright hopes? We were about to find out.

 

Check out our video for a real visual submersion into our adventure.

 

Our Arrival

Once we had  parked up in the Icehotel’s official campingplats, we took ourselves off for the 4.00pm tour. I might as well have been in Santa’s Grotto as I took in the image before me. The first thing that struck me was the simplicity.  Wooden cabins, called the ‘warm rooms’, stood in avenues each with their own rooftop decoration. They had an earthy feel about them and they fitted into the winter woodland environment perfectly. In between the cabins, statues of all shapes and sizes caught my eye, the hotel making sure that the art theme was consistent, inside and out. The roofs covered in moss and grasses gave them a sense of camouflage amongst the insatiable 24 hour daylight that blesses this part of the world in June. And in the distance, the blue tones of the river Torne sparkled with mischievousness. The river is such an essential component to the Icehotel’s existence, as we would soon learn. A river that, with its crisp coldness speeds eastwards to a destination known only by the river gods, creates a playground for Europe’s white-water rafters. 

“And what of the Icehotel?” I hear you cry. Well beneath its own natural grassy canvas, this incredibly understated palace of ice pulled me in along its boardwalk. If I could have run up to it, like a lover towards the embrace of their long-lost partner, I would have. Although a certain amount of decorum is needed, surely? Decorum and patience.

Check out our gallery below.

 

Icehotel History

Sweden’s Icehotel is the first of its kind in the world and is the brain-child of Yngve Bergqvist who was inspired by Japanese ice-sculptures. After inviting some sculptors to become instructors in Jukkasjärvi, in 1989 Bergqvist built an Igloo art gallery, and it was from this seed that the world-renowned Icehotel was conceived. Year by year, as each unique gallery of rooms melted back into the arms of its creator, the Icehotel brand grew from strength to strength and now has global recognition. 

The Icehotel is a exclusive concept. Each winter a totally new personality emerges, as artists from around the world are invited to submit their ice visions. A totally unique, annual Art Gallery that temporarily showcases its masterpieces before the spring sun dawns from behind its winter curtain.

In March, ice is harvested from the frozen river Torne, which offers up its 80cm thick treasure ready for its transformation. Two ton blocks are cut from the motionless winter river and stored in a massive refrigerated storage unit until the next season’s construction is ready to begin. And as the first snow begins to fall, a special combination of ‘snice’ – snow and ice, blend together like the mortar between bricks. Within six weeks, the main structure is ready and the artists arrive, tasked with turning their visions into an icy reality – within just two weeks! What an evolution. A special artistic expression that has such a short lifespan of beauty. 

 

 

The Icehotel Tour

On the nose of 4.00pm, our guide Jenny took us on one of the four daily tours. We started off at a structure that looked something like an aircraft hanger. Two arched frames that act as the backbone for the winter hotel. And as I looked to the ground, electric cables were neatly encircled on the earth as they wait, in summer hibernation until their autumnal cue. Here is the very foundation for the winter hotel. Of course, now in full summer, this year’s hotel has already melted back into the earth, its soul waiting patiently for a reemergence in October. For now we can only imagine how Icehotel 30 might look.

The refrigeration storage unit, which is the paternal belly of the Icehotel, is home to the precious blocks of crystal blue ice. Priceless cubes that not only morph into works of art the following autumn, they are also shipped across the world for companies’ PR creations. It is here that the Ice Bar glasses are created and where ice has become a growing commercial commodity – who would have thought it?

Now for the exciting bit… the rooms of the year-round 365 Icehotel and the obligatory Ice Bar.

 

365 Icehotel Experience

As the doors of the main 365 Icehotel slid back, they presented to my eagerly awaiting eyes, the hotel’s world of ‘snice’. I felt the tingle of anticipation rise from my toasty warm feet. Donning our Artic capes and gloves that would shrivel Superman into a melted puddle of fear, I waited for the moment of revelation. The coldness immediately hit my face. Yet it was as if I had been invited to run naked into the warm Mediterranean Sea – there was nothing holding me back. 

I couldn’t help being mesmerised by a column of ice in the hotel’s entrance that held some river plants in beautiful animation. Art of a different kind; nature in immortalised suspension. I gingerly touched the ice and was instantly drawn to its velvety feel. I’ve been so conditioned to see ice as a substance to freeze your skin, and yet this had the opposite effect. Smooth, silk-like and soft to touch, like a crystal glass yet with an energy and life breathing through its inanimate pores.

The Icehotel’s 20 Rooms/Suites are accessed by reindeer covered sliding doors, that gave me permission to enter into  a magical new world. A archway of sparkling ice that had an eery and surreal light to it. Along the corridor, doorways invited me to an artist’s mind, represented by skilful carvings from pure, virginal ice. Different themes that were birthed from their creativity. Some rooms evoked a real wow, whilst others demanded my reflection asking me to stop a while and listen. Whilst the silence was deafening, a couple of rooms greeted me with softly playing music, like a lullaby for the restless child. A bed covered with reindeer rugs invited me to stay underneath its protective shield while the unforgiving ice-cold air threatens to crumble even the bravest resolve.

And yet strangely, as I wandered from room to room like Alice in Wonderland, I found myself glowing in delight. I felt cold, not once. Perhaps it was the adrenaline of excitement coursing through my body. Although could I have stayed the night? Yes I think so. Although of course, I say this with the confidence of knowing that I had the comfort of our warm camper waiting for us up the road.

The intricate detail of the artists’ craft can only to be applauded and to view this living and breathing gallery was a complete privilege. Where else can you see such incredible designs that have such a fragile existence and that cry out to be admired before they succumb to their watery grave?

Check out our gallery of Icehotel rooms by clicking the image below. 

 

 

The Ice Bar

Of course the obligatory drink to warm my soul was the grand finale. Glasses made of ice were filled with evocative colours, brighter than any rainbow, which made my eyes pop. Carefully, with hands limited by enormous mittens, I scooped up my Wolf Paw cocktail and allowed the unique vessel to touch my lips. With dexterity and mindfulness, this in itself was a skill to master. Although once nailed, resistance to return for a topup was futile. 

The entire room was also constructed with ‘snice’ and embellished with ice carvings and decorations. Protecting our bottoms from the cold were reindeer hides that brought a little colour to the ice-blue hew of the room. And yet, this wonderland landscape was anything other than bland. It was mesmerising. With music vibrating gently around the room, the joy of being dressed ready for the Artic with a drink in hand, was a total privilege and one I will never forget. 

One of the most fitting endings to this whole experience was a symbolic committing of our glasses back to the river. Throwing this priceless vessel back into the arms of the Torne that first gave it life, was surprisingly moving. Knowing that this receptacle, born from these waters could return to it, presented the ultimate recycling gesture. What a great finale to our Icehotel experience.  

Check out our gallery below.

 

Icehotel Activities 

The Icehotel experience is so much more than just sleeping in an ice room. Getting a flavour of the surrounding area and soaking up the Sami culture is an important part of the adventure. There are the mountains, the river, nature and its wildlife, all taking on completely different characteristics depending on the season. Whether it’s the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun, ice sculpting lessons, snow sledding with huskies or just visiting the local Sami museum, church and Sami Homestead, there is plenty to keep you entertained. For more information check here. 

Check out our gallery below.

 

Icehotel Practicalities

Whilst the Icehotel may seem as though it is at the end of the earth, nestled in the heart of the Artic region, it is surprisingly easy to get to. 

Driving – it took us just over five days to drive here from Sweden’s High Coast. Although this was a saunter – it can be done more quickly if you are prepared to drive more miles and hours. Equally, if you are in Norway and the Lofoton Island region, then it is around 120 miles (under 200km) from Narvik. 

Flying – There are flights into Kiruna from Stockholm which is just 10 miles (15km) from Jukkasjärvi. From mid-December to early March you can fly direct from UK’s Heathrow airport to Kiruna in 3.5hours. 

Staying at the Icehotel – prices vary according to the season you want to stay and whether you want to stay in a ‘warm room’ or one of the Ice Suites. As an example, staying in a 365 Hotel room in the summer would be an investment in the region of £215, which includes breakfast, the sauna facilities and a tour. For more information and booking information, check them out here.

Daytime tours –  If you are in the area, then you can just visit for the day and do a tour times of which will vary according to the season and are offered in Swedish and English. 

Winter Tours; 349SEK

Summer Tours; 295SEK

Camping If you have your own camper, then why not stay here overnight in the warmth of your own home while still experiencing the uniqueness of the hotel? One of their 10 pitches will cost 350SEK, which includes electric hook up and the use of the sauna and showers at the main hotel reception. 

 

 

Our Closing Thoughts

 

Nature’s art breathing with simplicity and mastery

The Icehotel has seamlessly blended a commercial concept with nature – without exploitation. Using what Mother Nature gifts each winter, they have designed a modest and humble venue that honours the environment, art and Laponian culture. A visit here is so much more than just an overnight stay in a hotel. It is an experience, an adventure that allows you to be present with this symbiotic relationship between man and the earth. 

And so did disappointment come to visit? Absolutely not. The Icehotel was so much more than I imagined. So simple and earthy yet grand in its interaction with nature. I will never forget my journey to the Icehotel.

 

For more information check out the Icehotel’s website and Social Media Channels.

Twitter: twitter.com/icehotel_sweden
Facebook: 
facebook.com/icehotel.sweden
Instagram: 
@icehotelsweden
Youtube: 
youtube.com/icehotelchannel

 

Acknowledgements 

We were hosted by the Icehotel for this trip who neither reviewed nor approved this story. Our reviews and opinions are our own.

We would like to give thanks and credit to all the 365 Suite artists, some of whom we may have featured in our photography and video. 

Early Spring | Nando Alvarez and Liliya                                                      Raindrop prelude | Eryk Marks and Tomasz Czajkowski 

The Drift | Friederike Schroth and Fabien Champeval                                Out of the box | Wilfred Stijger & Edith Van De Wetering

Lost & found | Jens Thoms Ivarsson and Petri ”Bette” Tuominen              Téckara | Javier Opazo

The Invisible Invincible | Nina Hedman& Lena Kriström                            Oh Deer | Ulrika Tallving & Carl Wellander

Mermaid Fitness | Nina Hedman and Magnus Hedman                             Wishful Thinking | Marjolein Vonk & Maurizio Perron

Kiss | Kestutis and Vytautas Musteikis                                                         Living with Angels | Benny Ekman

Melting Pot | Rob Harding and Timsam Harding                                         Hydro Smack | Julia Gamborg Nielsen & Lotta Lampa

The Victorian Apartment | Luca Roncoroni                                                 You Are My Type | John Bark & Charli Kasselbäck

Dancers in the Dark | Tjåsa Gusfors & Patrick Dallard                                Once upon a Time | Luc Voisin & Mathieu Brison

 

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24 hrs in Stockholm, The Alternative Guide

24 hrs in Stockholm, The Alternative Guide

The Motoroamers’ City Tour series

 

Sweden’s Stockholm is reputed to be one of Europe’s best, so a visit is a must!  Although as introverts, the pair of us are not great city-break lovers. We have though, come to appreciate that travel has many personalities and to avoid the city hubs altogether means we miss out on part of a country’s fabric. So we tend to do a 24 hour bounce in, to capture a little of the city vibe and retreat back to the country to recharge. Just enough time to discover its character without too much exposure to the sounds, the sights and the overwhelming crowds. 

The consequences of this approach means that we have a small window of opportunity where time is of the essence. This requires us to be smart! Smart in the research we do, in the places we choose and in the culture we uncover.  So armed with our own guide to Stockholm’s best, undiscovered treasures, we set out to explore the alternative side to this city. With grateful thanks for the inspiration from our friends over at Atlas Obscura. 

 

Introduction

Before we launch into our uniquely created Stockholm tour, let’s start with a little taster. 

Founded as a city in 1252, Stockholm has plenty of history for us. Starting off with the Vikings’ influence in the building of the original Old Town. With its archipelago position, trade routes soon put Stockholm on the map and by 17th century it was a European powerhouse. Despite this Stockholm reeled from two disasters; the plague of 1710 that killed 36% of its population and a fire that destroyed the Tre Kronor Castle together with many historical documents. So the city had to seriously rebuild, as is so often the case with cities around the world.

With its 14 major islands to explore, the inner-city waterways, parks, Old Town, 53 museums and the Baltic Coast, this city is a pretty unique landscape. It was obvious that our 24hrs would never cover it all. And in fact, it may sound contradictory, although on reflection I think Stockholm needs a good 3 day visit to really experience the best of it. Check out what we found in the time that we had…

 

Our 15 Alternative Stockholm Sights

I can honestly say that we probably experienced a deeper perspective of Stockholm than the average tourist, despite our brief visit. Here’s what we discovered in 24hrs. 

 

1. Watch the sunset with the locals at Örnsbergs Klippbad

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Three miles outside of the city hub, it’s lovely to rub shoulders with the locals and, for a moment, not be a tourist. Like nocturnal owls, as twilight comes, the locals emerge with their picnics and blankets. With its youthful vibe, harbour, outdoor swimming pool and the rocks, Örnsbergs is the place to come. Here families and romantic couples gather to take in the setting sun and watch the brave kids conjure up the courage to dive into the icy cold water.

Check out our gallery below.

 

2Alfred Nobel’s dynamite bunkers

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We all know that Alfred Nobel is synonymous with the Nobel Peace Prize. Although did you know that way before this, he was infamous for inventing dynamite? No, nor did we. 

Dr Alfred Nobel found a way of turning the volatile element nitroglycerin into a commercially usable explosive. And despite factory explosions, one of which killed his brother, he continued to explore how to stabilise it until, in 1867 he invented dynamite. Such was his explosive success, that by his death in 1896 he owned 90 armament factories. However, mortified by a French Newspaper’s publishing of an early obituary entitled ‘The Merchant of Death is dead’, Nobel decided he wanted to leave a more positive legacy. And so written into his Will, the Nobel Peace Prize was created and he bequeathed most of his wealth to a Trust that would fund the Prize. 

If you walk just around the corner from Örnsbergs, you will find tunnels that are part of Nobel’s testing bunkers for his explosives.  What an interesting insight to a man who wanted to be remembered for something more purposeful than death.

 

3. Stockholm’s cityscape vantage point

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Heading 1 mile east from Nobel’s bunkers towards the city, there is a lofty spot from which you can gaze at the cityscape, uninterrupted. You will only find the locals here in the small suburb of Södermalm as they calmly walk the Monteliusvägen path. With views across to Stockholm, revel in the tranquility of this aerial position without all the pushing and shoving.

 

 

4. The Cuckold of Skeppsbron – A carving with a sad tale

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As you cross the bridge towards the Gamla Stan, take a turn right towards the waterfront. How often do we see a carving on a building and never think to ask what the story might be behind it? 

In-between Skeppsbar and Zum Franziskaner if you look up you see the carving of a man’s tortured face. Just below his chin there is an additional feature – the carving of a vagina! Legend has it that the owner of the building, Carl Smitt found out that his wife loved another man. In a pique of anger and anguish he had a carving made of his face, below which is her vagina immortalised for all to see. A visual reminder of his wife’s betrayal and a warning to others. Now I bet you weren’t expecting that?

 

 

5. Järntorget Statue

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In the Old Town, Gamla Stan, the second oldest square is home to a bronze statue of Evert Taube, a popular Swedish artist, composer and musician. Why not grab a Fika (coffee and something to eat) and enjoy this quieter, less touristy space on the outer edges of the historic quarter of Stockholm? 

 

6. Mårten Trotzigs Gränd – Narrowest street in Stockholm

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The streets of the Old Town were never designed for vehicles and many of them are narrow and curvaceous. None more so than Märten Trotzigs Gränd. This street is both steep and narrow and it is hard to get two people side by side. There are 36 steps and at its narrowest point there is only 90 cm separating the two walls. It’s true that this is a bit on the touristy side, although non-the-less interesting to see. The street is named after a rich iron and copper merchant from Germany, who came to live in Stockholm in 16th century.  This is a big Instagram draw and probably the biggest tourist attraction we visited.

 

7. Storkykobadet  – hidden, underground swimming baths

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I love finding places that even the locals, born and bred don’t know about. And this underground swimming baths is one of those. Sadly we couldn’t get in the day we visited, although we got to the basement door if nothing else and could hear the delighted squeals of those who were allowed in.

The story to the secret baths originate from an ancient Dominican Convent built in 17th century where the space was used as a cellar. Then it was turned into a school in the late 19th century where it became baths for the pupils. The baths are in danger of being shut down, although there is a group campaigning to keep it open and raise funds for its upkeep. What a little haven that you wouldn’t even known was there.

 

 

8. Stortorget – House of Ribbing or Kaffekoppen 

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As you head through the cobbled streets, you hear the reverberation of throngs of people. This can only mean one thing! You have reached the city’s oldest square – Stortorget. It is here that you can learn more about our dynamite loving inventor, Albert Nobel at the museum named in his honour, housed at the old Stock Exchange.  

As you look around the square, you’ll notice people, for sure; eating, drinking and resting. Although look beyond the crowds. Look up at the buildings and the architecture. What a magnificent roof-life. So many of us never look towards the sky and so miss some of a city’s real landscape in its roofs. These buildings have so many stories they could tell us, etched into their brick work. 

The red building – House of RIbbing, is hard to miss because it looks so different to all the others. Although originally built in 15th century, this house became a monument to those Swedish nobility murdered by Christian the Tyrant in what was known as the Stockholm Bloodbath. 

In 16th century, Denmark conquered Sweden and in an attempt to assert his role as king, Christian II of Denmark, lured leaders to a private conference. During 7-9 November 1520 each nobleman was publicly executed. After an uprising 2 years later, Sweden was liberated and subsequently, June 6th is marked as Swedish Independence day.  It is said that each of the 82 white stones, built into the facade of House of Ribbing represent a member of nobility murdered during that bloodbath. 

 

 

9. Ancient Rune stone

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Walking down the alley beside the House of Ribbing, you need to keep a sharp eye open for Stockholm’s most subtle ancient monument. See everyone walk past this 1000 year old heritage and then marvel at your discovery. Hidden in the mortar of a building on the corner of a crossroad of alleyways, you will find a Rune Stone. An ancient Iron Age practice that, as you run your fingers over the inscription, immediately transports you to another space and time. This is a unique and  special moment that 99% of visitors are blind to. 

 

10. Changing of the Guard – Royal Palace of Stockholm

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We were actually quite lucky to see this unique event. Not so much unique as in it is rare; unique because the timing is all important. Each week day the Swedish Army do a parade into the Palace courtyard to symbolise the Changing of the Guard. And I must say I have never seen such a proud and meaningful display. 

With a parade and a Military Marching Band, this country seriously knows how to honour its Royal heritage. It’s magnificent to watch. Ideally you need to position yourself on the inside of the courtyard for a full-frontal experience and aim to get there before 11.30 and 12.30 respectively. It’s a 40 minute parade so make sure you build this into your visiting schedule. It’s a tiny window, so make sure you don’t miss it. 

 

 

11. Inside the Palace 

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We normally associate Royal Palaces with extortionate entrance fees and stuffy tours around the stately quarters! Although bearing in mind that the Palace is still a working office, getting access may not always be possible.

Although without any entrance fees, it is possible to enter the Treasury and the Royal Chapel. Here you can marvel at this 18th century building that replaced the medieval Tre Kronor Castle, destroyed by fire in 1697. You can glide up and down the sweeping staircase like a scene from Gone with the Wind.

 

 

12. The longest Art Gallery in the world

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This is a mighty fine claim to make, although not quite as you may imagine. Take a journey beneath the surface of the earth and be bewildered by the magnificence of Stockholm’s artistry – in the subway. Yes you heard right – the subway.  In 1941 Stockholm’s underground network was created and 9 years later opened to the public. The artists started their creations in 1957, bringing a sense of colour, story and texture to the walls of the otherwise bland landscape.  An artistic revolution that defied conventionality and allowed expression to be imprinted in the most unusual way.

For the price of a metro ticket, you can ride through 99 stations and experience murals, statues, mosaics and be wowed at the uniqueness of this Stockholm adventure. If like us your visit doesn’t include travelling on the underground, ask the Station Master if you can pop down to any one of the stations for free. This way you can still experience first hand what the artists’ imagination were trying to convey.   

Check out our gallery below.

 

13. Birthplace of the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’

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Today the Nobis Hotel may look like any other grand, high class city hotel, although within its walls is a tale of crime, compassion and psychology.  If you have ever heard of the Stockholm Syndrome, then you will enjoy checking out this off-the-tourist trail location, north of Gamla Stan. In the swanky part of Stockholm the hotel, a former bank, fell victim to a robbery in 1973. In the robbery’s failure, Jan-Erik Olsson, a convict on parole from prison and his friend Clark Olofsson took 4 bank employees hostage locking themselves in the vault for 6 days. 

At the end of the heist the hostages refused to testify against their captors showing a bizarre compassion towards the men.  In the aftermath, a psychologist soon determined that this was a condition adopted in hostage situations. They concluded that the victim subconsciously establishes a bonding relationship with their captor as part of a survival strategy. And this psychological condition was formulated as a direct result of the Stockholm bank robbery. 

 

 

14.  Cycle around museum island – Djurgården

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No city visit is complete without at least one visit to a museum. Although how do you choose from 53 options in such a small space of time?  Plus we are not great lovers of museums generally speaking. So our best option was to take a tour around the island that seems to be home to a large majority of these magnificent institutions. Djurgården. 

Whether it is Abba, Vaga or the Nordic museum, there are some incredible options especially if you have kids, or perhaps are a big kid yourself. Although what better way to get a flavour, from the outside at least, of the ‘Big Three’? No ferries, no entrance fees, just an admiration of the building’s architecture and symbolism.

 

15. See Stockholm from the water

Stockholm’s archipelago is a unique capital experience. Although Italy’s Venice is also an island network with an intrinsic partnership with the water, even that Mecca is not on the same scale as Stockholm.

So taking one of the ferry options to a nearby island or cruising around the city’s inland canals is a must to get a full Stockholm perspective. 

We took a slightly decadent option, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, although it worked for us. I wanted to find a boat-charter that would give us a unique view of Stockholm’s waterways and see part of the archipelago that is least frequented by tourists. So with a bit of Googling I found Jesper at Alleman who had an aluminium boat that we could charter for a couple of hours. It wasn’t cheap, although driven my a desire to, I admit it, avoid the crowds, this seemed like a great option.

We got to see the Prince’s Palace up close and personal, enter through waterways that the commercial boats can’t reach, see the magnificent Ulriksdal Castle and we found a moose!  It was a super couple of hours exploring intimate corners of Stockholm’s watery realm and highly recommended seeing something of the city by boat.  

Check out our gallery by clicking on the image below

 

Our conclusions

There we have it; 15 Alternative Stockholm highlights that most tourists don’t get to experience.  And what of our tour? How did we rate the city? To be honest we found it initially a bit grim and claustrophobic, although after an hour or so, the city began to open up. Perhaps we just started to see things in a more open way. Without doubt there was a lot we missed and I would definitely have enjoyed visiting some more of the 14 islands. Although another time. 

Getting around the city is easy. Cycling is made safe by dedicated cycling lanes everywhere. Trams, underground and Hop on Hop off Buses allow offer you the chance to see as much of Stockholm as you can, in the time you have available. 

With hotels, AirBnB and camping places all giving you a place to rest your tired feet, Stockholm is one for the list. And despite everything I feel about cities – you know what? I would go back and see some more. It wasn’t an instant love affair although it was nice enough to go back for seconds. 

 

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Exploring Sweden’s Göta Canal

Exploring Sweden’s Göta Canal

Ever thought of the Göta Canal for your Swedish itinerary? I suspect not – it certainly didn’t make our initial agenda.  In fact I didn’t even know Sweden had a canal until we crossed over from Denmark. That’s why I love travel so much – it expands your mind and horizons. And like many, up until recently I was sure Sweden’s Top 6 were; Abba, Ikea, Albert Nobel, the Ice Hotel, herrings and meatballs. Now I seriously know better. 

We hope after delving into this little visual storyboard and video, that you would consider putting the Göta Canal on your Swedish adventure.  Let’s see if we can inspire you.  

Click below to see our video footage.

 

 

When we arrived on the south westerly shores of Sweden as part of our 2019 Summer in Scandinavia road-trip we had a choice; turn right and head along the southerly coast or left and head north towards Gothenburg. After a bit of Googling to find something off-the-beaten-track, I found the Göta Canal! Decision made, we turned left. 

Having grown up from the age of 12 around canals and narrow boats in England, I am pretty used to the waterway network and the sublimely tranquil way of life. So how perfect to visit something so close to my heart and my family roots. Plus I had never seen the Göta Canal profiled anywhere on any other blogs. We love going along the road less travelled and although my research suggested that it was popular with the locals, it didn’t have a tourist destination feel about it at all. This had our names written all over it.

 

Göta Canal Background

Sweden’s southern canal system is a man-made waterway constructed in 19th century connecting Gothenburg in the west with Söderköping in the east, just south of Stockholm. The entire stretch is 382 miles (614km) and its navigation takes on three very distinct personalities;

  • The Tröllehätte Canal from Gothenburg (now officially under the Göta Canal umbrella)
  • Two major connecting lakes, Vänern and Vättern
  • The Göta Canal

The canal’s vision was the brainchild of Hans Brask in 16th century although it took another 300 years for it to come to fruition. Thanks to the efforts of Von Platten, a German-born officer in the Swedish Navy, the revived plans got royal approval with King Charles XIII believing that it would give Sweden a modern edge. So in 1810 the canal’s construction began. It took a massive 22 years to complete with the help of canal guru Thomas Telford from England and was mostly dug out by hand, by 58,000 men. It was officially opened in 1832 although sadly it never really became the success that Von Platten had anticipated. The railway soon took over as the favoured form of transport given that it was quicker and was unaffected by the winter, unlike the easily frozen canal. 

Now the Göta Canal’s only commerciality is its tourist value – which ranks as one of the most popular destinations for Swedes. With its route crossing the entire country, this is an incredible way to experience Sweden; whether alongside the waterways on it’s well organised tow-paths or with a watery perspective, aboard boats or cruise liners. 

 

Göta Canal exploration

Starting (or ending depending on your perspective) officially at Sjötorp at the easterly edge of the Vänern Lake, the Göta Canal begins its journey. Winding through gorgeous countryside, through small towns that have grown up along its path it takes you on a colourful cultural experience with a historical shading. Ending up at Mem where the canal then accesses the Baltic Sea, where the salt tantalises the canal’s fresh waters. This canal is a beautiful work of art to be admired and enjoyed.

The 58 locks along its 120 mile route (190km) offers the sailer a challenge of manually operating these feats of engineering. With two or three locks in close or immediate succession, this is a steep learning curve for the inexperienced boat handler.  Although with plenty of marinas en route to offer sanctuary for frayed nerves, the canal soon casts its magical spell. After all who can be stressed going 3 kph? 

 

For the Active and Leisure Seekers

From start to end, the canal provides an opportunity for cycling, hiking or cruising – letting someone else navigate the tricky locks. The tow-paths are a great way to experience the Göta Canal. And along the way you will come across beautiful Slusshus (Lock Houses), churches, castles and small country roads that criss cross the waterways with swing bridges allowing the nautical traffic to pass.

 

The Lakes

Whilst there are two major lakes that the Göta Canal crosses through, there are a number of smaller lakes too, such as the Viken.  They all have their individual characters and offer sailors navigational challenges to reach the next stage of the canal. This is boating heaven and for those behind the wheel of a land vehicle, the drive around the lakes is also wonderful. Through forest and on deserted roads with teasing glimpses of the lake between the trees, it’s just delightful even by road.

 

Art and Nature 

Across the canal you will find artwork structures to catch your eye. Local artists offering their talents to the canal’s landscape. And then there’s nature’s own artwork. With lupins, carpets of pink blossoms and rhododendron in spring, this is a veritable feast for the eyes and the soul. And for a more historical marker, check out the 200 year old Ell Stones that are positioned at 600m intervals across the whole length of the canal. These were used to measure the fee payable by the ships as they sailed across the country. 

 

The Vessels

One of the things I love about waterways is the variety of boats that people choose to cruise in. You might be lucky to see ancient clippers, like the MS Mina we saw at Sjötorp, one of the oldest sail boats in Europe dating back to 1876. More likely SUP’s, kayaks, sail boats, motor cruisers and cruise liners, you name it, Göta got it all! 

 

For Campers

And finally…. If you, like us choose to bring your camper and explore the canal as landlubbers, then there are plenty of places to park up. There are marinas along the whole stretch of the canal and here you can stay for a fee of 225SEK per night (£19) which gives you electricity hook up, showers, service facilities and a gorgeous view. So you can navigate around the lakes and weave over the canal and get a feel for each stage without getting your feet wet.

 

Closing thoughts

So, there we have it. Our visual storyboard of our experience of the Göta Canal.  If you are looking for something different, a destination without hordes of tourists where you can watch the world go by, as you meander from east to west, then you’ll not be disappointed by the Göta Canal. It epitomises peace, tranquility and history and is a great feature for your Swedish road-trip. We urge you to consider it. 

 

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Denmark Highlights & Interactive Map

Denmark Highlights & Interactive Map

Denmark is not a destination – it’s a lifestyle.  Pintrip.eu

Let’s be honest for a moment about Denmark… Why would you want to put it on your European itinerary? Surely there are more exciting destinations to visit, like the Swiss Alps! Or more dramatic locations like Norway! Yet perhaps for you a trip to Denmark is about heading to Legoland with the kids or may be just a city-break to Copenhagen. Perhaps you see it just as a transitory country to pass through en route to Sweden or the Norwegian fjords! 

Although before you read any further, let me be clear! Come to Denmark! Explore! Stay awhile! Denmark may well be an unassuming country on the European stage, although a visit here is a must. I feel so passionate about persuading you to come here that our 7 Reasons to visit Delicious Denmark’ must be enough to whet your appetite.  If not, then perhaps this more in-depth look at our road-trip may seal it for you. We share with you our Interactive Map that gives you our route, POI and overnight stopovers. Now surely there are no excuses – come you must.  Join us as we cover all corners of this Danish journey and invite you along our 900 mile exploration. Come on in!

 

Interactive Map

 

As with any road-trip, it is never a complete journey as there are so many roads, miles and corners that you can’t possibly cover. Although we hope that following our path will give you an insight to some of the off-the-beaten track places and some of the more tourist ones that you could build into your trip. And whatever your passions, there is something for everyone. The sporty types, the historians, the nature lovers and everyone in between. 

 

Our Regional Highlights

Denmark has five main regions that are neatly organised into; South, North, Central, Zealand & Copenhagen/Bornholm.  Whilst we decided against Copenhagen, we did visit each of the other four regions and we have split our highlights into those nicely organised categories. So sit back, fasten your seatbelts and let’s get that engine roaring!

 

1.  South Denmark

Rømø Island

Crossing into Denmark on the south-west fringes gave us our first opportunity for an off-the-beaten-track destination. For sure Ribe – Denmark’s oldest town, is a major draw as you cross the border. Although turning left across the five mile causeway to Rømø was perfect for us. Rømø is famous for three things; Being part of the UNESCO Wadden Sea National Park, home to the smallest school and Lakolk beach – one you can drive onto! Whilst the drive can result in a bit of ‘stuckage’ for larger vehicles, generally driving on this compact beach is a real experience. Just having some time to chill out whilst parked up on golden sands is pretty unique and surreal. Definitely one to put on your list. 

We stayed at any beautifully manicured Aire alongside a lake with the best showers we’ve ever experienced. 

 

Ribe

About 45 minutes further north, you reach Ribe. Now this will undoubtedly be on everyone’s must visit list. And who can blame them. Think classical old town, cobbled streets, coloured facias, iconic steepled cathedral and a soul that is 1100 years old. Just imagine how many ghostly footsteps you’ll be walking in. Yet for something different, if you time it right, (unlike us sadly) at 8.00pm you can have a 45 minute walking tour with the Night Watchmen, whose role it is to keep the peace. These days it’s more of a tourist attraction although worth doing for a stroll around the old streets. Tours depart from the Restaurant Weis Stue in the Market Place during summer months. 

We stayed in the main car park for the town, which has allocated motorhome spaces. Although used by college kids until 3.00pm.

 

Billund

Surely on every child’s list must be a visit to Legoland in Billund. Home to the world’s most famous brand, Billund has a theme park to satisfy every child curiosity – both young and old. Although if muscling your way through summer crowds at the park isn’t your cuppa, instead venture into the town centre where you will find Lego House. The outside terraces of this lego building are free to explore and with its six different roofs to enjoy, what’s not to like? If you want to expand your experiences to something a bit more interactive, then you can enter the bowels of the house, although this will set you back £27pp for ages 3+. Babies up to 2 can go in for free.

 

Fåborg

Part of Denmark’s south region is strangely the island of Funen or Fyn as it is often referred to. Funen is one of Denmark’s 400 islands that forms its archipelago and is home to castles, quaint thatched villages and coastal delights. The islands take on a slightly different feel to the Jutland peninsula with a more curvaceous shape to them. Middelfart is the gateway to the island (famous mostly for being one of only 3 places in Denmark where you can get LPG. And for those campers amongst us, this is like liquid gold in DK!) Thereafter it is worth taking the coastal road that winds you through towns like Assens and Fåborg. With its atmospheric port to the boutique style high street with charming shops, it’s worth an hour’s mooch. The Ymerbrøden statue is one of those pieces of artwork that just needs to be seen. Whilst the main square offering is a bronze replica, exploring its symbolism will have you staring in wonder. Just think man suckling from a cow! Yes not an every day occurrence. The rest of the town is gorgeous with its yellow painted church and medieval cobbled streets.

 

Astrup

As you pass Astrup, your breath will be taken away by the Stofmollen. An 1863 windmill that today is home to an incredible emporium of fabric. Every colour imaginable is stored in this charming mill. Whatever you imagine goes with sewing, this place has it all. It’s pretty unique and definitely worth a little stop for coffee. Or if chocolate is more your thing, then drop into Konnerup Chocolatier just five minutes up the road. Handcrafted chocolate to satiate every sweet-toothed lovely out there. Why not grab a coffee, indulge in a bit of Hygge and some sweet treats.

 

Egeskov Castle

And finally in this southern region, a castle to end all castles; Egeskov. Ranked as one of Europe’s Top 50 most beautiful places to visit, Denmark’s Egeskov is a dream – an expensive dream although worth  it.  With a £23pp price tag, you want to make a day of it, although with the gardens, classic car museum and the castle itself, there’s plenty to do for you and the kids. Not our usual attraction although every now and again it’s good to indulge. 

You are allowed to stay in the car park overnight. 

Check our Southern Region gallery below.

 

2.  Central Denmark

Denmark’s Lake District

Our first view of Denmark as we headed from Ribe to Billund was flat and agricultural. Whilst the endless fields of rape seed certainly broke up the view of green, the Lake District was a welcome sight. With a gently undulating landscape, forest and mirror lakes, this is a region unique to Denmark. This area holds the country’s longest river – Gudenå at over 90 miles long, the highest point – Møllehøj at the heady heights of 171m, Denmark’s largest lake – Mossø to name just a few of its best bits. For its outdoor pursuits and water heritage this area alone is worth visiting. 

 

Himmelbjerget

Just 15 minutes drive from Silkeborg, a short diversion to see Sky Mountain (Himmelbjerget) is worth doing. It is Denmark’s second highest point and the views from the tower across the countryside is lovely. Himmelbjerget is particularly famous for being the seat of many political discussions and strategic decisions over the course of history. You can take a boat from Silkeborg to Himmelbjerget if you don’t fancy the drive and 10DK parking fee.

 

Silkeborg

Whilst as a town there is not much to hold your attention, there are a couple of highlights that make Silkeborg a worthy stop for an hour. The first is its Hjejlen the world’s oldest coal-fired paddle boat. Then there’s one of only two sluice locks in Denmark and finally, its piece de resistance is Mr Tollundman. The preserved body of a 30 year old man, murdered and buried in the peat soil close to Silkeborg dating back to 400BC. That alone is worth the 60DK entrance fee.

We stayed overnight at a parking area in the forest and alongside the river, with toilet facilities. 

 

Viborg

North west of Silkeborg is the quaint cathedral town of Viborg. Alive with its luscious gardens, cobbled streets and magnificent cathedral, this University town has a lovely energy. Although compact you will still need a couple of hours to enjoy all its aspects. From the Bibelhaven and Latinerhaven gardens, to the lake, the elegant shopping street and weekly market, there’s plenty to enjoy here. A beer in the Nytorv Square is a must, if for no other reason than to sup a Danish beer and watch the world go by. 

Free parking in the University is allowed for motorhomes for 24hrs.

 

Denmark’s Fjords

Whilst perhaps not on the scale of New Zealand’s fjords or its neighbouring Norway, Denmark has plenty of them. And if you want a bit of off the beaten track exploring, walking or camping, then go no further. This Central Region of Denmark has a plethora of fjords to choose from where the sea is master of all. Except perhaps the wind, which seems to have a dominant role in Denmark’s economy because there is so much of it. Try exploring Ulbjerg Strand and Nymølle Strand where you and the wind can be alone with your thoughts. 

We stayed at Ulbjerg Strand and Nymølle Strand for two nights. Alone and in the most stunning areas alongside the fjord.

Check our Central Region gallery below.

 

3.  Northern Denmark

Cold Hawaii and Thy National Park

The north western coast of Denmark is a landscape shaped entirely by nature. With North Sea winds whipping up tempestuous seas, this is stark yet beautiful scenery. Classed as Denmark’s last wilderness, you will experience a unique coastal perspective that takes you through ancient sand dunes that are constantly shifting and reshaping, forests that do their best to protect the land and lakes. And with more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in the country and thanks to the wind – there’s waves. Lots of them! Waves that attract surfers! Lots of them! Kitmølle or Cold Hawaii as it is endearingly known, is a curvy bay where fishing is still the ancient art. They ably retain their grasp over the surfing camps that have more recently emerged, attracting those wishing to master the waves. 

 

Hanstholm Bunker Museum

During the German occupation of Denmark during World War 2 German armies made their presence known along this coastline. Evidence of their coastal defences against the Allies are everywhere in this northern region. Huge concrete bunkers that look like something from an alien planet, occupy strategic positions poised for attacked. The outdoor bunker museums, like the one at Hanstholm, are free to explore; the museum houses have a nominal entrance fee if you want to learn more. 

 

Lys og Glas – Tranum

For one of those unique artisan crafts that allow you a peak into a country’s culture, then take a little diversion to Tranum. Here you will find an old candle factory that has since been turned into a Guest House and Ceramic Workshop. This is a feast of colourful loveliness and if you adore hand-made crafts, then this is a gorgeous off-the-beaten-track visit.

 

Rubjerg Knude Fyr

In 1900, the lighthouse at Rubjerg Knude was built and since that time the sand and sea have taken their toll on this magnificent building. A hundred years ago it was 200m inland and now it teeters on the edge of the five mile sand dune awaiting its inevitable fate. A fate that will have the sea reclaiming its hold. It is one of those places that needs to be seen much like the Dune du Pilat in France. Whilst this may be second to the French giant, these dunes are incredible and with their natural shaped artistry, treading this fragile yet tenacious land is quite an experience. And do it soon as they predict within the next couple of years, this lighthouse will disappear forever. Be one of those people who can say ‘I went there before it fell.’

 

Grenen Point

Grenen Point is Denmark’s most northerly point and it is far more than just a spit of sand. This area has a very special quality that, like so many places around the world, has to be experienced rather than described. Although I’ll do my best to craft a visual description. The visitors aside, imagine a place where two seas converge, each one searching for supremacy. The angry sea gods fight as if on a front line, each side wearing different battle colours. Undeterred by their wrath, sea life continue their daily routines as they dive bomb the sea’s surface looking for their next meal. And the winds that punish the lands whip up the sands like you’re in a desert sandstorm. There’s a eery silence here that blends with the noise of nature that just needs quiet reflection and of course the odd selfie. The 30 minute walk from the car park is an easy saunter along the coast where gannets and seals can be spotted. Or you can take the tractor taxi if you  need to for a mere 30DK (about £3.50). 

We stayed at the Grenen Point car park for free.

 

Voergaard Castle

As you head on the E45 south, a small diversion will break up your journey. Voergaard is a 15th century castle surrounded by a moat that oozes opulence. Although not open until 11.00am for Guided Tours, you can wander around the moat alone, for free listening to the serenade of the cuckoos. Whilst Denmark boasts 177 castles, this one is rarely on the tourist list and so you can share this with just your thoughts and plunge yourself into Danish history. 

 

Hobro and Mariager

We love going to places that others may by-pass for the bright lights of a cityscape. Given that built up areas are not really for us, we tend to search out the quieter places and are always rewarded with a treasure. And this is so true of Hobro and Mariager. Situated on Denmark’s longest fjord, they each hold a space in the country’s history book. Hobro with its Viking settlement and museums and Mariager – known as the City of Roses is Denmark’s smallest merchant town. Legend has it that this humble fishing village is named after Maria who tragically drowned herself after two rivalling knights died in a duel fighting for her hand in marriage. Mariager also has a Cittaslow title, showing the depth of its historical soul. Also if you’re here, the Salt Mine is apparently worth experiencing. 

We stayed at the Marina for the night that had free services for a 150DK payment.

Check our Northern Region gallery below.

 

4.  Zealand

One of Denmark’s most important and largest of its 400 islands, Zealand is accessed by the Storebælt Bridge at Nyborg. Like the Øresund Bridge to Sweden, this is a magnificent structure that will set you back 370DK/£43 if in a vehicle over 6m.  Zealand is classified into north and south. In the north you have the important town of Roskilde and of course the infamous Shakespeare setting for Hamlet at Kronborg castle. In the quieter south you have a multitude of islands to explore before you hit the inevitable city lights of Copenhagen.

 

Island of Enø

We loved our little saunter over to the island of Enø, which was more by luck than judgement. With its Kroen Canal and draw bridge, this is a fisherman’s haven. With fishmongers everywhere, artisan bakeries and coastal paths strewn with nesting swallows in the cliffs, Enø will delight. It’s only 3 miles long, which is easily hiked or cycled and is known for its musical festivals. 

We stayed at two spots overnight. One night was at the Marina with full services for 165DK (£19.50) and the other was a wild spot at the furthest end of the Island, which you will see on the interactive map. 

 

UNESCO Stevns Klint

Stevns Klint is a geological and historical delight. Its church, that balances on the cliff edge toppled into the sea in 1928 and has since been rebuilt. With a steep descent to the bouldered beach beneath that is not sadly disabled friendly, although if you can reach it, you will see millions of years history embedded in the chalk cliffs. It is classed as one of the best exposed Cretaceous-Tertiary boundaries in the world. That means fossils to you and me. The colour of the water, best seen from the cliff-top walk is just amazing when the sun’s out. Also to top it all, Stevns has a Cold War/Nato history, given that it was Denmark’s first line of defence in the protection of Copenhagen. So plenty to experience here.

It is possible to stay in the large car park overnight for 40DK – just under £5 payable with credit card, DK or Euro coins.

 

Denmark to Sweden – Øresund Bridge

Bridges are pretty important to a Dane’s life as whether crossing from the archipelago or hopping across to Sweden, they provide a cultural and practical lifeline. We have always loved these incredible structures; there’s something spiritual about them; from the design, build and the symbolism of leaving and arriving. So we were excited about heading south around Copenhagen, avoiding the Low Emission Zone and across over to Sweden on the Øresund Bridge. As you leave Zealand you drive through a two and a half mile tunnel and then emerge into the bright light revealing the technically brilliant architecture. Øresund is five miles long and is a great feat of engineering. It’s not cheap though. If you go on line you can save money although for any vehicle between 6-10m, it will cost 704DK (£83.00). You can get a reduction on this if you buy an annual Bropas for €43 entitling you to a 50% reduction. This is only cost effective if you intend to return back over the bridge. 

Check out our Zealand gallery by clicking the image below.

 

Closing Thoughts

Denmark with its coastline, forests, history and archipelago is a must. Be willing to look at Denmark with new eyes. Eyes that see its potential, its limitless beauty and its understated depth. You’ll not be disappointed. Give Denmark a chance and linger longer. We did and we’ll be back. For an even more detailed perspective of your trip to Denmark, keep your eyes open for our soon to be launched free eBook. 

 

 

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