The High Coast of Sweden: high expectations, high satisfaction. This is how I would briefly summarize my summer trip through this picturesque Swedish region. For many years I had this destination, known in Swedish as Höga Kusten, on my bucket list of places that I had not yet had the opportunity to visit in Sweden and I was looking forward to taking a getaway to get to know it and share it. Finally, my wish came true recently.
In this article I tell you everything important you should know about the Höga Kusten as well as what is worth visiting and doing. This destination can be very easily combined with a 3 or 4 day trip to Stockholm.
This is what I did: I spent four days in Stockholm and almost four and a half on the High Coast. However, if you are one of those who like to take the trip slowly and have time, you can add a couple of days and enjoy and savor each of the charming corners of this area.
Location and How to Get There
Geographically speaking, Sweden’s High Coast is the name given to the area that runs from the majestic Högakustenbron bridge north of Härnösand to the city of Örnsköldsvik, a little further north and with an almost unpronounceable name. On the sides, the cities of Kramfors and Sollefteå to the west and the archipelago to the east delimit the borders of the tourist destination Höga Kusten.
In the following schematic map you can see the main enclaves and location of the High Coast in Sweden. Härnösand, located in the south, is 420 km north of Stockholm.
It is also possible to use a central well connected area as a base accommodation location. The area around Docksta, for example, would be a good spot.
To get to the High Coast it can be done by rental car from Stockholm following the E4 motorway but also in an even more peaceful and sustainable way aboard the SJ company trains. On this occasion I traveled by train from Stockholm to Härnösand, in the south of the High Coast, and from there I traveled with a rental car from Hertz whose offices are literally a 3-minute walk from the station. At the end of the 5-day route I returned the car in Härnösand and went by train directly to Arlanda airport in Stockholm.
By choosing the right times it is possible to make the most of the days. For example, I left Stockholm at 6 in the morning and at 10 I was already at the destination. SJ has direct trains to Härnösand and others where you have to transfer. Furthermore, depending on the type of ticket we buy, it is possible to enjoy Wi-Fi, a snack on board and even a midday lunch that is previously reserved on the website when purchasing the ticket.
Why Visiting the High Coast of Sweden
It is true, all the nature in Sweden is beautiful and is present everywhere, but where do you find hills 200-300 meters high that merge into the sea and with an archipelago in front? Only here.
The High Coast owes its name to the elevation of the land that has been happening in this region for thousands of years. This rise of the terrain is due to the melting of an ice layer of more than 3 km that sank the Earth’s crust more than 1000 meters. A similar event has no comparison anywhere else in the world and has contributed to the place’s unique and distinctive landscape as well as the incredible views. They have also made the Höga Kusten and the Kvarken Archipelago part of the UNESCO sites.
In order to discover many beautiful places, both natural, cultural and gastronomic, I invite you to follow the route that I took. You will find a map at the end of the article.
Between Härnösand and Örnsköldsvik
As soon as you arrive in Härnösand and almost without having to go for the rental car, you can still visit the Härnösands Bilmuseum or Härnösand Car Museum. This is a collection of more than 286 classic cars from various countries, brands and eras. His owner Calle Lundkvist bought his first car at the age of 15, a 1959 Chevrolet that he restored and with it he began his journey in the world of car collecting. Today this is the largest car museum in Sweden with 22,000 visitors each year. Of them, 11% are foreigners.
This is a museum that is very popular with car lovers – among whom I am – since it is possible to spend hours and hours looking at the different models: Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Volvo, Saab, Mustang, Trabant, Mercedes, Porsche … a lot!
The museum is open every day of the week from mid-June to the end of August. In September from Friday to Monday. You can consult more details on the Härnösands Bilmuseum website. By the way, there is parking for 10 motorhomes in case you travel in one of these vehicles and want to spend the night here. Reserved online.
After picking up the rental car, the next destination can be the island of Hemsö, about 25 km from Härnösand (reached by free ferry from Strinningen) for a guided tour of Hemsö Fästning. Hemsö Fortress is an underground enclave of the Swedish army located in a strategic location that began to be built during the First World War and became even more important during the Cold War.
Since 2005 its facilities have been open to the public and between June 1 and September 1 it is possible to take a guided tour in English, German, Dutch and Swedish. There are 11 guided tours a day and in total each year more than 35,000 people visit the fortress.
The tours begin with a visit to the outer cannons pointing to the Gulf of Bothnia from the top of Mount Storråberget and pass through the corridors, control rooms, operating rooms and dining rooms located inside the mountain 40 meters below the ground.
The return to the parking lot is also through the old military area where different army vehicles are now located. The Hemsö Fästning restaurant deserves special mention with excellent views of the Baltic Sea as well as a very good midday menu at a reasonable price.
The High Coast has many spots from which to enjoy panoramic views. A must-go spot is around the Högakustenbron bridge. The parking lot next to the Hotell Höga Kusten is an optimal place. In this area, in addition to getting a good view of the bridge, we can also see the mouth of the Ångermanälven river.
Here it is possible to do several walks along trails of different lengths and difficulties.
- Lilla Höga Kustenledenis 6 km long and runs through rocky outcrops, viewpoints and even beaches.
- Världsarvstigen 1.5 km long for families who want to learn more about local nature and themselves.
- Meditationstigen 1 km long and containing texts placed along the path with the aim of making you reflect.
All paths are very well indicated so as not to get lost. For real hikers here is one of the ends of the 129 km long Höga Kustenleden trail which is divided into 13 stages (between 5 and 15 km each) connecting this area with the northern town of Örnsköldsvik.
If you feel like hiking on time but a little demanding, you can go look for the beautiful views from the top of Valkallen (240 meters above sea level). The car can be left in the parking lot and you can take a longer route with less unevenness or one that is 750 meters long and has a considerable unevenness that is overcome through dirt roads, walking along rocks holding on to ropes and climbing stairs. The descent is of course much faster and less demanding.
At the top of Valkallen you will find a cabin (Valkallen toppstugan) in case you want to rest or the weather is bad.
Another place with the best views of the High Coast but accessible by car almost to the viewpoint is Utsikt Höga Kusten. Located between the small villages of Herrskog and Gallsätter, it is accessed via an unpaved road.
The story of the creation of this place at the top of Lill-Gälingen is very curious because Sven, its creator, made it a reality with the aim that his disabled daughter Nina could fulfill her goal of “conquering” the summit. Unfortunately Nina passed away before her dream came true but since 2020 Sven has achieved his goal: to make the summit (and views) of Lill-Gälingen accessible to everyone.
Near the small town of Nordingrå, famous for its reddish granite, is the unique Mannaminne open-air museum, offering cultural and art exhibitions and concerts and other activities in a unique setting. Since the early 1980s, artist Anders Åberg (who co-created Stockholm’s Solna metro station) and his wife Barbro began building Mannaminne as a cultural center.
The purpose of this eclectic museum is to demonstrate that everything is connected, that culture depends on history, technology and influences from near and far. In Mannaminne there are more than 50 buildings brought from many parts of the world with exhibitions and other types of artistic displays all with this goal in mind.
Did it happen to you that you see an specific place somewhere and decided in your mind that you must find it and visit? Sometimes that happens for the least expected reason. This is my case with the following place.
It turns out that there is a very nice Windows 10 wallpaper that is taken on the Swedish High Coast. Did you know? Well, while I was in Mannaminne at the restaurant my mind realized that what was before me was just that view. So with some friends we decided to climb Mount Stortorget in Häggvik during the golden hour which in these latitudes in mid-July is around 8:30-9:00 p.m.
Finally, I managed to realize my dream of photographing the same place as the Windows wallpaper! Now I know where it is: Stortorget, Häggvik, Höga Kusten, Sweden.
See the stunning view for yourself in the following image!
In this area you can also take advantage of the evening or nightfall to visit small fishing villages such as Bönhamn or Nörrfallsviken. Take a stroll through its streets, walk by the sea, eat something, always keeping in mind that Swedish restaurants and bars have fairly short opening hours even in summer.
An ideal place to discover everything special about Sweden’s High Coast is Skuleberget, which claims to be the mountain with the highest coastline in the world. Here you will find the Naturum Höga Kusten which is obviously worth a visit (the Naturum are a series of cultural centers spread throughout Sweden that explain the particularities of each place in an entertaining way for both adults and children).
In addition to the cultural visit, it is possible to climb to the top of the mountain (295 meters above sea level) and do so on foot, by chairlift or via a via ferrata. In my case, I decided to do both the ascent and the descent by chairlift to live the experience, but all types of people, including families with children, chose to walk up from the chairlift parking lot.
From the top you can also follow various trails. Skuleberget offers one of the most beautiful hiking experiences in Sweden.
Another hiking experience I did and can recommend is a route, guided if possible, through Skuleskogen National Park . This place was declared a national park in 1984 and is unique because it is one of the few ancient forests along the coast. One can walk around Skuleskogen for days enjoying streamside forests or the bare, rocky ground that offers stunning views.
The park has three entrances: north, south and west. In summer it is advisable to avoid the south entrance because due to so many visitors there is no space in the parking lot. In my case, I took a guided tour starting from the northern entrance and crossing forests, hillsides, next to sandy beaches and through marshy lands toward Slåttdalsskrevan, a crevice 200 meters long, 30 meters high and 7 meters wide that turns out to be one of the most popular places in the park.
It was a very varied excursion. My guide, Bengt from Höga Kusten Walk About, in addition to explaining the geological particularities of the park, also helped me learn about the local flora and fauna. Among other things I did an advanced berry recognition class: blueberries (blåbär), cloudberries (hjortron) , cranberries (tranbär), lingon …
Another destination in the area that I had the opportunity to visit is the island of Ulvön, known as The Pearl of the Baltic, where many Swedes come to spend their holidays. It can be reached by boat from several towns on the mainland such as Köpmanholmen (with paid parking) or Docksta, Ullånger or Mjällomslandet. The journey from Köpmanholmen to the small fishing village of Ulvöhamn takes 1 hour and 30 minutes and makes several stops.
Once on the island I was able to walk around the town, visit the small museum of the island, see the wooden chapel from the 17th century, learn about the history of strommimg (herring) fishing and its fermentation, go up to see the views from the Lotsberget viewpoint which is accessed from a staircase from the village center and have something to eat at the incredibly cozy and famous Bistro Ruben or have a few beers and dinner by the sea at Ulvö Hamnkrog.
Between Örnsköldsvik and Sollefteå
My destination between these two towns was the Nämforsen rock-carvings and the rock art museum, both located in the small town of Näsåker, about 115 km (1 hour and 40 minutes by car) from Örnsköldsvik.
These carvings are one of the largest collections in Europe with more than 2600 symbols. They are located next to the river and the rapids and can be visited 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Of course, when there is snow they cannot be observed. This web page can be used as a personal guided tour.
The museum is only open between June 15 and August 15. Both the carvings and the museum have free admission.
The Ångermanälven river is the third largest in Sweden with an average flow of 485,000 m3/s. It is not surprising that it is one of the most impacted by the construction of power plants. Within the municipality of Sollefteå alone there are 10 power plants on the flow of the Ångermanälven, 8 on its tributary Faxälven and 1 on another tributary called Fjällsjöälven. Here in Näsåker next to the rock carvings the Nämforsen power station was built in 1947.
About 50 minutes by car next to the old Edsele mine there is now a lake with crystal clear waters where it is possible to swim. It is not easy to get there since you have to drive several times on gravel roads (at the end of the article I left the exact location of this spot on Google Maps). Furthermore, the final gravel road is only open during the months of July and August. I would only recommend it if you are adventurous and if you want to spend a whole morning or afternoon swimming without people around. I leave you a photo of the spot for inspiration to take the trip.
Between Sollefteå and Härnösand
Between Sollefteå and Härnösand, around Kramfors, there are two very interesting places to visit, especially for those who are interested in distilled beverages and spirits.
High Coast Distillery is a local whiskey producing company since 2010. It is currently the largest distillery in Sweden. Its peculiar location on the banks of the Ångermanälven river with a flow of 500,000 liters/s allows them to obtain extremely natural and cold water for the distillation process. Its northern latitude also means that the warehouses where the whiskey is left to mature are subjected to temperatures of up to -25ºC in winter.
High Coast Distillery has a selection of 4 whiskeys called Origins whose names refer to what is essential in this part of the world. Timmer, Älv, Hav and Berg or wood, river, sea and mountain. Specifically, its Berg whiskey has won gold at the Tokyo Whiskey Fair, Japan.
If you want to take guided tours in English, you must book in advance. They also have a restaurant with a terrace and do whiskey tastings. However, since in Sweden it is only possible to buy alcohol in the government stores, Systembolaget, you will have to go there to get a bottle of your favorite whiskey.
An hour’s drive from the High Coast Distillery is the Västanåfallet nature and cultural center located in the nature reserve of the same name. This is a magical place including a waterfall from Lake Eksjön, exhibitions of local art and crafts (which can be purchased), a place to have a fika and good paths for hiking and seeing the local fauna and flora.
The cultural center is open from the end of May to the end of August.
About 25 minutes by car from there and just 15 minutes from Härnösand in Dala is Hernö Gin, a local gin distillery. Not just any, but the largest distillery in Sweden, established in 2011, which produces 3,000 bottles a year and distills more than 150,000 liters. Their goal is to bring the culture of premium gins to every home. Among other types, they produce Dry gin, Old Tom gin, Sloe gin and due to the quality of their gins they have already become the most awarded artisanal gin producer in the world!
Hernö Gin is the home of Swedish gin, and in addition to being located in a very beautiful place, halfway between forests and meadows, it also works hard for sustainability, obtaining more than 80% of its energy from solar panels, betting on shortening the transportation distance and converting the distillation remains left in the tanks into biogas.
More than 8,000 people visit Hernö Gin annually to take a guided tour or a two-hour tasting where they can try their different gins. These tastings are carried out in the same place where the three distillers that generate all the production are present. Kierstin, Marit and Yvonne are the name of the distillers in honor of the woman who first lived on the farm now occupied by Hernö Gin and the mother-in-law and mother of Jon Hillgren, the founder.
Due to the strict regulations on drinking and driving in Sweden, these tastings are popular with groups of travelers who arrive by coach to taste Hernö Gin’s gins and then are returned to their accommodation.
Map of the Route along Sweden’s High Coast
I have prepared a map of the route I have taken where you can see the tourist places visited, accommodations, museums and other attractions.
On a route like this, some prefer to have a single accommodation and travel every day to the places to visit while others always go with their suitcase on their back. Of course, if you travel by motorhome this issue has already been solved and in this area there are many places that allow you to park motorhomes (for example High Coast Distillery or the Högakustenbron car park) and caravans as well as tents.
During this trip I have tried different types of accommodation from hostels and hostels with shared bathrooms, hotels with spas or campsites with Swedish houses that offer all kinds of sports activities (friluftscenter in Swedish) .
You have them on the map above but they are the following.
Sågverket möten, rum & kök
Sågverket was formerly a sawmill but now it is a bed & breakfast with rooms located in different cottages and breakfast served in the dining room or on the terrace. It is located in the countryside with the possibility of going for a walk in the surroundings. It has single, double and even four-bed rooms. There are 4 showers and 7 shared toilets. You can bring sheets or rent there and they also accept dogs in some of the rooms.
This is a camping center with sports activities and Swedish cabins located on a headland ( udde in Swedish) of Lake Vågsfjärden in Nordingrå. Quiet and close to nature. You can rent cabins – like I did – and rooms or also pitches for tents, caravans and motorhomes.
Ulvö Hamnkrog is a hostel located next to the Ulvöhamn pier. Offers bed & breakfast with 14 rooms on the upper floor of the restaurant and terrace of the same name.
A spectacular hotel with a spa with views located on Mount Hallastaberget. Very beautifully decorated and with an excellent buffet. A very nice thing is that the spa is open from 8:00 to 22:00 every day of the year and sometimes on Fridays and Saturdays until 00:00. It is not something very common in Sweden and it is appreciated!
The spa features an outdoor jacuzzi, indoor pool, dry and steam saunas, and cold water baths.
I hope you find this article useful and you can plan a trip to Sweden touring the High Coast similar to the one I did. In addition to looking at more things to do on the official website, if you are interested in doing this route or a similar one in the area and have any questions, you can leave me a comment and I will try to help you.