The best nature and wildlife areas in Sweden are known for their untouched landscapes, including plenty of natural wonders located within easy reach of the most popular holiday destinations. Discover the northern region of Norrland where the midnight sun reigns supreme in the summer months while the awe-inspiring northern lights captivate hearts and minds in the winter. Escape the urban jungle and venture into forests and countryside around the capital which are home to some of its most stunning and popular sights.

    Or if you prefer shorter and more organised excursions into nature, take yourself to a moose park or hike along one of the shorter trails that can be found all across southern Sweden. No matter where in Sweden you travel, you'll find no shortage of national parks and other areas for outdoor recreation.

    1

    Abisko National Park

    Midnight sun, northern lights and the great outdoors

    Abisko National Park is known for its majestic mountains, gorgeous reindeers and the colourful glow of the northern lights. In the summertime, it is home to flowering meadows and the midnight sun. Or if you come in the autumn, you'll find the mountain ablaze in a glorious display of fiery reds and golden yellows. Winter and early spring, finally, are seasons to wrap up warm, and you'll need snow shoes or skis if you're not exploring the area by snowmobile or dog sled. The park has both camping spaces where you can pitch your tent and cabins for rent, depending on just how close to nature you want to be.

    Abisko National Park is located just over 62 miles west of the city of Kiruna and is most easily reached by car, although you can also take the bus to Abisko Tourist Station (Abisko Turiststation).

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    2

    Tyresta National Park

    Outdoor recreation close to the city

    Tyresta National Park is an outdoor recreation area close to Stockholm where you'll find 5,000 hectares of forests and lakes criss-crossed by an extensive network of hiking trails. The park is one of the top nature and wildlife areas in Sweden and makes for an excellent day-trip destination when visiting the Stockholm area. Hike through wild-growing and untouched pine forests which are intermittently broken up by open areas where you'll find glistening lakes and rocky ledges. At the park's visitor centre, you'll find exhibitions and activities as well as a shop where you can buy maps of the park.

    You can reach Tyresta National Park in just under an hour by bus from central Stockholm or in around half an hour if travelling by rental car.

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    3

    Tiveden National Park

    Giant boulders and gorgeous waters close to Lake Vättern

    Tiveden National Park is home to impressive boulders, glistening lakes and wild-growing woodlands. You'll find hiking trails of a somewhat more challenging variety, pleasant equestrian trails and smaller cycle paths. The park is home to a number of impressive landmarks including the so-called Troll Church (Trollkyrka), which is in fact not a church at all but actually a mountain. The Vitsand area in the park is home to a gorgeous sandy beach where you can go swimming in the summertime.

    Tiveden National Park enjoys a great location close to the northern shores of Lake Vättern, making it an excellent day-trip destination when visiting the Västergötland region. From Gothenburg the park is about 3 hours away by car, while the towns of Skövde and Motala are each around 40 miles away.

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    4

    Kosterhavet National Park

    A marine national park with excellent wildlife

    Kosterhavet National Park is one of the first marine national parks in Sweden, and an interesting coastal area around the Koster Islands in Bohuslän, West Sweden. The Koster Sea is where the largely desalinated, brackish water from the Baltic Sea and the saltwater of the Atlantic meet, giving rise to a number of interesting developments. Beneath the water lie coral reefs waiting to be uncovered while a rich birdlife and many seals attract visitors above sea level.

    Kosterhavet National Park also has a visitor's centre which you can reach by taking the ferry from the small city of Strömstad to the island of Sydkoster. The crossing takes approximately 45 minutes. The harbour in Strömstad is also the departure point for numerous boat tours around the Koster Sea area so be sure to pick up some pamphlets when you pass through.

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    5

    Söderåsen National Park

    Leafy walks in southern Sweden

    Söderåsen National Park is home to tranquil walks along leafy paths ranging from just 900 metres in length up to as much as 8 miles. The trails will take you through deciduous woodlands, over hills, across meadows and pastures and over the ridge that gives the park its name (which means the Southern Ridge in English). While in the area, take the opportunity to visit the Ugglerödsdalen Lookout Point or the remains of the Rallaté Volcano. In the summer, you can also take a revitalising dip in the waters of Lake Odensjön.

    To reach Söderåsen National Park, take bus 518 from the town of Klippan which stops directly outside the main entrance to the park. You'll also find plenty of parking if arriving by car. The park is located around 40 minutes away by car from Lund, Landskrona and Helsingborg, or around an hour from Malmö.

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    6

    Fulufjället National Park

    Deep forests and one of Sweden's tallest waterfalls

    Fulufjället National Park is home to ancient trees, big waterfalls and natural beauty. Begin your hike at the Njupeskär Waterfall which, at a height of 93 metres, is one of the tallest in Sweden. Some of the fir trees here are among the oldest in the world and grew from the shoots of trees that first took root after the end of the Ice Age. There are spots along the trails where you can pitch your tent or rent a cabin.

    Fulufjället National Park is located 93 miles to the north-west of the town of Mora and 24 miles to the south of the Idrefjäl Ski Resort on the northern border of the Dalarna region. The nearest bus stop is just over a mile away and the isolated location of the park means that the easiest way to arrive is by car.

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    7

    Stora Karlsö Island Reserve

    The second oldest nature reserve in the world

    Stora Karlsö is one of the world's oldest nature reserves, so it's not surprising that it's considered one of the top nature and wildlife areas in Sweden. The area is known for its fantastic birdlife as well as its varied flora and many excellent sea views. The craggy limestone cliffs abruptly give way to salty sea water and make for an impressive sight to behold. The island is also home to around 20 caves which you can explore, and which have been used as shelter since way back in the Stone Age. Watch out for birds like the common murre, the razorbill and the black guillemot. Stay overnight at the youth hostel and stroll along the coast at sunset, or wake up early to go birdwatching at sunrise.

    Stora Karlsö is one of two islands located off the coast of Gotland, which is itself an island off Sweden's eastern coast in the Baltic Sea. The easiest way to arrive in summer is to take the ferry from the port of Klintehamn on the western coast of Gotland, which is 20 miles south of the island's capital, Visby.

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    8

    Stenshuvud National Park

    Coastal mountains, forests and beaches in the Österlen region

    Stenshuvud National Park is home to coastal mountains, deciduous forests, pastures and open landscapes where you can enjoy the magnificent sight of flowering orchids if you plan your visit at the right time. You'll also find sandy beaches with shaded areas and an almost exotic vibe. The hiking trails are for the most part fairly short – with the exception of the Skåneleden Trail, the longest route is just 2 and 1/2 miles. Children will get a confidence boost from tackling the 97-metre-tall Stenshuvud hill which offers a great view over the Baltic Sea from its top.

    Stenshuvud National Park is located immediately to the south of Kivik in the picturesque coastal region of Österlen, making it a great day-trip destination for anyone looking to soak up a bit of south Swedish sun and scenery. The park is not serviced by public transport so you'll need a rental car to make your way here.

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    photo by Jin Zan (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Norra Kvill National Park

    Expansive park in a small-scale format

    Norra Kvill National Park is a small park in the southern region of Småland with large boulders and chunky trees. Depending on how much you want to walk, you have two trail options to choose between: the Lilla Idgölen Loop at 1.5 miles in length or the Stora Idgölen Loop at 2.5 miles in length. No matter which path you opt for, you'll walk past large boulders and leafy wetlands as you make your way around. You may even climb up the rocky plateau of Idhöjden for a great view over the park.

    Norra Kvill National Park is located around 12 miles to the north of Vimmerby and Mariannelund which makes it ideal for a day trip when visiting one of these towns in the region of Småland. It is also a great place to combine with a visit to nearby Astrid Lindgren's World, where the kids can meet Pippi Longstocking and indulge their love for reading and storybooks.

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    photo by Pudelek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    10

    Smålandet Moose Safari (Smålandet Markaryd)

    Moose and bison safari in Småland

    Smålandet Moose Safari (Smålandet Markaryd) offers you the unique opportunity to come face to face with the king of the forest – the majestic moose. Head out on a safari adventure among moose and bison across a leafy and winding 1.8-mile trail. If you arrive by rental car then you can drive the trail yourself, although you may prefer to ride on the park's quaint little train instead. The little ones will no doubt want to visit the goat enclosure and there is also a great restaurant and café on site where you can recharge after all the excitement of your visit.

    The safari park is located just outside the town of Markaryd in the forests of the Småland region. That means it is most easily reached by car, although another option is to take the train to Markaryd and then hire a bike in the town centre.

    Location: Misterhult 2032, 285 91 Markaryd, Sweden

    Open: Saturday–Sunday 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +46 433 12923

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