This week’s travel crush has us living out our wildest rural Swedish fantasies.
Do you ever just… fantasize about having a different life? When I’m feeling flights of fancy lately I’ve found myself drawn to the promise of inexpensive real estate in progressive countries far, far away—in no small part thanks to the Cheap Nordic Houses account on Instagram.
To say that the charm and beauty of these quaint country homes in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and more far exceed their relatively low monetary value would be an understatement. Scrolling through the properties on rolling green hills with views of pristine lakes and snow-capped mountains, I go back and forth between cursing my citizenship status and feeling so blessed by the abundance of shiplap on my feed. This week, the most adorably renovated red cabin in Värmland, Sweden, caught my eye.
The two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath sits on a lush meadow near the Norwegian border with sweeping views of Lake Nesjon and the subtle Sylarna mountain range from the covered patio. I really wouldn’t need much more than this. There’s a lake-facing window on the second floor that would be the perfect spot to situate a writing desk, and I can totally see myself sipping fika in the robin’s-egg blue kitchen. Sigh.
Maybe one day I’ll have the gumption to steal myself to Scandinavian obscurity once and for all, but until then, I can plan a dream trip inspired by my rural fantasy life, even if it’s just for a little while.
There’s no shortage of scenic nature in this part of the country, and I can only hope to channel these 1900s tourists hiking the Sylarna Mountains. Värmland County is also home to Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake, and Glafsfjorden, Sweden’s only inland fjord. There’s also Värmlands Moose Park, which claims that no other place in the world can get you as up close and personal to a living moose; an adorable husky farm(!); and the Värmlands Vikingacenter, where tourists can learn all about the history of the Nordic warriors in the region with live reenactments. For a mix of art and nature, I’d head to the Rottneros Park, scattered with over a hundred sculptures by Scandinavian artists amid an English-style garden landscape.
Värmland is peppered with unique regional museums like The Värmlands Museum, with exhibitions on regional art and the history of local life; the Torsby Finnish Settlement Centre, which highlights the history of settlers before a time of Scandinavian borders; and then there’s Mårbacka, a manor house in the town of Sunne where beloved Swedish children’s book author Selma Lagerlöf was born and raised. Lagerlöf was also the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. And speaking of Nobel prizes, I’d have to stop by Klässbol, the legendary weaving mill and shop that spins linens for the annual Nobel dinner as well as the Swedish monarchy.
Food-wise, Värmland Country rose to viral fame early in the pandemic for introducing a one-table outdoor restaurant, Bord For En. Though it was just a pop-up, it stems from a rich dining scene that includes Barón, a Swedish tapas bar in Karlstad, and Skogshyddans Gård, an creative food truck that serves multinational interpretations of tacos using local produce.
Naturally, Swedes have their own word for “country living” (see above). And while I’m certain Värmland has an abundance of sweet home share options that closely resemble all my deepest fantasies, there are also rural inns that are accompanied by renowned restaurants that may be too good to pass up. Ölme Prästgård Gästgiveri, with its 18th century charm and emphasis on Swedish heritage cuisine along with pickled excellence, is just one example.