The province of Dalarna is in central Sweden with its western edge bordering Norway in the Swedish mountains.
Dalarna seems to get first dibs on imagery that is considered more Swedish than ABBA and IKEA combined. A red-coloured cottage, glimmering lake in the foreground, deep forest in the background. Dalarna. The brightly-coloured model Dala Horse. Dalarna. Happy Swedes sporting traditional dress, celebrating midsummer, dancing around a maypole. Dalarna.
Inspired by Dalarna
People just seemed to get inspired to do great things in Dalarna. Take Anders Zorn (1860-1920), one of Sweden’s great painters whose works hang in the great galleries and museums of the world. He lived in Mora at Zorngården, the Zorn House, and here you can see where he lived, his paintings in the Zorn Collection and you can visit the Zorn Museum or his and others’ works – all on one site.
Another artist inspired by this province is Carl Larsson, one of Sweden's most loved artists. He and his wife Karin moved to picturesque Lilla Hyttnäs, a small house in Sundborn. The house became Carl och Karin’s mutual art project and Carl Larsson-gården is now a paradise for art lovers and anyone with an interest in design and gardening.
Blood, sweat and tears in Dalarna
Mora also hosts the world’s most famous cross-country ski race called the Vasaloppet. If you fancy a true challenge, do this 90 km of blood, sweat and tears with some 15,000 skiers between Sälen and Mora. Summertime, the same route is covered by the CykelVasan cross-country mountain bike event.
Dalarna is also known for its cycling thrills. Biking Dalarna has well-marked XC-trails in forests and mountains, exciting downhill, relaxed leisure cycling or great long road tours.
Falun – the capital of Dalarna
The famous red colour on the red-painted cottages and farmsteads in Dalarna, and least half of all houses in Sweden is called ‘falu-röd’ in Swedish, or ‘Falun read’ in English. And if you visit the Falun Coppermine and surroundings, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site you will find plenty of it caked on the walls and floors. For kids there is the wonderful Children’s Mine attraction and for everyone a number of good restaurants and cafés. This is a must-do.
Close to the Copper Mine is Sundborn, the former home of Swedish painter Carl Larsson and his wife, world-first interior designer, Karin. As a painter he drew inspiration from Swedish folk art and the unique and beautiful surroundings of Sundborn. This is one for Carl Larsson fans and those interested in Swedish design.
Still on the subject of design, check out the dalahäst, or model Dala Horse everywhere in Dalarna and particularly the totally charming villages of Nusnäs and Tällberg where they have a long tradition of making them. In Leksand in particular the villagers are known for their traditional folk dress (smocks and bonnets for the ladies, waistcoat and plus-fours for the lads) and midsummer celebrations.
Seeing (and hearing) is believing
Dalhalla, an open-air stage carved out of limestone rock, in a disused quarry, is a site for sore eyes and apparently has acoustics fit for a choir of angels. Expect stellar performances and sounds of opera, jazz and contemporary music. And the deep dark forests and glittering lakes we mentioned earlier? They’re everywhere in Dalarna.