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Mountain biking in Lapland
A lone mountain biker answering the call of the mountain in Swedish Lapland.
Photo credit: Mattias Fredriksson Photography

Sweden – a paradise for cycling

Whether you’re a thrill seeker or prefer a gentle sightseeing, the varied landscape as well as the cycle-friendly cities in Sweden make it ideal for exploring on two wheels. Trails and lanes of various kinds are waiting for you, whenever you are able to travel again. Explore this beautiful country in a wholesome manner while getting out into the nature like a local.

City tours by bike

The relatively small size of Sweden’s cities and their abundance of green spaces means that, on a bike, it’s possible to combine the pulse of the town with a taste of nature. With bike rentals available and dedicated cycle lanes almost everywhere, cities are generally well set up for the pleasure of cycling.

In the capital, a ride of approximately 8 km around Riddarfjärden, in the heart of the city, showcases Stockholm at its finest. Starting at Stadshuset (Stockholm City Hall), make your way towards Gamla Stan (Old Town) before reaching Söder Mälarstrand on the south side. For some of the best views of the city, park your bike and climb up Skinnarviksberget before continuing back along the waterfront to Västerbron, the bridge across to Kungsholmen, which completes the circle.

Alternatively, right in the middle of the city, the National City Park Djurgården, also makes for a gentle and easily accessible 10 km ride along serene scenery.

As in Stockholm, waterside locations in Gothenburg are popular among cyclists as well as walkers. The route known as ‘The Bridges’ is the most spectacular, taking in the Göta Älvbron and Älvsborgsbron crossings, with views across the Ramberget mountain. The 15 km ride contrasts the traditional with the modern, offering fine vistas over the industrial harbour as well as the port of Frihamnen, which is undergoing an overhaul ahead of the city’s 400th anniversary in 2021.

Uppsala, some 60 km north of Stockholm was appointed Sweden’s best cycle city in 2019. The fact that it’s mostly flat also makes it easy and quick to see the whole city in a short space of time. Spend a pleasantly paced afternoon making your way around, and take in splendid sights such as Uppsala university, Uppsala Cathedral – the impressive Gothic cathedral that dominates the skyline – and the Uppsala Castle.

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Biking

Djurgården is one of Stockholm's main attractions and a part of the Royal National City park. It is the first national city park in the world and it includes 27 km2 of nature and cultural values.

Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

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Biking

Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

Canal of Djurgården

Photo: Werner Nystrand/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

Biking in Stockholm

Photo: Dan Lepp/Johnér/VisitSweden

Biking in Gothenburg

Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

Cycling in Uppsala

Photo: Tor Johnsson

Cycling in Uppsala

Photo: Tor Johnsson

Bike your way around an island

One thing Sweden isn’t short of is islands. Most offer peaceful, rural trails as well as the opportunity for you to take a break and relax with a refreshing dip.

Ask any Swede for recommendations and chances are Gotland would be mentioned. And with good reason. The most natural place to start your adventure is the main town, Visby. While the medieval delights of the walled city speak for themselves, the island has plenty to offer outside the centre too.

Head for the eastern side of the island and try out a popular route that starts at Gammelgarn before it heads down to the coast through the fishing village of Grynge. Gradually make your way to the final stop, Katthammarsvik, via the quaint settlement of Sysne and the countryside of Östergarn. In all, the ride is some 18 kilometres.

A trip to Fårö is a must for fans of legendary movie director Ingmar Bergman. A tour of the island with an overnight stop makes for a perfect trip. Pick up a rental bike as soon as you step off the ferry, and bask in the unique scenery and cultural history of the island.

Öland is another island offering perfect conditions for cycling. Its popularity among those both on foot and two wheels ultimately led to the formation of the over 400 km-long Ölandsleden (The Öland trail). The trail is broken up into 20 smaller routes, ranging from 3 to 40 km, letting you customise your ideal cycling adventure on this picturesque island. There are several alternatives for overnight stops along the way as well as second-hand shops and galleries. While at the island’s southern point, don’t miss the Långe Jan lighthouse and Ottenby Bird Observatory.

Still on the east coast, but north of Stockholm, the island of Gräsö has grown in popularity among cyclists looking to venture beyond the more traditional routes. There are three tailor-made tours, of which the medium one (some 20 km long) is a great option, as it gives you the chance to cross from one coast of Gräsö to the other through the woods in a loop that takes around three hours.

The west coast archipelago outside of Gothenburg is hardly a well-kept secret, but it’s still regarded by many as a paradise for biking. If you’re in the north, Paoloscykel on the island of Hönö, is a great place to pick up a bike and head out for an afternoon of adventure, with beauty around every corner.

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Biking on Gotland

Gotland is great for biking and an excellent way to get close to nature.

Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

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Biking on Gotland

Photo: Tina Axelsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Biking on Gotland

Photo: gotland.com

Biking on Öland

Photo: UpZone Studios 2019

Biking on Öland

Photo: Alexander Hall

Biking on Öland

Photo: Alexander Hall/imagebank.sweden.se

Biking in the Gothenburg archipelago

Photo: Happy Visuals/Göteborg & Co

Long-distance cycling trips

While some people take to two wheels for the sheer pleasure of it, others need more of a challenge, whether it be in terms of speed, distance or terrain. Sweden has more than enough to offer on every count. And in terms of land mass alone, if it’s a longer-distance trek you’re after, the opportunities are limitless.

Kattegattleden, Sweden’s first national cycling trail, running through the county of Halland on the west coast, making for a wonderful coastal experience from Helsingborg in the south to Gothenburg in the north. The 390 km-long bicycle path is divided into eight stretches and was awarded ‘Cycle Route of the Year in Europe’ in 2018. More than just a wonderful ride, it’s also a trip through the history of two-wheel travel in Sweden.

A shorter, more rural option is Ätradalsleden, a trail that snakes 199 km through Falkenberg and Falköping, most of which is free of vehicles. If you’d rather stay a little closer to civilisation, several sub-20 km tours are on offer around Hallandsåsen, not least the challenging Hovrunda trail that begins and ends in Kattvik. The 19 km Sinarpsrundan might be interesting for tennis fans as it begins in Båstad – home of Sweden’s most prestigious annual tournament, the Swedish Open.

Hylteleden (“Hylteslingan”) is pretty hard to beat with its stunning views of open landscapes and deep forestry along the 165 km route.

Småland, meanwhile, is home to Åsnen Runt, a 140 km trail that skirts the picturesque Lake Åsnen. Often divided into a four-day break by cyclists, more than half the route is car-free and visits Växjö and Alvesta as well as the charming small towns of Ingelstad, Urshult and Torne, with several points of natural and cultural interest along the way.

Roslagen is another favourite among road bikers and visitors to Stockholm, as it starts and ends in the capital. A six-day adventure begins with a ferry ride to Ljusterö, one of the largest islands in Stockholm’s archipelago. From there, it winds its way back to Stockholm via Bergshamra, Kapellskär, Norrtälje, Söderbykarl and another island, Arholma. Overnight options are plentiful, and it’s a perfect way to fall in love with the nature of the capital and its surroundings.

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Biking on Kattegattleden in Halland

Biking on Kattegattleden in Halland.

Photo: Oskar Albrektsson

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Biking on Kattegattleden in Halland

Photo: Oskar Albrektsson

Biking on Ätradalsleden, West Sweden

Photo: David Hultberg

Biking at Ätradalsleden

Photo: Destination Falkenberg

Biking at Hylteleden

Photo: Robin Söderholm

Biking in Åsnen, Småland

Photo: Alexander Hall

Biking in Småland

Photo: Alexander Hall

Biking in Småland

Photo: Alexander Hall

View over Åsnen, in Småland

Photo: Per Pixel / Destination Åsnen

Biking on the island Arholma

Photo: Arholma Nord

Biking on the island Norröra

Photo: Anne Sofie Eriksson

Mountain biking and adrenaline rushes

The mountainous regions of the north aren’t just a paradise for skiers. Many ski resorts are transformed into mountain bike tracks during the off season, and with its varied topography, it constantly offers challenges, whatever level you’re at.

When the snow has melted the region is also perfect for cross country and downhill cycling, especially in Jämtland and Härjedalen. Sweden’s best-known ski resort, Åre, is home to Åre Bike Park, which offers 35 trails and seven lifts fitted with special bicycle holders. In addition, Vemdalen, Funäsfjällen, Bydalen and Lofsdalen all have exciting trails to explore.

If you’re looking for something a little bit different, head for Lapland and try ‘fat biking’. Few experiences compare to the majestic sight of the midnight sun during an exhilarating ride on these chubby-wheeled bicycles that are perfect for the challenging terrain of the north. In several locations, including Luleå, you can combine fat biking with dog sledding, which makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

You don’t have to venture up north for good adventure biking, though. If you’re near Gothenburg, the Delsjön nature reserve has several tracks for mountain and hillside bikers; from picturesque, flatter rides alongside the lakes to the more challenging, Getryggen rocky ridge.

Uppsala may be renowned for its flatter landscape, but mountain bikers have long been drawn to the numerous tracks that skirt Lake Mälaren and the Uppsalaåsen ridge.

It’s a cliché perhaps to say there’s something for everyone in this country of contrasts, but ultimately clichés become so for a reason. Whether you’re touring or pushing yourself to the limit, you’ll find what you need in Sweden. And for a holiday that’s as good for the body as it is for the environment, it’s hard to beat. So, saddle up and get pedalling!

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Åre Bike Park

Mountain bike trail Cobra at Åre Bike Park.

Photo: Pontus Johansson

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Åre Bike Park

Photo: Pontus Johansson

Mountain biking at Vålådalen

Photo: Anette Andersson Åre

Biking at Åre Bike Park

Photo: Emrik Jansson

Mountain biking in Lapland

Photo: Mattias Fredriksson Photography

Biking in Åre

Photo: Emrik Jansson

Mountain biking in Lapland

Photo: Mattias Fredriksson Photography

Biking at the Bothnian Bay archipelago in Lapland

Photo: Fredrik Broman

Mountain bike in Delsjön, Gothenburg

Photo: Frida Winter / Göteborg & Co

Outdoor fika

Photo: Frida Winter/Göteborg & Co

Hiking in Sweden – an adventure from north to south

Sweden is a hiking paradise. Find your favourite trail – from the rugged King’s Trail in the north to undulating forests and plains of the south.

Swedish food safaris – a tasty, all-natural adventure

Foragers rejoice – everyone is free to roam Sweden’s countryside on the hunt for Mother Nature’s nutritious offerings. Set off on your own or let an expert guide you – food safaris come in many guises.