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Biking on Öland
Biking along the Fields of Neptune (Neptuni åkrar) a nature reserve on the island Öland.
Photo credit: UpZone Studios 2019

Öland’s landscape, climate and history make it an outstanding island

It’s not just the 6 kilometre-long bridge that makes Öland proudly stand out from the rest of Sweden. The unique nature and mild climate makes it an ideal holiday destination for royals and common folk alike.

The Swedish royals have made Öland their summer getaway for over 100 years, and from the moment you step onto the country’s second largest island, it’s not hard to understand why. Easy to reach, its nature is striking wherever you are, from the large fields that dominate the south west and the deciduous forestry in the central area, to the dramatic cliffs and coastline of ‘Stenkusten’ (the stone coast).

Measuring 137 km north to south and just 16 km at its widest point, Öland’s uniqueness starts with the ground beneath your feet. The shallow, exposed limestone bedrock has over the centuries given rise to alvars – open, dry heaths, the largest of which is ‘Stora Alvaret’ (the Great Alvar).

Its special traits makes Öland a haven for a wide range of visitors. From nature lovers attracted by the 75 nature reserves, with fauna specific to the island and hundreds of bird and wildlife species, to windsurfers and kite surfers making the most of the ever-present breeze. History and culture buffs will learn more about the origins of its ancient ruins, rune stones and rauk fields.

The ruins of Borgholm Castle on Öland

Borgholm Castle on Öland is the most beautiful castle ruins of Scandinavia.

Photo: Alexander Hall

Hikers and cyclists, meanwhile, are drawn each year to its many trails, not least ‘Ölandsleden’ (The Öland trail), which stretches over 400 km covering almost the entire island.

Its characteristic windmills also make it stand out. On an island so flat, the wind plays a key role in its eco system. In the 19th century, there were some 2,000 windmills on the island, and although that number is closer to 350 these days and none of them in use, they still add to the special characteristics of Öland.

With some 300 km of coastline boasting fine beaches and a well-earned reputation for fine, locally produced cuisine, Öland ticks all the boxes for a pleasant stay.

Biking on Öland

The Ölandsleden is a biking trail on the island Öland.

Photo: Alexander Hall

Explore the history and beauty of main town Borgholm

For first timers, there are a few must-sees, starting with the main town of Borgholm, one of Sweden’s historical towns. Borgholm has buildings and preserved architecture from early 1800s. Around the turn of the 1900s, the town was a popular seaside resort. A 30-minute walk from the town, you will find ‘Borgholms Slott’ (the Borgholm Castle), often dubbed “the most beautiful castle ruins of Scandinavia”. Give yourself plenty of time to savour what remains of this baroque castle with a history dating back to the 13th century.

A 10-minute walk from Borgholms Slott, the royal residence of Solliden Palace is found. Solliden has been the Swedish Royal Family’s summer paradise for generations since its construction in 1906. They don’t keep it for themselves though, and you can visit from May to September. Walk around the beautiful Italian and English gardens and treat yourself to a ‘fika’, or something more substantial, at the palace’s café and restaurant, Kaffetorpet.

You’re spoilt for choice in Borgholm when it comes to food. At the top end, Hotell Borgholm is an absolute must for serious foodies, and several other restaurants and cafés gain a mention in the White Guide.

Borgholm has plenty of places to stay, from camping sites, self-catering cottages and apartments, to some of the best hotels on the island – including Drottning Victorias Vilohem and Hotell Borgholm.

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Borgholm Castle, Öland

Borgholm Castle dates back to the 17th century and is a popular tourist destination with a museum, art exhibitions, guided tours and even concerts.

Photo: Magnus Franzén/Ölands Turismorganisation

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Borgholm Castle, Öland

Photo: Magnus Franzén/Ölands Turismorganisation

Borgholm Castle on Öland

Photo: Alexander Hall

Solliden Garden and Palace on Öland

Photo: Alexander Hall

Solliden Palace on Öland

Photo: Alexander Hall

Kaffetorpet at Solliden Palace

Photo: Alexander Hall

Practical information before your trip to Öland

A World Heritage landscape

Heading south, the landscape gives way to villages, stone walls and alvars, (barren limestone terraces) which led to the agricultural landscape of southern Öland being appointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Stora Alvaret actually covers some 260 square kilometres, a fifth of the whole island, and dominates an area which has been inhabited by humans for some 5,000 years. It’s an extraordinary experience, and if you’d like to extend your stay by overnighting in the area, Kollberggården and Allégården Kastlösa are great options.

In the furthest south, at Degerhamn, is ‘Långe Jan', Sweden’s tallest lighthouse, and one of Öland’s most popular attractions. Originally dating back to 1785, the views from its summit make the 197-step climb worth the effort. You could easily spend a day in the area, taking in the Ottenby Nature Reserve and the Ottenby Bird Observatory, a paradise for birdwatchers since opening in 1946 and home to some 140 species.

More stunning nature awaits as you make your way towards the northern tip of the island, as cliffs plunge towards the sea along the coastal road. There are countless opportunities to refresh your body and mind in Böda Sand – with its splendid long sandy beach – and the picturesque fishing village of Byxelkrok, some 5 kilometres away.

There are plenty of accommodation and eatery options in the northern part of the island, not least Kalk in Löttorp, which is renowned for its gourmet burgers as well as its nightclub, live music and comedy evenings. A fika at Kaffestugan in Böda also comes highly recommended.

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Stora Alvaret on Öland

Stora Alvaret (the Great Alvar) located on the south of the island of Öland.

Photo: Alexander Hall/

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Stora Alvaret on Öland

Photo: Alexander Hall/

Långe Jan light house, Öland

Photo: Ölands Turismorganisation

Museums, history and art on Öland

For you who want to learn more about the history of the island, pay a visit to the Himmelsberga Museum, a village preserved as an open-air museum. The heart of Himmelsberga consists of several large farms with buildings that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

At the VIDA Museum & Art gallery, nine kilometres south of Borgholm, you’ll find culture of a more modern kind. The gallery, which opened in 2001, has two wings devoted to the work of much-loved artists and sculptors Ulrica Hydman-Vallien and Bertil Vallien, perhaps best known for the colourful glass vases and ornaments that contributed to making Kosta glassworks known to the many.

Sampling the local delights

The fertility of Öland ensures that wherever you go, restaurants use and focus on locally sourced produce. If you really feel like “going local” try ‘kroppkaka’, Öland’s local speciality. The bun made from a potato-based dough and filled with baked pork and onions and served with lingonberries, isn’t for the faint hearted! You’ll find plenty of places keen to tempt you to give them a try, with Arontorps Kroppkakor & Mat rumoured to be one of the best.

Don’t just take our word for it though. Pay a visit to Öland yourself and experience all this island has to offer.

Kroppkaka

Kroppkaka (plural "kroppkakor") is a traditional Swedish dish, namely potato-dumplings with a filling of onions and pork or bacon. Potatoes, wheat flour, onion, salt and minced meat/pork are common ingredients in kroppkakor. Kroppkakor are mainly eaten in the southern Swedish landskap (regions) of Öland, Småland, Gotland and Blekinge.

Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se