Blekinge - Sweden's garden
In Blekinge, everything is close: the archipelago, leafyforests, vibrant farmland, and some of the country's bestsalmon fishing – all within about an hour.
Blekinge is Sweden's second-smallest province. It’s close to everything, with discoveries waiting around almost every corner. This tiny place in the lower right corner of the map of Sweden just might contribute to the joy of exploration. It’s not crowded here, not even in the summer.
With one exception. There’s always an hour-long queue outside Glassiären in central Karlskrona. Fresh wafers are baked and rolled behind the big glass windows and then filled with ice cream in every imaginable flavour. One flavour is one large cone. Three are extravagant.
Glassiären has been open for more than 40 years. A more recent arrival a stone’s throw awayis Café Gelato, which has a more manageable queue.
Visitors to Karlskrona shouldn't miss the localspeciality: rye crust, a roll that despite its name is made using wheat flour. Try to buy it as dough, for example at Systrarna Lindqvists Café och Surdegsbageri, and bake at home. It’s best when the butter melts.
Karlskrona was founded in 1680 as a naval base, and 30 years later it was Sweden's third-largest city. The military presence was strong for many years. In October 1981, a Soviet submarine ran aground in a military area outside of Karlskrona, and in the 1990s, parts of the archipelago were closed to foreign visitors.
Its naval history is well-documented and on display at the Naval Museum on the historical island Stumholmen. Today, Blekinge’s archipelago is no longer closed. It is Sweden's most southerly, and outside of Karlskrona alone there are 1,650 small islets and a few larger islands.
One island, Aspö, can be discovered by car, but it’s better on foot or by bike. Rent a bike on the island. At the water’s edge, the smell of fermenting seaweed can be strong at times. The Kastellet fortress from the 1700s at Lökanabben’s harbour is a must. Its thick stone walls – to protect soldiers and the crown from foreign powers – keeps it cool year round. The bottom floor has a small military history exhibition and a restaurant, and there are expansive views from the restored rampart.
To the left of the parking lot is a large black iron gate. This gate leads to an enclosed yard with a small sand beach that only the locals usually frequent.
FLORAL SPLENDOUR AND FOREST BATHS
Blekinge's larger cities adorn the coastline. Ronneby, 30 min west of Karlskrona on E22, is a cultural gem. The art gallery in Kockum's former enamel factory has ambitious exhibitions and a generous kids’ programme. For kids and their adults there is also Ronneby Brunn Spa, a heated and spacious outdoor pool next to Ronneby Brunn.
Blekinge is often called Sweden's garden. This name refers not only to its lush greenery but also to the small-scale and thoughtful maintenance of the province in general. Ronneby Brunn Park, which has been named Europe's fourth most beautiful park, is an absolute must. It has deciduous trees, mainly beech, that are dripping with ivy, as is typical for the coastline in Blekinge. There is also a fragrance garden to stimulate thesenses, an aesthetically pleasing Japanese garden, and Café Mandeltårtan to recover after the walk.
Karlshamn, like Karlskrona, was founded in the 17th century. The Danes tried to retake Blekinge in 1709–1710 and managed to reach Karlshamn before the Swedish reinforcements arrived and forced them back across the sound.
Today, the city is compact and easy to exploreon foot. Historical Kulturkvarteret is home to Sweden's sole punch museum. Visitors learn howKarlshamn’s famous punch was made in the 1800s.
A newer attraction is Kallbadhuset, built in 2015. The narrow legs and raised wharf 3 m above the water are meant to resemble a flying saucer hovering over the water. Open year-round. Another new arrival, and an experience that is perhaps best in the company of kids, is Kreativum Science Center.
Mörrum has some of the best salmon fishing in the country. Mörrumsån river runs through Åsnen lake west of Tingsryd and on towards Mörrum. The mature salmon and sea trout draw anglers from around the world.
Eriksberg offers activities ranging from forestgames and grilling to fine dining and hunting. Bison and deer roam freely within an area covering 925 hectares (or 20,000 football fields). Visitors can take a safari tour either in their own car or with a guide. “The animals are usually visible, especially inopen terrain. But the key is to drive slowly and be observant since there are a lot of trees and stones for the animals to hide behind,” says Åsa Olsson, an Eriksberg employee. Visitors wanting to get even closer to nature can take a guided forest bath inside the park. “You walk a bit, then stop and absorb all the impressions, sounds and smells – to disconnectand get away from all the “musts”. Preferably close to junipers since they secrete phytoncides, an aroma that has been shown to boost the immune system,” says Åsa.
LISTERLANDET – SMALL-SCALE AND FAMILIAR
If we continue west, we soon come to Listerlandet, which stretches from Sölvesborg and on towards Skåne and has well-preserved fishing villages. In Hällevik, there are maintained causeways (a raisedway for boat mooring between two parallel stonewalls) along the beach as well as white-sand beaches, fishing, smokehouses, and a fishing museum. Nogersund and Hörvik are still active fishing harbours, and visitors can easily taste the catch of theday here.
The menus of many restaurants feature local ingredients produced by small-scale farmers. Askunga Dovvilt north of Karlskrona and Äggaboden outside of Ronneby are two musts. They offer a café/restaurant and a wide selection in their farm stores.
And don't miss dessert at Björketorps Gård inJohannishus. Per Brunberg makes organic ice cream from the milk of his own cows. Honey comes from the farm, and the eggs from next door. There isa milk kiosk in the farm store. The next step, according to Per Brunberg, is to start making mozzarella and halloumi. The Alm family takes a different approach to farming. They have goats, sheep, rabbits, pygmypigs and chickens at Barnens Gård (Kids’ Farm) outside of Karlskrona but also water slides and an amusement park. Åsa and Axel Alm bought the property in 2010 and have made a few smaller additions. Their daughter Linnea has become a celebrity after starring in a Swedish TV show about a girl who has her “own” amusement park.
Navigate the network of trails that forms ARK56. Cycle, paddle or hike: choose how you will explore the Blekinge Archipelago biosphere reserve. Designated by UNESCO for its unique nature and culture. Read more at ark56.se
FEEL LIKE GOLFING?
Take a break from the beach chairand try one of Blekinge's golf courses. Eight courses along the coast offer varying terrain and challenges. Read more at sverigesgolfkust.se
ACCOMMODATION IN Blekinge