Get close to nature – it’s all around you in northeast Skåne
Visit northeast Skåne and enjoy its natural beauty and stunning coastline. Visit romantic castles from the times of the wars against the Danish, stroll through medieval towns, or take an elk safari. Spot roe deer and foxes while you hike the deep, dark forest wilderness. Bike by the sea on Sydostleden or paddle through the many lakes and camp on one of the more than 40 islands in Lake Ivösjön. Or visit Wanås Art Park that blends nature with history.
Kristianstad is the biggest city in the area and Skåne's fourth biggest. Trefaldighetskyrkan, across the street from the railway station, is considered the most beautiful renaissance church in the Nordics. If you’re a film buff, walk down to Filmmuseet (the Film museum) to see the lights, cameras and still action of the early days of the Swedish movie industry.
Kristianstad’s Vattenrike, close to the city centre, is designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The Visitor Centre boasts 21 different observation towers, footbridges and open-air museums. Canoe or take a safari, spot the cranes, catch a trout, or watch the wildlife on the meadows. Summer is the time for gazing at colourful flowers, and pleasant boat trips (read more further down in this article).
What to do in northeast Skåne
Long, sandy beaches close to a medieval town centre make Åhus the perfect summer destination. Stroll through the narrow, meandering streets and square with traditions back to the Middle Ages. Enjoy the sun, or swim at one of Hanö Bay's long, wide and softly undulating sandy beaches.
There’s always something happening at Åhus. Ritual crane dancing, midsummer celebrations, markets and Europe's largest beach handball tournament. From charming cafes to reputable restaurants, fine hotels to camping, there are lots of places to eat and meet.
If food is your forte and drink is your passion then Åhus is your place. The town is centre for Swedish eel parties ("ålagille"), where people come together during August and September to eat smoked eel and drink lots of schnapps. Speaking of schnapps – well vodka actually –the world-famous Absolut Vodka is produced in the town. Take a tour and taste a sample of this delicious, trendy drink.
If you prefer something cold that’s not alcoholic, Åhus glass is a local ice cream factory producing delicious ice cream perfect for those lazy, sunny days.
Explore Svarta Bergen
Svarta Bergen, the Black Mountains, is an open-air nature museum where you can experience how life was working in a quarry. Enjoy the breath-taking views and visit the great places to play for children, with a crane house, stone maze and a stone xylophone. Artists still work and create great sculptures from the black diabase that you can admire. Take a tour then enjoy a coffee and a snack when you’ve finished.
Hit the trails at Hovdala Hiking Centre
If you want to hike in stunning wilderness, then start from Hovdala Hiking Centre at Hovdala Castle south of Hässleholm. The hiking system offers several round-trip trails for full and half-day hiking and there are shorter trails and walkways if you want to walk at a more leisurely pace. Hovdalaleden (Hovdala trail) is part of the Skåneleden trail and is a combination of the very best of the round-trip trails measuring 57 km in total. There are wind shelters and rest areas beautifully arranged with picnic tables and barbecue facilities close to the trails, and of course places to stay and eat along the trails or in town.
Hunt around Hovdala Castle
Hovdala Castle dates from 1511 and had a pivotal role in the Swedish-Danish war in the 17th century. The park is open all year round and there’s lots for children to do in the summer including hat-hunting, walking on stilts, playing garden games and borrowing a discovery bag. Fill the bag with binoculars, a magnifying glass, nets, picnic blanket, etc., – then go explore.
Shop at Kullaro
Kullaro creates contrasting shapes and objects where each one has its own expression and distinctive character. The artists combine the black Diabase with other materials which enhance and beautify it in an unexpected manner. The shop produces unique furniture and furnishings, and jewellery.
Take a boat safari through the water kingdom
Experience Kristianstad’s Vattenrike (water kingdom) on a boat safari. The safari offers groups and private individuals tours that start from the Tivoli Bridge in Kristianstad and guides people through the fantastic water kingdom. Kristianstads Vattenrike flows through the marshes and wetlands into the Baltic Sea. It is home to a wide range of animals and plants and designated as a biosphere reserve.
Find out more about canoeing and kayaking through the water kingdom here and about possible adventures at lake Immeln here.
What to see in northeast Skåne
Wanås art park is a fairy-tale universe where anything is possible and where art is everywhere. Wanås consists of an organic farm, hotel, art park full of sculptures and an art gallery housing a unique collection of contemporary art from renowned international artists. For children there are 50 permanent works of art as well as temporary exhibitions, including Yoko Ono’s wishing tree.
Marvel at the beauty of this deep ravine with its rushing waterfalls that was formed in the last ice age. Forsakar is a nature reserve on the eastern slope of Linderödsåsen. Legend says it was built by giants and is inhabited by elves and leprechauns. The two natural waterfalls are among the highest in Skåne. The whole area is home to lots of plants and animals, forests and insects. Watch the woodpeckers and other nesting birds, or hike the ridge, a loop of about 1700 metres. Some slopes are steep, so make sure your children are careful.
Time to play. Lekoseum is a toy museum where children can explore and adults can enjoy being children again. This journey through Swedish toy history shows how colour and form has been used to stimulate children’s play and imagination for decades. Walk through the museum, eat at the cafe, play in the areas and shop traditional Swedish toys from Brio and others.
Castles, castles, castles
Take a look back in time at one of the castles in northeast Skåne. Bäckaskog castle was originally a monastery from the 11th century and became the summer home of Swedish King Karl XV. Join one of the guided ghost walks arranged at the castle, or try the package deal including ghost safari, dinner in the castle restaurant and an overnight stay. Of course, you can stay overnight without having to meet the ghosts.
Where to stay in northeast Skåne
From living in luxury to convenient campsites, there’s accommodation for every pocket in northeast Skåne. Here are some we recommend.
Wanås hotel och restaurant
Experience art and nature at this small boutique hotel. It has eleven individually decorated rooms combining Nordic design and sustainability with locally sourced materials. The restaurant serves organic, locally sourced produce from the forest and the on-site farm. Take a walk in the beech forest and explore the renowned sculpture park on site.
Birk + Birka + Ronja
Sleep in Sweden’s most beautiful wind shelters in the middle of nature on the Hovdala trail. The shelters are close to Hovdala Hiking Centre, overlooking Lake Finjasjön. Choose to reserve (cheap!) Birk, Birka or Ronja, which all are embedded in a soft birch grove. Hovdala offers something for the single hiker, young family or group.