Established in 1909, Abisko National Park was one of the first National Parks in Sweden, and is located above the Arctic Circle in the far north. While this is one of the best places on earth to see the Northern Lights, there’s a lot more to this magnificent park, depending on the time of year. It’s remote and vast, and you will encounter few humans, but instead moose and reindeer, as well as occasionally lynx, bears and even Arctic foxes. It’s so far off the grid, in fact, that you have to think about safety when visiting, as the weather can get wild and you won’t want an encounter with some of those aforementioned animals.
There are a number of extensive biking routes in Sweden and the one that runs along the east coast (kustlinjen means ‘coast line’), from Öregrund north of Stockholm all the way down to Västervik, is one of the best. The route takes you through small villages and more remote coastline, as well as farm country and wonderful forests. It’s about 560 kilometres (350 miles) in total and there are vandrarhem (‘wanderer’s homes’ – essentially basic hostels) along the way that are perfect for overnight stays. This is just one of a number of extensive biking routes, and you can either cycle along the whole length of it, or just do a portion of the route, taking the train back to your main base afterwards.
Åre is one of those places where you can engage, or not engage, with others as much as you’d like. It’s a world-class ski resort and come winter there are plenty of glamorous people and events to enjoy, but even then you can rent a small cabin away from the hullabaloo and ski off-piste, keeping to yourself. Come the warmer months there are plenty of activities that can be enjoyed with others, but also more than enough space to commune with nature and get some head space.
About five hours by car or 50 minutes by air, Öland is where people go to relax and recharge. While the main town, Borgholm, does like to throw a party, the rest of the island is made of up windswept beaches, remote farmland, bird sanctuaries and plenty of flea markets. The landscape is dotted with small summer cottages, where friends and family gather for nights of cooking and a few drinks, and days are spent hiking, swimming and biking. Gotland may get a lot more attention, but the smart traveller knows that Öland is actually the better choice.
Sweden is home to a number of archipelagos, each with its own unique character. One of the best ways to explore one is to hop in a kayak and start rolling. The one at Bohuslän is particularly well suited for kayaking, but really any of them are fantastic. Stockholm has the mighty Baltic surrounding its much-vaunted archipelago, which is home to thousands upon thousands of islands, some uninhabited and perfect for exploring and foraging for wild berries and mushrooms.
In Sweden, the right of public access – allemansrätten – gives everyone the right to pitch a tent for a few nights anywhere in nature, as long as you keep a good distance away from homes, and are not on farmland. It’s also a good idea to ask the landowner if at all possible, if only out of politeness, and you may even be invited to a meal if you do this. This allows you to hike or bike around the country, camping when you need some rest, and do that solo thing in a perfectly unique way.
Going underground is certainly one way of going off the grid, and the world’s deepest hotel room, the Mine Suite at Sala Silver Mine (Sala silvergruva) will allow you to do just that. At 155 metres (500 feet) below ground, the suite is not for those with even the mildest case of claustrophobia. But if you can stand that enclosed feeling, this is the ultimate in going off the grid. The temperature in the tunnels never rises above 2°C, but the suite is kept at a comfortable 18°C. You can go solo or cosy up for the night with a loved one: either way, no one will find you here.
Drive for just two hours and you’re at Sweden’s most primitive hotel, Kolarbyn Ecolodge, where chemicals and toxins are avoided like the plague, and accommodation has been built using local natural materials. There are 12 cabins covered in mud and grass, with blueberries and mushrooms growing from the roofs, and no electricity or showers. While you’re truly getting off the grid here, you’ll also be treated to some incredible food, all made from nature’s local bounty.