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Skåne / Sweden

Stenshuvud national park – Where the waves meet Österlen

Autumn, summer and winter. My visits to Stenshuvud National Park just south of Kivik in Österlen have been several over the years. Sometimes we have stopped at Knäbäckshusen and walked along the beach to the north. Other times we have stopped at nature centers. Some summer days the beach has been so sparkling white that I've needed sunglasses to avoid squinting. On other days during the autumn, the beach has been golden yellow from rain and big waves. Stenshuvud offers magnificence and a world-class paradise beach any time of the year you come here, although autumn is probably my favorite season.

White beaches at Stenshuvud
Slow waves at Stenshuvud

Stenshuvud is a diverse national park, located both on land and at sea. 80 hectares of the total 400-hectare national park is sea. The rest of the park is beaches, mountains and moors. Visiting the area during the summer can be a challenge, as the beach is warm and well visited. During autumn, however, tranquillity sets in and the short days offer colorful sunsets and golden beech forests.

Fishing gear at Stenshuvud
Autumn sun in Stenshuvud forest

The beach

The parables about the exotic beach at Stenshuvud are many. Thailand, the Seychelles or Brazil are just some of the places that this white beach is compared to. And of course there are many similarities. The milky white sand, the greenery that spills over the beach like a lush jungle and the clear water that beckons to bathe. There is only one thing that is different. The sea temperature. But as long as you keep your feet above the water's edge, all the world's paradise beaches feel within reach.

Although the beach just below the nature center is both smooth and shallow, it is worth walking north towards Stenshuvud lighthouse. Pretty soon the beach becomes wilder and large, round stones meet the wild waves at the shore at low tide. Like a pearl necklace of stones for the giant Sten, who according to legend lived in a cave in the mountain here in Stenshuvud.

Autumn on the beach in Stenshuvud
Autumn on the beach in Stenshuvud
Rocks on the beach at Stenshuvud

Hiking trails in the national park

Blue trail

There are several easy hiking trails in Stenshuvud National Park. The most popular is the one blue trail (1 km) from naturum to the beach. The blue trail is an easy walk that is also suitable for prams. Just before you come down to the beach, you pass hauled up fishing boats, fishing gear and the old Krivareboden, which may be Österlen's most beautiful little eel fishing shed.

Red trail

The second most popular trail is the red line (2 km) up to the top of Stenshuvud. Through a beautiful forest of oak and hornbeam, you walk a stony path up to the top of the mountain at 96 meters above sea level. The trail takes you past log and stone and an old ancient castle before you reach the three peaks. A perfect place for a picnic lunch between sea and sky. It is said that you can see as far as Bornholm in clear weather, but I have not succeeded. A tip is to turn off from the top of Stenshuvud and walk it the yellow trail back to nature room for some new views.

Skåneleden section 5

The longest trail through Stenshuvud is Section 5 of the Skåneleden from Simrishamn to Kivik crossing through the national park from north to south. However, the hiking trail goes a bit inside the forest and not by the beach, so it's definitely worth a detour on the blue trail to put your toes in the sand.

View of Stenshuvud
Red trail: View from the top of Stenshuvud
The hiking trail to the sea at Stenshuvud
Blue trail: The trail from the nature center to Stranden
Autumn sun in Stenshuvud forest
The yellow trail in Stenshuvud

If you want to experience the area's moors, you can deviate from the yellow/red trail just north of the nature center and walk through a gate to a completely different landscape. Here on the heath, the trees are small and gnarled and the ground is covered with dry little flowers. A complete contrast to the flamboyant, vibrant forest that grows on Stenshuvud's slopes. You share the path down to the sea with grazing animals during the summer, so walk carefully and avoid any bulls.

Beech forest in Stenshuvud
The heaths at Stenshuvud

When, where and how do I get to Stenshuvud?

Stenshuvud outside Kivik is one of Österlen's most popular year-round destinations. Despite the fact that the national park is one of Sweden's smallest, the park has over 500.000 visitors every year. Most during the summer months. Not entirely unexpectedly, the parking spaces have turned out to be too few (especially during the summer of 2020), so it is important to be out in good time if you want to visit Stenshuvud on a sunny summer day. During the autumn/winter, however, we have always managed to get a place in the parking lot at the nature center without any problems.

There are three entrances to the national park – the main entrance at the naturum, entrance Hällevik (right by Kivik's mustery) and the southern entrance at Rörum. We also usually park at Knäbäckshusen and walk north along the beach (about 500 meters) to enter the national park.

During the summer months (1 June to 31 August) dogs are not allowed on the beach, but the rest of the year it is perfectly fine to bring your four-legged friend everywhere in the national park. Of course with a leash.

Map (opens in Google maps)

Walk with dog in Stenshuvud
Our little four-legged traveler on a visit to Stenshuvud. Of course with a leash.
Autumn sun in Stenshuvud forest
Rocks on the beach at Stenshuvud

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The sea outside Simrishamn
The heaths at Stenshuvud
Fishing net
Fishing gear
Blue trail to the sea at Stenshuvud
Forest at Österlen
Naturum Stenshuvud
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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

  • Amanda (Swedish Passport)
    8 December, 2020 at 8: 48

    It really took me a while to connect that the next picture was taken in Sweden and not the Caribbean, it looks absolutely magically beautiful! I have a life time goal to visit all of Sweden's national parks, so I spontaneously feel that Stenhuvud ended up at the top of the priority list now 😉

    Reply
    • Eva Gyllenberg
      1 February, 2021 at 20: 48

      The beaches on Österlen are absolutely unbelievably beautiful. So wild and so "tropical", despite the cold sea.
      Stenshuvud is truly a national park to have on your bucket list! Perhaps one of the most accessible national parks as well!

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