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Paragliding in Åre
View over lake Åresjön from Åreskutan in Jämtland
Photo credit: Niclas Vestefjell/imagebank.sweden.se

Be at one with nature in Jämtland Härjedalen

Jämtland Härjedalen is a twin province boasting majestic scenery, rich culture and sustainable gastronomy. It’s a paradise for hikers and bikers, with the best skiing in Sweden to boot.

The Jämtland and Härjedalen region consists of two neighbouring provinces with so much in common they’re often referred to as a singular unit; ‘Jämtland Härjedalen’. Occupying a lofty 63° latitude in the central-west part of Sweden, the breath-taking scenery spans mountains, deep forests and numerous lakes including Storsjön, Sweden’s fifth largest. Its unspoilt nature provides the perfect habitat for elks, reindeers, bears, wolverines, musk oxen, arctic foxes and rare bird species.

This year-round eco-tourism hotspot offers a diverse range of activities – from thrilling mountain bike rides and hikes to kayak adventures, fishing, forest bathing and skiing in the top resorts of Åre and Vemdalen or smaller destinations like Lofsdalen and Funäsfjällen. Jämtland Härjedalen has a solid tourism heritage, having welcomed pilgrims on the famous St. Olavsleden that snakes through the region on its way to Nidaros Cathedral in Norway’s Trondheim, for some 1,000 years. At the end of the 19th century, the region enjoyed a reputation as a health resort destination with the arrival of spa hotels such as the mountain-based Fjällnäs and Åregården, which is still a big draw.

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Åre ski resort

The Åre cable car in winter.

Photo: Karl Hägglund

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Åre ski resort

Photo: Karl Hägglund

Hiking in Jämtland Härjedalen

Photo: Sandra Lee Pettersson

View of Fjällnäs

Photo: Roland Persson, Peter Ruterhagen, Mikael Bertmar

Fjällnäs restaurant

Photo: Roland Persson

Idyllically located by the shores of lake Storsjön, the charming town of Östersund is the “capital” of the region. In 2010, it was appointed a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy – a title it still holds – thanks to its knack for cultivating longstanding culinary traditions based on local, sustainable produce. This applies to Jämtland Härjedalen as a whole, with its many small-scale food and drink artisans.

Here are some Jämtland Härjedalen tips across outdoor activities, culture and cuisine.

The Edible Country, Storlien

The Edible Country lets anyone make a reservation to create a Swedish meal sourced in nature and enjoy it in stunning scenery. In Jämtland, a region known for its many small-scale food and drink artisans, the table was set in Storlien.

Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

An outdoor adventurer’s paradise

There are many ways to experience the region’s vast, breathtaking scenery. Glide forth on skis or ice skates in winter, hike and bike during the snow-free months or take it all in on horseback or dog sled. Whichever mode of transport you opt for, there’s a myriad of trails to choose from, each one as scenic as the next. If encountering reindeers while exploring, beware and keep your distance as not to disturb them.

The so-called Jämtlandstriangeln (the Jämtland Triangle) is a well-established trekking area but also worth considering is its lesser-known relative, “Vålådalsfyrkanten” (the Vålådalen Square) on the Lunndörren mountain. This fairly easy 12–14 km stretch will have you cabin hopping between four mountain huts, discovering many interesting sites along the way, such as the old Sami settlement Grönvallen, and the Pyramids – a set of angular mini mountains shaped during the last ice age. These protected natural wonders are a joy to behold but please refrain from climbing them.

For a more ambitious outing – lasting four days if you complete the full circuit on foot – try the “panoramic route”, taking you to Norway via stunning coastline, mountains and lake-studded valleys. Set off from Järpen in western Jämtland and continue to lake Kallsjön and Åre before entering Norway and heading towards the final destination, Trondheim.

As for snow sports, Åre offers some of the best skiing in Sweden and is also a year-round draw for action sports enthusiasts. During the snow-free months, the cable car (an adventure in its own right) fills up with mountain bikers and you’ll also spot paragliders drifting through the air.

Vemdalen, in Härjedalen, another destination with year-round appeal, is much more than a prime ski resort. An alternative way of exploring the magnificent, mountainous Vemdalen range is on horseback or sleigh. The Trumvallen Ranch offers trail riding lasting anything from a few hours to several days.

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Hiking in Vålådalen

Autumn hiking in Vålådalen, Jämtland Härjedalen

Photo: Lucas Warzecha

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Hiking in Vålådalen

Photo: Lucas Warzecha

Downhill skiing

Photo: Niclas Vestefjell

Horseback riding at Storsjöbygden

Photo: Sandra Lee Pettersson

Discover the region’s culture and history

Jämtland Härjedalen has a distinctive identity, partly due to it forming part of Sápmi, the land of Sweden’s indigenous people, the Sami, whose inherently sustainable lifestyle centres on reindeer herding. Much of the region’s history and culture is documented at Östersund’s Jamtli Museum. Among the most notable Viking-era finds on show are the intricately patterned Överhogdal tapestries, parts of which date back to 800 AD. The museum also hosts a wonderful Christmas market, and during summer its open air museum Historyland will have you immersed in different historic eras via authentic environments from 18th century homesteads to 1970s villas. You’ll get to mingle with farmyard animals and meet actors so authentic they make this educational experience almost uncannily realistic.

The island of Frösön was home to much-loved Swedish composer Wilhelm Peterson-Berger from 1914 until his death in 1942. His beautiful home, complete with the composer’s grand piano, is open for visits during summer. Don’t miss the historic Frösö Kyrka – Peterson-Berger’s final resting place – with its sweeping views across lake Storsjön and the mountains.

As for contemporary music, Östersund’s summer festival Storsjöyran attracts an impressive line-up of stars. Lady Gaga and The Prodigy are two world-famous artists to grace the stage in recent years.

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Jamtli Christmas market

Christmas market at Jamtli open-air museum.

Photo: Erik Westberg

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Jamtli Christmas market

Photo: Erik Westberg

Jamtli Outdoor Museum and Historyland

Photo: Sandra Lee Pettersson

Storsjöyran in Östersund

Photo: Göran Stand

The culinary identity of Jämtland Härjedalen

Jämtland Härjedalen has undeniable culinary prowess. Its position in relation to the Gulf Stream, along with its endless summer days, gives crops and edible wild plants excellent growing conditions in calcareous soils which are rich in minerals. Nordic cuisine of the seasonal “soil to plate” variety is the order of the day, and the local food creators – many of whom are celebrated well beyond the regional borders – pride themselves on using organic ingredients sourced at nearby farms or foraged in the wild. Cloudberry, lingonberry and chanterelle are among the delicacies that thrive here.

The award-winning Jazzköket, a must-visit Östersund restaurant serves local specialities. The city is also home to one of Sweden’s finest sushi restaurants, Take Mikado by chef Tsukasa Takeuchi. At Hävvi i Glen, meanwhile, you’ll sample the best of Sami cuisine – reindeer and elk meat included.

As for local food and beverages to stock up on, try tea from Brunkullans Te (another Fia Gulliksson brainchild), cheese from Skärvången’s Ost, cardamom buns from Frejas Bakeri and beer from microbreweries such as Härjebrygg and Svartberget.

To round up the appeal of Jämtland Härjedalen, it boasts an almost inexhaustible range of activities in magnificent natural settings, no matter which season you decide to visit.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION BEFORE YOUR TRIP TO JÄMTLAND HÄRJEDALEN