A trip through the cultural region around Kalmar in East Småland and Öland is practically a must for those who are interested in history in Sweden – and for everyone else it is, so to speak, a free choice. Here you will find historical fortresses and excellently preserved medieval agricultural landscapes.
In addition, the area in the south-east of the country was of decisive importance in the conflict with its Danish neighbor for centuries. Here the Kalmar Union for the unification of the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden was concluded in 1397, which ended the wars in Scandinavia for the time being.
When Sweden rebelled against Danish supremacy in the 16th century and King Gustav Wasa was temporarily imprisoned by Denmark, he found refuge in Kalmar Castle after his escape. During the Kalmar War at the beginning of the 17th century, the castle was even temporarily in Danish hands. A story with ups and downs that you can experience up close in the southern Swedish cultural region!
IMPOSING FORTRESS ON KALMARSUND
The city of Kalmar on the Baltic coast of Småland is famous for its particularly “out of date” landmark: Kalmar Castle is over 800 years old and inextricably linked with the eventful Swedish history. In its role as an important bulwark against Denmark, it was regularly rebuilt and expanded.
Today you will visit one of the best preserved Renaissance castles in Northern Europe in Kalmar, picturesquely situated on a small peninsula on Kalmar Sound. Various permanent exhibitions on the castle history and entertaining themed tours await you within the thick walls. Kalmar Castle is especially exciting for children and has a wealth of activities and experiences to offer.
POPULAR HOLIDAY TOWN ON THE BALTIC SEA COAST
After visiting the castle, a visit to the picturesque Kalmar with its medieval old town is on the program. The cobblestone streets invite you to take a relaxed stroll through town and for a coffee break you can sit in the old town courtyard “Krusenstiernska gården”. In the lively Kvarnholmen district, which has already won several awards for its well-preserved urban ensemble, there are pretty shops lined up alongside cozy cafes and restaurants.
You will discover a real specialty in the “Kalmar läns museum”: The old royal ship “Regalskeppet Kronan” lay on the seabed off the coast of Kalmar for 300 years before it was recovered and exhibited in the regional museum. Speaking of the coast: the nearest beach is not far in Kalmar and you can go swimming right next to the city center. No wonder that Kalmar is regularly voted “Sweden’s best summer town”!
WORLD HERITAGE TOUR ON THE SUN ISLAND
Within sight of Kalmar, only separated by Kalmarsund, there is a small paradise in the middle of the water, which can be reached by boat or via a six-kilometer bridge from the mainland: This is how you can imagine Öland. With its proximity to the city of Kalmar, the multifaceted landscape and an unusually large number of hours of sunshine, the elongated island off the east coast of Småland is particularly popular with summer vacationers.
A real specialty: a large part of the island has even been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000! The agricultural landscape of southern Öland has been cultivated since the Stone Age and the current division of the landscape into fields, pastureland and villages with small refuges goes back to the Middle Ages. When you visit the World Heritage area, you immerse yourself in the ongoing interrelationship between people and nature.
Discover the typical row villages and windmills and enjoy the coastal landscape with its bird life and the limestone plateau “Stora Alvaret” with its unique flora and fauna. The best way to travel in this unique, barren heather landscape is on foot. The Stora-Alvar-Weg follows an ancient travel route across the “Stora Alvaret” and repeatedly offers wonderful views over the island.
A trip to Öland is also a journey into cultural history: Time and again you will discover historical graves from the Iron Age on the island. In the small village of Skäftekärr, finds from the time of the migrations were discovered during excavations, which you can visit on an interesting tour.
CYCLING AND SURFERS ‘PARADISE
If you are looking for a sporty balance after so many hands-on history lessons, Öland has a lot to offer in this regard too. The island is an ideal destination for cyclists because there are hardly any hills – a particularly attractive tour, for example, leads around Degerhamn through the cultural landscape of the World Heritage region.
Öland is also a real hotspot for surfers who appreciate the island because of the particularly good wind conditions: Since there are no mountains on Öland, the island offers fantastic conditions for surfers and kite surfers.