Eketorp Castle, the country’s only fully excavated and reconstructed ancient fortification, is of great scientific and educational value and is one of Öland’s most valued destinations. Eketorp is the most southerly located of Öland’s ancient castles. It is strategically situated 1.7 kilometres from the Baltic Sea, right in the middle of Stora Alvaret. There is a spring inside the stronghold that was probably of crucial importance for its location. The fort was investigated archaeologically during the years 1964-1976. The aim was partly to establish the background to the Middle Ages finds that had previously been made inside the walls of the fortification and partly to date Öland’s ancient castles and look for an explanation for their function. The excavations revealed that Eketorp was used in three different periods from 300 to 1,300 AD.
Öland’s Himmelsberga Museum
Norrgården was inaugurated at Öland’s Himmelsberga Museum in 1959. The aim was to preserve a traditional Öland “row village” for posterity. In the 1950s, outhouses and barns were being demolished on Öland’s farms to make room for tractors and larger machines.
Himmelsberga is a double row village, which means that there are rows of barns on both sides of the small village street and the dwelling-houses are situated further into the surrounding farms. The farms contain buildings and environments from the 18th and 19th centuries, with furnishings and equipment that were part of life in the countryside on Öland. Since 1959, Himmelsberga has been expanded with more farms, a beautiful art gallery, café and shop. The museum is owned and run by Öland’s Local Folklore Society.
Biking on Öland
It’s good to have plenty of time when cycling on Öland, but not because it’s strenuous – quite the reverse – the byroads almost whisk you through the landscape, and you can put your energy into really enjoying the impressions you get. You will probably want to stop and take a closer look at many of the places you pass by, so take your time.
The cycle paths are clearly marked along Öland’s byways. The Ölandsleden cycle path’s 45 kilometres take you over the whole island, or you can choose a shorter section. The Sverigeleden path runs from the Öland Bridge to Grankullavik. The Ecopark cycle path runs for forty kilmotres in Böda Forest. Böda Forest is one of Sveaskog’s Ecoparks.
There are plenty of long-distance footpaths and marked trails on Öland. Böda long-distance footpath, a 50 km long trail that runs from Byerum Sandvik to Nabbelund on north Öland, is part of Sveaskog’s Ecopark. Hälsans Stig, or the “Path to Health,” is a wonderful trail in Borgholm on central Öland in a varied environment. It runs through a nature reserve at Borgholm Castle. The trail is 4 km long. “Borg till borg” (“Castle to Castle”) is an approximately 16 km long footpath that runs between two ancient forts, Gråborg and Ismantorp, that are located in the middle of the island. Mörbylånga path is about 77 km long and runs through unique natural and cultural environments from Träffpunkt Öland tourist office at the bridge abutment to Ottenby Youth Hostel at the southern cape.
Böda ecopark is a singularly inviting landscape on Öland’s most northerly point. It offers everything from barren sand-dunes and storm-tossed pine trees, to calcareous pine forests interspersed with meadowland containing a diverse range of orchids and lush groves of deciduous trees including giant oaks. Böda does not just have a fascinating natural environment to offer – the cultural heritage is also very much in evidence. The large number of well-preserved ancient monuments is unique in northern Europe. Almost entirely intact villages with foundations of buildings, stone walls and grave-fields tell of the lives of the former inhabitants of Öland.
Skäftekärr Iron Age Village
Skäftekärr Iron Age village. In Böda parish, in northern Öland, you will find places to visit where nature, culture and history interact. In the restored Iron Age landscape, you can see how ancient Ölanders lived. A longhouse has been erected here as it could have looked some 1,500 years ago with fields, meadowland, stone walls and sacrificial bog.
Borgholm Castle, “the finest ruin in the Nordic region,” is a structure that it is hard to imagine leaves any visitor unmoved. Its size is overwhelming and its setting is fascinating. Wander through the Castle’s state apartments and feel the echoes of history. Ascend one floor and enjoy the fantastic view over the castle’s bare limestone soil and Kalmar Sound. During June - August, Borgholm Castle offers numerous activities for children, including guided tours for children and families and castle workshops.
Solliden is the summer residence of the Swedish royal family, which they visit several times a year. Commissioned by Queen Victoria, on the advice of her doctor Axel Munthe, and with Mediterranean influences, the palace was completed in 1906. Munthe was of the opinion that Öland’s abundant sunshine and oxygen-rich air would improve her health, and to this day the royals are happy to enjoy Öland’s sun! Solliden Palace is open to visitors throughout the summer months. Visitors have free access to most of the parks. Café, shop and a pavilion with exhibitions.
Vida Museum & Art Gallery
VIDA Museum & Art Gallery, is built in a fantastically beautiful setting, at the top of the hillside sloping down towards Kalmar Sound at Halltorp, approx. 9 km south of Borgholm. The newly built VIDA Museum and Art Gallery was opened in June 2001, featuring an art gallery and two wings devoted respectively to Ulrica Hydman-Vallien and Bertil Vallien. The most important initial works from the early 1960s up to their very latest works in glass, ceramics, sculpture and painting are on display here. In 2003, VIDA was extended with an additional gallery, the North Gallery, to house the Rasjö collection, a large private art collection focusing on contemporary Swedish painting. Constantly changing exhibitions of paintings from the Rasjö collection are on display at VIDA. Another gallery, the Trotzig Gallery, was opened in 2005 to coincide with Ulf Trotzig’s 80th birthday. This gallery shows a range of exhibitions of Trotzig’s painting spanning the 50 years of his art.
Öland Zoo & Amusement Park
A complete experience for the whole family. An international zoo with 1,650 animals from 160 species from throughout the world. The park is also engaged in worldwide conservation projects, school teaching and research at university level. Waterland, with Pirate Island, has a water area of 15,000 sqm. There is a full amusement park here with fantastic roundabouts, rollercoasters, children’s attractions including gentle rides for the youngest, etc. A circus for part of the season, Dinopark, playground and exhibitions.
Stora Alvaret is a 37 kilometre long and 15 kilometre wide area of barren limestone plain covering the southern parts of Öland. The area comprises a quarter of the island’s total area. Alvaret’s principal distinguishing feature is treeless moorland with the bedrock consisting of Ordovician limestone, often exposed or only covered with a thin layer of earth. There are smaller areas of bare limestone plain in other parts of Öland and in some places in Västergötland, including Kinnekulle. With a special flora and a large number of unique species, the area has been used historically as pastureland. The grazing is necessary to prevent the area becoming overgrown. Along with southern Öland’s cultural landscape, Stora Alvaret has been designated a world heritage site by the UN agency, UNESCO.
Ottenby Bird Sanctuary Långe Jan Lighthouse & Naturum Centre
Naturum is a visitor centre which portrays the rich flora, fauna, geology and cultural history of the world-famous Ottenby Nature Reserve. Its exhibits, films and multislide presentations will help you learn about the area and better prepare you to experience for yourself what the Reserve has to offer. Its staff are always ready to answer your questions, as well as to inform you about walking paths and special places to visit in the Reserve.
Ottenby Nature Reserve carries on the legacy of the royal hunting park established in 1569 by King Johan III. The descendents of the English Fallow Deer he introduced can now be seen throughout the Reserve. In fact, human activity has strongly affected the entire Reserve since the first people occupied the area in the Stone Age about 6000 years ago.
The Ottenby Bird Station has been operating since 1946, catching and ringing about 20,000 birds every year. Through this and other research studies, much has been learned about bird migration, which you too can learn about in Naturum.
You can also climb the 197 steps of Sweden’s tallest lighthouse, called Långe Jan (Tall John), towering 42 meters above ground, as well as visit the lighthouse exhibition in the old lighthouse keeper’s station.
Naturum and the Bird Station offer guided tours for you to learn more about birds and seals. Please see the website for more information.
Proudly and beautifully marked by the wind, the windmills give the landscape of Öland its characteristic silhouette. During the mid-19th century, Öland had around 2,000 windmills and the number was largely unchanged at the turn of the century. By this time it was almost indispensable for every self-respecting farm to have its own windmill as animal farming was increasingly prevalent. Of the approximately 2,000 mills on the island during the 19th century, only about 355 remain today. During the early 20th century the number of mills was already decreasing. The new technology with efficient commercial mills now arrived, making the farmers’ mills redundant. Examples of famous windmills on Öland are the row of mills in Lerkaka, regarded by many as the most beautiful and best preserved on Öland. Störlinge, where the most common type of mills are to be found, the so-called post mill. Höghäll mill in the parish of Högsrum and the mills at Resmo rest area.