Gravel cycling in Dalsland – Sweden in Miniature
Follow us (Farawayistan - Photographer Robin Patijn and Storyteller Sabina Knezevic) on our adventures in Dalsland, where we went gravel biking and stayed at charming accomodation.
When we moved to the south of Sweden, we set out to discover as much of the country as possible. Two years later, we are still discovering new places. This time we headed north to go gravel cycling in Dalsland, a province in Västra Götaland famous for its beautiful lakes and forests.
Dalsland is known as “Sweden in Miniature”, and has all the best things Sweden has to offer. There are lots of fun things to do, such as water sports, hiking, kayaking, and, of course, cycling! The countryside is a gorgeous mix of lakes, rivers, forests, and fields, and the quiet gravel roads take you to charming little towns, impressive country houses, and even castles.
West Sweden invited us to travel around Dalsland and tipped us on the best places for cyclists in the area, and we’ve got to say—we are absolutely blown away by the beauty of Dalsland!
Gravel cycling in Upperud, Dalsland
From Malmö, it was a 5-hour drive to Upperud 9:9, where we spent the first night of this gravel getaway. The hotel is set in an old grain silo and the five unique rooms are nestled into the old structure. Kerstin, the owner of the hotel, welcomed us with open arms and swiftly sent us on our way with a packed lunch for the road. We went cycling on gravel roads through the forest, and came across many beautiful sights along the way.
Back at Upperud 9:9 we had the premier of the newly built sauna! The big glass window offers a relaxing view over the lake, and we watched the birds as we wound down. In the sauna, we also met the other guests. One family had been hiking the Pilgrimsleden and two friends were there on a kayaking trip.
After the sauna, we took a plunge in the cold lake to cool off and prepared ourselves for the 3-course dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. On Saturday, the café is open to everyone, so if you’re cycling in the area, this is the place to fika!
The next morning it was time to move to our second Dalsland destination, and after a beautiful Swedish breakfast buffet we loaded our bikes into the car. Along the way we passed the Dalsland aqueduct. It was fascinating to see the spectacular meeting of road, rail and waterway. We love to travel over gravel, but we can definitely picture ourselves paddling along the Dalsland canal too!
Gravel cycling in Dalsland
A twisting and turning road carried us through the forest to Dalsland’s Activities located in Steneby Prästgård in the heart of the Dalsland region. The perfect starting point for a beautiful gravel bike ride. We cycled parts of the Unionsleden, a 350 kilometre long cycle path which takes its travellers from Moss in Norway to Karlstad in Sweden. We rode on a pleasant mix of sparsely trafficked country roads, gravel paths and cycle trails.
Tip: contact Dalsland’s Activities and ask them about renting a gravel bike!
Miles flew by as we enjoyed the breathtaking views over the lakes and waved to the residents we passed by who were tending their gardens to prepare their homes for summer.
We stopped for a hearty lunch at Not Quite, a former paper mill turned into a cultural centre. The café is run by two Belgian sisters, which explains the not so Swedish ‘Uitsmijter’ on the menu. As two Dutchies, we could not pass on such a familiar dish.
Newly refuelled, we continued our ride. After a testing tarmac climb, we dove into the forest via an almost hidden gravel road. The best thing about going up, is that you get to go down again afterwards. We raced and slid over perfect gravel roads, and the technical sections kept us focused on the terrain.
Back at Dalsland’s Activities, we got some ice cream and rode the last 800 meters to where we’d spend the night. It was safe to say that our jaws hit the floor, when we saw where we were sleeping.
Sleeping in a glass cabin
On the shore of Lake Iväg are four unique glass cabins, and one of these was ours for the night. Completely secluded from the outside world, we got to enjoy life in the forest, with the comfort of a big bed, cosy blankets and a beautiful sitting area on a wooden deck over the water. The chef from the activity centre had prepared a barbecue, perfect for two hungry cyclists like ourselves.
If the glass cabin itself wasn’t special enough, we got to use of the wood-fired hut tub as well. After a steaming hot bath, we cosied up in the cabin and watched the treetops gently sway in the wind. After the sun had set, we watched the full moon rise over the lake, casting a long white shimmer on the surface of the water.
Dalsland has so much to offer for cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts. Luxurious stays like ours ensure that you go back home fully recharged. Cyclists who crave more adventure and have strong legs can discover this beautiful region by bikepacking and sleep in one of the many wind shelters.
Gravel cycling in Dalsland is truly an unforgettable experience.
Thank you Farawayistan for your inspiring pictures and story.