In these busy times when most of us don’t have the chance (or the inclination) to be ‘off the grid’ for more than a few days, there’s a growing demand for short wilderness breaks that are easy to reach and where all the activities on offer can be enjoyed without too much time spent travelling.


Västmanland has always been a natural paradise but in recent years it has become a popular retreat for those in Sweden and beyond to enjoy an area of unspoilt nature and get away from the fast pace of city life, if only for a few days. It’s only 90 minutes from Stockholm and less than an hour from the nearest city of Västerås, yet on arrival here you might be forgiven for feeling that you’ve left the urban life many thousands of miles away.

Perhaps the most popular area of Västmanland for visitors to explore is the Black River Valley (Svartådalen). It is here that you can get your exercise while hiking, swimming, canoeing or cycling, while more sedate activities include fishing, birdwatching or botany (it is here that the flora and fauna of south Sweden ends and that of north Sweden begins).

Where to Stay

If you’re looking for a truly primitive break the Kolarbyn resort is perhaps the best option. Here you can get away from all mod cons (including running water!) and live out those caveman and cave-woman fantasies. More about staying at Kolarbyn here.

Alternatively, Färnas Hjärta is an old school house that has been converted to a B&B and is found very near to one of the region’s stunning lakes. During a 7 night break visitors can enjoy golf and horse riding in the summer, while the winter offers the chance to experience sleigh rides and easy downhill skiing. There is a hot tub and sauna beside the lake, while the owners can arrange birdwatching, cycling trips and even a high wire adventure track.


The nearby city of Västerås offers much more than just a gateway to the park. The city itself is over 1000 years old and boasts several historic churches and the Vallby Open Air Museum, offering a glimpse of how life was in this part of Sweden in the old days.

This area north of Stockholm may be little known to most visitors to Sweden, but ask those who have visited Västmanland and they’ll probably tell you that the fact that the region is still something of a secret is a big part of its magic.

(image courtesy of VisitVä