Mention Sweden and for most, it will be the water-city of Stockholm or the dog-sleds of Lapland that first come to mind. For people whom 'The Bridge' is simply an alternative route over a river, and not a fantastic piece of Nordic Noir television, the south quite possibly never comes up.
And yet, there is so much to explore in this part of Sweden, especially during the summer months. Beautiful beaches, hikes and cycles trails, picturesque villages and stunning nature await those that venture away from the north.
We spent several days doing just that, and have put together this guide on amazing things you simply have to do if you visit too.
Cycling the Southeast Trail
Swedes are perhaps the most outdoorsy nationality we've encountered, and so it is of little surprise that cycling is a hugely popular past-time. So much so, that the government has invested in hundreds of miles of cycle paths all over the country, including both safe cycle lanes in busy cities and long-distance routes through some of the most stunning parts of the countryside.
The Southeast trail (Sydostleden) is one such investment. Extending over 270 kms from Växjö to Simrishamn, this stunning path passes through pine-scented forests and along unspoilt beaches - and despite a certain member of Along Dusty Roads going AWOL and getting lost for an hour, it is incredibly easy to follow.
Whilst die-hard cyclists may well like to do the whole thing, it is also possible to rent a bike for the day and select just a small section of the route to cover, as we did from Åhus to Rigeleje. For more information on the route, see this link.
Spend some time at the beach!
For a country that sees significantly less sun than most, it is of little surprise that when the UV level eventually does go up, the Swedish race to don a swimsuit and get a tan.
And, whilst you will find many Swedes basking in the sunshine of warmer countries during the winter months, come summer it is the beaches of their own country to which they flock, in particular to those in Skåne.
Also known as the Swedish Riviera, the yellow sand stretching for miles along this crescent-shaped coastline is powdery perfect, edged by forest, and open to everyone.
Of course, given the growing popularity of summer homes in Sweden, some coastal towns can simply get too crowded during peak season - yet, you do not have to venture too far to find peace and tranquility with ocean views. And, thanks to the Swedish concept of open access to land and coast, once you've found your own quiet corner of the wilderness, you have every right to camp there!
An all you can eat restaurant - with a twist!
Growing up in the UK, all you can eat pizza buffets were not uncommon - but usually they involved fat covered deep pan monstrosities from Pizza Hut, and the need for a swift lie-down. However here in the most unexpected of places, one can find something a little more special.
Hosted by Cocoon, a beautiful collection of accommodations amongst the fields of Degeberga, is a pizza restaurant with a twist. For just six weeks of the year, the quaint outdoor seating area produces some of the best gourmet wood-fired pizzas we've ever tried! And, for a fixed price, you can eat as much as you like - simply leave your table's 'go' sign green, and the servers will keep bringing out freshly made pizzas for the table as and when they're ready.
Just make sure you save some room for their excellent dessert pizza!
Hike one of Skåne's beautiful walking Trails
What do you do the morning after consuming an ungodly amount of pizza? Strap on a pair of walking shoes, and go for a hike of course! After all, the delightful Degeberga trail begins just down the road.
Here, in the Swedish countryside, winding paths lead across rolling hills, through verdant green forest brandishing temptingly ripe lingonberries and wild strawberries, finishing at the edge a crystal-clear icy-cold waterfall and a free-flowing brook. Home to pixies and nymphs, the fairytale forest of Forsakar Nature Reserve is a magical place for a hike.
Pack up a flask of hot coffee, some tasty snacks (we can't guarantee you'll have your own excellent Norweigan pancakes like us!) and take in the easy 5.5km hike through beautiful Skåne.
For more information on this trail and how to plan your route click here - keen hikers may also like to read more about the Skanelden trail, which consists of over 1,000 kms of pathways.
Söderåsen National Park
Covering more than 1600 hectares, this beautiful area, dominated by huge beech trees, is one of the largest uninterrupted expanses of protected deciduous forests in northern Europe.
It is a nature lover's paradise, with more than 10 dedicated walking trails, ranging from easy amble to challenging hikes - meaning that you can sample the region even if only stopping for a couple of hours.
Those with more time are welcome to contact the park to arrange accommodation in one of several basic huts - just be sure to come prepared, as most don't have electricity!
For more information on hiking trails, how to get there and booking accommodation, see this link.
Kullaberg Nature Reserve and 'whale watching'
We're still not entirely convinced that this title isn't, at least a little, misleading. But, after several debates on the matter, it appears that a porpoise is indeed a whale. And, here in the oceans of Kullaberg Nature Reserve, is where a great number of them call home.
After we'd donned oversized life jackets and set off on a RIB boat safari, it became apparent that finding them however, was a little more tricky.
Beneath gentle crashing waves, all eyes strained for a characteristic small fin breaking above the water, and more than once we convinced ourselves that it was a porpoise that we saw, not a piece of flotsam floating upon the surface of the sea.
Thankfully, the guides are good. We were never promised a sighting - it would be foolish to bet on nature - but we did not return to shore until no less than five of these 'mini-whales' have made their presence known.
Be sure to also take in the view from above, and if you're good on your feet, follow the path along the cliffs to enjoy one of the many deserted pebble beaches.
For more information, and to book your own porpoise experience, check this link out.
Explore the pretty town of Arild
The Swedish landscape is dotted with colourful clapperboard houses, all complete with perfect country gardens and white picket fences. Whether clustered on a seafront, on a tiny island in the ocean or high in the hills, it's a large part of why we enjoyed photographing this country so much.
The old fishing village of Arild, housing just over 500 permanent residents is one such beautiful example. Rusting boats sit in the small harbour, each with a weather worn face peering out to sea; an old ice-cream sign announcing sweet treats to visitors, vintage not because of style but simply because of age. Colourful houses rise up among the hills, each so immaculate it is hard to believe that they are homes, and not simply on display.
Had the heavens not opened, we could have explored this picture-perfect village for hours!
Looking for somewhere to stay? There's a fantastic hotel, up on the hill called Rusthållargården. Click here to make a reservation, and be sure to have at least one meal in their restaurant - if only for the deserts!
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We were invited to discover Skåne with Visit Sweden but all opinions, as always, are our own.