Resort vibes and lakeside views.
Rättvik is a cosy Swedish town on the coast of lake Siljan in the Dalarna region, the one that is known for having the best Midsommar celebrations in Sweden. Apparently the first tourist hotel in the country was built there in 1894, so it’s one of those towns with old school resort vibes, lakeside accommodation, camps and summer cafes. However, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t overcrowded, even with nice weather, and that it somehow retained a sense of calm, probably because it’s relatively small.
There’s a long wooden jetty stretching out across the lake and I saw lots of people swimming, fishing or just chilling in the sun on large end platform, which is essentially an island. Since lake Siljan is so large and peaceful, Rättvik is the perfect place for long, slow walks on the beach, relaxing coffee dates and of course, outdoor activities. The Styggforsen and Amtjärnsbrottet nature reserves are quite close and there’s also a small spring called Springkällan, which they found in the 1890s while drilling for oil.
If you’re not big on hiking, the medieval church of Rättvik with an old graveyard is definitely worth a look and I also found the Vasa stone, which commemorates the first speech king Gustaf Vasa gave in the region. He was the one who established Sweden’s independence from Denmark, by the way. Besides the church, there are also some small local museums in and around Rättvik, as well as ceramic and jewelry workshops you can visit.
Impressions of Rättvik
If you have looked at the photos above carefully, you might have noticed a photo of a seemingly normal cafe called “Baka & Kaka”. If you’re from the Balkans, you’re probably already chuckling by now, because although that just means baked stuff and cake in Swedish, it means grandmas and poop for those of from the Slavic countries. 🙂
Silly jokes aside, I also had the chance to see the solar egg sauna, a giant art installation by the Bigert & Bergström art duo, which was created for a Swedish housing company in 2017 and originally placed in Kiruna near the Ice hotel. The reflective golden egg is an actual sauna for up to 8 people, with a wood burner shaped like a human heart in the middle, that has won numerous design awards. Since it’s gotten so famous, the egg now often travels around and has been to Björkliden, Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Gällivare and Minnesota (USA), as well as Rättvik in 2019 when I was there. It’s actually quite cosy to sit inside a 4,5 metre high egg, so I imagine that’s what chickens must feel like, if chickens were huge and their eggs weighed close to 3000 kilograms…
There’s one more unusual attraction close to Rättvik, which is the Dalhalla concert venue set in an old lime stone quarry. It is essentially an open air theatre at the bottom of the quarry and among one of the best outdoor venues in Europe. Since lake Siljan was formed after a meteorite crashed down about 360 million years ago, Dalhalla is certainly unique and you can directly observe the impact of a meteorite on the natural surroundings there.
They host all sorts of concerts, operas, musicals and other events during the summer and you can also book a guided tour on certain days, but when I was there none of the dates available suited my schedule. So, I figured I’d walk the 7 kilometres from Rättvik to Dalhalla on the off chance that I might see something interesting and at least observe the venue from above. You might think that’s a bit crazy and I suppose it is, but I like walking and the Swedish countryside is always beautiful and full of cutsey red houses with all sorts of details, which apparently goes double for the Dalarna region as you can see in the photos below.
Along the way
There was almost no traffic and I quite enjoyed the walk, but when I finally made it to Dalhalla, I realised that there’s a high fence around the whole venue and you can’t see much of anything, which I really should’ve expected. However, fortune favours the brave and I found a small gap in the fence where I was able to peek through and see what it looks like and take a sneaky photo. It looks pretty nice with the emerald water in the quarry and I imagine the acoustics must be spectacular, so I’d love to return and see a concert one day.
It took me another hour and a half to walk back and I was just in time to sort of watch the sunset on the beach, so the whole experience was totally worth it, although I wouldn’t recommend walking all the way to Dalhalla, because you really won’t see much.
Tågstallarna train hostel review
While I was in Rättvik, I stayed in the Tågstallarna night train hostel, which was exactly what it sounds like – old repurposed second class train carriages. Obviously a cramped night train compartment is no one’s idea of luxury and I’ve seen people complain about it in the reviews, but personally I rather liked the idea of sleeping on a vintage train and the price was very low, so I was quite happy with it. The room was clean and well maintained, the train carriage had running water and a functional toilet, although the showers and the kitchen in the separate train warehouse building could’ve been a lot better and I imagine it gets very cold if you’re not there during the summer. However, it was alright if you’re actually expecting a hostel, not a fancy place, and I’d give it a 3.5/5 for the fun vintage vibes.
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