Lake Siljan & Dalarna
Lake Siljan with its rural surroundings in the beautiful province of Dalarna really lets you experience countryside Sweden at its best. Dalarna, located in the western part of central Sweden, is a diverse and shifting country indeed – dominated in the south by fields, lakes and verdant, rolling hillsides that portrays the classic Swedish countryside that many visitors hope to find.
In the northern parts, the Scandinavian mountains are stately towering up over the landscape and the region entices lots of visitors with adventurous hiking trails and ski resorts.
Siljan lies right in between, peacefully ingrained in the middle of Dalarna, and is the seventh largest lake in Sweden. Many of Dalarna’s quaint and charming towns are situated in this area, such as Leksand, Tällberg and Mora.
(View of Siljan from the surrounding hillsides)
Dalarna offers a very rich historical and cultural heritage unlike anywhere else in Sweden, and several old-time Swedish traditions have their origin in the area. Many holidays, such as Midsummer’s Eve and Christmas, are famously celebrated here in a traditional and somewhat “lavish” fashion and many Swedes (as well as international tourists) choose to visit Dalarna during the festivites. It’s quite interesting to watch – even for the uninitiated.
A wonderful way to get a tase of the old days is to visit one of the many summer farms, homstead museums or other cultural happenings, and you’ll find plenty of them in Dalarna.
The lake itself was actually formed by a huge meteorite impact some 370 million years ago. The impact crater, the Siljan Ring, is the largest known crater in Europe, originally expected to have been around 52 km in diameter.
In more recent history, Siljan has been an important transportation route for timber, ore and coal that has been lumbered and mined in the rich deposits of Dalarna for ages. The region is part of Bergslagen – a geographical area in central Sweden that was prominent for its thriving mining industry that started hundreds of years ago.
Today, the activites are mostly discontinued and the lake is now dedicated for more recreational use.
(Tranquil road in Dalarna)
Sights and activities near Siljan
The area around lake Siljan is great for recreational activities and it’s easy to find something suiting; swimming, horseback riding, hiking, downhill mountainbiking, canoeing, fishing and golf are just a few examples. The list of things to do around Siljan just goes on and on.
But better yet, you can just relax and enjoy the great outdoors of this beautiful rural region. Head up Gesunda mountain, west of Siljan, for a spectacular view of the landscape around the lake or visit the beautiful old town of Tällberg on the eastern shore.
If you’re visiting during the winter (which usually is a beautiful time of year in Dalarna with lots of white and snowy views) you can spend the day trying out lots of brisk activities, such as ice skating, ice sailing or sledding. In northern Dalarna, there are also plenty of skiing oppurtunities available, both cross-country and alpine. Perhaps most notably in the resorts located in Sälen and Idre, which are both very popular destinations for ski vacations amongst Swedes as well.
In the summertime, going swimming and lakeside leisure are of course essential parts of holiday life at Siljan. The beaches are the natural hot-spots of any vacation during the warmer weeks of the year, and there are plenty of them all around the lake.
If you want to explore the shores and find you own favorite spot, you probably won’t have to look far. Otherwise, here are a few suggestions:
- In the town of Rättvik on the eastern shore, you’ll find Siljansbadet – a very family-friendly and enjoyable beach with an adjacent camping site. Quality leisure, and a good choice when bringing your kids.
- Sollerön, the largest island in the lake, offers great swimming opportunities as well as an outdoor camping site. There are bridges connecting Sollerön to the mainland, so you can easily get there by car.
- Siljansnäs Camping outside the town of Leksand is a lovely spot that can boast with a secluded bay and slightly higher temperatures than the rest of the lake.
(Sunset over Siljan)
For the more cultivated and ambience-seeking visitor, there is definitely no shortage on interesting experiences – much of the charm and old-fashioned remnants of Swedish rural traditions and crafts are centered around the lake.
The old-time town of Tällberg is located on the southeastern shore, charmingly situated on the hillsides overlooking the lake with a splendid view. It’s perhaps one of the best locations to get a taste of the alluring heritage of Dalarna, with traditional festivities, classic cuisine, folk-music, local arts and cultural events. The time is certainly moving pleasantly slow in Tällberg (so if you’re looking for more vigorous activities and eventful evenings, you should probably look elsewhere).
Klockargården is however a nice location if you’re looking for more restful entertainment, shows and other unwinding events. Otherwise you will find plenty of spa resorts, restaurants, venues and small handicraft shops all over Tällberg. The town is quite small and while there, you can easily reach everything on foot.
Two very popular lodging options in Tällberg are Åkerblads Hotel & Guesthouse and Villa Långbers. Both very comfortable and charming accommodation, and they’re a great chance to really absorb the enchanting, old-fashioned spirit of Dalarna.
(A classic “falu-red” homestead in Dalarna)
Orsa Predators Park
North of the lake, in Orsa Grönklitt, you’ll find Orsa Predators Park – Europe’s largest predator animal park and a highly popular attraction for thrill-seeking visitors in Dalarna. Around 100.000 tourists, domestic and international alike, find their way here every year to get a chance to spot some otherwise rarely seen creatures. Among other animals, the park hosts many of the most exciting wild predators found in the northern parts of the world, such as bear, wolf, Eurasian lynx, eagle-owl and Amur tiger (also known as Siberian tiger).
Unlike most zoos and animal parks, the animals of Orsa Predators Park are confined in very large areas that resembles their natural habitats. The park is really big – 325.000 square kilometers in totalt – and beyond it lies the vast, desolate forest regions of Orsa finnmark.
The park is open all year round and it takes about 30-60 minutes to get there by car from the Siljan area. You can also get there by public transportation from the towns around the lake.
Accommodation in Dalarna
As far as accommodation goes; you may either camp out or rent one of the many cabins and cottages around the lake. If you feel like leaving the countryside for a while, there’s plenty of lodging options in comfortable hotels and guest houses in the adjacent cities of Mora, Leksand, Rättvik and Tällberg.
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