This Saturday we leave the UK to spend a month on ‘our’ beautiful island of Orust, holidaying, catching up with family and doing lots of mushroom picking. We can’t wait! Not surprisingly, we get asked about Sweden a lot. Which is great, because we love to talk about it, especially West Sweden where Get Funghi is based when we’re over there. It seems a lot of people have preconceptions about Sweden, most of them erroneous, so to set the record a bit straighter here are my top five reasons why I love the area so much:
The west coast in particular is a stunningly beautiful archipelago of a myriad of small rocky islands and some larger ones. It might surprise you to know that in a good summer the sea temperature can be a very pleasant 20 degrees and it’s the prefect coast for swimming, kayaking or canoeing, with generally still and peaceful waters. Island hopping is easy because the larger ones are reached by free car ferries and there are boats of all sizes to hire or charter.
The Swedes love the outdoor life. There are only 9 million of them in the whole country so you won’t bump into many others if you venture out in the extensive, unspoilt forests full of wild mushrooms. The natural flora is a pretty mixture of birch, fir and pines and bilberry and lingonberry bushes, interspersed with thousands of beautiful lakes and pretty traditional wooden houses set in open, gently rolling farmland. Wild flowers abound and you will be unlucky not to spot wild deer – and lucky if you catch sight of an elk! Idyllic is the word that springs to mind.
This is one of the subjects that we get asked about most. “Isn’t it cold all year round in Sweden?” is a frequent question. Given that the length of the country is 2000 km from top to bottom it’s clearly not a place to generalise about the weather. But in west Sweden for instance it might surprise you to hear that summers can be very warm, over 30 degrees sometimes. Generally the climate is milder than many other countries lying as far north because it is influenced by the Gulf Stream, so it is very pleasant, with an average of 9 hours of sunlight in July. And as just 86mm of rain falls during an average of 14 days it can be a fantastic place for a summer holiday. Warmer than Scotland and without the midges! We love going all year round. As the Swedes (and the Norwegians, Finns and Danes apparently..) love to say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
Sweden is getting a reputation for it’s fine modern cuisine and is starting to promote food tourism. On the west coast you’d be mad not to try the seafood, which is always the first thing we stock up on when we arrive. Cold water prawns, crayfish, local mussels, all kinds of fish – always fresh and absolutely delicious. Of course eating out can be pricey but if you self cater like we do you can eat like kings as the supermarkets are incredibly well stocked with a huge range of very high quality local and international ingredients. Wines and beers in the Systembolag (off licences) are generally no pricier than in the UK although spirits are.
One of our favourite activities when we’re over there is visiting one of the many art galleries on the islands, mainland or in Gothenburg, the capital of the west coast. Our neighbouring island of Tjörn hosts the internationally renowned Nordic Watercolour Museum and the giant sculpture park of Pilane, and we love the maritime theme and the wonderful exhibitions (and the cafe!) at Bohusläns Museum in Uddevalla (see picture below). In Gothenburg the Konstmuseet has a fantastic collection of work by Nordic artists, and if you like design we can recommend the Röhsska Museum, always right on trend with its exhibitions and galleries.