Höga Kusten: A charming archipelago of steep and spectacular cliffs
By Malin Norman | Photos: Höga Kusten Destinationsutveckling
The High Coast in Sweden is where the mountains and the sea meet. The world’s highest coastline offers amazing views, untouched nature, exciting outdoor activities and memorable experiences for the whole family.
Since the last Ice Age, the land along the High Coast has risen around 300 metres, making it the world’s highest coastline. Today, it’s part of the High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago World Heritage Site. “It’s a great destination for outdoor activities,” says Andreas Olsson, travel trade manager at Höga Kusten. “Only around 120,000 people live in this region, which is about the same size as half of the Netherlands. That’s a lot of nature for each person.”
The High Coast was recently listed in New York Times’ ‘52 Places for a Changed World’, where Ingrid K. Williams highlights greener alternative destinations where travellers can be part of the sustainable solution. “With more than 100 nature reserves, a national park and hundreds of miles of trails, this wilderness refuge is a draw for hikers, cross-country skiers and mountaineers seeking less-trodden paths, stunning vistas and uncrowded campsites,” Williams writes about the High Coast.
Similarly, in his article ‘Secret Sweden: where Stockholmers really go on holiday’ for The Times, journalist Richard Mellor reflects on the High Coats’s attraction for city folk, who “love escaping to the High Coast’s peaks, food and arty islands. You will too”. Mellor praises in particular the area’s flexibility: “Beach bums, road-trippers, weekend walkers, hardcore hikers, trail runners, foodies and families all have reason to head this way, while I was enticed by the epic scenery and an unlikely profusion of cool hotels, art and architecture.”
Explore the world’s highest coastline
The High Coast has seen an upswing during the pandemic, with interest in the area growing in Sweden and abroad, as illustrated by the recent features in New York Times and The Times. “The geology here is unique. You have dramatic cliffs dropping into the sea, the archipelago with its picturesque islands, as well as the the beautiful inland,” says Olsson. “All seasons are fantastic, from the lush spring months and the long days in summer, to the rich colours in autumn – which is the perfect time for hiking by the way – and the crisp winter with snow, ice fishing, cross-country skiing and much more.”
Olsson recommends exploring the whole region, including the coast and archipelago as well as the inland. Pay a visit to Skuleberget, 286 metres above sea level. During summertime you can take a cable car to the top of the mountain, have a lovely lunch or fika at the restaurant and café, and enjoy the far-reaching views. In Skuleskogen National Park you can learn all about how the inland icesheet and the ocean’s waves have shaped the landscape.
Not to miss are the Ulvön islands, the High Coast archipelago’s biggest tourist attraction with a fantastic cultural heritage. Here you will find charming fishing villages with small boatsheds and traditional wooden frames for drying fish nets. In fact, Ulvön was once northern Sweden’s largest fishing community and is often referred to as ‘the gem of the Baltic Sea’.
High Coast Trail, ArkNat and Art Valley
There is much more to discover, too. For instance, the 130-kilometre-long High Coast Trail is one of Sweden’s 12 Signature Trails, stretching through the entire World Heritage Site. The scenery shifts between deep forests, mountain tops, sandy beaches, steep cliffs and green meadows. At times, you will find yourself up to 250 metres above sea level. Nowhere else in Sweden can you hike at these heights so close to the sea.
Along the High Coast Trail, you can also check out ArkNat, a concept merging architecture and nature. Every year, leading architecture students from all over Scandinavia gather to challenge the way we look at design. Through seminars, workshops and construction, they leave behind new hideouts and shelters for public use.
Another tip is the High Coast Art Valley, a culture trail along the High Coast. The Nätterlund Foundation has put 25 works of art on display along a culture trail that stretches from the Ulvön islands all the way to the Nätraälven valley. Some are completely freestanding, others are part of schools, banks, roads and cultural areas.
For hungry visitors, the High Coast showcases a wide selection of cuisine and flavours such as wild salmon, moose fillet with lingonberries and chanterelle mushrooms sautéed in butter. You will find world-class restaurants, award-winning distilleries, first-class cheeses, Sweden’s largest flatbread bakery and much more besides.
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