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"Mälardalen around" - Itineraries and tips from our car holiday

In the summer of 2020, we went on a driving holiday around Mälardalen with good friends and three kids in their lower teens. A holiday that definitely could have had better weather and more swimming, but which offered a lot of laughs, a lot of history and plenty of pleasant experiences!

We had pretty high standards for good food, nice accommodation and fun activities, so we made sure to book hotels and several restaurants in advance. However, we left the daytime activities free and instead organized a vote on each evening mentimeter.com. There we could all vote on the things that were to be seen along the road the next day and we then went to the options that received the most votes.

Mentimeter voting
Voting for Day 2

We called the route we chose to take for our road trip "Around Mälaren", but actually we could have called it "Mälaren-Hjälmaren-Vättern-round", as we drove a little further south of Lake Mälaren.

To make it easy to see where all our stops are, I've created one karta on Google maps. Here you will not only find our itinerary, but also tips on more attractions nearby that we had as an option, but didn't have time to visit.

Do you want to read more tips about driving in Sweden? Check out my post 10 things I'm surprised by after our holiday.

Day 1: Stockholm to Västerås

The first day of our driving holiday would turn out to be the only day with temperatures above 20 degrees all week. We therefore took the opportunity to be outdoors as much as we could. The kids thought without a doubt that the pirate golf was the most fun this day and I have to admit that it was incredibly fun!

Sigtuna

Sigtuna

The first stop of the car holiday was in Sigtuna, one of Sweden's oldest and most charming small towns. We often go here for walks and coffee, both in summer and winter.

If the weather is with you, I recommend a lunch on the outdoor terrace at Plåt-Pelles Café and an ice cream on it Sigtuna Gelato.

Don't miss: Saint Olof's church ruins
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Forsby mill cafe

Forsby mill cafe

In a 100-year-old mill is located Forsby mill cafe – a White Guide-recommended café with award-winning lemon buns. Here you can have a good coffee by the small pond during the day or eat sourdough pizza in the evening. Cozy place that is worth a little detour!

Don't miss: The lemon buns (they ran out when we were here)
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Pirate Golf in Västerås

Pirate minigolf – Västerås

Perhaps Sweden's funnest mini golf! Pirate minigolf at Hälla golf outside Västerås is a hit! Hit balls into treasure chests, get over the water obstacle with tug boat and watch out for the pirate on the outdoor deck. There is an easier path and a harder path for the ball to reach the hole, so the whole family can play and compete against each other.

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Steam hotel

The Steam Hotel – Västerås

The Steam hotel is one of Sweden's few destination hotels. Even if you are not interested in either the spa or the water park, there are plenty of activities here for the whole family. How about a games room with, among other things, billiards, shuffle board and old arcade games? Or a sky bar with a view of the whole of Västerås?

A plus for the fresh breakfast with table service. Much nicer than buffet!

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Shoe monastery

Bonus: Skokloster castle

If you leave early from Stockholm, you also have time to stop at beautiful places Skokloster castle. The castle from the 17th century has really good views and during the end of July there are usually medieval days with knights and jousting.

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Day 2: Västerås to Skultuna

Depending on how many activities you want to find in Västerås, you can think about where you want to stay overnight. Considering how good The Steam Hotel is for teenage kids, I would probably book another night in Västerås today - although it was fun to stay at Skultuna Brukshotell as well.

Escape room

Escape room Västerås

Escape room is exciting fun for a family or group of friends, where you are "locked" in a room for 60 minutes and have to solve riddles and puzzles to get out again. As it was a rainy day in Västerås, we started the morning with an hour of brain training. And yes – we managed to crack Nicola Tesla's riddle! 🙂

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Vallby outdoor museum

Vallby open-air museum – Västerås

Vallby outdoor museum is a small "Skansen" with old buildings and livestock on the edge of Västerås. During normal times you will find artisans, open houses and farms here. Entry is free, so it's worth a visit even if the weather is dull.

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Anundshög

Anundshög

Anundshög is one of Sweden's largest ancient remains and was a hub for trade in the entire Mälardalen during the Viking Age. Here lies Sweden's largest burial mound and five impressive shipwrecks. Go on a self-guided tour of the area by reading the informative signs.

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Skultuna factory stores

Skultuna mill was founded in 1607 by King Karl IX and beautiful things in brass are still being created here. IN Skultuna's factory stores you can buy 2nd sorting on everything from jewelery to home furnishings at very favorable prices, coffee at the fine Å café or visit the factory's museum.

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Skultuna utility hotel

Skultuna Brukhotell

Skultuna utility hotel is a historic hotel located right next to Skultuna's factories, with a nice location by the small river. The hotel has nice family rooms and a lovely breakfast.

NOTE: The hotel's restaurant, bar and spa were closed (due to corona) when we were here. Check out dinner options before you go here - there are no other restaurants in the village other than pizzerias.

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Day 3: Skultuna to Vedevåg

The evening's accommodation and dinner at Wedevåg's manor was one of the highlights of the driving holiday, so try to check in at the manor in good time in the afternoon so you can enjoy it to the maximum.

Stora Sundby Castle

Stora Sundby castle

Stora Sundby castle is a fairytale castle located right on Hjälmaren's beach. Unfortunately, it is not possible to visit the castle itself, but you can visit the castle park and the castle cafe.

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Arboga

Arboga

Arboga is a cute little town with a well-preserved town center and beautiful wooden houses. We had lunch here at the White Guide-recommended Café Two Magpies, looked into antique shops and strolled along the Arbogaån.

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Nostalgia Village

Nostalgia Village

Perhaps one of the craziest sights we stopped at during our driving holiday was Nostalgia Village. Nostaglibyn is a privately owned museum with original items from the 50s, complete with a sausage stand and gas station. Grab a coffee and show the kids how things worked in the old days. Expect about 30 minutes here.

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Wedevåg manor

Wedevåg manor – Vedevåg

A place to spend time, eat well and enjoy the nice environment. On Wedevåg manor we had a fantastic stay and ate an even more fantastic tasting menu.

Read more about our stay at the manor here: Wedevåg manor house – A gem to return to

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Day 4: Vedevåg to Örebro

After a few days in smaller towns and in the countryside, the kids thought it was nice to come to Örebro and get a bit of a city feeling again - and drink bubble tea!

Eva Uskavi

Limestone quarry Uskavi

The Uskavi limestone quarry is a turquoise bathing lake that you reach via a small forest walk. The water is cold and clear and invites you to take a dip. However, there is not much space to sit down and sunbathe, so it quickly becomes very crowded on nice summer days. On the day we visited the place, it was 15 degrees in the air, but still full of people.

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Nora

Nora

Nora is a cute little wooden town, known for its vintage railroad and Noraglass. We ate hearty waffles with chèvre and smoked salmon in the garden the cafe Selma G and walked around the cobbled streets and looked at Göthlinska gården.

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bye cha

Bai Cha bubble tea – Örebro

It is clear that the kids suddenly get a craving for bubble tea when we are as far from Stockholm as possible! How lucky that there turned out to be a really good bubble tea place in Örebro then! Bai Cha has every flavor and gem you can think of. Just order a refreshing Mango Boba Milk Tea and pretend you're in Hong Kong rather than Örebro.

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Orebro

Orebro

After spending the last few days in small Swedish towns, the kids thought it was quite nice to come to Orebro and look at street art, stroll in shops, stroll around Örebro Castle and eat sushi.

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(Accommodation? We stayed at the Elite Stora Hotellet, but unfortunately it's not a hotel I recommend. The room was incredibly worn and looked nothing like the pictures, the breakfast was chaotic and the staff did nothing to stop a loud party in a of the rooms.)

Day 5: Örebro to Börstorp

A day filled with history and a fantastic themed café ends with one of the highlights of the driving holiday – a bike ride along the Göta Canal.

Wadkoping

Wadköping – Örebro

Wadkoping is a city quarter in Örebro with old houses that were transported here from all over Örebro. Here there is, among other things, a country store, ceramics workshop and a forge. Buy sweets piece by piece like they used to do in paper cones and stroll around with an ice cream in hand.

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Karlsborg

Karlsborg Fortress

The mighty fortress Karlsborg began to be built in the 19th century in order to be Sweden's reserve capital if the war should come. The fortress took almost 90 years to build and within the thick walls was built a complete city with everything from a hospital to a church and housing. A place to stroll around at your own pace or go on a guided tour.

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La Belle Époque

La Belle Epoque Café – Karlsborg

An incredibly beautiful café and a trading booth that takes you back to the beautiful environments from the end of the 19th century. Good cakes, friendly staff in period clothes and nice surroundings - it's worth stopping in Karlsborg just to visit La Belle Epoque Café and sit in the sun under their white Bali umbrellas and eat a shrimp sandwich.

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Peaceful cycling from Sjötorp

Cycle Göta Kanal – Sjötorp

Perhaps the highlight of the driving holiday. Rent bikes in Sjötorp and cycle along Göta Kanal. I cannot praise this experience enough. We absolutely loved it. Flat cycling, nice views and nice company. It couldn't have been better. Whether you have 3 hours or 6 hours doesn't matter - it's worth renting a bike regardless!

Read more about our cycling in my post: Cycling along the Göta canal – An adventure with more flavor.

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Börstorp castle

Börstorp Castle B&B

The night was spent on Börstorp castle, in a fantastic pink room with a four-poster bed at the top of the castle. Börstorp is a very cool castle, complete with old armor in the stairwell and the occasional castle ghost. Lovely breakfast and nice surroundings made the stay even better.

A plus was the farm dogs Butler and Svensson who joined us on the morning walk among the cows.

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Day 6: Börstorp to Vadstena

A rainy and chilly day meant that we skipped hiking in Tiveden and went earlier to Vadstena instead. It's good to have backup plans when the Swedish weather is changeable!

Djäknesundet

Djäknesundet

Just north of Karlsborg is a bathing spot known for its rock baths and turquoise water - Djäknesundet. Very popular during sunny and hot summer days, but a little less popular when we visited the place on a rainy and cold July morning.

The parking lot is very small, so if you want to swim, you need to be out in plenty of time.

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Vadstena

Vadstena

Vadstena is one of my favorite cities in Sweden. So small, so well maintained and with both a grand castle and a really good monastery hotel. There is so much history in this small town that you could easily spend a whole day here.

Don't miss visiting Vadstena Castle, Sweden's best-preserved Renaissance castle.

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Vadstena monastery hotel

Vadstena monastery hotel

Vadstena monastery hotel is a place that we have stayed at several times and that we will most likely go back to more times. Historic premises, nice rooms and a high-class restaurant make the monastery hotel a perfect weekend destination all year round.

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Day 7: Vadstena to Stockholm

Last day of the driving holiday and a lot of driving back to Stockholm! The visit to Tåkern and an ice cream in the sun at Berg's locks was a fitting end to a lovely week filled with history, nature, good food and nice hotels.

Wooden beams at Tåkern

The fog

The fog is one of Northern Europe's foremost bird lakes and during spring and autumn the lake is absolutely buzzing with migratory birds. Although we visited Tåkern during the month of July, it was full of both swans, ducks and birds of prey in the lake. Visit stylish nature rooms and learn more about birds or walk along the wooden bridges.

Read more about our visit to Tåkern here: Tåkern – Not just for bird watchers

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The Cloetta shop

Cloetta store – Ljungsbro

Are you a piggy bank? Then a visit to Cloetta's factory store a must! Here you will find all your favourites, but also slightly more unusual special flavors and a second range. The prices are often about the same as in regular stores, but you can find bargains.

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Berg's locks

Berg's locks

Engineer that I am, I can't help but be impressed by Göta Kanal and its locks Berg's locks. Carl Johan's lock staircase with 7 locks is a crowd pleaser and people everywhere sit on their brass chairs and sunbathe and look at the locks. Buy a monster-sized licorice boat ice cream at the kiosk at the top of the lock stairs and watch the folk festival.

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About the blogger

Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.

2 Comments

  • Mike Jansson
    15 January, 2021 at 15: 34

    But Eva....you forgot Åberg's Museum in Bålsta during your trip around Lake Mälaren....well worth a visit.

    Reply
    • Eva Gyllenberg
      18 January, 2021 at 19: 51

      But I have completely missed that place! Just have to take it some weekend ahead! Thanks for the tip! 🙂

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