Wiebke Jahn talks about
Småland for Everyone
When I think of Småland, I automatically think of Astrid Lindgren and her wonderful children's books. However, Småland offers much more than "Astrid Lindgren's World" in Vimmerby. For those who want to discover a little off the beaten path of Småland and are looking for activities that both young and old will enjoy, I have put together a few destinations that I will definitely visit again this summer.
Since 2021, Wiebke and her husband have been living in the region around the Arctic Circle. Here, she works as a teacher at a Swedish school, as a translator, and writes articles for various German magazines. In addition, she reports on her life there in her social media profiles - especially in comparison to her previous places of residence. Wiebke appreciates the Arctic culture and lifestyle, as well as the climate in the Arctic Circle region.
Admittedly, coming from the apple country of Germany, visiting an apple orchard may seem a bit unspectacular at first, but apple cultivation in Småland happens in a very special setting at Rudenstams. Located not far from the southern tip of the almost sea-like Lake Vättern, fruit trees, especially apple trees, have been grown here for generations. The view of the lake, whose proximity provides a unique climate for apple cultivation, is wonderful and creates a real Sweden vacation feeling. Actually, as Pelle Rudenstam, the son of the owner, reports, Småland is already too far north to allow for good fruit growing. However, the first trees came to Småland through a leading engineer at the nearby weapons factory in Huskvarna. This employee traveled to Detroit in the 19th century to observe the production methods there. In addition to innovations for the factory, he also brought back the realization that it might be worthwhile to start fruit growing on the shores of Lake Vättern, which reminded him of the great lakes in North America. Many apple farms are still family-owned businesses today, including Rudenstams. The 35-hectare orchard has been in the hands of the Rudenstam family since 1947. Initially, Nils Rudenstam started selling his own apples from the farm on the marketplace in Huskvarna as a young boy.
This market sale remained a family tradition until demand eventually became so great that it could no longer be managed logistically. So the family decided to invite visitors to their home as well. Over the years, a cute farm café was built, which was increasingly expanded. The wonderful view over Lake Vättern, the homemade specialties, the sugary souvenirs, and last but not least, the best apple juice in Sweden make a trip to Rudenstams a real experience.
The apple juice is offered in many different varieties and is so well-known throughout Sweden that it is even served at the Nobel Prize Gala's festive dinner. Anyone who wants to experience Swedish fika culture in combination with exquisite taste and a touch of history will get their money's worth at Rudenstams.
If you want to learn more about the family history, fruit growing in the region, and enjoy an extra great view, you can book an apple safari and discover the hills around the farm café with a rustic vehicle. The safari can be booked on request.
The cultural reserve "Åsens By" is a real gem in southern Sweden. Here, the "old" Sweden, from the time of Astrid Lindgren, is kept alive. The special thing about a Swedish cultural reserve is that both the nature and the cultural treasures of a region must be protected and preserved. Åsens was the first cultural reserve in Sweden and has existed since 2000. It is a typical Småland village with classic Swedish architecture. But there are also typical old Swedish landraces of Swedish farm animals to admire. The sheep of the village are incredibly trusting and like to be petted, the only condition being that they must be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to go to the visitors or not. In a rustic atmosphere, you can enjoy typical Småland cheesecake and buy handmade items from the region in the old converted barn. However, the highlight of the village is the old house of Thekla, the last resident of the village. Since her death in the 1980s, everything has been preserved as it was during her lifetime. As a visitor, you can really experience what rural life in Sweden looked like over 100 years ago. The old photos of Thekla's family on the wall are just as impressive as the old pantry or the "utedass", the outdoor toilet. There are now 47 cultural reserves in Sweden, 20 of which are directly financed by the Swedish state. In Åsens By, in addition to the old houses, you can also observe how agriculture was practiced in earlier times, participate in courses and workshops on all sorts of topics, and even stay overnight. There is something for every taste in the accommodation options, from the spacious main farmhouse to the very rustic lumberjack hut in the woods. Children can play safely throughout the area and adults can enjoy the charm of the good old days. Åsens By is definitely a must for all fans of Bullerbü who also want to learn a little more about the history of the region.
The historic region of Småland is a popular travel destination for good reason, both for young and old - here you can experience not only beautiful landscapes and vast pine forests, but also a diverse cultural heritage. WIEBKE JAHN
Store Mosse National Park
As some of you may know, I myself live in Swedish Lapland, but my love for the barren landscape of the north actually originated in Småland. This may be surprising, but the largest moorland in southern Sweden is located in the heart of Småland: the "Store Mosse" National Park. Sweden is a paradise for nature lovers and, in particular, the "Store Mosse" National Park offers special activities for all ages and fitness levels. First of all, I would recommend a visit to the "Naturum". Here, an exhibition has been created with great attention to detail that informs visitors about the importance of moors for our climate, as well as the flora and fauna of the national park and the history of humans and nature in this area. All of this is done in a modern and varied way.
After visiting the Naturum, I would take a look at the map of the national park: there are so many hiking trails that there is something for every taste. Whether snowshoeing through the moor, hiking with a tent and trekking backpack for several days, or the "Skogstrollens stig" for the youngest visitors of the national park. Here, everyone has the agony of choice and can have a great nature experience in this national park. It is particularly nice that there are also barrier-free paths. Overall, 50 km of hiking trails are developed in the national park, all of which invite you to explore the charming and unique landscape of southern Sweden on your own
Especially for those who like to dream of the north of Sweden but cannot drive so far in their short vacation, this national park is sure to be an absolute highlight.
Pro-tip: It is worth packing good footwear, as well as sunscreen and a sun hat, as there is little shade in the mostly treeless moorland in summer.
It is worth packing good footwear, as well as sunscreen and a sun hat, as there is little shade in the mostly treeless moorland in summer.
Glasriket - the Kingdom of Crystal
In the southern area of Småland, between the city of Växjö and Kalmar, there is a region that is also called "Grasriket" - The Kingdom fo Crystal. The so-called "Kingdom of Crystal" is a historically very exciting region that is worth discovering. Glass has been processed here since the 17th century, after craftsmen from Germany and Holland were recruited to settle glass art in Sweden. With its naturally occurring raw materials, Småland has been and still is a very good location to produce glass, and over the centuries an incredible cultural heritage has developed in the region. Today there are still 14 different glassworks in operation and there are many exciting things to experience in many places. A visit to the Kosta Boda Art Hotel is particularly recommended here.
There is also a glassworks and an outlet in the town of Kosta where glass artworks can be purchased inexpensively. But the hotel in the small town is particularly special, as glass art worth several million euros is exhibited here. Here you can have a drink in the futuristic glass bar or relax in the world-premiered spa. The restaurant is already listed in the Michelin Guide and the food tastes excellent. It's fun to marvel at what can be made with glass for artworks in this atmosphere.
If you want to know more about how glass is actually made and what work in a glassworks looks like, the two glassworks in Målerås and Kosta are highly recommended. Here, young and old alike get their money's worth, because not only can they understand the heat and the certainly heavy work in a glassworks, but visitors of all ages (for children it is recommended from an age of about 5-6 years) can also become active themselves and create a small glass artwork. First, you can choose different colors and then let the magic happen. Believe me, you will look at glass objects with different eyes afterwards.
If you are staying in Småland for a longer period of time, you should plan to visit a glassworks at the beginning of your vacation, as the glass needs a day to cool down under controlled conditions. After a few days, the artwork can then be picked up on site and taken home. If this is not possible for organizational reasons, the team will be happy to send the newly created treasure to the desired address for an extra charge.
Perhaps you know Kalmar, like I did for a long time, as the city with the bridge to Öland. I have often driven through, already thinking about one of Öland's lonely white sandy beaches. However, it is worth making a stop in one of Sweden's oldest cities. History enthusiasts, art lovers, and families with children will all get their money's worth in this friendly colorful town.
In Kalmar, lived history can be observed at every corner, and so a visit to the top modern tourist information is recommended. A city tour, which is also offered in German, is highly recommended in this exciting city. The old Kalmar Castle is particularly interesting, but not only for children. Here, the employees wear clothing from the 17th century, the authentic furnishings mentally transport one to the early modern period, and the restored ceiling paintings are truly breathtakingly beautiful.
The restaurant offers modern cuisine with a touch of rusticity. The combination of ancient flair with modern changing exhibitions is particularly beautiful. For example, until November 2023, the exhibition "Monet & Friends" is running, where the wonderful paintings of Claude Monet can be experienced in an entirely new multisensory form.
One should definitely end their visit to Kalmar with a walk through the cute little alleys of the city. Both the old town with its colorful picturesque little wooden houses, which make every Swedish heart beat faster, and the colorful bustle of the beautiful city center bring pure joy and make one want more. Whether it's the wonderful cathedral square, the small shops, or cafes - Kalmar exudes the special charm of a young student city in an almost untouched setting from the 17th century and is definitely worth a visit.
The historic region of Småland is a popular destination for young and old for good reason. Not only can beautiful landscapes and vast coniferous forests be experienced here, but also a diverse cultural heritage.