Taking it back to nature in the most peaceful and rawest forms, we hired bikes and started a six day cycle and bivvy between the two great lakes Vänern and Vättern, and along the Göta Canal. With the Swedish camping laws allowing you to camp anywhere, the Lantmäteriet (O.S. map) becomes your ‘Best of BnBs’ guide. Look out for the patches of land marked ‘Open Land’ next to the lakes (avoiding Sankmark [Marsh]!), and surrounded by forests and you’ve found Eden. Your home for the night looks out onto lakes feeling as endless as the sea, you’ll fall asleep to the gentle slosh-slosh of the waves with no fear of rising tides, and the sun slowly setting, and in the morning you can take a wonderful swim in your own private ocean. Don’t expect anyone to bring you a cocktail at the side of the pool, this holiday is not for the faint-hearted, but for those looking for the true beauty of Scandinavia, this is the way to find it. And the best time of year is as close to June 21st as you can get, finding your camp spot at 10pm, cooking at 11pm, and eating as the sun (almost) sets at midnight. Bliss.
Gothenburg's Southern Archipelago is a cluster of eight verdant islands not dissimilar to the Isles of Scilly. But whereas the Scillonian ferry costs around £100, the boat to Brännö, the island we stopped at, cost the equivalent of £1.20. Situated a gorgeous cycle ride down residential Gothenburg's clapboard-clad coast toward Salthomen, the island has around 380 inhabitants (though where they were on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon is anyone's guess), a fleet of curious bicycles with huge loading pallets mounted on the front, and a crystal clear, unfettered coastline. There are designated beach areas, but if you want to escape the maddening crowd of the 15 people sunning themselves there, a little adventurous initiative takes you around the island's coastline to vast green spaces, and craggy, rocky lagoons of opalescent, crystal clear (if cool) water. It's like a mini personal paradise.
In the summer season several boat excursions depart from Lilla Bommen harbour in the city center. Tickets and information: Göteborg's Tourist Information Centres + 46 31 61 25 00 or at Kungsportsplatsen and in Nordstan Shopping Centre (taken from goteborg.se)
Or, cycle down the clearly signposted coast to Salthomen and catch the ferry from there. We went in September, and the boats were running fairly regularly.
I spent a highly enjoyable two weeks cycling in Sweden this year. Starting in Gothenburg, I rode up around the edge of Lake Vanern, via the Gota Canal to Lake Vattern, down to the coast and back up again.
The countryside is perfect for cycling; rolling and studded with beautiful lakes.
Swedish campsites are also some of the best I've been to. They are clean, have good facilities and are generally no more than £8-£10 a night (and yes, you can camp anywhere in Sweden, but a hot shower is always nice).
Highly recommended for any cyclists out there.
My route: www.flickr.com/photos/toretz/172556356/
It is beautiful and easy to get to. You reach car-free islands on cheap public transport, getting a nice boat trip into the bargain. Bathing waters are very clean and often very shallow and calm due to virtually no tides, waves or currents, making them ideal for families with babies and toddlers. Water temperatures often reach 21C in July.
The northern archipelago can be reached by car ferry from Hjuvik and Hisingen. For the southern archipelago take the ferry from Saltholmen. With the Gothenburg Pass it is free, or without one it costs the same as a tram ride.
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