SOAK up Sweden’s stunning scenery this autumn with a self-drive tour allowing you to explore pretty fishing towns, remote villages, forests, lakes and islands at your own pace.
The country has recently been added to the list of countries where we no longer need to quarantine on return. So here, Jo Fernandez explores six spectacular routes to explore Sweden as the season turns.
- All packages include car hire unless otherwise stated.
Gothenberg and the West Coast
NEXT year marks Gothenburg’s 400th anniversary. Sweden’s second city woos visitors with warehouses turned into art galleries, rooftop bars and – as it is the coffee-drinking capital of Europe – plenty of cafes with cake, known as fika.
Leaving the city in a classic Swedish Volvo or hybrid, you will follow the E6 as it hugs the coast lined with low-lying rocky formations and colourful clapboard houses that characterise the Bohuslän region for a choice of three hotels.
Take a half-day kayaking safari (a lesson is provided for beginners) exploring uninhabited islands along the coast.
At the pretty harbour town of Lyckorna, join local fishermen for a trip out to their mussel farms in the fjord. Then it’s on the road again for the hour’s drive to Fjällbacka fishing community where Hollywood legend Ingrid Bergman used to holiday with her family.
Complete the laid-back living with a day trip to the car-free Koster Islands by the Norwegian border, blessed with easy walking trails and swimming spots.
GO: Original Travel’s five-night trip will cost from £900pp B&B including return flights. See originaltravel.co.uk.
Wildlife, villages and world heritage site
TAKE a week touring West Sweden’s wild coastline, driving from Gothenburg to Fjällbacka.
Indulge in an urban experience at the Clarion Hotel Post, a design hotel set in a historic post office building in Gothenburg before leaving the city, heading north to Ljungskile and gothic country house hotel Villa Sjotorp.
Also in the area are the scenic island of Tjörn, the town of Lysekil – surrounded by sea on three sides, with its Marine Life Museum – and the pretty village of Fiskebacksil.
Continue north to Fjällbacka, stopping at Nordens Ark, a non-profit zoo that is home to snow leopards, Amur tigers, Amur leopards, wolves, lynx and endangered birds.
Stay at Bryggan Fjällbacka harbour-front hotel in Fjällbacka, a pretty fishing village with red-roofed, weather-boarded houses and the setting for Camilla Lackberg’s murder mystery novels.
Local sights include Sweden’s remote Weather Islands and Tanum, best known for its Bronze and Iron Age rock carvings, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
GO: Discover the World’s seven-night trip costs from £852pp B&B including return flights. See discover-the-world.com.
Castles and classy grass in the South
AS you travel south, this self-guided tour takes in some of Sweden’s most impressive castles, starting with Drottningholm Palace just outside Stockholm.
From here, reach the idyllic town of Söderköping near the Göta Canal with its windy alleyways and medieval quarter surrounded by lovely countryside.
Continue to the historic town of Kalmar by the Baltic Sea, with its handsome castle, once an important fortification for its strategic location near the Swedish-Danish border.
At the Kingdom of Crystal, watch skilled glassblowers transforming molten glass into beautiful works of art in a tradition that has taken place at its many glassworks since 1742.
Conclude with a visit to Vadstena, rich in medieval history, before heading back to Stockholm, stopping en route to admire the 16th-century Gripsholm Castle.
GO: Oslo-based Authentic Scandinavia’s eight-night trip costs from £640 B&B. Flights and car hire extra. See authentic-scandinavia.com.
City sights then island adventures
COMBINE city and countryside, beginning in hip Gothenburg with a stay at the elegant Upper House boutique hotel in the heart of the city. The hotel boasts Nordic-style rooms and great views.
Drive to charming Fjällbacka – named after the large rock mountain that characterises the village.
It is the perfect base for exploring the local islands. At the town’s seafood restaurants – which are open year-round – you can feast on fresh lobster, langoustine, prawns, mussels and oysters.
Last but not least is the pretty “herring” island of Klädesholmen.
Dotted with red and white wooden houses, it has a fishing community dating back to the 15th century.
Stroll through the narrow streets then learn the history of the island’s canneries, salt houses and fishing industry at the tiny museum, Sillebua.
GO: Exsus Travel’s seven-night trip costs from £1,500pp B&B including return flights. See exsus.com.
Dalarna province and Stockholm
DALARNA province in central Sweden is brimming with Sami culture, lakes, mountains, red cottages and history.
Bookend a trip to the region with city breaks in cultural hotspots Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Built on 14 islands in the Baltic Sea, Stockholm is lined with well-preserved medieval buildings, modern architecture and the unmissable Old Town (Gamla Stan).
From here, detour to Sigtuna, the oldest town in Sweden.
Then move on to Mora in Dalarna. With three nights here, explore the area fully – walk around or swim in tranquil Lake Siljan and call at Nusnäs to see folk-art Dala horses being hand-painted.
Move on towards Karlstad, a compact riverside town sloping down to the shores of Vänern lake, then Gothenburg, to see the sights for 48 hours before flying back to Stockholm for one more night in the capital.
GO: The Baltic Travel Company’s eight-night trip costs from £1,085pp B&B including return flights. See baltictravelcompany.com.
The Lake District
TOUR the Småland province in southern Sweden, surrounded by forests, lakes and national parks.
From Gothenburg airport, pick up your car and head straight to Möckelsnäs Herrgård manor house on the shores of Lake Möckeln.
The lake is backed by forests and the Kronan Nature Reserve, rich in birdlife and perfect for wild swimming and walking.
While you’re in the area, remind yourself of the DIY you can return home to with a trip to the Ikea museum in Älmhult.
Drive on to Kosta in the north-eastern district of the lakes, visiting Växjö, one of the greenest towns in Europe and home to the Swedish Glass Museum, and the historical, waterside town of Kalmar.
You can unwind further at Hestraviken in Hestra on the shores of the River Nissan. The countryside hotel offers free bike and canoe hire and, with forest access, in autumn guests can forage for wild berries and mushrooms.
GO: Sunvil’s seven-night trip cost from £1,066 pp B&B including return flights. See sunvil.co.uk.
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