Thirty-five kilometres south of Halmstad, a journey of around twenty minutes by train, lies BÅSTAD (pronounced bow-sta). The northernmost town in the ancient province of Skåne, its character is markedly different from other towns along the coast. Cradled by the Bjäre peninsula, which bulges westwards into the Kattegat (the waters between Sweden and Danish Jutland), Båstad is Sweden’s tennis centre, where the Swedish Open is played at the beginning of July – the centre court down by the harbour has been newly rebuilt and is truly impressive. The town also boasts an extremely beautiful setting, with forested hills on the horizon to the south.
There is a downside, though, which can blunt enthusiasm for the place. Ever since King Gustav V chose to take part in the 1930 national tennis championship and Ludvig Nobel (nephew to Alfred of the Nobel Prize) gave financial backing to the tournament, wealthy retired Stockholmers have flocked here, bringing an ostentatious smugness to the town for the annual competition held during the second week of July. The locals themselves, however, are quite down-to-earth, and most view this arrogance as a financial lifeline. Despite all this, Båstad isn’t a prohibitively expensive place to stay, and makes a good base from which to explore the peninsula.