Drive or take the train to tour in rural southern Sweden?

My wife and I are planning a roughly two-week visit to Sweden in July. Her relatives emigrated from Sweden, so she wants to visit the small towns whence they came. We've read Rick's Scandinavian guide, in which (quite frankly) he seems to dismiss most of small town/rural Sweden. We are contemplating a loop from Malmo to Kalmar to Stockholm to Goteborg to Malmo, with stops at several other small towns. Is driving through rural Sweden a pleasant experience? Or is the landscape so dull and uninteresting that we should take trains? Thanks for any advice.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

We've done that drive and enjoyed it. The landscape reminded us of Wisconsin & Minnesota. If you have the time and interest, you might want to visit the Orrefors and the Kosta Boda glass factories.

Posted by Rosalyn
1777 posts

In 2005, we drove from Lund to Stockholm. I think it took six hours, and I wouldn't recommend it. The landscape isn't very interesting, and there are few roadside amenities. On the way back (to Copenhagen) we stopped off at the Kosta Boda factory. If you seen glass blown before, it's no big thrill. All in all I felt we spent way too much time in the car.

Posted by Bob
Chico, California, US
57 posts

Thanks for both of your responses. We've decided (tentatively) to take the train using Eurail passes, based on time and cost considerations.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1852 posts

I also have an ancestor from Sweden-I believe he left from Goteborg. Have you read any of the mysteries written by Henning Mankell? Very good and descriptive of the area. There's been some episodes on PBS with Kenneth Branaugh as Kurt Wallender. (edit) I just noticed that of the two who have done that drive, the Midwesterner found the landscape interesting and enjoyable, and the Californian found it dull.

Posted by Bob
Chico, California, US
57 posts

My wife is a great fan of Henning Mankell and the PBS series. She was excited when one of his books described Kurt Wallender driving through Valdemarsvik, the coastal town south of Stockholm that some of her ancestors were from (and a town we plan to visit). She also has ancestors who lived in the Goteborg area. Actually, since her maiden name is Swenson, she probably has ancestors in every Swedish town. On your last point, I have a good friend who drove from Malmo to Stockholm some years ago. He was raised in Iowa, but went to college in Colorado. He says,"Take the train. The drive is boring."

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
1146 posts

I too have ancestors from Sweden and cousins who live there now (who I have recently discovered). On our first trip there, we flew into Stockholm and after several days took the train to Kalmar. In Kalmar we rented a car - we drove to Orland Island (which is wonderful) and then through the glass country and up to several small towns where my relatives live. I found it fascinating to drive through the forests. Vaxjo is a nice stop - that's where the immigrant museum is. Also, Ystad is beautiful - it's on the southern coast. We took that route in order to make our way back to Malmo (dropped rental car) and then the Copenhagen airport. Without a rental car we would never have been able to get into the small towns in the forest where my ancestors lived. It was very easy to drive there. I have quite a number of other places we've visited there that have been very historic and great stops if you'd like more suggestions.

Posted by Bob
Chico, California, US
57 posts

Thanks for your post, Sharon. I went out and bought the Lonely Planet and Frommer guides to Sweden since my original post. As a result of reading those guides and your comments, my wife and I are now leaning towards renting a car in Malmo and driving to Stockholm by way of the coast (but not making a loop back to Malmo via Goteborg; we will skip Goteborg). We will turn the car in at Stockholm. We would appreciate any suggestions you have for small towns or sights along the way.