Many of you would like to take advantage of your holidays in Stockholm and stay some more days visiting another part of Sweden. The region of Dalarna, some 3 hours by car or train from Stockholm, is also known as the most Swedish of all regions in the country. Both material and immaterial symbols like midsommar, the Dalecarlian horse or the red painting originate from this area.
Besides discovering the birthplace of these symbols you will also enjoy wonderful natural surroundings filled with flowers during spring and summer and with plenty of outside activities in the snow during the winter.
Dalarna is a popular destination among Swedes and other European tourists. Currently Dalarna is the 4th most visited Swedish region by tourists traveling to the country. Being close to Stockholm does help.
During our one-month long roadtrip in Sweden that we did this last summer we headed to southern Dalarna and I wand to tell you what you can do and see in two areas: the town of Falun and around Lake Siljan.
On your way to Falun on road 70 just after entering the county of Dalarna you will find (1) the world largest Dalecarlian Horse at a petrol station in Avesta municipality. Take your time to stop by and take a picture!
Visiting Falun and Its Surroundings
In the outskirts of Falun you can stop at (2) Gamla Staberg a Baroque garden featuring the typical red houses dating from mid 17-th century and belonging to the World Heritage Site in Falun. During your visit you will get to know how rich mining families lived then. At the restaurant you will find both delicious fika pastries as well as a menu made of local products.
Once in (3) Falun you can take a walk in the city center looking for Kålgården Park walking along the river Faluån. The old area in Falun is known as Elsborg and its old houses belong to the World Heritage Site. The Museum of Dalarna, a must see for getting to know the region, is also located in Falun. By the way if you are into heavy music, plan your visit accordingly to attend the laureated Sabaton Open Air Festival and enjoy your favourite music.
Of course, when visiting Falun you must visit the the attraction that acts as a tourist mecca due to its uniqueness: Falun’s Copper Mine belonging to Unesco’s World Heritage and dating from over a thousand years ago.
We took a guided tour in English and really enjoyed being able to go down to the mine and getting to know the place where miners spent hours, days, weeks, months and years of their lives in some extreme conditions to dig for copper ore and make Sweden one of the more powerful nations in Europe. After visiting the mine don’t miss the Museum of The Mine or Gruvmuséet where you will learn much more about copper and copper ore and its implications centuries ago. The museum is interactive and you will have a great time visiting it. You will also learn more about the relationship between Falun Copper Mine and the red painting which is featured in almost every house in the area and in the rest of Sweden.
If you are looking for views of the city you must go to the Lugnet nature reserve where up the hill there is the Ski Museum in Lugnet and there are two ski jumping hills that can be visited and offer views of Falun as well as an idea of ??what the jumpers experience when sliding down the slope on the snow.
On the outskirts of Falun there are some historical places to visit like the house where the famous Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl von Linné – Linnaeus for friends – spent his wedding night located next to the road 850. This historic house can be visited from after midsommar until mid-August. And a little further away the (4) village of Sundborn, which besides being beautiful for walking, has a place that is very much appreciated by cultural tourists, such as the residence of the famous Swedish painter and interior designer Carl Larsson.
Here there are also very interesting guided tours to get to know the works of Larsson a very famous Swede who revolutionized interior design in Sweden with its daring colors and patterns. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take pictures of the place because it still belongs to the Larsson family and they continue to meet occasionally in the residence.
If you are going to visit Carl Larssons Gården do not miss the restaurant next door. They have a very well priced buffet, with many of the traditional Swedish meals and dessert and coffee included which in Sweden is unusual and very much appreciated.
Stora Hyttnäs Museum, located next to Larsson’s house, is an authentic 19th-century house with a beautiful garden. Everything is related to the era of the copper mining boom and also belongs to Unesco’s world heritage in Falun and surroundings.
If you are looking for a pittoresque little village near Falun and next to a lake to take good pictures, you have plenty to choose from. We were told to visit (5) Stjärnsund, in the municipality of Hedemora, so we went there to enjoy the tranquility, the golden light of the Swedish nights in June and the surrounding nature. We were not disappointed at all!
The Route around Lake Siljan
The idea is to make a route around Lake Siljan. Since there are not many kilometers it can be done in several days, always going back to sleep at your starting point. Below I’ll give you more details about our accommodation in Dalarna which was a Swedish stuga (cabin) near the town of Tällberg. If you come by this area in summer, it is convenient to keep in mind when the Musik vid Siljan music festival is held (always in week 27 of the year) in case you are interested in attending one of the countless concerts that take place.
Rättvik and Surroundings
Arriving at (6) Rättvik you can go to the observation tower of Vidablick inaugurated at the end of the 18th century and located on top of the Hedsåsberget mountain, 352 m (1150 ft) high. After climbing a huge number of steps to reach its highest point (28 m / 90 ft) you can enjoy great views of this area south of Lake Siljan.
Rättvik is a tourist city par excellence in the area. In fact, in 1894 the first tourist hotel in the country was built here. A footbridge called Långbryggan was also inaugurated at Lake Siljan and still serves as a 628-meter long dock that grants access to the boats that sail the lake. Between May and September the boat MS Gustaf Wasa leaves with destination Mora and Leksand. These cruises on the Siljan offer seafood tasting, with dancing included, dinner or lunch or just a few hours for shopping in any of the big cities by the lake.
In Rättvik we took a walk through the shopping area in the town center and the area of ??local artisans near the tourist office.
On the outskirts of Rättvik two places caught our attention. One of them was the Nittsjö Keramik ceramics factory, which is one of the oldest in Sweden being around since the mid-nineteenth century, and whose products are a classic in Swedish homes. In the store you will find new and second quality products at reasonable prices.
On the way to the pottery factory (and throughout Dalarna and Sweden in general) you will also find several loppis which are Swedish flea markets where individuals get rid of those things they no longer need at very reasonable prices. If you are interested in this type of second hand shopping, I recommend that you bring cash because they rarely accept credit or debit cards. Unfortunately in more than one occasion we had to return empty-handed for not carrying pocket money :(
The next place we visited is a natural space called Dalhalla which is one of the most impressive scenarios for outdoor concerts in Europe. International musicians like Sting and Swedes like Europe, Titiyo, Tallest Man On Earth (from Leksand in Dalarna) or Mando Diao (also from Borlänge in Dalarna) have played in this place. There are guided tours during summer months where you can visit the area outside of concerts or events.
As an important event to highlight for motor lovers is the Classic Car Week. For more than 25 years Sweden’s biggest classic car meeting takes place in Rättvik in the week 31 of the year, that is, around the end of July beginning of August. During our stay in Dalarna – at the end of June – we were able to enjoy bumping into a lot of classic Swedish and American cars on the streets and roads of the region. We loved it!
Nusnäs and Mora
The (7) village of Nusnäs between Rättvik and Mora is one of the main destinations in the area that you must visit. Nusnäs is the birthplace of the famous Dalecarlian horses. By visiting the two factories you will be able to appreciate the handmade manufacturing process and get to know the history behind the painting style which decorate the horses called kurbits. In Nusnäs you can easily spend an entire morning absorbed in the horses. In one of the factories you can even do a painting workshop and bring home your own horse painted by you. I will explain in detail our visit to Nusnäs in an exclusive article.
On the way to (8) Mora, I recommend you to stop at a restaurant called Moraklockan next to a petrol station 10 km from Mora. Here you will enjoy a menu at a very good price both in quantity, variety and cost.
In Mora there are several unique tourist spots. One of them is the Museum and Home of Anders and Emma Zorn that shows how early 20th century homes were and whose garden contains wooden buildings of the 13th century.
The other historic place is the arrival gate for Vasaloppet, the world’s biggest ski race, attracting more than 90,000 skiers each year to this area of Sweden. Next to the arrival door you also have the Vasaloppet Museum.
I really loved the Vasaloppet Museum because it is free (not usual in Sweden) and because it explains the history of what is probably the most famous king of Sweden – Gustav Vasa – and its relationship with the origin of this ski race. It also allows us to see how the race has adapted over the years and has become the tourist-sporting attraction that it currently is. And not only in winter.
Orsa and Fryksås
Continuing north of Mora along Lake Orsasjön – which is a continuation of Lake Siljan – you reach the (9) village of Orsa. The village is very small and we basically did a little shopping downtown both in interior design boutiques and in loppis stuffed with all kinds of things. For example if you are looking for a typical Swedish carpet (trasmatta) to bring home and do not have a problem with buying second hand, a loppis can be a perfect place to find it for a tenth of the price of a new one.
North of Orsa there are two very interesting places to visit. One is the animal park of Orsa Grönklitt. In the park there are bears, polar bears, wolves, snow leopards up to a total of ten different types of predators.
The other place is (10) the little village of Fryksås north of Orsa famous for its fäbodar, a group of huts that were formerly used for agricultural work, located in a wonderful location with incredible views of Lake Orsa. A fika in the Fryksås Hotell will let you enjoy them quietly.
From Orsa you can make the return trip along Lake Siljan on the other bank. To do this you have to go back to Mora and head towards Sollerön Island and then to (11) Gesunda.
From the top of the Gesundaberget mountain (about 500 m / 1640 ft high) – in winter a ski resort with alpine skiing, cross-country, ice skating, snowmobiles and much more and in summer suitable for routes and downhill on mountain bike, fishing, hiking and other activities – you have spectacular views of Lake Siljan and the region.
From mid-June to mid-August and on special weekends and also in winter and Christmas (from November to January) the Santa Claus park called Tomteland becomes a very popular destination in the area. Among mountains, forests and lakes there is this magical enclave where Santa Claus lives with goblins and fairies. The Kingdom of the Trolls, the Enchanted Forest, the House of the Witch and other fairytale places can be enjoyed by children and adults alike in Tomteland.
Leksand and Tällberg
On the way to Leksand in (12) Siljansnäs you will find Naturum Dalarna, a nature interpretation center, on top of Mount Björkberget. We like to visit this type of centers that are very widespread throughout Sweden to know the particularities in flora and fauna of each area. They are also very interesting because they always have activities to do inside to learn more. Children usually have a great time too so don’t hesitate to visit them even if traveling with kids.
(13) Leksand is a very nice little village to stroll on the southwest shore of Lake Siljan. It is also the cradle of one of the most popular crisp breads (knäckebröd in Swedish) in the country.
The factory where the rounded crisp bread Leksandsknäcke is made, which Grandma Anna began to prepare in the late 1920s, can be visited by tourists. In the shop you can buy dozens of breads with multiple flavors.
In Insjön in the vicinity of Leksand you can visit the museum of another of the stores that belong in the Swedish commercial landscape: the Museum of Clas Ohlson. This company was once a mail-order seller of technical literature and instruction manuals. Next to the museum you will find the largest Clas Ohlson shop in the world with a selection of more than 15,000 items.
Leksand has also place for children in Leksand Sommarland, a water park open from the end of June.
We finish the route at (14) Tällberg which is one of the towns in Sweden with the highest concentration of hotels. There are 8 hotels in its municipal district! From here you can take a 7 km hike through the Digerberget nature reserve. From the top of this mountain you can also enjoy wonderful views of Lake Siljan.
Accommodation in Dalarna
The accommodation that I recommend you in the Swedish region par excellence should be the typical stuga or Swedish cabin if possible next to a lake but in any case surrounded by green.
This is what we did and we met Jan and Karin, owners of a sensational house and its nearby cottage dating from 1865 (on the right in the next photo) in which we stayed. The location of our accommodation in Dalarna was in Kullsbjörken by the southern shore of Lake Siljan between the towns of Tällberg and Rättvik.
The advantage of coming to Sweden at this time – at the beginning of summer – is to be able to enjoy endless days with incredible sunsets. We took advantage of the garden and the table and chairs that Jan and Karin left us to spend our evenings outdoors.
This is the booking page for our cabin in Kullsbjörken in case you want to have a look at prices and availability. Anyway, the Visit Dalarna website has many more at your disposal to enjoy them both as a couple and with the family.
Map with the Itinerary and Route Through the South of Dalarna
This is the map of the route in Dalarna that we made. If you spend 4 days in Stockholm you can then go to Dalarna and do this other route in another 4 or 5 days without problems.
How to Get to Dalarna
Falun is about 225 km (140 mi) northwest of Stockholm. The best way to get there by car is via Enköping and Avesta. Although if you want to add other sightseeing you should stop and visit Sigtuna, Västerås – where we slept in Utter Inn a hotel under water ! – and in the village of Sala to visit his incredible silver mine.
It is also possible to get to Falun by train from Stockholm and then rent the car there to do the aforementioned route.
Dalarna is an extensive region and we already had many kilometers behind us so we didn’t go to the area of the mountains at Idre, Sälen and the Fulufjället National Park northwest of the county and where Old Tjikko, the oldest tree on the planet, is located. We also wanted to stop in Borlänge and take a walk to see the city and the 2047 Science Center but we didn’t have time and so it remains as a future goal for another roadtrip in the region.
If you plan to visit Sweden in winter this area is ideal for skiing because of its large number of stations and its relative proximity and convenient transportation to the capital of Sweden.
Do you want to include Dalarna in your trip? Do you wonder if there is anything else worth visiting? Leave me a comment and I will try to help you.