Tucked away in the southeast corner of Skåne, in southern Sweden, Österlen is a little Swedish paradise that embodies absolutely everything I love about living in southern Sweden. A popular summer haven for city dwellers, Österlen is a place where creatives and artists live and congregate. It is a region full of century-old cottages, antique shops, art galleries, incredible restaurants and farm hotels, hiking trails, quaint fishing villages, and the most beautiful Swedish beaches.
When I first visited Österlen I fell in so in love. I was completely wrapped up in the charm of it all – I understood the hype. What amazes me is that this little Swedish paradise remains largely off the radar of international tourists. But then again, I can totally understand why Swedes want to keep this spot all to themselves.
Ready to have the absolute best time in Österlen? Here’s everything you need to know!
Where to Stay: Österlen Hotels
There are so many fantastic hotels to stay at in Österlen, ranging from spa resorts to cozy farm hotels, and everything in between. I would just love to hotel-hop around the region because there are so many hotels I’m interested in staying at. But, here’s three of my favourites that I have been to so far:
Talldungen: I have written about this special hotel in other blog posts. In fact, I have a whole blog post dedicated to this Brösarps backar hotel here. This spot is really, really special. It’s eclectic and fun. The owners are such wonderful hosts. And they serve some of the best food and wine I’ve had in all of Sweden. Talldungen is located in Brösarps backar, a beautiful region of rolling hills in northern Österlen. This is a great hotel to base yourself at if you’re exploring north Österlen.
Örum 119: This hotel is all about aesthetic and it is seriously beautiful. The rooms are comfortable, and the common areas feature floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the farm fields. Onsite they have a pizza restaurant, homemade ice cream shop, and farm shop. If you’re in southern Österlen, you must spend a night or two at Örum 119.
Ystad Saltsjöbad: If you’re looking for an Österlen spa, Ystad Saltsjöbad is located on the southwest coast of Österlen and offers a premium spa experience.
Things to Do in Österlen
Nordic Sea Winery: Wine may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Sweden, but there have been plenty of wineries popping up around southern Sweden in recent years. Nordic Sea Winery is a great spot to learn about local wine, and to do a tasting.
Brösarps Backar: The hilly region of Brösarps backar is one of my very favourite places to hike in Sweden. The rolling hills are reminiscent of Tuscany, offering some of the best hiking views in all of Sweden. To read my tips for visiting Brösarps backar, check out my Skåne hiking guide.
Knäbäckshusen: This beautiful beach has trees that follow the coastline and hang over the water, and is absolutely beautiful. It is also common to see surfers at this beach, as the water can get a bit rough.
Sandhammaren beach: This is my favourite beach in all of Sweden. The long white sand beach will make you feel like you have been transported to the Caribbean, and the sand dunes that line the coastline are dramatic. Read about my other favourite Swedish beaches here.
Simrishamn: The artsy village of Simrishamn is a place where creatives meet. You’ll find art shops, live music, and charming cobblestone streets lined with historic homes. Make sure you head down to the seafront, where you’re likely to see locals fishing.
Kiviks Musteri: Kiviks Musteri is well-known across Sweden as the leader in all things apples. They own a large orchard in Österlen, and produce products made from their own apples, berries, and other plants. You can visit the Musteributiken, a farm shop where they sell all their goods, take a tour of the facilities, or attend a cider tasting. While you’re in the area, head into the fisherman’s town of Kivik too.
Ales Stenar: This is Sweden’s version own version of Stonehenge. Ales stenar is an oval-shaped ring of large boulders that sits high above sea level, and is believed to be over 5000 years old. The story of the stones is unclear; some have predicted to be a Viking ship, and others a sun dial. It is an absolute must-visit.
Kåseberga: A charming little fishing village located along Sweden’s southernmost scenic coastline, locals flock here to buy freshly caught fish (most famously at Kåseberga Fisk). Here you’ll find red-sided fisherman’s huts and a really beautiful coastline. I’d recommend walking east from the town along the coast for some really beautiful views.
Österlenkryddor: Tucked away in the Österlen countryside is this little farm shop selling homemade spices, herbs and more. In June/July, they grow their own lavender and sell many lavender products – including their award-winning lavender ice cream.
Stenshuvud National Park: This coastal national park is a great stop for an easy hike along the eastern coastline. Read more about Stenshuvud here.
When in doubt, just drive. Some of my favourite places in Österlen have been the spots I have stumbled upon. The region is littered with flea markets and antique shops (keep an eye out for signs that say ‘loppis‘) and art galleries. There is so much to be discovered!
The Best Österlen Restaurants: Where You Must Eat!
I have said it 1000 times, but I will say it again, because the local culinary scene here is truly world-class. Copenhagen paved the way over a decade ago when world-famous Noma was named the “best restaurant in the world” for it’s take on new Nordic dining. Using primarily locally-sourced ingredients and curating a menu based on what’s in-season is no easy feat, especially in the Nordics where the growing conditions aren’t exactly optimal year-round. But there is something about this experimental yet simplistic dining culture that has everyone buzzing – myself included.
New Nordic dining has expanded across the Baltic sea to southern Sweden, where many restaurants have adapted the concept, and made it their own. In Österlen, you can find some of the very best restaurants in all of Sweden. Here are some of my favourites.
Talldungen: I already mentioned this as a place to stay, but it is also one of the best places in Österlen for dinner. The use local ingredients from Österlen to curate a seasonal menu that changes regularly. They also have one of the best wine selections I have come across in Skåne. Make sure you book a table!
Pastafabriken: Homemade pasta in middle-of-nowhere Österlen? After moving to Sweden from a Canadian city with a huge Italian population, I have been really critical of Swedish Italian food. It’s just generally not very good. But this spot changed my mind. Located in Ingelstorp, a small village in south Österlen, you’ll find impeccable handmade pasta, wine, and authentic desserts like tiramisu.
Hörte Brygga: Serving up food from local farmers and growers in the area, Hörte Brygga is “inspired by their surroundings.” The menu is simple, and leans of the flavours of premium produce. This seasonal restaurant is wildly popular, and people have known to cue down the street in their car to visit this drop-in-only spot. But trust me, the wait is worth it.
Örum 119: I also recommended Örum 119 as a play to stay, but this is also an amazing place to eat. Onsite, you’ll find a pizza restaurant serving up wood-fire-based sourdough pizza, a homemade ice cream shop, and on Sundays, a 7-course “långfrukost” (long breakfast). I can really recommend all of it.
Kronovalls Vinslott: Kronovalls is a beautiful castle located in the middle of nowhere. But it is also a really great spot to grab pizza! If you’re roaming around northern Österlen and are looking for lunch, you can sit on the terrace and enjoy pizza with a view of the castle.
Bella på Österlen: Using influences from Italian cuisine, this is another spot that changed my mind about Italian food in Sweden. Like many chefs in the region, the owner moved down from Stockholm for a quieter life in Österlen. And the food here is really amazing.
Madame Blå Creperie: If you’re looking for a quick lunch, this is a great spot for French-inspired crepes. Located in a historical home with ceilings so low that Sebastian had to bend down, they serve sweet and savoury crepes suitable for every palette.
The Best Österlen Fika Spots + Cafes
If you’re roaming around Österlen, stopping at one of Österlen’s best cafes for fika is an absolute must. And thankfully, there is no shortage of cafes for a coffee and sweet. But here are some of my favourites.
Olof Viktors: No fika list would be complete without this spot – it is an Österlen institution and has received countless awards as one of the best bakeries in Sweden. They use all-natural ingredients and bake using a wood-burning stove oven, and in the summertime, you can sit outside and have your fika on their terrace overlooking the surrounding farms.
Backagården: Here you can have your fika in a beautiful greenhouse. They also have a really charming shop filled with home goods and art.
Österlenchoklad: Österlen’s very own little chocolate factory. The chocolate shop and cafe is located in an old school in Skåne-Tranås and they curate incredible chocolates. You can sit in the cafe and have a fika, and purchase chocolate to-go at factory prices.
Kiviks Musteri: The cafe at this famous apple orchard serves all kinds of delicious apple-flavoured baked goods (and other things, too). You can also try many of Kiviks other popular products, like ciders and jams.
When to Visit Österlen
Despite being largely unknown outside of Sweden, Österlen draws huge crowds in the summer months. It isn’t unusual to see people cuing in their cars to get a parking spot at a trendy cafe, or waiting outside ahead of their favourite antique shop opening.
I can confirm that summer in Österlen is pure magic, but that isn’t the only time to visit. Österlen is just as beautiful in the shoulder season, in the spring or autumn. And there will be significantly less crowds, making it easier to make reservations at the many of the spots I talked about in this post.
If you’re looking to visit Österlen in the winter, keep in mind that many local businesses close in the winter months. Most local businesses open for the season around Easter weekend and stay open during the autumn. Just make sure you check the opening hours at your must-visit attractions and restaurants before booking the trip.