Linked to mainland Sweden by a 6km-long bridge, the island of ÖLAND, with its unspoilt beaches, mysterious forests, pretty meadows and wooden cottages, has been drawing Swedes in droves for over a century. Although it’s a popular destination in summer and holiday traffic can clog the road from the bridge north to the main town Borgholm, this long, splinter-shaped island retains a very likeable old-fashioned holiday atmosphere. The bathing opportunities are among the best in Sweden, and the island’s attractions include numerous ruined castles, Bronze and Iron Age burial cairns, runic stones and forts, all set amid rich and varied fauna and flora and striking geography. Labyrinthine walking trails and bicycle routes wend their way past more than four hundred old wooden windmills, which give Öland a peculiarly Dutch air. The island is perfect for camping, and while you can pitch your tent anywhere under the rules of Allemansrätten, there are plenty of official sites. Almost all are open only between May and September, and are scattered the length of the island; for more details, visit w camping-oland.com.

Brief history

From the mid-sixteenth century until 1801, Öland was a royal hunting ground, ruled with scant regard for its native population. Peasants were forbidden from chopping wood, owning dogs or weapons and selling their produce on the open market. While protected wild animals did their worst to the farmers’ fields, Kalmar’s tradesmen exploited the restrictions on the islanders’ trade to force them to sell at low prices. Danish attacks on Öland (and a ten-month occupation in 1612) made matters worse, with seven hundred farms being destroyed. A succession of disastrous harvests in the mid-nineteenth century was the last straw, causing a quarter of the population to pack their bags for a new life in America. In the twentieth century, mainland Sweden became the new magnet for Öland’s young and, by 1970, the island’s inhabitants had declined to just twenty thousand, around five thousand less than today’s total.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Sweden features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The 10 best Baltic beach resorts

The 10 best Baltic beach resorts

European beach holidays haven’t always been just about the Mediterranean. A century ago, the resorts along the Baltic Sea were just as likely to attract the E…

16 Mar 2018 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
Why Gothenburg should be your next European city break

Why Gothenburg should be your next European city break

So gloomy they named it goth? Not in the slightest. This town can certainly do black-eyeliner bleak with the best of them – anywhere with docklands can, and G…

12 Oct 2017 • Neil McQuillian 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…

31 Mar 2017 • Steve Vickers insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs