Södermanland or Sörmland as it is better known wasn’t necessarily high on our list of places to visit when we were thinking of Sweden, Stockholm sure, but this undiscovered region of Sweden not so much. We’re glad we did though, a short drive from Stockholm 45 minutes, this rural gem is a local favourite and we’re so glad we were part of it for a weekends getaway.
A region of manors, castles and rich royal history, you can’t help but feel somewhat noble yourself. Most of the manor houses are private homes, while others have become museums. Many have a completely new life as hotels, varying from quaint to opulent and all come with a rich backstory. Each are unique and interesting in their own right and offer an array of experiences.
We learnt a lot on the Swedish way of life and are sharing a few (10) interesting facts from our short stay.
- Swedes are the biggest consumer of ice cream in Europe
- Gustaf’s first son Erik proposed to Queen Elizabeth 1st (twice)
- Sörmland has 4,000 islands and there’s 40,000 private boats in Sörmland and
- There are 400 manor homes in Sörmland many are still run by noble men.
- There’s more to Swedish cuisine than their iconic meatballs and liquorish fish, they are also crazy for crayfish and love to throw ‘crayfish parties’ (mostly in August), for which all that is required is some friends, beer and schnapps, freshly boiled crayfish and a selection of silly drink songs.
- Sörmland is used for film locations. The first Girl with the dragon tattoo for instance
- Swedish people don’t really do curtains, they like to let light in (so little they do get)
- Midsommar is the most important holiday in the Swedish calendar – the short summer season is cherished and celebrated in Sweden. Originally June 24th, now Midsommar Eve is celebrated between June 20th-25th. This afternoon concept has been extended to 3 days and is big on the Swedish calendar.
- On the eve of Midsommar a lady needs to pick 7 wild summer flowers and put under her pillow whilst she sleeps she will dream of her dream man
- The place where the King got into a car accident is now home to the first Ikea and is famously called Curve of the King ‘kungens kurva’
Oh and there’s a bonus point that’s just too good to simply list – there’s maps that encourage supporting women running enterprises in Sörmland, everything from traditional crafts, running manors or foodie outlets – check it out here. Sweden is proud to support and nurture women and we love them all the more for it!!
We saw so much and still feel like we have much more to see, we’ve shortlisted some of our favourites; what to see, eat, do, where to stay!
For large groups of 8+ only – Ericsbergs Castle is one of Sweden’s best-preserved and most impressive baroque castle. For smaller groups, who won’t be able to stay overnight, can still walk around the beautiful well kept park and capture some awesome Instagram shots of the magically lake.
Speak directly to Ericsbergs Castle for bespoke group packages.
For champagne lovers, the Dufweholm Manor is a must, it’s got a quirky story too. The story goes… In 1916 champagne and cognac was travelling to Russia as bribes when it sank. Treasure hunter Claus found the wreckage near Finland 80 years after it sank and it’s since been distributed to a select few including the champagne cellar at this wonderful hotel. Dufweholm Manor have preserved the champagne that has been on the ocean floor for over 80 years in an aquarium – how cool is that? The hotel sold most expensive bottle for £45,000 this year. Every year the hotel hosts a champagne event and Clause returns to open and try two or three bottles. So far 11 have been opened and tried and tasted. Verdict, decent taste – more like fortified wine. One of Sweden’s finest sommeliers has confirmed the quality too.
Whilst, you may not be fortunate to try these vintage champagnes, guests are able to request wine tastings of other fine wine (minimum two guests). Award winning, Swedish wine maker Goran Annegard of Blaxsta Vineyard also supplies his wines exclusively to their restaurant.
For those looking for fine dining, the resident restaurant delivers the goods with a locally produced, fresh and inventive menu – making for a delicious offering that paired with liquid heaven in the form of award winning wines is simply divine.
Trosa Stadshotell & Spa is another impressive boutique hotel situated in Trosa – an idyllic small picturesque town along the Trosa River with shops and cafés (located by the sea, 45 minutes south of Stockholm). Trosa we’re told has always attracted authors and artists, and there are many stories of their stays at this wonderful hotel. There’s also a serene spa to unwind after a busy trip and the restaurant is fantastic – their open sandwiches (for a lunchtime treat) are a dream.
Aside from the onsite restaurants at the hotels we’ve already recommended. We loved having casual burgers at the delightful Gripsholmsgrillen where you can enjoy good fastfood against the beautiful backdrop of Gripsholm Castle. For the best waffles in Sörmland go to summer pop up Skärgårdsvåfflan and enjoy these sugary treats and experience Oxelösunds beautiful archipelago. For lunch options Lida Garda is great (we hugely recommend the Swedish meatballs), situated by Stenhammar castle which since 1966 has been rented by HM King Carl XVI Gustaf – the royal family often visit the estate. Prince Carl Philips clothing line is also available to buy here as are other interesting Swedish brands.
Sparreholm castle is another impressive manor house but best of all, it’s the site of one of Europe’s biggest jukebox collections, home to an extensive classic car collection (around 65 currently on the estate), a beautiful carriage museum, and an exciting museum of technology with bicycles, motorbikes and telephones). It’s well worth the trip just to see the juke box collection – we left overwhelmed by the impressive amount residing in one place.
The beautiful Gripsholm Castle is located at Mariefred by the stunning Lake Mälaren (Sweden’s third largest lake). The castle is known as Gustav Vasa’s castle, as he was responsible for building the castle here in 1537. The Swedish State’s collection of portraits – featuring prominent Swedes is interesting and worth a look (some very interesting characters). It attracts around 60.000 visitors per year and the collections we’re told celebrates ‘Swedishness’. Guided tour in English is available at 3pm in summer everyday.
Mariefred town has a history that goes many years back and this scenic town has much to offer aside from the castle. You can also go by steamship S/S Mariefred from Stockholm to Mariefred. The steamship has operated the Stockholm-Mariefred route since 1903. The coal fired steam boiler powers her quietly across the waters of Lake Mälaren.
Julita Manor is another must, ideally positioned on the shores of Lake Öljaren. In the middle ages Julita was a monastery. It later became a state demesne and later still a manor house owned by members of the Swedish nobility. Julita Manor attracts around 50, 000 tourists per year. At Julita you find a complete country estate from before the turn of the 20th century, preserved with all its exquisite interiors, parks, orchard, green house, kitchen garden, its own dairy, fire station, church, brickworks – in fact everything that was part of a large estate of that time.
Julita is also Swedens Museum of agriculture and holds gene banks for apples, pears and hops, a peony garden, agricultural exhibits, a modern free-range barn and footpaths in a cultural landscape. Pettson and Findus, well known from the books by Sven Nordkvist, have their farm at Julita.
By Air – Stockholm Skavsta Airport is the 5th largest airport in Sweden and is situated 10 km west of Nyköping, and about 100 km from Stockholm. Ryanair and Wizz Air have direct flights from a lot of destinations in Europe. Stockholm Arlanda Airport serves both international and domestic flights. Train connections from Arlanda to most towns in Sörmland (1,5 -2 hrs).
By car – The main European Motorways E4 and E20 pass through Sörmland.
By train – Most towns in Sörmland can be reached by train. Travel time from Stockholm to Sörmland is between 40 minutes to 1 hr 30 min. Train schedule information is available on here
For local info please VisitSörmland
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