Welcome to southwestern Småland! Here you are met by magical forests and beautiful lakes that invite to scenic, unforgettable experiences. Glassblowing, city pulse, hiking, biking, canoeing, ziplining, swimming, fishing, world-class gastronomy, culture and history, moose, the Land of Legends, the Emigrant’s Trail – and everything in between.
Växjö - the lake where the roads meet
Växjö is the heart of Småland and the residence city for Kronoberg County. The city is a small 'Metropolis', defined by contrasts. On the one hand there is city pulse, shopping and nightlife, and on the other hand cosy side streets, urban cultivations, cobblestones and culture. The name “Växjö” [ˈvɛkːˌɧøː] comes from the fact that the city was located at an old marketplace by the lake (“sjö”) where many roads (“vägar”) met, “Vägsjö”, which later became Växjö. Several major markets and annual events, such as the food event MAT and festivals Karl-Oskardagarna and Scensommar, invite residents of Växjö as well as visitors to take part in a wonderful atmosphere and community.
Close to nature
The proximity to nature from Växjö’s city center is immediate, and just a stone's throw from Stortorget and the shopping streets you find Växjösjön, a natural meeting place whether you want to hang out by the wooden deck and have a coffee with friends, or jog around the lake. To discover other areas of the city, you can cycle (or walk!) “Växjö Runt”, a 40 km loop that ties together Växjö’s natural environments, six lakes and residential areas.
City pulse and gastronomy
Växjö has one of Sweden’s longest pedestrian streets; Storgatan with its 700 meters. In connection there are several other pedestrian streets where you will find a mix of small, unique shops, chains, second hand, specialty shops and glass art – a really varied selection. Most shops are open every day of the week, and each Wednesday and Saturday there is a market in the main square where you can buy fresh produce, flowers, fish, and much more. The cathedral with its two spiers and bright colour is a landmark for the city that you often catch a glimpse of over the roofs in the city. The church is open to visit and inside there is beautiful glass art to view.
There are plenty of restaurants in Växjö, ranging from restaurants listed in White Guide and even one with a star in Guide Michelin, to Indian, Mexican, traditional Swedish kitchens and everything in between. Of course, you will find tastes typical of Småland too, such as isterband and ostkaka.
The restaurant group PM & Vänner with its gastro hotel showcases the region in a tasteful way through its philosophy based on the three cornerstones “forest, meadow and lake”. As additional evidence to the high quality, the restaurant has a star in Guide Michelin, and the wine selection with a Grand Award from Wine Spectator.
A city of culture
Not to forget – Växjö is also a city of culture with galleries, museums and a concert hall. Småland's Museum is Sweden's oldest provincial museum and opened as early as in 1885. Among the permanent exhibitions you find tidbits from the museum's large collection that has grown over the years. In connection to the museum you have the Swedish Glass Museum, where a selection of Sweden’s largest collection of art and utility glass is displayed, and The House of Emigrants, that portrays the great wave of emigration to America in the 19th and 20th centuries. In Växjö you can also go on a tour with Sweden's oldest wood-fired steamer; Steamboat Thor. The boat operates on Lake Helgasjön north of Växjö, with Kronoberg's Castle Ruins as its home port.
The Land of Legends
The Land of Legends is found in the magical and fantasy-evoking forests of southwestern Småland. Spread over three municipalities, there are around 60 legendary places and 43 fairytale cabinets to visit – interesting, adventurous, and captivating for both young and old! At the Museum of Legends in Ljungby there is a map of all legendary places to pick up or download. There is also an app; “Sagobygden”, where you can listen to the stories connected to the legendary places.
Some of Sweden's most influential storytellers have lived in the Land of Legends, “Sagobygden” in Swedish, and people have passed on legends about troll mountains, sacrificial springs, the evil spirit of the water, dragon treasures, magical trees, places of gruesome murders and haunted mansions. These fantastic stories and legends have amused and terrified people for generations and this continues to this day. In the UNESCO-listed Land of Legends, the tradition of oral storytelling lives on.
Glasriket – The Kingdom of Crystal
Hand- and mouth-blown glass is undoubtedly one of the most important and internationally well-known craft traditions in the region known as the Kingdom of Crystal. Glass has been manufactured here since 1742, and still today several of the glass factories are active with production of different types of glass – both art and utility glass – and you are welcome to step up to the hot furnaces to see how it is created!
Together with the glassblowers, designers are continuously expanding the possibilities of glass and many glassblowing techniques have been developed through experiments in the Småland glassworks.
Each of the glassworks and glass artists have their own, unique style, which makes visits to the various manufacturers special and exciting. What they all have in common is that they are happy to show you their work up close and tell you more about it. Often, the glassworks have exhibitions or shops adjacent to the glassworks, where you can buy beautiful creations to bring back home.
Much more than glass
Seeing the red-hot melted glass transform into beautiful crystals or sturdy bowls, is a spectacle you never tire of. But beyond the warmth of the glassworks in the Kingdom of Crystal is much else to experience as well! Take part of valuable cultural history, a wealth of nature activities, and a wide range of shopping opportunities. Why not go trolley cycling, or try your hand at glassblowing yourself? Fish in one of the beautiful lakes or look for moose in a moose park. For those who like to go shopping, there are both outlets and more exclusive shops.
After a day full of adventurous activities, it can be nice to unwind. Kosta Boda Art Hotel is an award-winning hotel, spa and restaurant where much of the interior design partly or entirely is made out of glass. Enjoy a refreshing drink in the glass bar after a delicious meal in Linnea Art Restaurant, to then go down to the hotel’s spa and view the glass art at the bottom of the pool.
The Emigrant’s district
Through forests and meadows, along lakes and stone walls, past cottages and farmsteads – this is where you get to experience the real Småland. Embark on an adventure on foot, by bike or by canoe, or as we recommend – combine the three!
The Emigrant’s Trail is a 105-110 km long roundtrip that allows you to combine outdoor activities with cultural experiences. On your trip, you pass several places to visit such as glassworks, historic buildings and small country shops. The district is also the home of author Vilhelm Moberg, who penned the famous “The Emigrants” novel series, and you will pass several famous spots mentioned in his novels, for example Moshultamåla old school, Ljuder’s church, Klasatorpet, etc.
When it comes to accommodation and meals, two obvious stops are Grimsnäs Herrgård B&B and Korrö Handicraft Village. Grimsnäs Herrgård is scenically located by a beautiful oak forest and offers a bed & breakfast of good standard. The meals are prepared with care and from scratch, based on organic and KRAV-labelled foods. Korrö is a historic craft village located right where the flowing Ronnebyån bifurcates, and has a hotel with wilderness spa, restaurant and, in summer, a café. The restaurant with a spectacular view of the river, serves typical Småland and Swedish classics from local ingredients. Canoe and bicycle rental is also available.
For those who want the complete experience without having to figure out all the details, there are package solutions and tour packages available at different price ranges. Find out more on utvandrarleden.se.
At the House of Emigrants in Växjö, the great emigration wave to America of the 19th and 20th centuries is depicted in an exhibition. It is also home to the Nordic region's largest research institute, focusing on the emigration to North America.
Åsnen and Åsnen National Park
Åsnen is wilderness, water, islands, and silence. Småland’s third largest lake and an undisturbed nature paradise with an inland lake archipelago with more than 1000 islands and 700 km coastline combined. The area also has Sweden's newest national park, 17 nature reserves, one of Europe's most valuable deciduous forests, fruit tree plantations, and strong cultural and historical values.
Åsnen National Park consists mostly of water. The islands are untouched with primeval forest, other parts have shimmering deciduous trees, deep coniferous forests, and bewitching marshlands. The diversity of environments makes Åsnen a mix of all of Sweden's nature. The two national park entrances, Trollberget and Sunnabron, offer breathtaking views, lovely walking trails, nice barbecue areas and exciting discoveries.
An excellent way to discover Åsnen and Åsnen National Park is to paddle between the islands in a kayak. The area has a great diversity of species and a rich bird and animal life. With a bit of luck, you may catch sight of an osprey or hear a black-throated diver at dusk. From land, you might spot a lynx or a moose in the forest. Getting any closer to nature than this is difficult.
You can also experience Åsnen’s lake archipelago up close from the bike saddle. The cycle path that goes around Åsnen is 140 km long and can be divided into as many parts as you choose – with shorter breaks along the way, or with overnight stays at reasonable distances.