With the sun setting before 4pm now in Sweden I decided it was high time to revisit the magical time I had this summer when the sun never set, exploring my new home of Scandinavia. We took advantage of those light-filled days by planning what turned out to be truly the trip of a lifetime- a 3,000 mile road (and hike, bike, train and ferry) trip across Sweden and Norway. There was not one moment on this trip where the view outside my car window was anything less than spectacular.
I’ll have to break this trip up into a few posts (and even then probably give you way too many pictures!) but we’ll start in West Sweden.
Day 1: Stockholm to the Gothenburg Archipelago
We started our adventure driving between Sweden’s two biggest cities. While Stockholm will always have my heart I was glad to be introduced to the “other city.” Our main mission of this trip was nature, however, so Gothenburg only got a cursory glance before we boarded the first of many, many ferries we would take these two weeks. First island up- Styrsö!
Sweden has two archipelagos- one near Stockholm and one near Gothenburg- consisting of over 30,000 islands, some inhabited, some not and nearly all car-free (hence all the ferries). It was a perfect place to spend the first night in total peace and quiet and let Carson recover from his jet lag. Who am I kidding I’d just gone from Kenya to Sweden I was having a bit of culture shock also.
But while he was napping I took it upon myself to explore a bit of the island. When I stumbled upon a secluded cove with a rocky outcropping, almost midnight but the sun still not quite set of course I was going to jump in off the cliffs, regardless of whether or not I had my swimsuit on. I mean wouldn’t you?
Day 2: Gothenburg to Smögen
There are so many islands in the archipelago you really just have to kind of shut your eyes and point to a map otherwise it’s impossible to decide. After a morning swim in Styrsö and the world’s biggest cinnamon bun in Gothenburg we headed to Smögen which has a bit more fame than some other islands thanks to it’s colorful row of waterfront fishing huts. With that brings some less savory aspects of tourism like crowded parking lots and tacky souvenir shops but away from the boardwalk is where Smögen got really fun. The islands are bare rock so you can run all over them like a goat, creating your own hiking paths as you wish.
We camped in one of Sweden’s weird campsites and discovered- Swedish people really like to camp but it’s not necessarily about solitude. RVs and tents are squashed together. There are kitchens, showers, laundry rooms and convenience stores on-site. It’s like Disneyland for camping. It was bizarre for our American sentiments but we learned to understand that Americans need the space. Swedish people have solitude and nature on a regular basis so camping the way they do is really a matter of convenience and functionality, to allow them to pursue things like hiking and swimming.
Day 3: Koster Islands
We spent our last day in Sweden (for now) continuing to island hop up the west coast. The Koster Islands are unique in that it is Sweden’s first Marine National Park. Its nature is extremely varied so rather than choosing to do one short hike we just did them all. We felt like we went through so many different ecosystems from forest to coast to red-boarded fishing village (and ended up running the last mile or so to make the last ferry- we really were suckers for that ferry schedule!)
And that was that for our time on the west coast of Sweden. Coming up next, our entree into the majestic land of Norway!