With mild temperatures, staggeringly pristine landscapes, and long hours of summer sunlight, Sweden is nothing shy of a utopia for travelers and cycling enthusiasts. Thanks to its well-posted cycling routes and minimal traffic, it’s also exceptionally easy for visitors to maneuver, making it far from a place only for the pros. Here’s a breakdown of why you should seriously consider Sweden if you’re looking for the perfect cycling escape.
Stockholm: A Natural Launching Point for Cyclists
It’s safe to say that not every country in the world has the same commitment to bikers as Sweden does, particularly in Stockholm. The Swedish capital has lanes that are very clearly marked and cycling is embedded right into the city planning, offering a variety of different ways to get around on two wheels. For biking Stockholm itself, it’s extremely easy to rent a bike from a local shop and shoot around the various urban paths, which include waterfront parks, bridges that come with full city views and even rolling gardens on grounds that used to be the king’s personal hunting reserve (Djurgården). The city also has terrific bike-share program great for local rides, and a new and expanded fleet of electric-assist bikes promises that biking will be an even bigger part of Stockholm’s future.
But even though you could have a nice little biking holiday just cruising around Stockholm, it’s also the perfect start for a countryside adventure. Heading west out of Stockholm, you can expect rolling hills and forests of deep green in the spring and summer as well as dynamic splashes of red and orange during the fall. You’ll pass through pine-needled forests and cruise along the quiet dirt paths of Lake Klämmingen on the way to the town of Mariefred, another great staging point about 70 kilometers from Stockholm.
South of Stockholm, you can also find some of the most beautiful vantage points in Sweden while you work up a sweat. In the archipelago just below the city, you’ll encounter more thick forests, crisp lakefront air, and even a few sandy beaches along hundreds of kilometers of trails. You can also easily grab ferries in between many of the spots, allowing you to go island-hopping between stops in places like Dalaro, Uto, and Orno. This area also has some sensational hikes as well as plenty of worthy camping sites, which can easily be combined with a biking holiday.
Create Your Own Adventure
Although there is more than enough outstanding scenery along the popular route to Mariefred or the southern archipelago, they can really just serve as tipping points for a much grander adventure. For castle lovers, there’s a built-in excuse to shoot past Mariefred, which also has an impressive castle, and go all the way to renovated medieval fortress Orebro Castle. Overlooking the Svartan River, Orebro Castle is about 140 kilometers by bike from Mariefred but has a variety of great stops to break up the trip. Eskilstuna and Arboga are both natural resting places along the way, showcasing small-city living and an opportunity to dig into authentic Swedish culture. Seasoned riders might even want to keep heading west and go all the way to Kristinehamn, a small town near the shores of Lake Vanern, the biggest lake in the European Union.
Heading north from Stockholm will also yield a journey that can essentially be as long as you want it to be, with the curvy coastline along the Gulf of Bothnia taking courageous riders more than 1,000 kilometers north of Stockholm. Thanks to a series of villages dotting your trail map, there are all kinds of options when it comes to putting together a long and challenging cycling tour that takes you through the heart of small-town coastal Sweden by way of quaint country roads. A northern route is also ideal for the summer, as you can have up to 20 hours of sunlight as you head further and further north.
While more than 2,000 kilometers roundtrip is probably a bit of a stretch for most sane cyclists, a shorter trip to Sundsvall is much more manageable and the city is a draw in its own right. Although it’s still not for the faint of heart – it’s more than 400 kilometers away from Stockholm – it’s only three and a half hours by rail back to Stockholm. Hudiskvall and Gavle are also easily within biking distance from Stockholm and offer lake-hopping bridges and lush green countryside paths to enjoy.
Taking Advantage of the Weather
Chances are you’re not looking to bike it through the frozen tundra of Sweden in the middle of winter, so you’re likely looking at the spring, fall, or summer for all the obvious reasons. All three seasons are tremendous opportunities for biking enthusiasts, particularly those not afraid of the chilly morning air in the spring and fall when you’re likely to start the day in the mid-to-high 30s Fahrenheit (about 1-4°C).
But Sweden is also the quintessential summer country, which all point to it being simply an amazing place to be out in the great outdoors. Unlike other European countries that are known for biking, Sweden’s summers rarely have heat waves and typically sit around 70°F (21°C) during the heat of the day. That makes for perfect temperature conditions for bikers, who can also cover much larger distances thanks to a sunset that doesn’t come until 10 or 11 p.m. during the peak of summer. Although you do have to be ready for a bit of rain if you go in August, the wettest month of the year, it’s also not an insurmountable amount either. As the driest month of the year, March tends to be on the cooler side, but you’ll have mostly rain-free weather forecasts to go with about 40 °F (2.8 °C) during the warmest part of the day.
Thanks to a biking culture that is ingrained in the national persona, Sweden is an opportune spot for cycling enthusiasts of any experience. Although everyone would love to bring their own bike with them, local bicycle shops are also very used to renting to visitors and the country’s intuitive infrastructure will have you comfortable with your surroundings in no time. For biking adventures both small and large, you’ll simply have a hard topping a cycling trip through the sprawling natural wonders of Sweden.