Aktualisiert: Mai 25
If had ever planned to visit the Baltic with it's beautiful, and culturally prosperous 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 day out of the buzzing urban life and go to see Scandinavia's incredible nature. Interestingly enough, both towns offer a kind of similar option for this. In Sweden, it is 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 worked 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 unforgettable for me.
Those same granite slabs need to be traversed even to get there, making the hike a rather spectacular one, even though in the hilly terrain your view never carries far, and the landscape is somewhat similar, no matter where you go. But 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. Multiple other things are of interest to the everyday 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 information centre's account, one of Sweden's marvels. After the, geologically speaking, relatively recent 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.
Getting around is dependent on your physical fitness. The many small hills sum up to plenty of ascent and descent and hiking on the naked granite is not the most comfortable. 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 considerably warm and that heat, in conjunction with the fact that there is little shade, is 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 miss 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 planks' movement 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.