Sweden loves its acronyms, one of the most famous being ABBA which, although it represented the names of all members of the country’s iconic band, could also represent many of the country’s qualities: Archipelagos, Beauty, Bright, Adventures. And on our Sweden tours, the winner takes them all. Whether you are island hopping on the western archipelago, or swapping city culture with island life on our Stockholm archipelago holidays, you will be thanking Sweden for the music.
The summers are bright, with long, warm sunny days thanks to its position far up north, and Swedish people are bright too, not only in their approach to natural outdoor living, but also with their longstanding commitment to sustainability. As for beauty, our Sweden walking holidays on the Kullaleden Trail or the Österlen Way are beyond beguiling. And, on our Sweden cycling tours, the one around the Øresund Strait is one of our big star Scandi adventures. Voulez-vous? We think you do.
Where to go
Stockholm and the Stockholm archipelago
As well as exploring the contemporary and very cool capital of Stockholm, Island lovers who haven’t discovered its sprawling and stupendous archipelago have a treat in store. The Stockholm archipelago is made up of over 24,000 islands and islets stretching out into the Baltic Sea, all within a hiking heartbeat of Stockholm. Hop from one island to another, adjoined by small suspension bridges in Stendörren Nature Reserve, soak up the joys of Sävö Island on a small section of the vast Sörmlandsleden Trail, or walk up to Tysta Klint, the highest point on Fjärdlång Island for awesome archipelagic views. Choose between our summer Stockholm archipelago tour or our quieter autumn or spring one.
Bohuslän Archipelago, West Sweden
There are also thousands of islands off the west coast of Sweden, an archipelago of granite rocks, worn down to smooth islets and island idylls, perfect for hiking and adventuring. Also known as the Bohuslän region, Sweden walking holidays in the western isles take you via quick ferry trips to the likes of Marstrand and Koön Islands, with a population of over a thousand people, albeit a lot more in summer, many arriving by yacht. Further north is the much quieter Dyrön Island, car-free and carefree, with a walking trail through coastal woodland and rocky shores. One of the mainland gateway and very gorgeous towns to the islands is Smögen, where you can catch a ferry to Bohus Malmön, famous for its pink granite rocks and turquoise swimming lagoons.
A buoyant city not only because it sits on the west coast and is an important port, but also because it is a university city, brimming with vitality. Top and tail a walking holiday in the west islands with a stay in this city which has repeatedly ranked as the world’s most sustainable destination on the Global Destination Sustainability Index. Cultural and historical highlights include the timber houses and cobbled streets of the Haga district, the Gothenburg Museum of Art and Nya Älvsborg Fortress in the middle of the harbour. Gothenburg also boasts its own idyllic retreats, with just a 20mins ferry journey to go walking on Brännö Island, which is connected to the even more tranquil walking on Galtarö Island by a small bridge.
Historically a shipping city, it’s now a slick and sustainable city, with a medieval heart. Stroll around the old town to see remains of the 14th century Helsingborg Castle at Kärnan Tower, built in the 14th century to guard the Øresund Strait, with views of this seascape from the top. Other architectural highlights are the 12th century Mariakyrkan (St. Mary’s Church) and Neo Gothic Town Hall famous for its stained glass windows. But really, the star of Helingborg’s heritage is a natural one, with its coastal Kattegat cycling trail which takes you all the way to Gothenburg, one of our most popular Sweden cycling tours. It’s also a starting point for our Kullaleden Trail and Bjäre Peninsula walking holiday, and jumping off point for nearby Helsingor Island, a wonderful stop on our Øresund Strait cycling holiday.
The Kullaleden Trail is one of the prettiest of peninsular prizes along the long-distance Skåneleden Trails, a hiking network of six sub-trails across Sweden’s southern region of Skåne. For craggy and cliff top coastal Sweden walking holidays, combine Kullaleden with neighbouring Bjäre Peninsula to enjoy a week of traditional lighthouses and peaceful beech forests, remote sandy beaches such as Farhult or at the Hovs Hallar Nature Reserve.
The Øresund or Öresund Strait is a body of water that separates Denmark and Sweden, adjoined by the Øresund (road and rail) Bridge, made famous by the worldwide TV series hit, The Bridge. Cycling around the Øresund Strait is far from a world of Scandi noir however, as you will discover on this seven day tour around both countries. Ride through harbour villages like Barsebäckshamn and the island of Van in Sweden, and alongside sandy beaches, waterfront villages or the Jaegersborg Dyrehave deer park, all in Denmark. And yes, you do get to go on ‘The Bridge’, putting your bike on board the train that crosses one of the longest bridges in Europe.
The Österlen Way
This is a circular long-distance trail in the Skåne region of Sweden, and another section of the Skåneleden Trail, starting and ending in Ystad. For the most part it clings to the Baltic coast, taking you through fishing villages, alongside white beaches and dunes such as Sandhammaren, with seafood restaurants at the likes of Simrishamn village and other cultural gems along the way. Our walking holiday on the Österlen Way follows the coast between Ystad and Alunbruket, with a few detours to inland oak and beech forests, the marigold meadows that cover the Hammar hills or up Stenshuvud Mountain, to take in views across Hönö Bay. Sweden makes seashore hiking not only easy, but also totally exquisite.
Things to do
- Discover the Skåneleden Trails, a carefully crafted network of walking trails across the southern and very seaworthy Skåne region covering over 1,300km. Recognisable by its orange markers and signs, it covers a merry mix of rocky shores, remote peninsulas, white sandy beaches and mature beech forests. Our Sweden tours along the Skåneleden Trails include the northern section of the Kullaleden and Bjäre Peninsulas and the coastal linear section of the Österlen Way in the east.
- The summer is one of the best times to visit Sweden, but Midsummer is party time throughout the country with every village, island and city dweller coming out to celebrate the summer solstice. Celebrations begin on the closest Friday to 21 June, with maypoles and merrymaking, flower wreaths and food festivals taking place across the country and throughout the whole weekend.
- The tradition of saunas is well known in Sweden, and it’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Swedish culture at its most stripped back form! Prepare for nudity, as this is normal in Sweden, although bringing a towel in to cover yourself is also acceptable, as people use them for sitting on anyway. For full immersion, you want to combine saunas with some swimming, and you’ll nearly always find somewhere to plunge on our Sweden walking tours. A fine example of this coastal combo is on Marstrand Island on our walking holiday of Sweden’s western islands or at the traditional cold bath houses in Gothenburg and Helsingborg, or the historic Centralbadet in Stockholm.
- From the Swedish tradition of fika, meaning coffee and cake time, to the smörgåsbord of seafood on offer, you’ll never starve on Sweden tours. Herring is omnipresent, wholesome rye and sourdough breads sustain you on your Swedish walks, reindeer meat is not just for Christmas, and all things foraged and fished are regulars on the menu. Apple juice is a favourite on our walking holiday along the Österlen Way as the trail takes you alongside the famous orchards at Kivik and beer is as local as it can get on Brännö Island, a favourite spot on our West Sweden islands walking holiday, the only place where it is brewed.
Responsible travel tips
- Travel sustainably by not only taking the train while on one of our Sweden tours. You can take the train to and from Malmö on our Sweden cycling tour around the Øresund Strait. Or Gothenburg is only three hours by train from Stockholm if you are heading to West Sweden, or if you want to combine a holiday of archipelagos in the west with those in the east. And Helsingborg is just two hours by train from Gothenburg if you are embarking on our equally sustainable Kullaleden Trail holiday. You can also travel to Sweden by train from anywhere in the UK and Europe, with one option including the sleeper train from Hamburg to Stockholm.
- As some of our Sweden tours operate in the colder months, and you may be tempted to join the many local people who enjoy outdoor swimming, remember, always to take care if you are not accustomed to it. Breathe deeply before entering the water and really take your time. Only spend a few minutes in the water and never go alone.
- Sweden’s cleanliness and orderliness is often striking for those of us who live in less pristine towns or cities, but there is one pest that lingers – the tick, which can lead to incidents of encephalitis and Lyme’s disease. So, it’s important to always check your body all over after a day of hiking, especially between the months of March and November. And carry tweezers in your backpack. See Fit for Travel for more details.
- Sweden may be set up with superb trails, but it’s vital to be a responsible walker while out in the wild spots of the Western Islands or Stockholm archipelagos on our Sweden walking holidays. The right to roam, or allemansrätten in Swedish, has been enshrined in law since 1994, and so please respect this while you roam too. This includes the obvious rules of leaving no litter, removing nothing, staying on allocated tracks and watching wildlife quietly and from a safe distance, respecting the fact that these spaces are their home. These include birdlife and their habitats, especially in places such as Ramsvik Nature Reserve or Galtarö Island on our West Sweden Islands walking holiday.