The thickly forested province of Småland makes up the southeastern wedge of Sweden. Although the scenery is appealing at first, the uniformity of the landscape means it’s easy to become blasé about so much natural beauty. Småland is often somewhere people travel through rather than to – from Stockholm to Malmö and the south, or from Gothenburg to the Baltic coast. It does, however, have a few vital spots of interest of its own, alongside opportunities for hiking, trekking, fishing and cycling.
Historically, Småland has had it tough. The simple, rustic charm of the pretty painted cottages belies the intense misery endured by generations of local peasants: in the nineteenth century, subsistence farming failed, and the people were starving; consequently a fifth of Sweden’s population left the country for America – most of them from Småland. While their plight is vividly retold at the House of Emigrants exhibition in Växjö, a town which makes an excellent base from which to explore the region, the province’s main tourist attractions are its myriad glass factories. The bulk of these celebrated glassworks lie within the dense birch and pine forests that, together with a thread of lakes, make up the largely unbroken landscape between Kalmar and Växjö. Consequently, the area is dubbed Glasriket, or the “Glass Kingdom”, with each glassworks signposted clearly from the spidery main roads.