Summer 2021 is all good. Borders are opening and we can start to travel if. I am staying… Summer 2021 is yet another year of staycation. I will do my traveling in two parts. One trip to Dalarna and one to the west coast of Sweden. Staycation is fun. Here is my story from Dalarna.
Googling Dalarna is kind of tricky. All sites recommend the same ten things… You can of course look at official sources like Visit Sweden. But Dalarna is a huge area. Huge. Mountain side of Sälen is very different from lower side Avesta.
When people think of Dalarna, they tend to refer to the area of lake Siljan. And this is where we went. Two nights and three full days. Here is a list of stuff to see and do in Dalarna for a short break during summer.
We left off the dog at the in-laws and went by car. The center of Dalarna is about three hours from Stockholm
In this introduction to traveling in Sweden I really want to point out that many of the churches in the country side are open for spontaneous stops. Very often they even have a dedicated guide to talk you through the history. I love that.
In this introduction I want to talk about food. If you travel from abroad you will notice that Sweden is really pushing gourmet travel. I just say – lower your expectations. You can find decent food, but rarely gourmet. A meal in Falun cost 320 kronor (32 euro) excluding drinks and it is really just average.
I can miss a lot of innovation and creativity in food. I mean, in Sweden we have a sausage (like a bologna) called “falukorv”. Why isn’t anyone serving that in Falun? Or why not the most amazing sandwich on local knäckebröd (hard bread)?
What I do love about Dalarna is their strong folkart heritage. Love, love, love.
Basically anywhere you look, you will find this naive art. Very beautiful and unique.
The flower drawings are called “kurbits”.
But you find it everywhere. At a restaurant, at a hotel, at a church…
You know how “trendy” vintage is?? In Rättvik you can even find stores that sell vintage folkcostumes.
At the Dalarna Museum in Falun, you can even see updated versions of the folk art. Above by Hanna Werning.
Well – that is the introduction. Now to the destinations.
First stop was 17th century garden of Staberg. Just south of Falun.
Super cute and lovely. Had a nice cafe. I give this a 7 out of 10. Beautiful garden, friendly and quiet. But I needed something slightly more… Like a strong story or something. But nice.
Dalarna have a lot of nice gardens. Try keep an eye open for more, if you have that interest.
Falun. This is one of the largest cities in Dalarna. A bit more picturesque than Borlänge (and holds more historical sites).
We stayed one night here. It was actually nicer than expected. We enjoyed the casual nightlife with drinks by the canal. It is small, walkable and really pretty. Better than expected so perhaps a 8 out of 10.
Enjoying a cocktail at Spruthuset,
In the center of Falun you will see the large church of Falun Kristine kyrka. It’s big but perhaps not suuuuuuper interesting.
One of the reasons you want to stop by in Falun is the old copper mine. This is a Unesco World Heritage site and absolutely worth seeing. It is free of charge to stroll around the area and you really don’t have to see the museum. My best suggestion is to take your car and head for the back of the area. Aim for the pizza place called P-za. This will let you see the area from the backside and not from the front, so to say. But it give a good overview of the place.
The copper mine looks almost like planet Mars. Everything is dusty and from the 18th century. It is super old and more info can be found on their website. I give Falu Koppargruva a 10 out of 10. Full score. Would have liked to see a bit more about the house paint story of Falu Rödfärg. If you have a perception of Sweden being about red cottages with white details – all this comes from the remains from this copper mine. This is the origin of that.
But still. Ten points.
Where to start? One of the main reasons people go to Dalarna is to see the artist’s home of Carl Larsson in Sundborn. Everyone has opinions if you should go here or not. We did and I love it. Love.
Carl Larsson and his wife were artist at the turn of last century and did pictures ending up in books. His images and their life is basically the international foundation for “Swedish-ness”. Family oriented, close to nature, light pastels a foundation from the crafts & arts movement. So going here of course comes with high expectations. And to make it short. Yes, it lives up to that. We walked the garden for almost an hour and then did a tour of the 14 rooms of the house. No pictures allowed inside. But still. Soooooooo nice. 10 out of 10.
My tip is to do the 45 minute tour and be here as early as possible before the garden gets crowded. And skip the rest of the other spaces surrounding this. Skip Stora Hyttnäs and skip Kvarnen.
Dalarna is full of small or medium sized places to just pop by for 15 minutes. The first stop of Staberg is one example. Another is Ornäs. There is so much history in this area. Ornäs has a strong connection to the old Swedish king Gustav Wasa (google it…) but it is also the farm where one first found the birch tree with unique leaves. It is called Ornäsbjörken and became the National Tree of Sweden one year. Go for coffee or a leg strech. 7 points out of 10.
Tällberg is lovely. Beautiful. Almost like in a Stepford Wives way. Everything is so neat and proper. Every grass lawn is cut properly. Everything is clean and straight lined. Tällberg is just by lake Siljan and where we spend our second night in Dalarna.
The funny think about Tällberg is that there isn’t really ONE specific thing you must see. There isn’t a landmark or a view that you HAVE to see. You should just enjoy the landscape. It is hilly and beautiful. But nothing to rite home about. I give Tällberg a 7 out of 10 and basically all points because of the scenery.
It’s really difficult to report from Tällberg because you don’t have these landmarks…
It is super expensive to stay here (atleast in hotels), and the number of restaurants are limited. But enjoy folkart and again – the scenery.
Enjoy Tällberg from your car.
Beteen Tällberg and Leksand is the small village of Hjortnäs. I spent a few years here as a kid. My god parents live here. And I haven’t been back since I was a kid at about 11-12 years old. Super nostalgic.
Hjortnäs is, just like Tällberg, a beautiful place with cut lawns. They do have something unique and that is an open dance space. At summer nights bands would come and play, and people would dance by the water in the sunset. It still runs, but is closed now because of the pandemic.
There is a lot of creativity in Dalarna but mainly in a small scale. Basically the only brand making it into some kind of industrial production is Nittsjö Ceramics. It is obviously not as big as Skultuna or Orrefors, but kind of nice. A stop here is absolutely 8 out of 10.
Rättvik is one of the cities on lake Siljan. Rättvik has a long jetty. That’s it. There are plenty of things to see in Dalarna. Rättvik is not one of them. 2 points out of 10.
Leksand (with Hildasholm and Ylva Skarp)
Leksand is the capital on Siljan. Or at least I call it that. Maybe Mora would object…
This time we really just spent a few hours here, but it is a nice walkable town. A 6 out of 10?? We saw the nice church but it is really nicer from the outside… Also below you see images of Hildasholm. I had super high expectations and a lot of people were talking about this as a very hidden gem in Sweden. But it’s more OK than amazing. We didn’t do the tour of the manor but looked at the garden. Meh… It’s ok. Having seen places like Wanås, this is super small.
And lastly we stopped by lovely designer Ylva Skarp. She and some friends have taken over an old industrial building and they are doing amazing work. A nice restaurant, selected vintage shopping (think Arkivet), a pottery shop, an interior design shop and then graphic design by Ylva. Read more about Ylva and her crowd here. Totally a fantastic contemporary destination. I give Ylva and her team 10 out of 10. Hildasholm gets 5 out of 10.
Two nights and three days. Our final stop leaving Dalarna was Stora Skedvi. Here is one of the places where they make authentic and proper “knäckebröd”. It is a real nice stop. They have a great food hall with local dishes and a nice atmosphere. Super expensive… But nice. I give Kulinariet and Stora Skedvi 8 out of 10.