While researching for my long due Sweden trip, I came across a unique land of colourful flowers, animals grazing in organic farms, locals selling homemade goodies and quaint restaurants serving slow-cooked dishes. And, I also discovered the beating heart of Skåne – the bustling metropolis of Malmö – and its magnificent architecture, picturesque car-free old town squares, restaurants serving both Skåne delicacies and international cuisine, leafy parks alongside canals, high spirited events and bustling summer festivals. I immediately turned my travel diary's page and wrote on the top - Skåne. I was ecstatic on having discovered this beautiful part of Sweden that was straight out of a medieval fairytale book.
More ecstatic than I was my girlfriend. I could see the childlike enthusiasm when she first googled 'Skåne'. Her eyes got bigger as she went past numerous castles, pristine lakes, time-capsuled villages, and at the same time hip bistros, nightclubs, cobblestone streets and football stadia. She said at once, "We are surely going there", to which I agreed wholeheartedly. Being a history buff, she took charge of scouting the best castles while I let the country grow on me naturally.
And neither of us were disappointed.
A fortnight-long trip here left both of us craving for more. Nonetheless, a brief but romantic liaison overwhelmed us with several unforgettable memories – some of which I recommend to you below in order to help you rekindle your own love story in this unique Swedish county.
1) Click #CoupleGoals shots for your Instagram
MALMÖHUS CASTLE, MALMÖHUSVÄGEN
Malmöhus Castle was my girlfriend's idea and I continue to thank her till date. Built in 1434, it is the oldest surviving Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. Surrounded by water, it provides great photo-ops to capture the red brick reflection of the castle walls. Once you are done taking pictures, go ahead and take the audio-visual tour to find out more about this picture perfect castle. The castle's history is an interesting tale of transformation from being a Danish mint in the Middle Ages to a prison in the 19th century.
2) Steal a kiss under the thousand-year-old oak tree
From my girlfriend's favourite to mine, Bosjökloster Castle is my definition of an impressive castle. Snowy white walls and red tiled roofs stand out among the surrounding greenery and a thousand-year-old oak tree welcomes you at the entrance of the park. The pathway is a treat to the eyes, with colours and aromas from the neighbouring blooming shrubs, azalea, roses and rhododendrons. While you're there, do share a few minutes of comfortable silence with your loved one as I did at the 10th-century church.
3) Have a cosy picnic while watching the sunset
SÖDERÅSEN NATIONAL PARK, SKÄRALID
Skåne has its fair share of natural charms. Although it was tough to pick between Hovs Hallar, Kullaberg, Göinge Woodlands and the ridge of Romeleåsen, we chose to hike the Söderåsen National Park. Hiking through virgin forests as old as time was a treat for the senses. The aroma of the forest, chirping of birds, sight of rare and colourful beetles, mushrooms sprouting out of leafy ground cover and the idyllic lakes provide a romantic ambience.
Besides hiking, the park also offers numerous outdoor activities like fishing, canoeing, kayaking, horseriding and tandem biking among others. We camped in the national park but you can stay at Dahlbergs which are essentially free rooms that can house up to 30 people. You must leave the place as you found it, neat and clean.
BACKASKOG MANSION, BARUMSVÄGEN
Bäckaskog Mansion has one of the most scenic locations in Sweden sitting on the isthmus between two lakes, Ivö and Oppmanna. Originally built as a monastery in the 11th century, it was a favourite of Swedish King Karl XV and he spent every summer here until his death in 1845. Walking through the manor, you realise why it was his favourite. The cool breeze and stunning views of the two lakes from the manor made for a lovely mix. We thoroughly enjoyed a royal Swedish dinner in the luxurious castle restaurant.
5) Watch Game of Thrones come alive sans the gore
HOVDALA CASTLE, HÄSSLEHOLM
Knights mounted on galloping horses, the clash of swinging swords, archers on castle walls and musicians singing ballads of the battles. I often watched period dramas to witness historical fiction, but Skåne enabled me to actually feel it.
We were fortunate on having visited Hovdala Castle in the summer as the 16th-century castle plays host to the International Jousting & Medieval Tournament during those months where chivalrous knights, masked warriors, royal stallions, focused archers, lively storytellers and folk musicians bring back days of Sweden's golden past. Witnessing this was among the top five travel experiences of my life. I couldn't shake off the childlike enthusiasm for a week thence.
6) Spend an hour as a member of a noble family
From knight tournaments to a royal residence of a celebrated knight, Glimmingehus is Sweden's best preserved medieval chateau. A guided tour introduced us to its eerie secret passages and fascinating ghost stories. I was mesmerised by the riveting defence mechanisms employed like canals to pour hot tar over intruders, drawbridges, trenches and other deadly traps. We had a splendid time with the staff as they explained the history of the manor in a very lively manner. Later on, while my girlfriend enjoyed participating in Middle Age-chores I relaxed amidst the eclectic aromas of the beautiful herb garden.
7) Have a romantic boat ride amidst the greens
SVANEHOLM CASTLE, SVANEHOLM
Svaneholm Castle has to be the most romantic castle in Skåne. It sits in a beautiful park on the shores of a lake. Instagrammers behold, the lake provides a perfect reflection of the red brick walls and surrounding greenery. After the castle, we rented a boat for a row in the lake. The castle appeared even more impressive from the lake. We were the only ones there which made the moment even more special, resulting in us daydreaming about having a destination wedding here!
8) Rekindle your romance with a sunset tango
VÄSTRA HAMNEN, MALMÖ
The seaside harbours of Malmö are taken over by the tunes of tango as the sun descends and lovers and couples jive the evening away. On our trip to Malmö, we made sure that we took part in one of these seaside tango soirées in the Western Harbour. After shaking a leg with the highly talented local dancers we wrapped up the evening with a shared cone of delicious Italian ice cream.
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In association with Visit Sweden.