Would you ever consider sleeping on a tiny island off the coast of Sweden? I didn’t until I was offered the opportunity to do so. Now I can’t wait to go back and do it again.
Did you know Sweden has more islands than any other country in the world? There are 267,570 islands along the 2,000 miles of coastline and within the nearly 100,000 lakes throughout the country. Some islands are tiny…merely a rock rising above the surface of the water at low tide, while others are large and have military fortifications, summer homes, etc. In 2017, I spent a couple days on Landsort, one of the most popular islands to travel to from Stockholm (due to its proximity). That island has beautiful harbors, a large defense bunker, and a bird-tagging station.
Karlskrona is the southernmost archipelago of Sweden and consists of 1,650 islands. The city of Karlskrona itself sits on 33 large islands. There, you can visit the Maritime Museum, go kayaking, explore the fortress remains, and try award-winning coffee, lemon sorbet and truffle beer at Skepsgossen Restaurant. The city in all its glory is rightly classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the other hand, you can take an excursion down to Utklippan Island. Located 15 miles south of the city center, it’s the southernmost island of the archipelago. A lighthouse was built on the island in 1789, while shacks and fortifications were added during the two World Wars. The shacks have since been repurposed. One is a bird-watching station, and the biggest is a small hostel. My favorite feature of the island was a small, wood-burning sauna. As the island is less than 1000 feet across, you can just jump into the Baltic Sea to wash off the sweat.
I was brought down to the island by Saltstank, a diving company that specializes in exploring the numerous underwater shipwrecks around Karlskrona (all those islands can be hard to navigate). Our tour included a fika (coffee time) up in the lighthouse, barbecues for dinner and breakfast, and a couple trips out on the boat to snorkel with the seals that live around the island.
As my visit was before the hostel opened, I slept out on the island with my sleeping bag and wrapped up in my hammock. There were no trees to use the hammock with, but the parachute-grade canvas kept me quite warm from the cool Baltic breeze. I don’t know about you, but I feel so refreshed sleeping under the open sky when I go camping, especially when you get a clear night to see the stars. I just never expected to be sleeping on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. Is that an adventure you would go on, or do you prefer the comforts of a hotel bed?