Birdsong and beauty    

Diversity is the key to the province of Småland, comprising Jönköping, Kalmar and Kronoberg counties, a regional paradise of 5000 lakes and at least as many islands... a natural wonderland, where in many parts you are far more likely to encounter elk or roe deer than another human being.

Murmuring forests carpeted in moss, where mushrooms flourish and lingonberries bloom, complement an ever-changing coastline of sandy beaches, spectacular rock formations, cliffs and skerries. A much-loved architectural feature of the province is the characteristic Småland cottage, painted red and trimmed neatly in white, in a natural landscape of birdsong and beauty.

During the Viking Age, the province was a centre of iron production. In the mid-19th century, wood and glassworks became important local industries, and today some of the world's most famous glassworks carry on the tradition of handicrafts in a network of artisans known as the Kingdom of Crystal, more than a dozen glassworks within a few kilometres of each other.

Famous sons and daughters of Småland include Astrid Lindgren, author of the children's classic Pippi Longstocking; the adventurer Salomon August Andrée, who tried to reach the North Pole by balloon in 1898 (the Andrée Museum in the beautiful little town of Gränna tells the story); Carl Linnaeus, also known as Carl von Linné, the father of modern taxonomy... and Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA.

The idyllic 12th century small town of Vimmerby, the site of an Astrid Lindgren theme park, is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the province. Linnaeus' birthplace in the village of Råshult is also popular, while the magnificent Västervik archipelago, off the east coast town of that name, is often described as Sweden's most beautiful.

Match museum
Among Småland's major towns and cities, Jönköping, on the shore of beautiful lake Vättern, is known as the "city of matches": the old factory is now a unique Match Museum. The County Museum houses a collection of paintings by John Bauer (1882-1918), illustrator of a famous Christmas book, "Among Brownies and Trolls", one of many exhibits on local and cultural themes.

Kalmar, one of the oldest towns in the province, is famous for its 13th-century castle and medieval Old Town, and for the Union of Kalmar, amalgamating the three Scandinavian states of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which was signed there in 1397. The town is ringed by a necklace of sea beaches, from Blå Jungrun island in the north to Bröms in the south.

Almost a fifth of the million Swedes who emigrated to North America between 1850 and 1925 came from Småland. In the town of Växjö, the Emigrant Institute, with Europe's largest archive and library on emigration and a permanent exhibition on "The Dream of America", is a perfect starting point for visitors from other countries trying to trace their Swedish roots.

Glass museum
Växjö's internationally known Småland Museum also houses Sweden's national museum of glass. The permanent exhibits feature Småland's rural industrial landscape and "five centuries of Swedish glass", with temporary exhibitions on design, glass, the visual arts and cultural history.

Among the many reasons for visiting Småland is its distinctive cuisine, the product of generations of ingenious cooks who have learned to exploit Nature's pantry, harvested in the forests and fields or by hunting or fishing, to create delicacies refined through centuries of accumulated folk wisdom. Here as elsewhere in Sweden, the old recipes are often the best; but there is also plenty of innovative cooking to showcase the superlative quality of the local ingredients. Hungry visitors should check out the menu for pâté of pike, salmon pudding, fresh crayfish, pickled Baltic herring, leg of mutton, lingonberry jam – and not to mention the famous Småland cheese cake....

Photo: Astrid Lindgrens Värld
Astrid Lindgren´s World

Kalmar Castle Brahehus Castle Local ingredients

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