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KABIN, Gästrikland
KABIN is a small cottage on a private isolated island in the lake Fjärden close to Ockelbo in Gästrikland.
Photo credit: Martin Edström/Visit Sweden

Gästrikland – a peaceful county by the Baltic Sea

Gästrikland is a nature-rich destination with much to offer across outdoor adventures, culture and activities for the whole family. Its capital Gävle is a highlight in its own right.

Conveniently situated north of Uppland – a mere two-hour drive from Stockholm – the county of Gästrikland spreads across the east coast of Sweden. With terrain ranging from archipelago, expansive plains and meadows to the deep forest and mountain-studded landscapes found in the region’s northwest, this charming county is ideal for outdoor adventures year-round – whether you’re into hiking, kayaking or prefer to take in the scenery on a mountain bike. If alpine skiing is on your agenda, the sustainably run ski resort and year-round natural wonderland Kungsberget should be a definite draw.

There’s no shortage of cultural experiences either. The county’s coastal capital Gävle offers plenty of sights, activities and attractions, including Furuviksparken, an adventure park replete with a zoo. The city has its fair share of icons – one being the Gävle Goat – a traditional Swedish Christmas symbol in gigantic form, which appears annually in the Castle Square. Gevalia, one of Sweden’s most popular coffee brands, also hails from Gästrikland, as does the equally popular car-shaped candy, Ahlgrens Bilar.

All manner of hotels and other forms of accommodation – including the odd hostel – are available throughout the region, allowing you to travel freely and flexibly.

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Gamla Gefle in Gävle

Enjoy a stroll on the cobblestone streets along the 18th century houses of 'Gamla Gefle' (Old Town Gävle).

Photo: Daniel Bernstål

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Gamla Gefle in Gävle

Photo: Daniel Bernstål

Axmar Bruk, Axmar

Photo: Tomas Ärlemo

Hyttan at Axmar Bruk, Axmar

Photo: Tomas Ärlemo

The Gävle Goat, Gävle

Photo: Daniel Bernstål/Visit Gävle Pressrum

Furuviksparken, Gävle

Photo: Gabriel Liljevall/Parks and Resorts

Erik-Anders Hälsingegård, Söderala

Photo: Elin Forssell

Lap up the culture of Gästrikland and Gävle

Wandering the cobblestone streets of ‘Gamla Gefle’ – Old Town Gävle – is a must when visiting Gästrikland. Most of the houses in this quaint area, located just south of the river Gavleån, date from the 18th century. These buildings, many of which are painted in pastel hues, are the only remains of the fire that raged to devastating effect in 1869.

As early as the 5th century, Gästrikland rose to prominence in the field of mining and iron production. And while the ironworks of Hofors and Sandviken are still in use, others have been transformed into well-preserved visitor attractions, such as Axmar Bruk, where iron was first produced in 1671. Today, this cultural heritage site, close to the idyllic coastal area of Ödmården, invites you to discover its beautiful cluster of historic buildings, the English park and the canal-based water system used during the mill’s heyday.

While you’re in the region, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Erik-Anders Hälsingegård in Hälsingland – one of the exquisite UNESCO-listed ‘Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland’. Located in the village of Asta in Söderala parish on the border of Gästrikland, this grand 19th century farmhouse features awe-inspiring rooms decorated with art by the notable Knutes family of artists.

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Wildlife safari in Järbo

Encounter wild brown bears from a safe distance with Wild Nordic.

Photo: Sara Wennerqvist

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Wildlife safari in Järbo

Photo: Sara Wennerqvist

Högt & Lågt climbing park in Gävle

Photo: Högt&Lågt

Mountain biking at Högbo Brukshotell, Sandviken

Photo: Högbo Brukshotell

Limön island, Gävle

Photo: Daniel Bernstål

Kayaking in Axmar nature reserve, Gävleborg

Photo: Aja Axlund

Kungsberget in Gävle

Photo: Branäsgruppen

A variety of outdoor adventures

Gästrikland is full of coastal charm.Jungfrukusten’ – the Maiden Coast – stretches some 200 kilometres from its southernmost point in Öregrund all the way to the High Coast in the north. Limön island, within Gävle archipelago, is a definite highlight. The fishing hamlet found here has been in use since the 18th century and today, the harbour is a buzzing summer destination offering all manner of activities. If you’ve come here for a swim, you’ll find three main bathing areas – Kalkudden, Scoutviken and Tärnviken. The island is also ideal for hiking. As you make your way through this beautiful nature conservation area, keep an eye out for the island’s unique plants and birdlife.

Keen canoeists can rent equipment at Limö Café in the harbour and for guided kayaking tours elsewhere in the region. Join outdoor activity organiser Multiadventures Sweden on an excursion through the water-rich beauty spot Färnebofjärden National Park, which spreads across the frontier between Gävleborg and Dalarna.

Animal lovers might want to consider a wildlife safari. Expert organisers Wild Nordic offer an experience where you get to spend time safely and comfortably in a forest hideaway, observing bears at close range.

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Högbo Brukshotell restaurant, Sandviken

Experience a culinary meal featuring organic and locally sourced produce at Högbo Brukshotell.

Photo: Högbo Brukshotell

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Högbo Brukshotell restaurant, Sandviken

Photo: Högbo Brukshotell

Matildas Kvarterskrog in Gävle

Photo: Carl Lemon

Mackmyra Whisky Village, Gävle

Photo: Mackmyra Whisky Village

Mackmyra Whisky Village, Gävle

Photo: Mackmyra Whisky Village

Eat and drink in the name of sustainability

In line with the culinary direction of Sweden generally, Gästrikland’s food culture increasingly centres on organic, locally sourced and seasonal produce. Flying the flag for this sustainable approach is the high-end restaurant at Högbo Brukshotell in Sandviken, situated on the historic estate of former ironworks Högbo Bruk. Depending on the season, the menu might include dishes with foraged mushrooms and grilled local lamb with fresh pasta and root vegetables.

A popular spot in Gävle, Matildas Kvarterskrog serves up imaginative dishes with ingredients sourced from local food makers. Even the dessert list is full of surprises – think sorrel ice cream with mint and chervil meringue, sprinkled with frozen elderflowers picked in nearby Valbo.

Founded in 1999, Mackmyra Whisky Village is a modern distillery bottling whisky and gin entirely devoid of additives and made using Swedish ingredients. Craft beer enthusiasts won’t be disappointed, either. Jädraöl and Hopsie Daisy are two local microbreweries known for their creative, sustainably made beers, infused with the homegrown flavours of Gästrikland.

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KABIN, Gästrikland

Enjoy the privacy while staying at KABIN, a fully serviced cabin on a private island in the lake Fjärden.

Photo: Martin Edström/Visit Sweden

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KABIN, Gästrikland

Photo: Martin Edström/Visit Sweden

KABIN, Gästrikland

Photo: Martin Edström/Visit Sweden

Gysinge Wärdshus Hotel, Gysinge

Photo: Gertjan van Os

Bedroom at Gysinge Wärdshus Hotel, Gysinge

Photo: Gertjan van Os

Stilleben Hotel, Åmot

Photo: Stilleben

Hedenstugan B&B Hotell

Photo: Hedenstugan

PRACTICAL INFORMATION BEFORE YOUR TRIP TO GÄSTRIKLAND