As stunning as the West coast of Sweden is, white sand beaches and crystal blue waters are few and far between. We have heard that the East and South coasts contain much more of both, and we were very much in need of both – Öland delivered exactly what we needed! Having found ourselves a fantastic location to free camp near the North East coast of Öland we were just minutes from beautiful Böda beach and it’s warm (or warm enough!) blue waters. We took full advantage of this and spent two full days soaking up the rays, kicking the football, playing frisbee (and losing it 🙁 ), and of course, lots of snacks and cold beverages. The coastline that includes Böda Beach is around 8 km in length. Apart from a couple of campsites and the Böda Beach Club it is pretty much untouched and undeveloped, so if you are not so fond of the umbrella cities that dominate Southern European beaches then you will love Böda Beach. We had no problem finding a spot for ourselves and enough room for frisbee, soccer and running around.
On each morning we would drive over the a small town called Byxelkrok on the West coast to top up on food, water and any other needed supplies. The port also has fresh water tap that we used for filling up our tank, which you can find here. On the second morning we treated ourselves to a delicious breakfast of pancakes and pastries (bring on the sugar high!) at Göthlins Café. They are known in the area for their tasty shrimp wraps which we were tempted by, but felt unable to tackle one of those at 9.30 in the morning!
On the last day at Böda we got up nice and early to enjoy a completely empty beach and watch a gorgeous sunrise over the Bödakustens Östra peninsula.
After two full days at the beach we were well and truly dosed up on vitamin D – time to see what the rest of Öland had to offer! We decided to take a little detour and drive to the northern tip past Neptune’s Fields, with it’s rugged shores and interesting rock formations. We then drove south until we were pretty much smack-bang in the middle of Öland at the Ismantorp Fortress. It was built between 300-600 AD and is one of twenty ringforts on Öland and is likely the oldest. It was used primarily for military purposes and it’s design was influenced by both Roman and Nordic mythology roots.
In the mood for more ruins we made our way a few minutes North to Borgholm Castle. This was a favourite summer getaway of King Gustav I who loved to eat and drink, resulting in an impressive two meter waistline! There is a wealth of information around the site in Swedish and English to learn about it’s long history and many sieges. The views over the Alvar and the Kalmar Strait are impressive. We spent a good 2-3 hours roaming around the castle and the grounds. It is amazing, there are some passageways that were completely dark that we had to navigate our way through. Very little of the castle was blocked off so it was well worth the 100kr each!
By the middle of the afternoon we were getting hungry so we made our way over to Kårehamns Fisk & Havskök for a seafood feast of oysters, seafood chowder, fish and chips and of course, dessert, finishing it off with some crème brûlée. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike and due to the Corona times they were only letting in a few people at a time. We took a ticket and sat outside, enjoying a beer in the sun for about 25 minutes before we were called to our table.
With our appetites satiated we headed south along the East coast, enjoying the scenery and beautiful villages along the way. We had plans to explore the south the next day so we were looking for somewhere to free camp on the coast as far down as possible. We found a great spot just off the road which is a small area for cars to park. It was quiet, with only two other camper vans there and it was just a ten minute walk to the water. Despite it being not a good spot for swimming, we did enjoy yet another fantastic sunset whilst chowing down on omelettes for dinner.
Between the car park and the water it is farmland for grazing cows (hence the poor swimming conditions), but on this land there was once a village from the Late Iron Age, of which you can still see many of the burial mounds! Thanks to Sweden’s freedom to roam law (Allemansrätten) you can walk on this farmland and see all the burial mounds up close. Just be wary of the cows, it is their home turf and they know it!
The following day we visited the Ottenby Fågelstation, Naturum Ottenby and Långe Jan lighthouse, all located at the very Southern tip of Öland. The area is a large bird sanctuary and is a popular destination for many bird enthusiasts. It costs 40kr each to go up to the top of Långe Jan and it is worth every crown for the views, not only over the sea and the landscape but also of the many, many birds soaring through the sky. There are many walks you can do throughout the sanctuary, however some are closed at certain times of the year due to breeding season. Naturum Ottenby is a free museum containing information on all bird species in the sanctuary.
We started heading north again, passing via Carla’s Cafe in Näsby for a quick (and scrumptious!) slice of homemade tosca cake. Walking into the cafe we were completely surprised since it turns out to be more of a rock bar than a cafe! There is a stage both inside and outside and after speaking with the owner it turns out they hold various live gigs outside throughout the summer months. It is a beautiful outdoor area and we can imagine the outdoor gigs have a fantastic and relaxed vibe. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area!
We continued on and stopped off at another fortress called Eketorp. We did not know it at the time, but the fortress is actually a complete reconstruction of a 300AD fortress containing animals and costumed staff. Over the summer months the cost is 100kr for adults but after Borgholm Castle we felt satisfied with what we had already seen.
We continued north, crossing over to the west side of Öland and admiring more of the charming houses and farmland along the way, until finally we reached Ölandsbron, crossing back to the Swedish mainland and saying farewell to beautiful Öland, for now 🙂