• Niklas Kääb

One Day in: Stockholm - Hiking the Tyresta National Park

Updated: Nov 15

If you had ever planned to visit the Baltic with it’s beautiful, and culture-rich cities two of them probably made the top of your list. The Swedish capital Stockholm and its Finish equivalent Helsinki. Both have already much to offer in terms of holiday activities. Be it a visit to Stockholm’s Vasa Museum or a concert in the “Rock Church” of Helsinki. Both cities are, despite their geographic separation, very well connected by multiple daily ferry services. You can fly of course (it takes about an hour) but that would mean you’d miss out on the scenic ferry route through Stockholm’s archipelago. And from this ferry route, we come over to what is absolutely a must no matter which of the cities you finally visit: Take at least one a day out of the buzzing urban life and go to visit Scandinavia’s incredible nature. Interestingly enough, both cities offer a kind of similar option for this. In Sweden, it’s Tyresta National Park, and in Helsinki, it is Nuuksio National Park. Both are about forty minutes by car from the centre of the cities. For now, I will Talk about Tyresta, since I found it to be the more spectacular of the two but I might revisit Nuuksio at a later time.

I discovered the hike through Tyresta while working on a cruise ship, that docked every week in Stockholm and immediately fell in love. I had been working in northern Sweden for two years before joining the cruise ship, and during all the time in countries all around the world, I had almost forgotten why I fell in love with Sweden in the first place. But upon taking the first steps into the Tyresta National Park a feeling hit me, like coming home after a long absence. And this feeling alone will always make this tour special for me. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You can download the GPS Track here

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sweden’s Tyresta is the much more rural of the two. The only thing that is really on offer here is the stunning nature, best explored by hikes. Contrary to the usual Swedish openness towards camping and campfires, in Tyresta it is only permitted in select marked areas, that come equipped with a small shelter and a fireplace. Three beautiful lakes are spread out through the national park and offer an excellent opportunity for swimming if the weather permits it. The most interesting of the lakes for sure is the “Stensjön” which translates to “Stony Pond” It not the pond, but more its shores which give the name, a large part of the beaches are made out of giant granite slabs, only sparsely covered with pines, their roots clinging desperately to each and every crack of the rock.

Those same granite slabs you need to traverse even to get there, making the hike a rather spectacular one. Also, even if in the hilly terrain your view never carries far, and the landscape is somewhat similar, no matter where you go, it is still rather spectacular and a few hours are not enough to grow sick of it. What a landscape it is. You walk over naked granite slabs the size of cathedrals, through dense untouched forests, and now and then a long footbridge built out of simple logs will carry you over swampy terrain. The way is always well marked but seems to be in sparse use, as in some parts the trees and bushes on each side grow so close together you feel like walking through a tunnel. Various other things are of interest to the ordinary hiker here. Right at the start you have the chance to visit a small farm, the appears straight out of a book by Astrid Lindgren, and a small and very simplistic information centre provides some background to nature.

The Nature in Tyresta is, by the account of the information centre, one of the marvels of Sweden. It is only possible because, after the, geologically speaking, relatively recent last ice age nature did not have enough time to break down the giant stones in smaller, more manageable parts. What we see today in Tyresta will be gone without a trace in only a few ten thousands of years as the soil will slowly accumulate over the stones and leave behind only some green hills with a few lakes in-between. The Landscape of Tyresta is not unusual for Sweden, but this close to the city of Stockholm; it is unique. Actually, if you wanted to find something similar, you would actually have to travel to the Fjäll-Region, close to the Norwegian border. However, such a trip is more a holiday on its own and not a one-day activity from the comfort of your hotel or cruise ship. Getting around is dependent on your physical fitness. The many small hills sum up to plenty of ascent and descent, as well as hiking on the naked granite is not the most comfortable of things. Not only because the ground is, in the most literal meaning of the word, rock hard but also because on sunny days the stones will get quite warm and that heat radiating back at you, combined with what little shade is available, mounts a challenge on its own. The wooden footbridges over the swamps are narrow, without guardrails and not to well maintained. Some are very wobbly; others are missing parts of their planks, forcing you to balance carefully over the intact portions. It was precisely on one of the wobbly ones that I discovered another danger I would have never guessed, not with all my years in the Swedish wilderness, emanating from the wood: A swarm of wasps had built their nest beneath one of the planks. And of course, all the movement of the planks caused by me walking over them had stirred up the wasps! As you can imagine, I crossed the rest of the bridge rather quickly, despite my concern for its stability. However, all in all, it is a stunning hike through the wilderness and something not to be missed out.

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