Sweden Part 1 : the West Coast

When deciding where to spend this year’s summer holidays and longing for some quiet nature space while avoiding too much heat and sun, we quickly settled on Sweden. But where? Sweden is a huge country! Initially interested in going to the very north, I got a bit scared when I read about all the self-sufficiency techniques you should acquire. After all I am still an epicurean and do enjoy a chic hotel and a nice restaurant. 

So we opted for the south, although the north still stays in the back of my mind.

Our trip lasted for around 10 days: coming by train from a wedding in Germany, we started off in Malmö, driving up north almost to the Norwegian border, then crossing the country at the level of the lakes Vänern and Vättern to arrive in Stockholm.

Malmö

We arrived in Malmö by train from Germany. The train uses the ferry between Germany and Denmark, which is an absolutely fantastic ride. Since we did not stay long in Malmö, we stayed at the Mayfair Hotel Tunneln, only 5 minutes away from the central station. The hotel is an old grand hotel. The service was impeccable but the rooms were small and a bit dusty (symbolically speaking), in my opinion not necessarily deserving the fours stars.

That night we ate at Salt & Brygga. The restaurant is located at the waterfront, so  make sure you get there in time for the sunset. The view on the sea and Øresund bridge is stunning! Do try the shrimps, they are very good. The rest of the menu was flawless although a bit lacking in “gourmandise” and the service was also a bit off. But being one of the most recommended restaurants in Malmö, we certainly made a good choice!

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view from Salt & Brygga

Våxtorp (Halland)

In Malmö we rented our car for the trip (a Volvo of course, and I already miss it!). We then headed up north towards the region of Halland. When we planned for this trip, we set up our destinations according to the hotels and bed and breakfasts we wanted to stay at.

Between Malmö and our stop in Våxtorp, we visited Kullaberg, an must-see nature reserve on a peninsula. Especially during the off-season (we visited early September), the site is wild and breathtaking.

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Kullaberg

We spent the night in one of Sweden’s many STF (Swedish Tourist Association) hostels. Vallåsens Värdshus STF is located next to the small village Våxtorp and is surrounded by the forest. The rooms are basic but comfortable with an en-suite bathroom. Since it’s a STF hostel you do have to put on the bed sheets yourself and there are lots of common spaces to use (kitchen, pool table, sauna etc.). September really is off-season in Sweden, so we were the only guests in the hostel. This did not only mean no breakfast, but combined with the dark forest around and the huge spaces in the hostel, our first night in the Swedish countryside was definitively a creepy but fun one. I was very happy to be waking up with all my limbs still attached in the morning! Of course I did not manage to read my Swedish crime novel that night.

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Vallasens Värdshus

Gerlesborg (Bohuslän)

Next stop was the beautiful region of Bohuslän, close to the Norwegian border. The three-hour car drive is beautiful and we absolutely loved our stop at Tjolöholms slott a bit before Göteborg. The castle is set next to the sea in a gorgeous setting.

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Tjolöholms slott

In Bohuslän we stayed both in Gerlesborg and Smögen. There are lots of hotels and bed and breakfasts to choose from in that area.

In Gerlesborg we stayed at Villa Akvarellen, a beautiful bed and breakfast with tasteful and spacious rooms, a nice garden and – as almost everywhere in Sweden – a copious and delicious breakfast with regional produce.

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Villa Akvarellen

In the region of Bohuslän we visited Nordens Ark, a zoo for endangered animals. The zoo  is big and perfectly fits into the surrounding nature, giving a lovely, caring feel to the place.

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Nordens Ark

One of the main tourist attractions in the area is the small sea village Fjällbacka, also setup for the novels of Camilla Läckberg. I can only imagine what the place must look like mid-July and was very happy to be there early September.

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Fjällbacka

Smögen (Bohuslän)

Our second hotel in Bohuslän was located in Smögen. Smögen is apparently THE party town of the west coast, but again, in September this was (luckily!) not the case. Pensionat Bryggan is a very cute little hotel located directly at the waterfront. The rooms are tiny but comfortable with shared (and very clean) bathrooms. The hotel has a very trendy little bar where you can have a glass of wine, some snacks and where the delicious breakfast is served. I can only highly recommend this place!

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Pensionat Bryggan
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view from the room

The second part of my three-part series will be about our stay at the Naturum Vänerskärgården – Victoriahuset next to lake Vänern.

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