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Skåne, Sweden’s Southern Hospitality

Outdoor lovers’ Skåne, Sweden (Part 1 – Eastern Adventure)

Who can resist southern hospitality?

When we were invited on a tour of the southern region of Sweden called Skåne (pronounced Sko-nah), we didn’t know what to expect. Within the first hours we realized how special the area truly is.

Skåne is situated in Sweden’s southernmost tip, just across the bridge from Copenhagen, Denmark. So, if you’re visiting Copenhagen, don’t overlook this outdoor playground. Our short stay included cycling, walking tours of coastal villages, a boat ride, nature hikes and bus tours, so we got a pretty good feel for the area. We found an interesting combination of uncrowded beaches, farmland, horses on beautiful rolling hills, waterfalls, rugged sea cliff terrain, golf courses, wonderful food, and genuinely friendly folks.

Åhus is an Absolut dream

Åhus is a lovely coastal town in southeastern Sweden dating from the 11oos.  It is also the home of Absolut Vodka, one of the biggest spirit brands in the world. The population is under 10,000 and that triples in the summer with people enjoying nature, beaches and their world famous handball tournaments. This church is St. Mary’s (Sankta Maria kyrka) which was built in the 12th century.

Dining in the marina at Åhus Gästgivaregård

We had the pleasure of a wonderful lunch of seafood stew at Åhus Gästgivaregård, a riverside restaurant and inn with a long, rich history from 1737. Anders gave us a  tour of Åhus Inn which revealed history, character, several lounge areas, a conservatory, elegant dining room and sweetly furnished lodging rooms. Even though we were only there for a long lunch, it’s easy to imagine this unique venue for meetings and charming lodging. For reviews and current availability, click here.

Cycling on the Sydostleden route

Cycling is big in Sweden and bike paths are skillfully integrated into the road system. Cars and bikes co-exist nicely here. Pedestrians who are not used to so much cycling traffic need to be extra aware not to accidently walk in the bike right-of-way. Southeast Trail (also known as the Sydostleden bicycle route) was our introduction to the Swedish cycling lifestyle.  It is Sweden’s second national bicycle route and runs 260 kilometers from Växjö to Simrishamn. We cycled for only 20 kilometers of the section from Åhus to Rigeleje. Our section of the trail meanders along the coast, sometimes on gravel paths through the woods, sometimes on neighborhood backroads with quaint houses, through farms with horses and other livestock, over rivers, and along the beach. There are great views of wetlands, farm fields, and wildflowers. Our bikes (and helmets) were provided by Ravlunda Cykel.

Cozy Cocoon and Fabulous Pizza

The most pleasant surprise of our Skåne experience was our Farmhouse hotel stay at Cocoon in Degeberga in central Skåne. Bodil, our hostess, is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. She runs a great hotel and event center. For dinner, her energetic staff served up a fabulous wood fired pizza feast, complete with dessert pizza. The restaurant looks super romantic inside, but since the weather was gorgeous we ate outside.

How charming is it that every seat has a cozy blanket, just in case the Swedish night air gets nippy before you’re ready to call it a night?!

Our comfy room with wonderful natural lighting and views.

Cocoon Meetings

Cocoon is set up nicely for family events and small conferences to “get away” from the office environment. The hot tubs are a bonus. There are several central buildings and at least one hidden building which Bodil surprised us with on a short walk after dinner. To learn more and practice your swedish, click here.

You’ll love the Swedish tradition of fika!

After filling our bellies with a bountiful breakfast spread, Bodil led us on a morning hike the next day on part of the Eurorando Trail. We experienced open meadows with scattered boulders, dense woods, lazy streams, a hidden waterfall, and lots of wildflowers and edible wild berries (except for Sheila, she’s allergic so Tom ate hers). Unknown to us all, Bodil carried with her the fixings for a Swedish Fika (coffee break) with pancakes and more. It was a welcome treat at our rest stop. Skåne is full of well-marked walking and hiking trails through the countryside – there are five major trail systems covering 1,189 km – some traverse pastureland so be sure to watch your step.

Can’t you imagine seeing these rock trolls roll to life?!

No time for castles and golf 🙁

We barely scratched the surface of what Skåne has to offer. More beaches, coastal towns, golf courses, castles, hikes, boating, festivals and restaurants beckon. In fact, we heard great things about the golf in the entire Skåne region. By the end of this short trip we had come to love Skåne and the people we met. We’d love to return and explore more.

Getting there:

We took the high speed train from Stockholm to Kristianstad (about 4 ½ hours). Their trains are SO comfortable! Then a plush bus to Ahus and over to Degeberga. Cocoon is only 14 miles from Kristianstad and 34 miles from the Malmo Airport. Even though it’s on Sweden’s southeast coast, it’s only 1 ½ hours from Copenhagen!

HUGE thanks!

We’re very grateful to Visit Sweden for arranging this visit to Skåne for us as part of our #TBEXStockholm experience. The meals, activities, lodging and companions were all superb! All opinions are our own and you can enjoy these experiences yourself!  SJ High Speed TrainÅhus Gästgivaregård (Gastis), Ravlunda Cykel, Cocoon Meetings, and Visit Skane.

 

Find out why NY Times listed Skåne as a top 10 destination!

Leaving Cocoon and our lovely new friend Bodil far too soon, our adventure continued on the western coast of Skåne. Stay tuned for our story: Skåne – Sweden’s Southern Hospitality  (Part 2 – Western Adventure).

Trip Date: July 2016

Enjoy more photos!

 

 

 

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