The beauty of the varied landscape of Österlen is well spread. Here you find hills, endless fields, steep cliffs, wine yards, apple orchards, art, lots of great restaurants and charming B&Bs. Österlen is perfect for a weekend trip during spring, summer or autumn.
Österlen is located in the southeast part of Sweden in the region of Skåne. It is a very popular holiday destination and a lot of Swedes have summer houses in the area. A lot of people hike part of Skåneleden, a 1300 kilometres hiking route running through all of Skåne, the most southern region of Sweden. For thos that are into biking, Sydkustleden, is a biking route of 2600 kilometres.
You easily reach this region within less than an hour from Sweden´s third largest city, Malmö, or the capital of Denmark, Copenhagen. Driving from Stockholm you have about 6 hours to Österlen.
We used to live in Skåne and have visited Österlen a few times. So here are our best tips! Like always we focus on outdoor activities in stunning landscapes, food and art. We start in Brösarp, the northern gate of Österlen, and follow the coast south and west to Ystad.
Brösarps backar and Verkeån nature reserve
Brösarp is by many considered the gate to Österlen. The area is famous for its hills, waterfalls and forests. In this area you find 9 nature reserves. One of them is Verkeåns nature reserve where you can hike along Verkeån passing by a small waterfall, Hallamölla. Another nature reserve is the well known Brösarps backar.
The area is popular for biking but we found it rather stressing to bike along road 9 as it is very trafficked. It is a mystery why the biking lanes from Kivik to Ravlunda does not take you all the way to Brösarp and Verkeån. It is such a beautiful area with perfect distances for biking.
Haväng and Vitemölla
Haväng is a beautiful nature reserve located where the river Verkeån flows into the ocean, into Hanöbukten. The hiking route Skåneleden passes by Haväng and there is a charming B&B, STF Haväng vandrarhem nestled into the trees just a few hundred metres from the ocean. If you would like to stay here – booking early is highly recommended.
Taking off from road 9 by Ravlunda you follow Verkaåvägen for 4 kilometres to get to Haväng. The road is simply stunning. It windles down through the landscape passing by forests, meadows and even a wineyard, Skepparps vingård.
If you go by bike you can just sit and relax and let the wheels do the job. It is downhill all the way to Haväng. Going back up again is, of course, a bit more burdensome. An option then is to bike to Vitemölla along the beach. If you go as close as you dare along the water, the sand is for most parts hard enough to carry your bike. At least if you have a mountainbike or similar. It was a great deal of fun biking through the waves!
If you arrive by car to Vitemölla or Haväng you can very well walk between the villages along the beach. It is 5 kilometres one way. Vitemölla is a small fishing village with beautiful houses typical for the region.
We parked the car in Vitemölla and biked from there to Verkeåns nature reserve and then back passing by Haväng and the beach. It was in total about 25 kilometres.
Kivik is one of the larger villages in Österlen. It is very charming and here you find hotels, restaurants and museums. Buhres fish restaurant by the harbour is pretty popular and at least for dinner prebooking is necessary.
Right south of Kivik you find Kiviks musteri, where they produce apple juice and apple cider. The area is very famous for its apple orchards. Besides having lunch or a cup of coffee accompanied by their delicious apple cake there are organized sightseeings of the musteri.
Continuing a bit further south you pass by Kivik Art Centre with its mixture of architecture and sculptures set out in the landscape.
Just outside Kivik on the country side there a charming pizzeria, Fridens gårdskrog, beautifully situated among wine yards. The atmosphere is maybe more chabby than chic but it surely is a memorable visit. Prebooking is necessary. The place is very popular.
Stenshuvud national park
South of Kivik is one of our favourite national parks in Sweden, Stenshuvud national park. Following the main road 9, turn east by Södra Mellby to Stenshuvud. The place is very well signed so you wont miss it. As the road ends you arrive at a large parking lot. This is the main entrance of Stenshuvud and there is an information centre where you can get information about the walks in the area. There is also a small kiosk.
You can of course also combine the different routes if you like. We walked Hälleviksslingan and Kortelslingan, a total of 7,4 km. We also continued to Knäbäckshusen south of Stenshuvud, one of the loveliest little villages we have ever been to.
To get to Knäbäckshusen you follow Kortelslingan but continue south through the woods and crossing meadows, total about 3 km starting from Stenshuvud information centre. You can also walk all the way along the amazing beach.
On your way to Stenshuvud, there is also a lovely place to stay for lunch called Svabesholm kungsgård. This is a so called "gårdsbutik" and besides a restaurant you also find a shop with locally produced food, plants, and decorations for the garden. Besides that this place is also a B&B and it has its own English inspired garden.
Knäbäckshusen is a very small village with 17 houses right by Knäbäckshusens strand. The village has a story of its own as the whole village was moved from the area around Haväng to Knäbäckshusen in the 1950s when the shooting area (yes!) by Haväng was expanded.
There is a parking by Knäbäckshusen that seems pretty big but it probably fills up very fast on a sunny and warm day as the beach is totally stunning even though the water is pretty cold.
It is a good thing to bring something to eat and drink since there is no restaurant or café in Knäbäckshusen.
Following road 9 further south from Stenshuvud and Knäbäckshusen you reach another very small but charming fishing village - Baskemölla.
This village is one of the bigger in Österlen. Here you find a harbour, a square, a church – S:t Nicolai church – shops and lots of restaurants. How about a lovely fish soup at En gaffel kort with views of the ocean or a pizza at Gamla Apotekarns?
Following the coast south you pass by other small fishing villages like Brantevik and Skillinge.
Besides these coastal, former fishing, villages there are several small villages spread across the countryside, all of them with the typical charm of the area. If you choose to leave the coast and road 9 there are lots and lots of smaller roads perfect for biking. You can easily set up your own circular route passing by for example Sträntemölla natural reserve.
As you continue south you will notice how the landscape totally changes. From the hilly parts of northern Österlen around Brösarp, Haväng and Stenshuvud, the area south of Simrishamn is really really flat!
Probably a must is to visit the beach Sandhammaren which is also a nature reserve. There are several parking lots along the coast and if the main parking is full, continue to Backåkra and then follow the road to the ocean. The beach is a never ending one. You can walk for along the ocean forever.
Close to Sandhammaren you find Karl Fredrik på Eklaholm, a place that offers garden decorations, plants, furniture and about everything else you did not know that you needed. You can also have a coffee break or lunch here.
Continuing west you will now approach the famous Kåseberga, well worth a visit. Kåseberga is a small fishing village that is really nice in itself but more famous are the Ale stenar, 59 blocks of stone raised around 500-1000 a.d in the shape of a ship with an incredible view of the ocean.
Along the way between Kåseberga and Ystad you find Olof Viktors, another ”gårdsbutik” selling plants, furniture, decorations, food and so on. Here is also a restaurant and a café.
In the area you also find Kermika fantasia which is a really nice stop and you can buy ceramics designed by Eva Troedson. It is also a B&B.
Finally, Ystad is well worth a visit. It is a charming little bigger town in Österlen. Here you find a hospital, shops and several hotels.
When to visit Österlen?
Even if Österlen is an all year destinations a lot of the cafés, restaurants and some hotels are closed during winter. From the end of August some places are closed Monday to Wednesday so you have to check that up before you go.
Probably the best time to visit is during summer time, i.e. June, July and August. Österlen is also a popular destination during Easter when a lot of painters, sculptors, ceramisists arrange exhibitions in their homes and studios. Highly recommended!
Where to stay in Österlen?
We chose to stay on the countryside, at Karlaby kro. It is a bit cheaper compared to if you choose to stay at a 4-star hotel along the coast. We liked it a lot and totally fell in love with the lush patio between the houses. The hotel is beautifully situated on the countryside and it was a great place to bike from. They have a few bikes for rent.
We had dinner there for one night which was good. The service was great. When we wanted to switch tables they arranged that with a smile and they also switched quickly to a vegetarian amuse-bouche instead of the regular when we asked for that.
There are also lots of really charming B&B in the area like STF Haväng vandrarhem and Keramika Fantasia mentioned above.
In Ystad you find the more fancy and expensive hotel Ystad saltsjöbad.
Maybe you are also interested in these beautiful destinations in Skåne, Sweden
No matter where in Skåne you go you find farmers´shops, or gårdsbutiker in Swedish. Here you can buy locally grown vegetables, fruit, meat, balsamico, apple juice, cheese and so on. The farmers´shops are often located in a lovely setting with picturesque houses typical for the region. You can often have lunch or a cup of coffée there as well.
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