Given the current situation, K and I decided that this summer a road trip would be the best way to travel. And given that we’ve only been in Sweden for three months, it would be a good opportunity to explore this beautiful country a little more.
So mandated with responsibility of planning, I set to work immediately. I reckoned that in eight days we could cover the east AND the west coasts! That would be approximately 2000kms and with two people driving, it was going to be completely relaxed. Well, relaxed it was because other than the first day, when we drove around 5 hours, all other days the driving was limited to an average of 3-4 hours, which in my opinion, was a cakewalk when compared to our previous road trips such as Namibia and Iceland!
Cities/towns we stopped at along the way:
Some places we just stopped for lunch, spending 2-3 hours exploring it, others we spent the night, giving us enough time to explore the place properly. Of course, such a trip is quite intense and there were some places we felt we could have stayed for longer, but for the most part, we had enough time to see everything.
Exploring the east coast & south Sweden
Our first stop was Västervik, a beautiful coastal town only 3.5 hours from Stockholm. It was an ideal lunch spot with sprawling views of the Baltic Sea. The Västervik archipelago is also supposed to be very pretty and a day trip to the islands of Hasselö, Idö or Rågö come highly recommended. We, however, only had time for a quick stop as we plan to go back for a longer visit next summer!
We continued towards Kalmar, known for its beautiful castle or Kalmar Slott and a lively town centre.The castle dates back 800 years and was important for its strategic location in olden days. The drawbridge is one of the best preserved in Sweden. Dogs are not allowed inside the main castle but are free to walk in the grounds. The views from atop the castle’s fortified walls are spectacular.
A few metres away from the castle lies the Krusenstiernska Garden – a beautiful garden and cafe. Entry to the garden is free and makes for a pleasant stroll among fruits and berry trees and beautiful flowers. The cafe serves food made freshly out of what they grow!
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Kalmar’s town centre is known for its beautifully preserved cobbled streets and old buildings. There was some sort of a classic car rally taking place in the city the day we were there and we were lucky enough to see a lot of really old cars that were slowly doing a lap around the town!
The next day, we headed further south towards Ystad – you guessed it – Wallander country! But enroute we made a quick stopover at Kiviks Musteri, a family-run apple and apple products business. It is here that the founder, Henric Åkesson, planted the first apple trees in 1888! The farmshop sells a lot of goods made from their berries and apples while the cafe serves freshly-baked goodies. A walk around the apple orchard on a nice sunny day can inspire even the dullest minds.
Ystad lies about an hour’s drive from Kivik. The town is one of the prettiest in Skåne and has been made famous by Henning Makell’s detective series, Wallander, which is based in Ystad.
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The town’s charm lies not in things to see or things to do, but in just wandering along the cobbled streets and admiring the beautiful flower decorations at every corner. That said, the St. Mary’s Church and the Klostret i Ystad or the Greyfriars Abbey, a centuries-old Franciscan monastery are definite must-sees.
In terms of living arrangements, I had picked a B&B outside the town. What I hadn’t realised was that the B&B was actually a farmhouse and that the rooms were stable conversions! Our quaint and farm-style B&B was set amid farmlands and provided us with a glimpse of the real Skåne, which is known for its rolling fields and fertile farmlands. That evening we enjoyed views of a beautiful sunset from a beach nearby.
The cutest things about the B&B was the way they served our breakfast the next morning – beautifully arranged in a tray replete with fresh ginger shots in a test-tube!
Energised after our breakfast, we headed to Ales Stenar – an arrangement of 59 boulders from the early iron-age, overlooking Österlen’s hilly landscape and the Baltic Sea. The reason for why the stones were set this way are still unknown. Some people believe that it’s an ancient burial ground while others think that it’s an ancient astronomical clock. Whatever the reason, the location and the views could not have been better.
The next stop from Ales Stenar was Smygehuk, the southernmost point of Sweden. Here, the exact spot of Sweden’s southernmost point is clearly marked and a compass built into the pavement shows the distances to various international destinations. The views of the horizon are spectacular and you can also enjoy a nice fika and cake at the cafe next door.
Having reached the southern-most point, our journey forward would now take us up the west-coast of Sweden. An hour and a half from Smygehuk, we decided to spend the night on the outskirts of Helsingborg, near Örby ängar, amid stretches of beautiful beaches and forests. Mia also got a chance to swim and take a much needed break from the car!