7 Great tips for a May half-term holiday in Sweden
The May half-term holidays are coming up, but you’ve still got nothing planned? We’ve got a surprising springtime destination par excellence for you. Load your kids in the car and head to Dalsland, a hidden gem just two hours from Gothenburg.
Tucked inland next to Sweden’s iconic west coast archipelago lies a relatively unknown part of the country. Dalsland may be the smallest province in West Sweden, but it far exceeds its size in terms of the wealth of nature it encompasses. Welcome to the wilderness! It's not hard to love Dalsland. The hard bit is deciding what to do there…
We’ll make it easy for you: Here are 7 top tips for a May half term holiday.
1. Back to nature
Are you longing for a bit of space, that’s also a little wider than that ‘one meter plus’? In Dalsland that’s a piece of cake. This part of Sweden is unspoilt and wide open, with endless forests, hills to climb and abundant greenery. After each tree you stumble across a new crystal clear lake. Here you can breathe freely and give your kids the biggest playground they could wish for…
You can spend the night here: Have you dreamt about staying in a traditional red cottage or a private wild camping spot? You’ll find those at Ragnerud, on the lake of the same name. An excellent starting point to discover Dalsland on foot or by canoe. Ragnerud also provide ready-made travel packages with multi-day trips that mean you can explore more of the surroundings. It’s a dream for anyone wanting to get away from the daily grind.
2. Up the paths, along the trails
Hiking doesn't have to be complicated. Walking two kilometres in your trainers, with a thermos of coffee and a bag of fresh cinnamon buns in your bag, can be just as magical as a multi-day trek with a tent on your back. Venture into the deep forests of Dalsland and enjoy everything you encounter along the way. You’ll find a new walking trail around every corner and the majority of places to stay will provide route maps and picnics for the road.
You can spend the night here: Stay overnight in a grain silo. Yes indeed, a grain silo. You can do that at Upperud 9:9. It’s not just any old grain silo, but one that has been completely converted into a classic Swedish design gem. This iconic property is ideally located just a short distance from the famous Dalsland Canal aqueduct, Dals Rostock, several nature reserves and the popular Pilgrimsleden hiking trail. Or combine comfortable beds and good food with lovely natural surroundings during a stay at Kroppefjäll B&B. This B&B has it all. Head out with their special picnic baskets for your own outdoor barbecue. Kroppefjäll B&B has several family rooms and you can even rent the entire B&B if you decide to come with the whole family. Don't forget the dog, they are also welcome!
Photographer: Sofia Petrén
3. Time for some action
Do you want to stay completely zen in Sweden, but the kids would like some action? At Dalsland Aktiviteter they know what to do with that extra adrenaline. Experience the adventurous side of Dalsland in this outdoor centre. You can zipline between the treetops, rent canoes and bicycles, do bushcraft and visit the moose park. They also provide guided or self-guided multi-day tours letting you explore further afield.
You can spend the night here: Dalsland Aktiviteter has different types of accommodation, including huts and tipi tents. Various family packages can also be booked with accommodation and activities included. Top off an action-packed day in the open air in the hot tub with a view of the lake. Or would you prefer some extra comfort after all that activity? Then book the family suite at Baldersnäs Herrgård, a traditional Swedish 18th century manor not far from Dalsland Aktiviteter. Its location on a peninsula in Lake Laxsjö alone is reason enough to want to stay in this beautiful country house. And we still haven't mentioned the excellent cuisine and well-stocked wine cellar…
Photographer: Baldersnäs Herrgård
4. See eye to eye with moose.. or sheep
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Dalsland's nature is full of wildlife. The absolute king of the forest is of course the moose. This shy inhabitant of Swedish forests is not so easy to spot. Unless you visit the Moose Park at Dalsland Aktiviteter, where you can get up close to them, alongside the mouflon sheep and deer also found in the park.
At Swedish Country Living you and your family will get to spend a week with their flock of sheep. These woolly specimens come in all shapes and sizes on the farm and the best part is that you can help take care of them.
You can spend the night here: Stay at Swedish Country Living in the cosy and comfortable Skippers Cottage. Had enough of sheep? No problem. You are just a stone's throw from the scenic Dalsland Canal. Have a refreshing dip or build your own campfire on the private beach.
Photographer: Gaby Karlsson Hain, Dalslands Turist AB
5. Paddling through Dalsland
There is no shortage of water in Dalsland. Whether it's the famous Dalsland Canal, the many rivers and streams or the thousands of crystal clear lakes, you are always close to water here. So Dalsland is best explored from the water: in a canoe, for example. Venture out for an afternoon or for several days, light a fire on one of the many uninhabited islands and go swimming wherever you want.
You can spend the night here: Close to nature is something that’s taken very literally in Dalsland. Treat yourself to a few nights on your own houseboat on one of Dalsland's largest lakes, Lelång. Dalsland's Stugbåt is fully equipped and has room for four people. Your adventure starts ashore when you board your own little motorboat to arrive at your accommodation. The daily routine is simple: cast your fishing rod from your terrace, gaze endlessly at the view and take a tour in your kayak. Start and end the day with a dip from your private swim platform and let the gentle swell lull you to sleep at night.
Photographer: Beyond Oceans Media
6. On the pedals
Cycling is fun! All over Dalsland. This part of West Sweden seems made for a two-wheeled adventure. Get on your bike and discover the many winding routes through forests, over hills and alongside waterways. Bicycles and mountain bikes can be hired in many places. Or why not try something different for once. Opt for railbikes, also known as draisines. Yep, you'll be cycling on old railway tracks. You don't have to worry that the intercity will be coming towards you: these old railway lines are specially reserved for this form of cycling. It’s the ideal outing to do with children who can help out with the pedalling.
You can spend the night here: First Hotel Bengtfors even has special draisine packages for families, which consist of overnight stays with half board in a family room, railbike rental, route map and a picnic for the road. Fancy a day off cycling? No problem. Several hiking and canoe routes start from the hotel or you can take a dip in the heated outdoor pool.
Photographer: Mats Lind
7. Do nothing at all
Yes, it can be that simple in Sweden. Nature is peaceful. Take a deep breath, look around you, and feel the stress melt away! Dalsland does that to you.