In West Sweden Christmas is celebrated on piers, in castles and at Santa Land

Pickled herring and schnaps. Photo: Göran Assner5

Pickled herring and schnaps are necessities on the Swedish Christmas table.

In the different parts of West Sweden, Christmas is celebrated in castles and cottages, in boathouses by the sea, or among tall trees in the snow-covered wilderness. And in all these settings, in the counties of Bohuslän, Dalsland and Västergötland, well-stocked Christmas Buffets are on offer. Try some local food traditions, customs and legends – it will give your Christmas celebrations a touch of West Sweden. Continue reading…

Escape the City this Christmas

Throughout this article Katie Watson from Off the Map Travel  shows you ways to combine the Christmas City of  Gothenburg with activities in the wonderful winter landscape of Dalsland. 

Gothenburg in West Sweden is full of festivities throughout November and December and it is a fabulous city to visit and experience in the run up to Christmas to enjoy some traditional foods, concerts and activities. Here at Off the Map Travel we wanted to give our customers the chance to enjoy this experience but also really get to know the beauty and nature that rural west Sweden has to offer!

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Harvest Time – On the Lookout for Food in the Forest.

Summer may be almost over, but this is the time to fill your larder with all the tasty ingredients the forest has to offer. I’m talking about everything from mushrooms to game. Because what could beat a heap of freshly picked golden chanterelles? Fried in butter and gently salted, served on a slice of tasty bread. A simple pleasure, and almost free. Talking about mushrooms, I do hope this is a good year for ceps. This proud member of the Boletus family, with its nutty flavour is a fine addition to any kitchen. This is something that the Italians know well. They go mad for this particular mushroom and will buy as much of it as they can get their hands on. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that the dried ceps sold in our delicatessens under an Italian label were actually picked in Sweden.

Get Funghi organizes guided mushroom picking in holidays in Sweden – a perfect way to experience the mushrooms first-hand!

Mushroom Picking! Photo: Jonas Ingman

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The Dalsland Canoe Marathon+ – How Sian Lewis of Health and Fitness Magazine Embraced the Challenge

Sweden’s largest canoe event – the Dalsland Canoe Marathon – recently celebrated its tenth year, with hundreds of paddlers all keen to complete the 55 km / 34 mile course in the fastest time possible! The annual race, is held on the second weekend of August each year, takes place in Dalsland’s lush, forests and sparkling glacial lakes, with canoeists traversing the four lakes – Laxsjön, Svärdlång, Västra Silen, and Lelång – with water so pure, you can drink it. It is open to all abilities (there’s even a shorter course for kids) and participants celebrate in Swedish style with a crayfish party afterwards.

The Marathon! Photo: Anna Nyberg

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Adventures in Dalsland

Dalsland. Photo: Will Jones

My friend Andy and I had a choice. We were at the reception of Silverlake Camp in Dalsland, Western Sweden, about to indulge in a spot of mountain-biking, and could opt for either a 10km, 20km or 30km route. The routes were inked out with marker pen on three laminated maps, over which we brooded intently, our eyebrows furrowed in the grave manner customary to men trying to pretend they have the foggiest idea about what they’re looking at. Christer, our contact at the camp, smiled patiently behind the desk.

I took a chance and pointed at the middle map, the one I perceived to have the shortest route, 10km. “This one looks pretty straightforward… Andy?”

Andy nodded vigorously. I had chosen well. Christer grinned and said: “I’m impressed! 30km it is! You guys realise this is going to be hard work, right?”

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We Can Do It – Can(y)oe?!

Perhaps it was my male intuition. Perhaps it was the sudden arrival of my long-awaited sixth sense. Perhaps I was just exceptionally perceptive that morning. I guess I’ll never know. But whatever it was, something told me that getting heavily inebriated the night before a canoe marathon was not a wise move. I looked at my friend, Andy. He wore a puzzled, thoughtful expression, and I wondered if he was experiencing a similar epiphany.

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Dalsland Canoe Marathon: An Impossible Challenge?

“But you hate canoeing. And you have that weird fear, right? Raftophobia or something?”
“It’s bathophobia – and I don’t hate canoeing. I’m just not very good at it.”

Will Jones, My Destination and his friend Andy participating in Dalsland Canoe Marathon+

Will Jones, My Destination and his friend Andy participating in Dalsland Canoe Marathon+

For the record, bathophobia is not a fear of baths. It is a fear of deep water. Especially contained deep water, such as a lake. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, despite being a perfectly capable swimmer. And as for canoeing, ‘not very good’ was putting it lightly. I’d only ever done it once before and it had ended with me literally going round in circles before unceremoniously capsizing, and then panicking because my feet didn’t touch the bottom.

Perhaps my other half was right to be concerned. I had just told her I’d accepted an offer to take part in a canoe marathon in the lakes of Dalsland, West Sweden, in a few days’ time.
“What about training? It’s a marathon – they’re like 26 miles, aren’t they? Surely you need to train?”
“Actually,” I swallowed hard, “it’s 35 miles. But they said anyone can give it a go. I’ll be fine!”

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Meet the Winner!

California resident Eva Crose won a “road trip of a lifetime” in the Car Plus Vacation Contest presented by West Sweden, Volvo Overseas Delivery, and VisitSweden. Eva and her husband Gregory just returned from their long-awaited trip to Western Sweden, where they spent ten days touring the region in a rented Volvo. We called her up to hear about her trip.

So first of all, tell us a little about your trip to West Sweden.
Wow—everything was absolutely wonderful! The trip was very well arranged, the weather was perfect, and the accommodations were exemplary. And just seeing so much green and water all around us was very relaxing. We just had a wonderful time.

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Retreat to your own Swedish island

Dalsland - Photo by LisaNestorson

Dalsland - Photo by LisaNestorson

Dixe Wills on Henriksholm in West Sweden in The Guardian April 9

Henriksholm is a beautiful three-mile-long island on a lake in Dalsland, West Sweden and is home to a wonderfully remote manor, which takes the concept of getting away from it all, to a new level. Guests can bask in the great outdoors surrounding this gorgeous retreat; swimming, walking and canoeing, whilst admiring the surrounding wildlife. Dixe Wills from The Guardian recently enjoyed a visit to Henriksholm, documenting his exploration of this unique island getaway…

Read the full story here

Dalsland: Outdoor adventures!

biking dalsland

Had enough of the shopping, lounging, and eating? Well Dalsland is the perfect destination for your next trip. The beautiful yet rugged terrain is built for outdoor sports, hiking and biking.

In fact Dalsland, which is only 2 hours north of Gothenburg, has become a destination for MBO or Mountain Bike Orientating as they just hosted the annual event on May 8th which will drew thousands of bikers from all over.  The total course length of MTB-O is around 40 kilometres  divided into three stages. So channel your inner Lance Armstrong and gear up!  If you have no idea what MBO is, it “ most closely resembles ski orienteering, except on a bike, where the choice of route between the control points is more of a deciding factor than difficult control points.”

And, if you prefer water to land then get in a canoe! Dalsland also hosts an annual canoe race (which is run by the same people as the MBO event). Don’t regret your vacation feasts and get outdoors and a little sweaty in Dalsland.