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Bergaliv Loft House
Bergaliv Loft House is a getaway on the hillside of Åsberget mountain in Hälsingland.
Photo credit: Martin Edström/

Hälsingland – a world of cultural heritage and untouched nature

The Swedish province of Hälsingland is known for its spectacular nature and carefully preserved cultural highlights – UNESCO World Heritage Sites included.

The depth of the forest of Hälsingland – located in northeast Sweden – is almost overwhelming in its vastness. But there’s more to it than endless woods – the nature you get to experience spans mountain ranges, valleys and archipelago. The soil has been cultivated here since the Iron Age, and Hälsingland’s farmers earned a reputation as being particularly creative, making a living via various means including cattle breeding, forestry and linen manufacturing. With the riches they accumulated, they built impressive farmhouses, decorating grand rooms in distinctive ways, involving elaborate wall art. An important part of Hälsingland’s cultural heritage, these timber abodes form part of what is collectively known as ‘Hälsingegårdar’ (the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland) – a collection that was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2012.

As for the towns and cities you’re likely to criss-cross between, the main spots are Hudiksvall and Söderhamn, both located on the coast. Situated further inland, you’ll find Bollnäs in the south and Järvsö in the north. In and around these hubs, there are plenty of accommodation and sustainable dining experiences, giving you an all-round taste of Hälsingland.

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Kristofersgården, a Hälsingegård

Kristofersgården is one of many Hälsingegårdar (Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland) and offers unique accommodation in a 19th century farmhouse.

Photo: Maria G Nilsson

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Kristofersgården, a Hälsingegård

Photo: Maria G Nilsson

Gästgivars, a Hälsingegård

Photo: Maria G Nilsson

Växbo Lin

Photo: Jacob Bruce

Immerse yourself in the unique cultural heritage of Hälsingland

The Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland are among the region’s key attractions. You’ll find these well-preserved farmhouses dotted across the province, and some are open for visits, making for a perfect day out.

Hälsingegården Erik-Anders, located in the picturesque village of Asta just outside Söderhamn, dates back to the 1820s. The art adorning the walls is the work of the famed Knutes family of artists. This must-see attraction has a visitor centre, café, shop and a 1920s style garden – and you can even stay the night.

Another beautiful Hälsingegård, Gästgivars, is found over in Vallsta, outside Bollnäs. Renowned 19th century artist Jonas Wallström – famed for his unique stencilling techniques – is behind some of the lavish interiors. Guided tours are available and there’s a craft shop and a restaurant serving Swedish classics such as prawn sandwiches. Equally guest-friendly, Stenegård in Järvsö, invites you to discover its 19th century farm estate and its idyllic surroundings – replete with gardens, playgrounds, craft shops and charming eateries.

Linen production is another important part of Hälsingland’s cultural heritage. Växbo Lin was established in 1989 in a bid to revive the historic linen production hub that is Växbo, near Bollnäs. A range of 100% linen fabrics is woven on-site and you can visit the charming factory store to buy tablecloths, curtains, slippers and more.

Hälsingland is known as something of a quality brac-a-brac hotspot. Called ‘loppis’ (flea market) in Swedish, the places selling these wares vary in format and scale, allowing you to pick up anything from pre-loved clothing and antique furniture to collectable crockery, toys and folk art. You’ll find loppis purveyors in the province’s towns and villages – Bättre Begagnat in Hudiksvall and Rosengatan in Bergvik are two examples. Also, look out for loppis signs as you drive along country roads.

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Brown bear

The Scandinavian brown bear is a peaceful omnivore that mainly feeds on berries, ants, grass and herbs. Today there are around 3300 bears in Sweden and they can mainly be found in the north-western part of Sweden.

Photo: Håkan Vargas S/

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Brown bear

Photo: Håkan Vargas S/


Photo: Håkan Vargas S/

Experience Hälsingland’s nature and wildlife

The deep forest of Hälsingland provides an ideal habitat for animals large and small. When out and about in nature, you’re likely to spot Swedish moose, deer and red squirrels. Hälsingland is a particularly bear-rich region but these shy creatures usually keep away. If you’d like to encounter them and study their behaviour, join a wildlife safari or tour. Wildlife Sweden offers a range of experiences focusing on Swedish animals – including the brown bear. From a carefully positioned wooden hide, you’ll able to observe and photograph these furry creatures.

If you’re keen to see a wide variety of Nordic animals in one go, Vildriket (formerly known as Järvzoo) is a good option. This wildlife park in Järvsö is home to lynx, bears, wolves, wolverines, arctic foxes and musk oxen – all of which you can spot while traversing across their natural habitat via a 3 kilometre long wooden footbridge.

Outdoor adventures for all

Hälsingland’s varied terrain offers a diverse range of outdoor activities. Orbaden, located on the Ljusnan River and known for its white sandy beaches, is dubbed “Hälsingland’s Riviera”. Its reputation as a health resort stretches back to the beginning of the 20th century, and today, the tradition is kept alive by heritage establishments such as Orbaden Spa & Resort. Head to the shores for a swim, beach jog or water activities such as fishing.

The region is a paradise for hiking and biking and a great variety of trails snake through the scenic nature. Near Hölick Havsresort & Spa – on the southern tip of a peninsular that juts out from Hudiksvall and into the Gulf of Bothnia – you’ll find wonderful hiking trails through varied, untouched landscapes. The Avholmsberget mountain, which is situated further inland, offers spectacular views across the lakes of Dellensjöarna, and is surrounded by hiking trails. Also, don't miss Hamra National Park, great for year-round hiking and dog sledging in the winter.

For a taste of Hälsingland’s beautiful archipelago, head to Skärså fishing village outside Söderhamn. Stroll by the waterside or take a hike along the area’s beautiful paths. Continue your coastal adventure with a visit to the idyll that is Rönnskär island.

Wintertime, Hälsingland’s terrain lends itself perfectly to skiing and the Järvsöbacken resort is a definite draw for the whole family.

Järvsö Crêperie

Järvsö Crêperie serves hearty galettes and sweet crepes with local ingredients.

Photo: Järvsö Crêperie

Fill your plate with the flavours of Hälsingland

The culinary scene of Hälsingland, like much of Sweden, places increasing focus on sustainable food and you’ll notice that many of the province’s restaurants base their menus on produce sourced locally and in season. Växbo Krog collaborates closely with local farmers and small-scale food producers, as does Lilla k’s Trädgårdskök. Tucked away in a garden-setting in Bollnäs, this vibrant establishment serves healthy dishes – based on Swedish and international cuisine – most of which include ingredients from the onsite vegetable garden. There’s also plenty of fresh fruit juices on offer, along with Swedish fika.

One for the design aficionado, Månses Design – located in Stugsund outside Söderhamn – is a design store with a resident restaurant. Expect good food on crockery you’re likely to want to take home – and you can. Järvsö Crêperie meanwhile, serves irresistible crepes with savoury or sweet fillings sourced locally or harvested onsite.

As for Swedish beverages, local microbreweries include Bollnäs-based Organic Smash, run by two brothers who pride themselves on brewing beer made from eco-friendly ingredients only. The Tevsjö Distillery specialises in ‘brännvin’ – a traditional Swedish spiced spirit – made using ingredients grown in the soil of this remarkable region.


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Bergaliv Loft House

View of Bergaliv Loft House, a getaway on the hillside of Åsberget mountain in Hälsingland.

Photo: Martin Edström/

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Bergaliv Loft House

Photo: Martin Edström/

Vallen Remote Hotel

Photo: Martin Edström/

Orbaden Spa Resort

Photo: Orbaden Spa & Resort

Järvsöbacken, Järvsö

Photo: Fredrik Fransson