Öland is Sweden's second largest island, only Gotland is larger and of more importance. It lies in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Småland, connected to the mainland by a bridge from Kalmar. Öland is popular among domestic tourists, many Swedes have had a summer cottage here for generations. Öland can be crowded by vacationers from Midsummer to mid-August.
Öland is rather sparsely populated, with most of the land consisting of farm land or in the north woods. Much of the southern cultural landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site: Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland. The island is also popular for summer vacations and among bird watchers.
- 1 Borgholm — Historically the major settlement on the island, with the castle and Solliden palace.
- 2 Färjestaden — With some 6,000 inhabitants this is the largest community on Öland. It's on the western shore of the island, facing Kalmar on the other side of the straight.
- 3 Mörbylånga — A tiny community with less than 2,000 inhabitants.
While English is widely known by most Swedes, the level of English spoken in the country side (including Öland) is noticeably lower than, for example, the level of English spoken in Stockholm.
Most tourist information signs will be in Swedish, English, German and in rare cases Dutch and/or French.
By plane or train
The nearest airport and railway is in Kalmar, see that page.
By car, bike or bus
You get in by car or bus (Kalmar Länstrafik) from Kalmar over the Ölandsbron bridge, the longest bridge in Sweden. Biking over the bridge is prohibited, instead take your bike on the special bike buses summertime or ordinary buses otherwise, or take the ferry.
In summertime, there's a ferry from Kalmar to Färjestaden and back, on which you can bring your bike. It runs from mid-April to mid-August, from around seven in the morning until six in the evening during weekdays. Check Ressel Rederi for current schedule. It costs 50 kr for adults and takes about half an hour.
- See also: Boating in the Baltic Sea
Öland is a good destination for small craft.
Public transport is limited. There is no railway on Öland. and the bus routes and bus departures are relatively few, even though the situation gets a lot better during the tourist season from the beginning of June to the middle of August. Taking the bus, however, remains the most convenient way to get around on the island, since they cover most of the island and can get you within biking distance of interesting sights and beautiful beaches. Bringing a bike would be great and convenient, as passengers are allowed to bring bikes on the buses. It's also the best way to experience the unique landscape of Öland. There are very nice biking trails along the long coast of Öland.
It is possible to travel by car on Öland and in large parts of the island it is the only means of transport during the non-tourist season. However, the roads are narrow and busy during the tourist season. In the middle of the 20th century, local politicians decided that many small roads should be paved, as the autumn rains, combined with the harvest season and heavy transport, turned the roads into real seas of mud and consequently into completely worn-out roads. Today, most of the roads are in very good condition. As the roads follow centuries-old routes, they pass through many villages of the terraced type and it is important to slow down. Visibility is poor and active farming contributes to the roads becoming easily blocked, especially at harvest time. When parking, it is particularly important to be considerate of other traffic because of the narrowness of the roads.
Kalmar länstrafik is responsible for transport on the island. On northern Öland (counting from Färjestaden) there are lines 101, 103, 104 and 106. On southern Öland, but furthest to Mörbylånga, there are lines 103 and 105. South of Mörbylånga there is no bus service according to the winter timetable. 1 June-31 July you can buy a summer card that is valid for an unlimited number of journeys. Please note that many of the bus routes only run on school days.
Those who want to cycle on Öland have plenty of opportunities to do so. Bicycles can be rented and packages can be booked through the tourist office. During the summer, traffic on road 136 is very heavy, so those who want to cycle would be well advised to choose other, smaller roads. There are three main cycling routes on the island:
- Ölandsleden is a 45-mile long signposted cycle route across the island. There are plenty of options for those wanting longer or shorter rides.
- Ekoparkcykleden runs through Böda Kronopark on the north of the island and is about 4 miles long.
- Sweden Trail is administered by the Swedish Cycling Society. The island part of this trail runs between Ölands Turistbyrå at the bridgehead up to Grankullavik.
Rent a bike
There are a number of bicycle rental companies on the island:
- Bengts Cykel och Motor, Mörbylånga, +46 73-993 30 30
- Byxelkrok Bike Rental, Byxelkrok, +46 70-579 61 00
- Degerhamns Cykelverkstad, Degerhamn, +46 485-66 04 52
- Färjestadens Cykelaffär, Färjestaden, +46 485-300 74
- Hallbergs hojar, Borgholm, +46 70-514 19 37
- Hornsjön Pensionat & Restaurang, Löttorp, +46 485-210 09
- ICA, Grönhögen, +46 485-66 10 09
- Ottenby Vandrarhem o camping, Ottenby, +46 485-66 20 62
- Preem, Köpingsvik, +46 485-720 27
- Sahlbergs Cykel & Sport Eftr., Löttorp, +46 70-920 81 07
- Sandviks Café/restaurant, Sandvik, +46 485-262 70
- Solberga Gård, Köpingsvik, +46 485-726 46
- 1 Borgholm Castle (Borgholms slott). Ruins of a castle burnt down in the 19th century. It is not open all year round, but you can always admire it from a distance.
- 2 Stora Alvaret (Agricultural landscape of southern Öland). The southern agricultural landscape of Öland is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a unique landscape with rare species and evidence of human settlements from prehistoric times. This place is often listed as one of the must-sees in Sweden by Swedish, as well as international, travel magazines.
- 3 Solliden Palace, ☏ . The summer residence of the Swedish Royal Family, it has a beautiful garden.
- 4 VIDA Museum & Konsthall, ☏ . A museum and art gallery showing the works of among others Bertil and Ulrika Wallien and Ulf Trotzig.
- 5 Eketorp, ☏ . An old fortification stemming from the middle ages with activities for children.
- 6 Sandby borg. An Iron Age ringfort. Extensive research during the 2010s has revealed that a massacre took place here in the late 5th century AD. Known as Sweden's Pompeii.
- The villas in Borgholm have a lot of character, and it is rather entertaining to walk around and look at them.
- The rock formations, called raukar, on the beautiful Byerum beach. These formations have been created by natural erosion over thousands of years. If you're interested in seeing more of these 'raukar' they are in fact even more plentiful on Sweden's largest island, Gotland.
- The Northern tip of the island, with its lighthouse (Långe Erik), natural preserve and Neptune's fields (Neptuni ängar)
- The Southern tip of the island, with its lighthouse (Långe Jan) and bird sanctuary/centre (Ottenby Fågelstation).
- The only lake on Öland, Hornsjön
- 1 Böda Sand. Sweden's biggest camping site with 1,350 camp sites and 125 cabins. It lies close to a beautiful beach, and its size makes it an attraction in itself. There was a reality show filmed here.
- Spend a day at one of Öland's many beaches
- Bike along the Öland trail (Ölandsleden), or the shorter Sweden trail (the part that runs on Öland, that is)
- Spend a day or two in the beautiful town of Borgholm with its charming villas and cosy cafés. Close to the town are also the Borgholm castle and the Solliden (royal residence), which are well worth a visit. The massive castle on a hill with a stunning view of the town of Borgholm and the sea and Solliden with its beautiful architecture and gardens.
- Buy pottery and other ceramics from the many skilled potters. (Paradisverkstan is one of the big, between Färjestaden and the Öland bridge. Resmo krukmakeri is also worth a trip.)
- Hike on southern Öland, where there are 110 km of marked trails, some which go through Stora Alvaret. Mörbylånga kommun has maps and information on the hikes (in Swedish).
- 2 Blå Jungfrun National Park Tour, Byxelkrok ferry harbour, ☏ . Tours to Blå Jungfrun National Park, an island in the Kalmar Strait. From 1 July to 14 August.
Kroppkaka is a Småland/Öland speciality. Smoked fish is another one. Lufsa, a traditional dish on Öland, is an ovenbaked cake consisting of finely grated potatoes – added cream/milk, flour, egg; served with fried salt-cured bacon (fläsk) and lingonberry jam. Berries are usually abundant throughout the summer and early autumn. Mushrooms are plentiful in autumn. The restaurant in Hotel Borgholm has been awarded with a star in the Michelin Guide.
- Arontorps Kroppkakor & Mat, Torslunda 102 (A few km east of Färjestaden), ☏ . Swedish cuisine, with a special focus on the local dish Kroppkaka.
- Kaj 4, S. Hamnplan 4 (Färjestaden), ☏ . A cafe, restaurant and hotel in the Färjestaden harbor.
- Lammet & Grisen, Hornvägen 35 (Northern Öland), ☏ . Jun-Aug. Offer pork carved by the chefs in the restaurant and whole roasted lambs.
- Pappa Blå, Storgatan 3 K (Borgholm), ☏ . Seasonal. Pizzas and burgers.
- Slottshöjden, Sollidenvägen 6 (Borgholm), ☏ . Restaurant and cafe with a view of Borgholm castle and the Borga Hage natural reserve.
- Svea, Kullenvägen 12 (Northern Öland), ☏ . A cafe and restaurant in a beautiful villa.
- 1 Kaffestugan, Landsvägen Böda 48, 380 74 Löttorp, ☏ , [email protected]. Bakery, café, pizza and own coffee roasting. Seasonal opening hours.
As for other vacation islands, Öland has more nightlife in summer. If you head into the larger towns, e.g. Borgholm (in particular), Färjestaden and Mörbylånga you will see a few nice restaurants and bars. The Strand Hotel in Borgholm has a great nightclub in the summer.
- 1 Wannborga Bränneri & Vingård, Övra Vannborga by 11, 387 96 Köpingsvik. Vineyard and destillery. Produces wine, whisky and gin.
- Alvaret Hotel & Hostel, Marknadsvägen 6 (Northern Öland), ☏ .
- Hotell Borgholm, Trädgårdsgatan 15-19 (Borgholm), ☏ , [email protected]. The hotel restaurant has been awarded a star in the Michelin Guide.
- Hotel Skansen, Tingshusgatan 1 (Färjestaden), ☏ , [email protected]. Has a sauna, spa, gym and pools. The hotel bar has Sweden's largest whiskey cellar.
- Stora Frögården, Stora Frögården 12 (Southern Öland), ☏ , [email protected]. A hostel operated by the Swedish tourist association (STF).
- Strand Hotell (By Borgholm's guest harbor), ☏ , [email protected].
Öland is very safe, just like the rest of the Swedish countryside.
- Kalmar is just across the eponymous strait.