As soon as I arrived in Ystad I knew there was something special about being here.
I’m not exactly sure what it was that gave me such an immediate feeling of positivity, but as I looked out towards the Baltic Sea and felt the warmth of the sun across my face, I had an idea.
I wanted to explore Ystad and its surrounding area so I began on foot in the centre of town before driving in the car to the surrounding attractions. There was a small gap in my Scandinavian knowledge that needed to be filled with Ystad.
What exactly made visiting this town so great?
It didn’t take long to be swept off my feet by the colourful street houses, cobbled paving stones, perfectly planted flowers and roses creeping up doorways and weaving around windows. It’s the kind of town where you wished you owned a holiday home, and it’s therefore no surprise to hear it’s a popular place for the Swedes to come for a holiday.
Ystad may be small compared to nearby cities Malmö and Lund but it sprawls out towards the beach and forestland, so there’s an extended feeling of space and a great sense of being close to nature at all times.
Some of you might know Ystad as the filming location for the popular TV series Wallander.
As a result of the series’ success, people from all over come to walk in the footsteps of police inspector, Wallander. There’s even a quirky, little veteran fire engine that takes fans to various filming locations around the town.
After pottering around Ystad I jumped in the car to explore the surrounding areas. First port of call was Ales Stenar (also known as Ale’s Stones), an archaeological site consisting of 59 boulders laid out in the shape of a ship, 67 metres long and 19 metres wide, and like Stonehenge many theories have been raised about its purpose.
The two most credible theories differ widely on when and why the monument was assembled.Some theories believe the stones served as an ancient astronomical clock, they have been aligned according to the winter and the summer Solstices. Every year people come to the site to see the sun going down at the northwestern stone in summer and rise exactly at the opposite stone in winter. This speculation goes back 2,500 years, during the Bronze Age.
However, the more popular theory of it being a burial monument dates back some 1,400 years, towards the end of the Nordic Iron Age. Some people say it was built in honour of the Vikings who perished in their voyages, and bringing more weight to this theory, the word ‘Ale’ meant ‘sanctuary’ in the ancient Nordic language.
Ales Stenar is positioned beautifully on top a hill overlooking the Baltic Sea, with such a view it’s an ideal place to come for walkers. And no matter what the weather, seeing these incredibly large stones mysteriously laid out against this majestic coastline is nothing short of extraordinary. To walk to the monolithic rocks you need to begin in the pretty fishing harbour of Kåseberga, not far from Ystad.
By now I was beginning to feel hungry and eagerly anticipated some of the culinary delights Skåne has become famous for. The region’s extremely fertile soil is the ideal basis for growing high-quality vegetables, grains and other ingredients. Maintaining this close connection between nature and the restaurants, cafes and farm shops is a relationship the region is very proud of.
I stopped off at Olof Viktors, an award-winning café
All their bread is made from their own traditional way in wood-fired stone oven, but their latest achievement was being voted Sweden’s best patisserie. Everything on offer looked delicious, if it were not for the fact of having only one stomach I would have purchased one of everything, but I settled for an open sandwich consisting of locally cultivated cheeses with leaves and a dash of sweet onion chutney on rye bread.
Sitting down in the picturesque courtyard of Olof Viktor’s and enjoying the company of family and friends over a drink and afternoon lunch is something I recommend doing.
And if the sun isn’t shining you have the option to get cosy inside their wonderful tea rooms, the interior will surely inspire you with a few home decoration tips whilst you wait for your food!
Not far away you will discover more places specialising in locally grown goodies including Österlenkryddor, a farm shop well-known for its lavender fields and their creative usage of the plant.
I was really surprised by some of the combinations I saw so I bought a few gifts to take back home with me, including a jar of honey with lavender essence, and a pot of salt with tiny pieces of lavender. I’m pleased to say the salt gets sprinkled over just about any salad or soup I’ve made at home since I bought it!
Before heading back to Malmö where I was spending the night, I enjoyed my last hour relaxing on the beach – well, wouldn’t you?
If you would like a holiday to Ystad and its surrounding area please call 01274 875199 to speak to one of our specialists.