Located in southern Sweden, the province known as Småland is one of the country’s most beautiful areas to explore, offering a taste of the ‘real’ Sweden beyond the big cities. It’s also easy to reach from Stockholm and Gothenburg, making it an obvious choice for a bit of rural exploration on your trip to Sweden. Småland offers everything from sprawling forests and glittering lakes to quiet farmsteads and picturesque coastal towns and is well worth exploring if you have a few days to spare. Let’s find out the best things to do in Smaland!
Discover Sweden’s new national park Åsnen
Sweden’s brand new national park Åsnen opened in May. Åsnen is a large lake area with over 1000 small islands. The area is rich in plants and wildlife. Moose and wild boars are often seen in the area, and the small islands are home to many birds, such as the osprey and white-tailed eagle. An obvious base for exploring Åsnen is Getnö Gård, which offers both cozy cabins for rent and a beautiful campsite in natural surroundings. From here you can go kayaking, bird watching by boat with a guide, or wander along the banks of Åsnen.
Rustle through the treetops at Little Rock Lake
A nature experience with action. If a walk in the forest doesn’t offer enough action for you, you can try ziplining through the treetops instead. Ziplining is a form of cable car, where you attach yourself to a wire up a high tower and fly through the treetops at up to 50 km per hour! Not for the faint-hearted!
If a quiet walk is more your thing, the area is also a beautiful place for a hike. Or you can just enjoy the phenomenal view from the suspension bridge.
Visit beautiful castles
Kalmar Castle and its history goes back 800 years, and the fortress served as an important strategic hub during many violent years of war against Denmark. It’s open to the public, and apart from the usual tours and exhibitions there are special activities for children, including dressing-up sessions, treasure hunts, and the chance to meet the castle’s ‘princess’.
Further north near Jönköping, surrounded by the deep blue water of Lake Vättern, is the pretty island of Visingsö. Näs Slott, on the island’s southern tip, is Sweden’s first royal castle. The Visingsborg castle ruin is also found on the island Visingsö, hosting a yearly medieval festival.
Eight kilometers north of Växjö you will find another castle ruin beautifully situated by the lakeside. Kronoberg Castle was once a key fortification against the Danish but also served as a stronghold for domestic rebellions.
Enjoy the great outdoors
With around 5000 lakes in Småland, fishing is big business. There are lots of opportunities for sport fishing in the area, but in most cases, you need a fishing permit first – these can be bought online at fiskekort.se.
Canoeing and kayaking offer a great chance to get onto the water itself, and you’ll find casual rental places in many towns and cities (usually summer only).
Other outdoor activities include hiking in the Store Mosse National Park – a marshy area with boardwalks and trails – and riding Europe’s longest zipline at Sweden Zipline (the lines run for a total of 4km!).
Eat at Bauergården
Bauergården is more than a hotel. They also have a great restaurant, with a truly unique menu. We were treated to the “Bauer menu”, which has been developed and inspired by John Bauer, his art and the breathtaking sceneries surrounding Bauergården. The photo below shows the starter, where 3 different types of sausages were smoked inside the glass. When you opened the glass, the smoke and the smells of the forest came out, and it almost felt like we were dining outside! Such a unique dining experience.
Eat at Restaurant Sjökanten
On Hasselö there is a truly unique restaurant, called Sjökanten (meaning “the seafront”). This small building has been remade into a restaurant, and it makes for a truly special atmosphere to sit in an old fisherman’s cabin, looking out into the ocean and islands surrounding you. As they have a limited amount of seats in one room, it is always necessary to book your reservations in advance.