Marions smultronställen in Småland
Sweet, wild, mysterious, and inviting - that's how wild strawberries taste. What luck it is to find them! In Sweden, they are called smultron. And they are the namesake for the places in Sweden that we know as favorite or feel-good spots: smultronställen. There are plenty of them in Småland. Some are well-known, while others are a bit hidden - like the spots where wild strawberries grow. Today, I'll reveal my favorite places in Småland that are perfect for families with children. (Marion Sorg, Meermond)
Marion Sorg has been living in Scandinavia since 2014. After seven years in Denmark, she moved with her family to the south of Norway. With her residence close to the Swedish border, three countries have found a place in her heart. She works as a freelance writer and language teacher. As Meermond, she invites readers and followers to join her in exploring her life and travels - and getting to know the lesser-known sides of Scandinavia.
Beaches at Lake Vättern
A family vacation is perfect when the adults can provide what makes the little ones happy. And at Sweden's second-largest and deepest lake, Vättern, everyone is catered for. The lake is nestled in a picturesque landscape that invites you to linger: steep cliffs, wide beaches, and deep forests. The lake is so large that it has its own mild microclimate. Bathing in its clear and clean waters is delightful. Luckily, the lake's beaches are several kilometers long!
A Relaxing Summer Day
At the bathing spots near Jönköping at the southern end of Vättern, young and old will find everything they need for a comfortable day at the beach. The sand is fine, the beach is family-friendly, and the large lawns invite you to stay. Thanks to good facilities, parents can accommodate many of their children's needs. There are playgrounds, beach volleyball, barbecue areas, toilets, and short distances from the parking lot to the beach.
If you want to combine swimming fun with a magnificent view, you should drive a little further north. In the outdoor pool of Gränna, you can look out over the island of Visingsö and marvel at the now clearly visible size of Vättern. Here too, the family-friendly facilities with mini-golf, playgrounds, barbecue areas, and toilets allow for an extended day of swimming. If you're already in Gränna, why not stay there for a while longer?
The lake is beautifully embedded in a landscape that invites you to stay: steep cliffs, wide beaches, and deep forests. Marion Sorg
Polkagris and Adventurous Spirit in Gränna
Gränna is a small and literally sugar-sweet town. Here, the houses of various confectioners line up side by side. It's almost impossible to pass by the colorful shop windows displaying Gränna's famous red and white-striped treat: Polkagris. Those who wish can not only taste the peppermint-flavored sweets but even make them themselves. What a wonderful experience to reach into the sweetness and taste the warm Polkagris dough! It tastes unforgettable.
ALSO BAKE YOURSELF
Adults and children can shape, roll, and cut warm and soft sugar in the bakery of Grenna Polkagriskokeri. Everything is still made by hand here - just like in the time when young widow Amalia Eriksson invented the striped candy canes. On the wall above the work surface hangs one of the scissors she used to make Polkagris as the first producer in Sweden since 1859. But even without polkagrisar, wandering through the town brings delight. Cozy cafes and small shops await to be discovered on the streets. The deep blue of Lake Vättern with the island of Visingsö between the houses always appears in the background. In Gränna, you will also come across the traces of another famous figure. Decorations in the shape of a gas balloon can be seen everywhere. Gränna is the birthplace of Salomon August Andrée, who gained sad fame through his failed 1897 expedition to the North Pole. Some of the remnants of this adventure journey with the hydrogen balloon can be visited today at the museum in Gränna.
Those who love history are also in good hands at Lake Vättern. Legends surround the island of Visingsö. It is said that the narrow island was created because the giant Vist built a stepping stone for his wife in the lake. So even for a giant, Lake Vättern is too large to cross!
On the island that is only 14 kilometers long and three kilometers wide, there are hardly any cars, so you can go on extensive bike rides with your children. There is plenty to discover! For example, there are the ruins of Sweden's first king Magnus Ladulås's castle or Visionsborg from the 17th century.
Experience a carriage ride
The natural landscape of the island is very romantic. That's probably why extensive carriage rides are offered on Visingsö. You can board the long carriages directly from the ferry.
After an eventful day, I recommend staying in one of the newly opened cabins at Hotel Gyllene Uttern. With a view of Lake Vättern, the whole family can sit on the terrace, barbecue, or simply watch the sun go down.
The natural landscape of the island is very romantic. Presumably, extensive carriage rides are offered on Visingsö for this reason. Marion Sorg
Skullaryd Moose Park
Elks are an essential part of a perfect trip to Sweden. Since they are quite rare to spot in the wild, I recommend visiting the Skullaryd Moose Park. Here, visitors can approach the shy animals and learn a lot about them. During the summer months of July and August, moose safaris are offered twice a day during feeding times. The generously sized tractor wagon can accommodate up to 200 visitors, but it doesn't hinder the pleasant atmosphere. Outside of peak season, there is only one moose safari per day. During the low season or special group bookings, visitors can hop on the trailer of a quad and drive more swiftly into the moose enclosure.
GET UP CLOSE TO THE KING OF THE FOREST
For chilly weather, blankets and seat cushions are provided. During the 45-minute moose safari, Erik Öster and his family provide information on the life and care of moose and deer. Guests are at a safe distance from the wild animals.
Erik introduces the park, founded in 2014, and its concept even in German. The animals roam freely in spacious enclosures designed to resemble their natural habitat as closely as possible. In the café connected to the park, you can enjoy coffee and cake - and plenty of moose antlers. Take a good look around, because you can truly appreciate the size of the antlers when you're standing right in front of them. Can you lift one of them?
Little Rock Lake Zipline
Feel as free as a bird - that's exactly the sensation you can experience at Little Rock Lake Zipline! On Europe's longest zipline course, even children from the age of 5 can soar over the beautiful landscape of Småland. For safety reasons, only children weighing over 35 kilograms are allowed to ride the zipline alone, but lighter children can still participate. They can go in tandem with a guide.
You can book different tours with varying lengths. After a detailed safety briefing, there is practice on a training line. The tour guides are empathetic and calm. Not a single second will they take their eyes off you or let go of the safety harnesses.
AMIDST THE TREE TOPS
After an indescribably beautiful flight over clear lakes and expansive forests, I recommend visiting the café or going for a hike in the scenic area. This way, you have enough time to gently come down from the adrenaline rush of ziplining. The base camp is located at one of the highest points in Kronoberg and offers truly spectacular views and beautiful hiking trails. From there, you can embark on small and big adventure tours, as overnight accommodations and barbecue areas are available for a mini-vacation. If you'd like, you can rent a canoe and paddle to the vast blueberry fields, or discover new smultronställen (Swedish: hidden gems).