Discover the rising land of Kvarken through a fun family road trip around the Swedish side of Kvarken.
The Kvarken area is perfect for an unforgettable road trip holiday for all ages, as it has something to offer everyone. Winding roads take you through lush forests, past open fields and along deep valleys between high mountains. They also take you past numerous islands in the Kvarken archipelago and along the spectacular High Coast shoreline, giving you opportunities to get close to nature and explore as you go.
One rule you should follow is to take your time and not rush. There’s plenty of interesting stops to be discovered along the road. So, let’s explore some of these fascinating places to include on your road trip around the Swedish side of Kvarken.
When you drive along the coast of northern Sweden from Härnösand to Örnsköldsvik, you will be driving along the world’s highest coastline. This is one of the areas where you can see, on full display, the unique consequences of the dramatic land uplift that has taken place here after the Ice Age. The characteristic Kalott mountains with bare sides and forest-covered tops are one of the visual traces left by the land uplifting. These mountains are perfect for hiking and climbing, and if you want to include some learning, go on a guided walking tour with Höga Kusten Walkabout or stop at Naturum Information Centre.
For more opportunities to learn through culture and art, you should also plan a stop at Västernnorrlands Läns Museum, which in addition to permanent exhibitions displaying people and objects form the Stone Age up until the mid-20th century, also has an open-air museum that includes houses and re-created environments from the 1800s and 1900s.
Be sure to discover fun art within the children’s section in the open air High Coast Art Valley museum.
It is not only the coast line in this area that offers unique and fun activities, so make sure to take a drive inland for cultural experiences and more outdoors fun.
At Nämforsens Hällristningsmuseum you can learn about old rock carvings and paintings in the museum and can visit the excavation site to see these fantastic carvings. You can travel back in time to see one of the largest collections of rock carvings in Europe. The carvings date from a time when we were still hunters and gatherers in Kvarken. The impressive open-air museum Nämforsen’s Hällristningsmuseum, named after the rushing rapids, has a collection of over 2,600 figures and lines carved into the ledges and rocky coast of the islands of Notön, Brådön, Laxön and adjacent banks. The oldest carvings are estimated to be around 4500 BC. Are created. That’s 4,500 years before Christ.
From clear outlines of moose considered the kings of the forest to profiles of people, tools, and depictions of daily life as a hunter, these carvings have been filled with red paint to make them more visible to the eye. Wooden walkways cut through the rocks and invite you to explore the drawings and carvings.
A free guided tour tells you even more about the unique history of the region. In the main museum building itself, you’ll find exhibits, real unpainted carvings, as well as arrowheads and chisels excavated by archaeologists and believed to have been used to mark some of the iconic carvings.
Stop for the night at Hotell Hallstadberget located on top of the mountain, overlooking the town of Sollefteå and the river valley. There are excellent hiking opportunities in the mountains just outside the hotel, and if you want to relax after a long day of driving, the hotel has a spa and wellness area including a swimming pool
Getting close to wildlife is also on offer in this area of Kvarken. At Junsele Zoo, you have the possibility to see roughly 25 animal species, including the rare white tiger. Other species to discover close up are lynxes, camels, llamas and lemurs. For an unforgettable animal experience, children can also pet goats and ponies at the zoo.
You can also get really close to the “King of the Forest”, the elk at Älgens Hus (The Elk House) a little bit further north in the Swedish part of Kvarken. Here, you’re allowed to pet the tame elks, which offers a unique experience for both adults and children.
If you didn’t get enough of animals during the day, drive further and visit a husky farm for a walk with the dogs at Aurora Borealis Adventures.
Once you’ve reached your quota of interacting with animals, you can level up the activity and escape into the forest to go whitewater rafting with Forsknäckarna on the Vindelälven (Vindel River). You can also spend the night at their wilderness camp.
If you prefer a slower pace, spend the afternoon fishing in Umeälven (Ume River) by the unique holiday centre at Granö Beckasin. You can also stay the night in one of their treetop huts as whistling wind and gentle swaying of trees rock you to sleep. Alternatively, you can also bed down in one of their family-friendly cabins by Umeälven.
Heading out from nature and forests towards a more urban part of Kvarken, be sure to explore the culture scene in Umeå before you head over to the Finnish side of Kvarken. In Umeå city centre, the Guitars Museum is a sort of heaven-like dream for all guitar players and music fans. It houses a collection of almost 500 guitars, amplifiers and equipment on display, some of them formerly owned and played on by world famous guitar players.
Park your car and head over to Västerbottens museum, which is in walking distance of Umeå city centre. This place offers activities for all ages all year round. Take a stroll around old Västerbothnian farmyards and outdoor Sámi sites, or check out one of many temporary and permanent exhibitions within the main museum building, including the world’s oldest ski.
For art lovers, the Bildmuseet is an absolute must when in Umeå, as Bildmuseet is one of Sweden’s foremost art galleries for contemporary international art. The interesting part of this museum is not just the vibrant and edgy artwork itself, but also its exterior design, facade and architecture. It is also described as one of the world’s most beautiful university museums.
If the formerly mentioned land uplifting continues as estimated, 3,000 years from now, there will be land connecting Umeå in Sweden and Vaasa in Finland, but for now, the easiest way to cross over the Bothnian sea is by taking the Wasaline ferry.
And as the ferry transports you across the sea, you can enjoy a meal in its restaurants, relax in the bar area and enjoy the soothing view, while kids can play in the designated play area.