After a year of exploring by bicycle we needed to choose a place which we from then on would call home. A bit of personal history and way too little research made us choose Sweden. Outdoor paradise, but not typically known as a cycling hotspot.
Winter cycling in Sweden
When you think of Sweden and adventure cycling most expeditioners immediately dream of the wilderness of Swedish Lapland. A harsh and wild environment which can only be traversed by bicycle in the warm summer months. In fact, the biggest part of Sweden lays so far up north, that the winter months are no joke and are definitely not rideable all year round.
But in the southernmost tip of Sweden lies a region where the winters are less harsh, making cycling possible all year round, the province Scania or Skåne in Swedish. The route possibilities are endless too. Perfect smooth asphalt on quiet roads, gravel that goes on for hours and trails that run deep through the woods all the way to the beautiful coastline.
Our ultimate 7-day Southern Scania cycling adventure
For the last couple of months we have been discovering this hidden gem. And now we have put together our ultimate 7-day Southern Scania cycling adventure through breathtaking scenery and versatile landscapes.
Skåne is enclosed by water from three sides, and a vast part of this adventure runs along the majestic coastline with sandy beaches. We made sure that the route offers cycling for every rider’s taste. Expect diverse infrastructure, from fast smooth tarmac to challenging single trails. We hope you packed light, because you will be carrying your bike on this route.
Departing from Malmö
The route starts in our hometown Malmö, Scania’s capital. This former harbour city is modernizing rapidly which has led to a unique urban landscape where futuristic architecture buildings make a strong contrast against the beautiful traditional landmarks.
Immediately after leaving the city you enter the enormous network of gravel roads running through a patchwork of farmlands. Soon enough you hit the coast of the Öresund, a strait which forms the natural border between Denmark and Sweden. This part of the route runs along the southern axis of Skåne, with Smygehuk as Sweden’s most southern point. This part of the route can be ridden quite fast, since it is all on paved roads and cycling lanes. We make a little loop on Falsterbo, Sweden’s riviera with its typical Swedish sommarstugas (summer huts).
Cycling along the Swedish coast
The real adventure starts after the idyllic little town Ystad. Which also happens to be the perfect place to replenish on fresh energy. Grab a meal in the medieval city centre with its typical cobblestones and pastel coloured half-timbered houses.
Further along the coastline, famous for its sandy beaches we leave the cycling lanes behind for a bit more adventure. It is hard work to get your bike over the punchy climbs, and you do need to climb some fences carrying your bike, but the views from the cliffs and the flowy single trail are absolutely worth it.
This part of the route ends at one of Sweden’s most enigmatic sights: 59 massive boulders named Ale’s Stones. We take a last gaze over the Baltic Sea before we leave this gorgeous trail and the mystical monument from the early Iron Age (500-1,000 AD).
Coastal meadows and beaches
Back on the cycling lane we enjoy every Scanian characteristic in optima forma. Views with coastal meadows and beaches with pristine white sand. Sandhammaren’s beach is known to have the finest and whitest sand across Sweden. The small coastal town Simrishamn with its old fishing port is a great place to try out Scania’s delicacy, marinated herring, which tastes a lot better than it sounds.
Adventurous cyclists follow the singletrack along the coast, but if you don’t want to risk getting stuck in the sand you can always opt to follow the Sydostleden between Simrishamn and Kivik (just follow the red and white signs). This part of the route is actually a hiking trail, but Sweden has a unique law which allows us to cycle (almost) everywhere, called the Allemansrätten. But mind, this law relies on great responsibility on our part, so please be mindful of hikers as they have the right of way. Avoid cycling this part of the route in peak season.
Apples and a rolling landscape
Kivik is the next highlight of the trip. The town is famous for its apple orchards and Kivik’s apple pie is our favourite. But if you ask us, the true highlight is the upcoming inland part of the route. The singletrail through low-density woodlands alternates with small gravel roads. As you ride the undulating shapes of the rolling landscape you start to wonder why people say that Skåne is flat. These people have certainly not been to this area yet.
Heading west, we are slowly making our way back to Malmö on country roads through wooded areas with beautiful old beech and oak trees. We always use the wind shelter map (vindskyddskartan) to find a shelter for the night. These wooden huts are strategically placed along all hiking trails in Sweden. It works with a first come, first serve principle, so you might risk arriving at a shelter that is already occupied. But off season the cabins are always empty, and we don’t even bring a backup tent.
Hidden gem Häckeberga
But before we return to the hustle and bustle of everyday city life, there is one gem left to discover, Häckeberga Nature reserve. On the east and south sides of the eponymous lake and castle lies a forest area and an extensive wetland in the west. These are the perfect living conditions for roe deer, fallow deer and red deer of which you will see plenty.
After zig-zagging through lush pine forests and rocky double-tracked gravel roads, the vistas of big open farmlands return. In the last kilometres on a mix of gravel, tarmac and cycling lanes the density of buildings rapidly incline. Back in the city we realize how lucky we are to have an adventure like this, right on our doorstep. We have ridden these trails extensively in the last year, and discovered something new and special in every ride. Being homebound isn’t that bad, if you have this gravel biking paradise as your backyard.
|Location:||Malmö, Skåne / Sweden|
|Stages:||2 or 3|
|Best time:||April-September, but can be ridden all year round|
|Terrain:||Gravel/sand double and single track and quiet backroads|
|Tires:||40cm+ tire with some good tread|
|Gearing:||11-42T will suffice|
|Where to stay:||Bring your camping gear! Wild camping is legal in Sweden, and there are multiple wind shelters with fire pits along the route.|
|How to get there:||Fly to Copenhagen airport and take the train over the Öresundsbridge or go by ferry from Denmark, Poland or Germany|