Turné i södra Sverige II – Lakes, forests and the Göta Canal

IKEA Stockholm Kopie After some swedish culinary impressions here’s the next chapter of our foto travel journal:

The first stop we made after we got our rental car in Stockholm (No Volvo! Big dissapointment for his part!) was at the biggest IKEA in the world. Why? – Let me go farther back…

There are a few things that are good to know, when you decide to travel to Sweden, that we learned sooner or later:

1. Tourism in Sweden is mainly directed to Swedes. You will realize this as soon as you’re vainly looking for the english version of the website for a tourist attraction, hotel, restaurant,…

2. A typical swedish holiday is spend in and with nature, typically at one of the thousands of lakes or at the coast. Comfort, luxury isn’t necessarily needed, perhaps even avoided. Instead the whole family, that has settled in the city, moves for the summer season to the old family house in the countryside, the summer stuga or spends the summer cruising through the skärgårds on the east or west coast on their yacht. Did you know that every Swede has the right to have 4 weeks of coherent summer holiday?! This also means that (latest) from the mid of August on buzzling places become ghost towns again, tourist attractions have limited opening hours, shops are closed. Positive thing about this: you have the place all for your own!

3. Another popular type of tourism, besides holiday homes and caravaning, is to stay in so called vandrarhems, youth hostels that are populated by people of all age. They are often in beautiful natural surrounding or in interesting old buildings. Most of the vandrarhems are associated in one of the two big organisations, the Svenska Turistföreningen (STF) and Sveriges Vandrarhem i Förening (SViF).  The comfort – as you would expect from youth hostels – is basic, with shared facilities and a kitchen for self-catering. You’re also ment to bring your own sheets and towels, sometimes you pay an extra for final cleaning. And be prepared: a double room usually is a twin room with two single beds on both ends of the room or even a bunk bed. A protestant legacy?

…coming back to IKEA and making it short: we bought bed sheets for the upcoming trip.

Gripsholm 1

Our final destination of this day was the east coast of lake Vättern. We didn’t drive the straight way but along the Mälaren and the Hjälmaren, with a stop at the Vasa castle of Gripsholm, famous by the novel of the same name by Kurt Tucholksy. It was not to be the last castle on our tour…

Gripsholm - Mariefred


wood 1

After roads through forests that seemed to be neverending we reached the Göta Canal and the vandrarhem Glasbruket in Borensberg.

Borensberg - Göta Canal 4

The vandrarhem, a former glass works manufacturing bottles for a nearby brewery, is beautifully located on a peninsula between Göta Canal and Motala Ström.

Borensberg Göta Canal 2

An idyllic place to sit and watch the boats, bikes and sheep passing by. Here we sat, had our simple evening pasta and watched the sunset – while drinking swedish 3,5% beer and not getting drunk at all 😉

Borensberg - Göta Canal 3

On our last night here we made a very special experience. It was weekend and the vandrarhem got a bit more populated than the night before. And when the sun had set and the moon came out, the locals came in crowds to the Canal, set up their camping chairs, grills and cool boxes and layed out their fish traps … or to be precise: cray traps. Buckets of crawling animals were the result of the crayfishing – a really exceptional experience.

Borensberg - Göta Canal 1

Using Borensberg as our base we explored the surrounding area during our stay…

Borensberg - Göta Canal

The old spa village Medevi Brunn – abandoned and closed down off season … which had its own charme 😉

Medevi Brunn

…quiet and secluded little lakes …

lake Salstern

… the sluices of Berg that overcome an elevation difference of 19 metres in 7 steps!…

sluice Berg - Göta Canal

…Motala, where lake Vättern leads into the Göta Canal and where we walked along the canal being greeted by yacht skippers and boat tourists.

Motala - Göta Canal 1

Motala - Göta Canal - Vättern

Motala - Göta Canal 2

In Vadstena we visited the recently restored Vasa castle as well as the old monastery, where we learned about Saint Birgitta of Sweden.

Vadstena - Vasa castle

monastery Vadstena

On our way further south and west we made one last stop at the east coast of lake Vättern, in the small town of Gränna which is mostly popular for its polkagrisar – candy canes that were “invented” in 1859 by Amalia Erikson and that can be bought in every second shop in town! Not kidding!

Gränna - Polkagrislar


The relation between this attraction and the high tourist traffic seemed quite absurd … especially because the real attraction in town, the Grenna Museum, was rather empty. Although it gives interesting insights in the history of Artic and Antarctic expeditions, centered around S.A. Andrée – a son of the town – who 1897 tried to reach the north pole on an expedition in an hot-air ballon. He and his colleagues failed and finally died in the Arctic, but a a lot of equipment, diaries and beautiful drawings have survived.

Gränna Polarcentrum

The next blog post will be dedicated to the West coast of Bohuslän which was our next destination. From there we returned to the inland, to the Göta Canal and lake Vättern, but this time on its west coast.

Hjo 1

On our way – a day when wind and rain made only little breaks – we strolled around the picturesque spa town of Hjo. Luxurious wooden villas, often with exclusive access to the lake, made it easy to imagine 19th century aristocracy spending their summer holiday here.

Hjo 2

wood 2

After this last glimpse on lake Vättern and some more kilometres through wood, we reached our next accomodation – the vandrarhem Forsvik, where we were bedded in the middle of industrial heritage.

Vandrarhem Forsvik 2

Kafé Ada - Forsvik

The site had originally been a sawmill and iron foundry. Today it is a vandrarhem, museum and café (which off-season serves as reception), which is run by the friendly host Ingrid, who serves great swedish pastry.

Forsvik bruk 1

Forsvik bruk 2

Forsvik bruk 3

Forsvik bruk 4

In the adjectent shipyard the paddle steamer “Erik Nordevall” was build. Nowadays it’s “Nordevall II” that ships between Vänern, Vättern and the Canal (the first one sank in 1856 in lake Vättern).

Forsvik bruk 5

When the rain finally had stopped for this day we went outside and explored the whole industrial site and the village, which is squeezed between two small lakes and a Canal sluice.

lake Botensjön

Forsvik water gate - Göta channel 1

lake Botensjön

Finally strolling through this location while the sun set made up for all the rain before.

Vandrarhem Forsvik 1

 … and we let the day end in the cozy vandrarhem, antique furniture and flowery-ornamental wallpaper included.

Vandrarhem Forsvik 3

From Forsvik we drove further north again – long straight roads through wood, farmland and scattered red wooden houses.

on the road 2

on the road 1

A last stop before we finally headed towards Uppsala: Örebro, where we visited another Vasa castle and bought some sweet supplies for the rest of the way 🙂

Örebro 1

bakery Örebro

Örebro 2

Next time: less wood – more coast!

wood 3

Read also: Turné i södra Sverige I

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