The people of Östersund are in no doubt: Storsjöodjuret is out there, in their lake. Eyewitness accounts – there are hundreds of people who claim to have seen it – speak of a creature with a head like a dog, long pointed ears and bulging eyes, that sweeps gracefully through the water, sometimes making a hissing or clucking sound, often several hundred metres away from the shore; each summer sees new reports of sightings. Although several explanations have been given that dispel the myth – a floating tree trunk, a row of swimming elk, the wake from a passing boat, a series of rising water bubbles – the monster’s existence is taken so seriously that a protection order has now been slapped on it, using the provisions of paragraph fourteen of Sweden’s Nature Conservation Act. For most people, though, the monster will be at its most tangible not in the lake, but on the web (storsjoodjuret.com).

In 1894, the hunt for this sinister presence began in earnest, when King Oscar II founded a special organization to try to catch it. Norwegian whalers were hired to do so, but the rather unorthodox methods they chose proved unsuccessful: a dead pig gripped in a metal clasp was dangled into the water as bait, and large, specially manufactured pincers were on hand to grip the creature and pull it ashore. Their tackle is on display at Jamtli, together with photographs that claim to be of the creature.

If you fancy a bit of monster-spotting, consider taking a steamboat cruise on the lake on board S/S Thomée, a creaking 1875 wooden steamship. Routes and timetables vary, but in general the boat does a two-hour trip (100kr) round the lake leaving from the harbour in town. Also available are trips out to the island of Verkön, where there’s a nineteenth-century castle (5hr 30min; 130kr).

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Sweden features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

You’ll soon be able to stay at the ICEHOTEL throughout the year

You’ll soon be able to stay at the ICEHOTEL throughout the year

The ICEHOTEL, constructed from snow and ice each year, has long been Swedish Lapland’s blockbuster attraction. It features in our list of the top 21 things to…

19 Apr 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
Trail-running in the stunning Swedish countryside

Trail-running in the stunning Swedish countryside

Ros Walford goes leaping over granite rocks to give you the lowdown on Sweden’s only coastal trail-running race.  What is this strangely named Icebug Xperie…

09 Nov 2015 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks

Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks

On the face of it, Scandinavia isn’t a very sensible place for a holiday. For one thing, it’s almost always going to be colder than the place you’re leavi…

09 Oct 2015 • Steve Vickers insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month