Swedish TV series are very in vogue and Henning Mankell’s “Wallander” is possibly the most famous. It is set in southern Sweden – the scenery in Skåne will be familiar to all fans with its expanding vistas of bright yellow fields, singular trees wafting in the breeze and the occasional low-level building, often housing a very suspicious character. In reality, this is a beautiful area reminiscent of parts of Cornwall or Tuscany.
1. Spend a day wandering around the quaint old streets of pretty Ystad where there seem to be more murders than in Midsommer. Wallander is based here and you can get a guided tour showcasing scenes from the series. One of the oldest buildings in Sweden stands on a quiet side street and if you’re lucky you might just catch a glimpse of the elusive Hornblower in the Clock Tower – 9:00 PM to 1:00 AM every night (holidays included). He watches for fires (and maybe murderers) out of the four windows every 15 minutes. If all is clear he blows his horn once on the 15 minutes, twice on the half hour, three times on the 45 minutes, and 4 times on the hour. There is a lovely old Franciscan Monastery where the scent of roses perfumes the warm summer evenings.
2. A short drive through iconic Wallander countryside is the tiny fishing village of Kaseberga. It’s got one of the best seafood restaurants in the area – Vendels. Their sea food chowder and smoked prawns are sublime. Walk up the hill behind the village to discover mysterious Ales Stenar, an ancient Stone Circle. The purpose and exact provenance of this magnificent stone formation shaped as a ship is still to be established. A job for Wallander, perhaps?
3. If it was good enough for Great Garbo then the luxurious Hotel Ystad på Saltsjöbad is more than good enough for its many visitors. This classic hotel has a timeless air to it but the facilities are ultra-modern. Book a session in the relaxing spa, swim in the big heated outdoor pool or act like a local, strip off and jump off their jetty into the sea. For something completely different, try their gourmet food package and cook a meal with their top chef.
4. Fika is a Swedish institution – coffee, cake and a chat. There are plenty of coffee shops throughout Skane but for the genuine article, search out the Mossby Kaffestuga. This unprepossessing tin-roofed building has a cosy, friendly atmosphere and serves the most divine homemade pastries and cakes – plus a huge range of fruit & herbal teas and preserves. Afterwards go for refreshing walk along the long, sandy beach. The Österlan area is crammed full of farm shops, apple orchards, vineyards and small scale food producers sourcing their produce from the fertile land all around.
Malmö is Sweden’s third largest city and has all the attractions you’d expect from a vibrant modern town- art galleries, museums, clubs, bars and excellent restaurants. The long, swooping Øresund Bridge links Sweden to Denmark by road and rail. Overlooking it is the 19th century Kallbadhuset Bathing House and twisting above the city is the modernistic Turning torso skyscraper.
Finally, step back in time with a visit to fortress-like Malmöhus castle founded in 1434. That structure was demolished in the early 16th century, and a new one was built in its place in the 1530s by King Christian III of Denmark. Historically, this fortress was one of the most important strongholds of Denmark, which controlled this region for many years. (No doubt Wallander would like his criminals to be imprisoned here). Enjoy perfect fika in the quirky café in the Castle Gardens greenhouse.
Zoë Dawes lives on the Cumbria/Lancashire border and loves looking at the world from a different angle. Follow her travels in the UK and abroad on her award-winning blog The Quirky Traveller and @quirkytraveller on Twitter.