Wanders Of Manao
Attractions & Tips for Your Vacation in Småland
Red wooden houses, glittering lakes, dense forests, moose, delicious cinnamon buns, cozy "fika" breaks, Ikea, and with Astrid Lindgren a world-famous resident - all of this is Småland! If you're looking for Sweden, you'll find it here, as no other region captures the cozy Scandinavian feel and traditional Swedish way of life as well as Småland. But outdoor enthusiasts also get their money's worth. We explored the popular province and have gathered our highlights in this article.
Laura & Matthias
Laura & Matthias - Wanders of Manao
We are Laura & Matthias, lovers of writing and photography, born in the countryside with a weakness for big cities, enthusiasts of white sandy beaches with an insatiable thirst for exploration, fans of Italian cuisine with a fondness for curry and pho. We are in love with our home, but have a constant wanderlust.
The region of Småland is located in the south of Sweden and is divided into the districts of Jönköping, Kalmar, and Kronoberg, as well as parts of Östergötland and Halland. During our travels to Kalmar and Jönköping, we discovered a picturesque Sweden that surpassed all our expectations of the country. As a result, the region is a popular destination for both national and international visitors, particularly during the summer months. However, due to the vast landscape, everything is spread out, even during high season.
There are three main ways to travel to Småland: by car, a combination of car and ferry, or by plane. Many German airports offer direct flights to several airports in southern Sweden, such as Kalmar, Jönköping, or Växjö.
During our trip to Sweden, we tried driving on the way there, and the combination of car and ferry on the way back, and we can highly recommend both options.
If you decide to travel by car, the route leads through Denmark and usually across the toll bridge, Öresundsbron, to Sweden. The bridge one-way fee costs around €59 (as of October 2023), but the almost 8 km crossing is quite an experience! You can purchase tickets on-site or, even easier, book them online.
If you already know that you want to drive both ways by car, it's best to book both routes online together - it's cheaper than booking them separately.
If you don't feel like taking a long car journey, you can reduce the distance by using a combination of car and ferry. Several shipping companies connect various ports in Germany directly to Sweden. On the way back, we took the Stena Line from Trelleborg to Rostock, and the approximately six-hour crossing was very pleasant and reasonably priced! You can spend your time on board either on one of the many deck areas or in a private cabin. We used the journey to work and occasionally just enjoyed watching the Baltic Sea pass by mile after mile beneath us. Of course, the ships also offer dining options (some meals can even be pre-booked online) and everything else you need for a comfortable crossing. Pets are also allowed on board.
Strolling through the wooden town of Eksjö
Even today, there are many places in Sweden that are predominantly made up of wooden houses. However, only a few are as well-preserved as the town of Eksjö in the Jönköping province. The entire Gamla Stan (Old Town) is still made up of beautiful wooden houses from the 17th and 18th centuries, many of them in the traditional red color. Over 50 of these houses have been recognized as cultural heritage sites, and the entire city center is protected as a historic monument.
We took a leisurely stroll through Eksjö and used the app "Telling Eksjö" to orient ourselves. Alternatively, there are also many signs and information boards throughout the city that provide details about the history and background of the individual houses.
Restaurant tip: Lennarts Konditori
Craving a delicious lunch or a cozy fika (coffee break)? Then head over to Lennarts Konditori - of course, located in a historic wooden house. The bistro offers a wide range of treats, from sweet pastries to generously filled sandwiches. We tried two quiches (one with sundried tomatoes and one with spinach), and they were incredibly tasty. Inside, you can sit on comfortable vintage-style armchairs, while outside, large umbrellas provide shade.
Hike through the Skurugata to the Skuruhatt - View Point
Just 20 minutes by car from Eksjö, there is a special outdoor highlight that should definitely be on your Småland Bucket List, especially at sunset: The hike through the Skurugata to the Skuruhatt - View Point.
Due to unique rock formations, a roughly 600 meter long canyon has formed here, which is up to 50 meters deep in some places, but can still be easily hiked. The starting point for the approximately 90-minute hike is the parking lot for the Skuruhatt View Point. In theory, you could also walk about 800 meters directly to the viewpoint from here. But it's much more fun and adventurous to first cross the gorge, then hike up to the view point, and finally (preferably after sunset) return to the parking lot. The view from the view point is truly amazing and will make you forget the short exertion immediately. Promise!
And don't worry: The hike may involve some rough terrain, but it is still manageable. However, sturdy footwear is an absolute must! In the rainy months, there may be some water in certain parts of the gorge, but there is always a way around it. The hike is well signposted on-site; alternatively, you can find the route on Outdooractive.
Pure Swedish Feeling in Åsens by
If you're looking for a true Swedish experience, Åsens by is the place to be! This village was not artificially created for tourism purposes, but has naturally grown since the 16th century. For many years, multiple families lived in the traditional wooden houses (most of them painted in authentic Swedish red). The last resident, Tekla, passed away in 1989.
Today, the 35-hectare area consisting of the small village and surrounding nature is a cultural reserve (in fact, the very first in all of Sweden), where you can experience what life in Sweden was like in the 1900s. Tekla's house can still be visited today, almost in its original condition.
Although Åsens by has become popular among tourists, we found the place to be very authentic. There is a cozy café with a garden in an old barn (definitely try the Swedish cheesecake!) and a small shop. Additionally, various workshops on crafts, culture, and agriculture are offered here, such as wool working, folk dancing, and harvest techniques. You can even stay overnight in four of the traditional wooden houses. As your neighbors, you will have pigs, cows, sheep, and horses - mainly regional breeds that are endangered. Agriculture is also practiced here today, aiming to replicate the methods used in the 1900s, relying on manual labor.
Several times a year, Åsens by hosts larger events. For example, there is a fantastic Midsummer celebration, as well as a Christmas and a Spring market. And if you wish, you can even get married here.
We believe that this village is an absolute must-see in Småland!
The reserve, hostel, holiday home rentals, and campground are open year-round. Admission is free.
Café tip-Flättinge Gårdscafé
Unfortunately, the café in Åsens by is not always open - but luckily there is a great alternative nearby! The Flättinge Gårdscafé is a cozy café located in an old converted barn with a beautiful garden. It is operated with a lot of love by three sisters who are the fourth generation living on the farm. It goes without saying that all the goodies in the display case, as well as some of the drinks, are homemade according to old family recipes, with almost all the ingredients coming from their own cultivation or from the region. We tried a wrap and a quiche, and also had two homemade lemonades with rose and elderflower, and everything was incredibly delicious! The opening hours vary greatly depending on the season, but the sisters provide regular updates here.
The Store Mosse National Park - one of the largest bogs in Sweden
Have you ever hiked through a bog? No? Neither had we until we visited the approximately 8,000-hectare Store Mosse National Park in Småland. Numerous wooden boardwalks and paths (some of which are even wheelchair accessible) installed over the bog make it possible to experience the bog landscape up close. And it is by no means musty and boring, but rather incredibly diverse, peacefully tranquil, and beautiful. In total, a network of about 50 kilometers of trails leads through dense forests and over expansive plains. Exploration can be done either independently or on guided tours.
We equipped ourselves with information at the on-site visitor center "Naturum" and then set out on our own. Along the way, we encountered numerous bird species. Theoretically, there are even eagles and moose here. Unfortunately, we didn't have the pleasure, but maybe you'll have better luck! But even without spotting moose, the Store Mosse National Park is an absolute must-see for us, especially in the afternoon during the golden hour when the sun bathes the bog landscape in rich yellows and gentle golds...
The Trakt Forest Hotel - A Slow Hideaway in the middle of the forest
Imagine waking up surrounded by tall trees, enjoying your first coffee in bed, and then having breakfast on the sofa with a view of the forest. In the afternoon, take long walks or go for a rowboat ride, and indulge in a delicious fika by the lake. Afterwards, curl up with a good book before heading to a tasty dinner made from local and seasonal ingredients. End the evening with a glass of wine by the fireplace and fall asleep while gazing at the starry sky...
Sounds almost too good to be true? We think so too! Yet, at the Trakt Forest Hotel, all of this becomes a reality. If you're seeking peace and seclusion without compromising on comfort, you will love this hideaway in the middle of the forest. Owners Sandra and Mattias have brought their vision of an environmentally friendly, minimalist, yet exclusive accommodation to life - a concept of simple elegance. The result is five tastefully furnished "floating" tiny houses made of wood in the forest, inspired by treehouses but equipped with everything you need. As residents of a wooden house ourselves, we were doubly inspired!
To minimize the hotel's ecological footprint, great attention was paid to acting in an environmentally friendly manner in all areas. During the construction of the cabins, almost exclusively wood from a major forest fire in the region was used, or wood that was already on the forest property (which had been in the family's possession long before the hotel was established). Many of the furniture pieces and details have been repurposed from old materials, and sustainable practices are followed in the hotel's operations, such as room service, laundry, room amenities, and packaging.
The environmentally conscious philosophy also extends to the hotel's kitchen, with most of the incredibly delicious dishes being made from locally sourced ingredients. Under the name "Traktkoket," guests can even book outdoor cooking experiences and learn about local products and traditional preparation methods. The breakfast concept is also remarkable: All of the ingredients are delivered in a large basket to the guest's room, with the added bonus of a forest view!
And if you ever get bored with the peace and quiet, there are plenty of activities to enjoy on-site. In addition to extensive hiking trails and a hotel sauna, the hotel team can arrange for guests to rent a rowboat at a nearby lake, complete with a fika on the dock!
Campsites in Småland - our two favorites
During our time in Småland (apart from the Trakt Forest Hotel), we stayed at campsites. Here are our two favorites.
After exploring Eksjö or going for a hike in the Skurugata, Eksjö Camping is the perfect place to spend the night. The pitches are spacious, the site is well-maintained, and the location is close to the town but still beautifully calm, right by Lake Hunsnäsen with direct access to the lake.
Ställplats Skeda Strand
By far the most beautiful non-wild camping site we have ever been to! If you're not a fan of traditional motorhome parking spaces or even campsites, you will love Ställplats Skeda Strand. On their huge property by the lake, a couple has created a beautiful camping oasis. There are no designated pitches, but instead, you have the freedom to choose your own spot. Due to the vast area, you won't feel crowded. With a bit of luck, you might even secure one of the fantastic spots right by the lake.
Even though the atmosphere at this camping site is far from a traditional one, it has everything you need: toilets, showers (including an outdoor shower), washing stations, electricity, and facilities for waste disposal.
Tip: Start your day in a lovely way
Enjoy your first cup of coffee in the morning on the jetty, basking in the mild sun. The best way to start your day!
Holiday in Småland - Weather and Best Time to Travel
Especially during the summer months, Småland is a popular destination for both national and international visitors. Many campers from Germany also find their way here - after all, the journey to this southern Swedish province is significantly shorter than to many other parts of the country and it gets pleasantly warm in July and August. In addition, the days in summer are wonderfully long - the perfect combination! As Småland is relatively large, you won't feel any overcrowding, but we still recommend the off-season.
If you want to be sure about the weather, the months of May and September are the best. The high season hasn't started yet, or is already over, but the temperatures are still mild. However, April and October also have their charm, with sunny days. In autumn, the whole landscape turns into hundreds of shades of yellow and orange, which, especially in sunny weather, is truly a wonderful natural spectacle.
Are you a winter lover? Then the months of December and January are worth visiting, as it often snows in Småland (depending on the exact location). In some years, the snowfall even lasts until March. This time of year has its own unique atmosphere - instead of outdoor adventures and swimming fun, coziness and peace come to the forefront.
Do you want to explore more of Sweden? How about a mini road trip on the island of Öland?