Only a 30-minute train ride across the Øresund Bridge from Copenhagen is Skåne – the southernmost region of Sweden. For hundreds of years, its geographical position made Skåne the epicenter of the frequent Dano-Swedish wars, until the last peace treaty between Denmark and Sweden was signed in 1720. These days the rolling plains and fertile cereal fields are better known for outdoor activities and natural beauty than epic battles.
Along with its prime agriculture, the adventure and nature offerings are robust: you can forage for wild mushrooms; ride water bikes on a tranquil lake; and even sleep overnight on an organic farm. You may even run into a couple of shops where bottles labeled apple must are distinctive: Skåne’s popular, non-alcoholic beverage made from pressed apples.
If your curiosity is piqued, here are several ways to escape into nature in this bucolic corner of Scandinavia.
Lake Sövde is a popular place for quiet boating and nature walks around the shore ©
MITSUAKI FUTORI / Getty Images
Biking on a lake
Lake Sövde in Skåne is a quiet body of water, which makes it an ideal place for fishing, wildlife observation, or simply taking the scenery. It was that sense of calm and stillness that inspired Seamus McManus to take advantage of a unique opportunity as the owner of Red Bird Water Cycling. These water bikes are the first of their kind in Scandinavia, and allow visitors to explore Lake Sövde at a leisurely pace without causing as much commotion as a motor boat might.
From the water bike, you can see local fishermen, country homes which flank the lake, and native bird species feeding off the water. After you’re done burning calories, McManus hosts a vegetarian picnic lunch on a bench by the lake, which could include local herring from a local fishing village with seaweed caviar, deviled eggs, and a type of bread local to Skåne called skandki kavring.
Traditional wool yurts from Mongolia make for cozy glamping in Skane, Sweden © Nyrups Naturhotel / Lonely Planet
Sleep in a wool hut
Handmade of felted wool in Mongolia, the Nyrups Natur Hotell offers an electricity-free escape deep in Skåne’s Swedish beech tree forest. The experience was created by Camilla Jönsson, co-owner of the hotel, who will not only give you a tour of the property but also show you were to find the ingredients to cook your own meal together with your neighbors, outdoors over an open fire. Leave your cell phones in the car and enjoy a moonlit walk back to one of the six wool huts on property. It can get quite dark so don’t forget your oil lamp!
Foraging and outdoor cooking can be part of your Skane culinary experience, like this gathering with Edible Country Lunch © Natur Hotell
Forest bathing and foraging
In addition to running Nyrups Natur Hotell, Camilla Jönsson is also the owner of Robusta Äventyr, an ecotourism guiding company which organizes culinary experiences in Skåne as part of the tourism board’s Edible Country offerings that feature Michelin-starred cuisine. If you ever wanted to experience living off the land, try foraging in the forest and mix natural ingredients in a meal over an open fire. The Edible Country Lunch excursion in Skåne features a menu composed by fabled chef Titti Qvarnström.
On your excursion, you will create the meal with a personal guide who will show you where to pick mushrooms, fruit, and edible plants including dandelion, acorns, bluebells, mantles, and wild blackberries. You will learn how edible mushrooms grow near birch trees, and the secret to sourcing wild nettles, long favored by practitioners of herbal medicine.
Force of Nature is another Swedish research and nature-based recreation and outdoor company that offers mindfulness courses in nature. You can go hiking, canoeing, kite surfing, and yoga with Force of Nature, as well as take advantage of their forest bathing offering. Forest bathing is a surprisingly simple activity in which you walk slowly while taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of the forest – and it’s been shown to reduce stress and even blood pressure.
Trelleborg has been home to Swedes for so long, houses were built over the original castle structure and moat of this now-reconstructed Viking fortress © SteffenHoejager via Getty Images
Viking villages and museums
Long before Skåne became the epic battleground between Sweden and Denmark, it was home to vikings. You can learn more about the region’s early history in the town of Höllviken in southern Skåne. The Foteviken Viking Village was built on the site where King Erik Emune once defended Skåne against the Danish troops in a battle. Reenactments are part of the experience, as are arts and crafts you can participate in, like silversmithing and cheese making.
In the late 1980s, the Viking fortress Trelleborgen was discovered, and showed many similarities to the Danish circular forts of the late 10th century, similarly called “trelleborgar.” This style of fortified compound can be traced to a Viking king known as Harold Bluetooth, who strove to unify the Danes and convert them to Christianity around AD 980. The fortress was reconstructed, and you can now travel back to that era to see first hand what a Viking farm was like with longhouse, pit houses, a smithy and a garden.
There are also reenactments by at Trelleborgen that give a glimpse into everyday life. The property has a museum where you can learn about the excavation and the reconstructed fortress before you try a Swedish fika, or break for coffee and snacks, in the café. During the first weekend each July, there is also a Viking market where Viking enthusiasts can trade, sell their crafts, fight and have a wedding.
A classic 19th century Swedish windmill sits in a park in Malmö in Skåne, Sweden © Michael Persson via Getty Images
Live on an organic farm
In a region with as much rich farmland as Skåne, its no surprise that agritourism is a big draw for visitors eager to meet pigs, cows, and sheep in a beautiful setting. Head to the organic farm of Ängavallen located south of the city of Malmö, the largest city in Skåne, to get a taste of Swedish farm life for yourself – literally. There’s an on-site eco-restaurant, and the owners pride themselves on the ingredients being 100 percent organic and sourced on-site.