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Travel diaries: Swedish Island Hopping in The Baltic

In partnership with Skandinavisk 
"Silken lakes, secluded islands, silent forests, memories of rowing to deserted islands, the slippery touch of damp rock moss underfoot, and the fragrant green embrace of dog-rose and crabapples." This is the inspiration behind Skandinavisk's wonderful Øy (island solitude) fragrance, a description that perfectly encapsulates the Swedish coastline with its myriad of islands, skerries and rocky outcrops - many of which are uninhabited and totally exposed to the elements. In the summer, Swedes head out to the islands to relax, recharge their batteries and lead a simple life inspired by the wild beauty of this wonderful natural environment.

This summer we took to the waters on Á La Vie, our family sailing boat to explore the remote islands off Sweden's South East coast. Our three week voyage took us through the secluded Blekinge and Karlskrona archipelagos, to the long slender island of Öland and the stunning Baltic island of Gotland. Being on board had its limitations (there was barely enough room to swing a cat - and we were completely dependent on the wind!) but we'd do it all over again if we could! I hope these pictures help tell the tale of a coastline that's rich, diverse and mesmerisingly beautiful and will perhaps inspire you to visit one day.

Tjärö


A jewel between the ocean and sky, Tjärö is nestled in a cluster of islands in the little-known  Blekinge archipelago. Privately owned, the entire island is a nature reserve characterised by bare rocks with deep crevices, beech forests, meadows and grassland. We loved hiking around the shoreline, enjoying barbecues on the warm rocks and a special afternoon at our very own wood-burning sauna accessed by rowing boat. 

A dip in the (very 'fresh') Baltic, was rewarded with the ringing of a bell as you raced back to the warmth of the sauna! 

Utlängan

It wasn't hard to adapt to the sleep, swim, eat, rhythm of life on the tiny island of Stenshamn. Situated the furthest out in the Karlskrona archipelago the harbour was dotted with traditional Falu red and white cottages and a shop selling homemade pies (the pies could have had something to do with how much I enjoyed this place!). 


The island was connected to Utlängan via a narrow road, which turned into a stone path leading passed woodland and meadows to a lighthouse. It was wild, secluded and stunningly beautiful! And of course, there was that pie waiting for you on return! 

Wildflowers were never far away. Ox eye daisies, milkwort, thistles, heather and other species were found by the roadside, in the dunes, or growing through the crevice of a rock. The scenery might be visually rich - but the scent is incredibly subtle. On my walk through Utlängan, I thought about how Skandinavisk captures this understated scent in the Øy collection (which includes a body wash and lotion, hand wash and hand cream, bar soap, scented candle and scent diffuser). The collection is gentle and lightly scented, yet designed to cleanse and soften exposed skin.    

The lightly scented Skandinavisk Øy hand wash, hand and body lotion and hand cream contain extract of sea buckthorn - designed to cleanse and soften exposed skin. 

Gotland

If you've followed My Scandinavian Home for a while, you'll no doubt have heard of the island of Gotland. It certainly has its fair share of beautiful homes. But there's so much more to this remote island! Hop off the ferry (or in our case sailing boat) and you will be greeted by the medieval walled town of Visby, a UNESCO World heritage site with its medieval ruins, defence towers and cobblestone streets lined with charming cottages, cafes and restaurants.  

As with all towns and villages on this coastline, Visby has its own swimming piers, and the 'dip' is a part of everyday life. The length of time spent in the water depends on the temperature of the sea - and I'm not going to lie - the Baltic is fresh! But it's only mildly salty. If you do as our nordic friends do and submerge yourself even for a mere second, you'll come out feeling invigorated and relaxed - and with silky smooth skin! 

Ljugarn, Gotland


Ljugarn on Gotland's east coast was another favourite spot. The day we arrived, the atmospheric sky was like a watercolour tinged with soft greys and inky blues. We tucked into a potato pizza at Bruna Dörren, hidden away in the woods beside a secluded silvery beach. 

A visit to Ljugarn wouldn't be complete without a visit to interior design shop Verkstan, selling everything from clay pots and seagrass baskets to hammam towels. But also, it's worth taking time to browse the many pottery ateliers and galleries throughout the island. 

Before returning to the marina in Visby we visited Tofta and took in the wild flower meadows, a soft sandy beach and remnants from the Bronze Age. 

Fårö

Connected to Gotland by chain ferry, it's easy to see why Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman made the small island of Fårö his home. Narrow roads lined with wild flowers lead to a rocky coast dotted with rauka (sea stacks), forests dense with bluebells and remote, windswept beaches. 

The island has many pared-back eateries such as Albatross and Creperie Tati, the relaxed style blending in seamlessly with the raw, understated nature of the island. I wish I could have stayed a while! 

If you visit Fårö, make sure when on the way back to the car ferry you pull-over for a freshly baked cinnamon bun from Sylvis Döttrar Bakery. They are to die for!

The Baltic Sea

On our sail between Gotland and Öland there wasn't a breath of wind. The sea was glassy calm, we simply drifted around and launched our stand-up paddle board, enjoying the silence. It was a rare moment and truly magical.

Öland 

There are so many harbours to choose from along the slender island of Öland - but in the end we decided on Nabbelund located in a lagoon in the Northern part of the island. Remote and off the beaten track - it felt like the perfect base from which to explore the magical Trollskogen (the Trolls Forest) with its gnarled windswept pine trees, ancient oaks, harebells and viking burial sites. 


Blå jungfru

The tiny uninhabited island of Blå Jungfrun rises up out of the blue waters of the Kalmar strait. Its magnificent silhouette is the subject of countless folktales and myths, and is a legendary gathering place for witches. We moored Á La Vie directly onto the warm granite rocks - which are home to a variety of plants and wildlife (including the crazies, who loved hopping between the large rocks and picnicking on the shore!). For a few blissful hours, we were completely alone!


Utklippan

Arriving at Utklippan, Sweden's south-easternmost archipelago feels like you've entered the last corner of the world. This small archipelago is divided into two small islands Norraskär and Södraskär - the former  is home to a lighthouse and a hostel - as well as skerries enjoyed by a thriving colony of seals. Per and I roamed the islands, enjoying the solitude - whilst our children nervously checked out the 'dry' loos. Needless to say, we enjoyed this wild outpost more than they did!  

I hope you enjoyed these little snapshots of our trip!

I wish I could do it all over again!

If you love going off the beaten track and feel drawn to this remote part of Sweden, here are a few links you might find helpful. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section too! 


You could visit this part of the world over a lifetime and still not see everything so please feel free to share your experiences I would love to hear about them! 

In the meantime, you can experience the scent of the islands from the wonderful Øy (island solitude) collection by Skandinavisk. In particular, I absolutely love the hand wash and body wash - they remind me so much of our holiday! 


Niki

This post is supported by Skandinavisk. However, all words and pictures are my own and I only ever work with brands I love and think you will too. Thank you for supporting the businesses which help me to bring fresh content to My Scandinavian Home! 



LATEST COMMENTS:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! It's such a beautiful corner of the world - I can totally recommend a visit!

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    2. I would love to. I enjoyed my visit to Stockholm a few years ago very much; Swedish countryside (as well as Norway's) are definitely high on my wishlist. These pictures just confirm that even more. Thanks!

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, it really is such a beautiful place. I wish I could go back and do it all over again. One day!

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  3. Ooh how much I love these snapshots!
    X Liza

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    1. Thank you Liza, perhaps the next time we're out sailing we might bump into you on one of the islands :)

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  4. Wow such beautiful photos, and such a stunning area!! we're thinking of going to Sweden next year and this post is some great holiday inspiration :)

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    1. Thank you, so happy you enjoyed them! This part of Sweden is so well worth a visit. I'd really recommend Gotland in summer time in particular, it has such a wonderful atmosphere and there is so much to see and do. It's beautiful too!

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  5. Wow! thanks for the armchair journey. You certainly helped create wonderful memories for your children! Will you adopt me and bring me on your next trip?

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    1. I'm happy you say that as I can't tell you how many times we heard 'are we nearly there yet....' and ' how long until we're there' while out at sea from the kids *rolls eyes*!!. Hopefully they'll look back on it all with fond memories! You're so welcome on our next trip (we just need to get a slightly bigger boat first!!).

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  6. I love this collab and love Skandinavisk. When collabs make sense! Thanks for a underbar blog!

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