020 3411 3889

West Sweden by Electric Vehicle

By Sarah Baxter

I like trains. And buses. Ferries and trams are excellent too. Especially in West Sweden, where such things work extremely well, and offer great green ways to get about. But you can’t deny the flexibility of the motorcar; the extra freedom that having your own wheels grants. Fortunately, West Sweden has this option covered too. The region is committed to Stepping up Sustainability, which includes promoting all methods of sustainable transport. So, unsurprisingly, it’s simple to hire an electric car for smooth, eco-friendly exploration.

For my climate-smart week in West Sweden, I picked up a smart, sleek Polestar – the latest e-vehicle produced by Gothenburg-based Volvo – right opposite the city’s main train station. Within minutes I was purring out of the urban hustle, along quiet roads lined with pine and birch, every mile becoming wilder. I’d never driven an electric car before but, as the Polestar 2 can cover around 500km on a full charge, I relaxed into the increasing remoteness, free of range anxiety – everything would be alright. 

Want to experience the magic of West Sweden for yourself? On this 11-night escape, you’ll explore Alingsås, the spa town of Ljungskile, and the island of Tjörn. You’ll enjoy relaxing stays in sustainable accommodation and visit the Läckö Castle, explore the Kata Gård ruins, and discover the iconic sculptures of Tjörn.

Better than alright, in fact. After a couple of hours, I rolled up at Erikson Cottage, a remote farm, bakery and trio of magical glasshouses by the edge of Lake Lagmanshagasjön. Here, I found owner Elisabeth in the bakehouse, measuring out flour amid flickering candles, fresh flowers and restful music. She asked me to pick the mug I liked best from a wonderful handmade assortment, and then she poured me a coffee and gave me a fresh-baked bun. Hygge, Swedish style.

Then there was the glasshouse itself. Laying back on the crisp, white sheets inside this see-through cabin, barely separated from nature, I felt any lingering stresses drift out into the glade, up to the treetops. My breathing slowed and my body softened; I couldn’t hear anything but a silence so absolute it was thunderous. Unless someone physically pulls me away, I thought, I’m never going to leave.

But eventually, I did. As a night in the forest recharged my batteries, so the Polestar had been plugged in and re-juiced. We were both ready to see what else the region had in store.

And what a road trip. Directions were straightforward and finding charging points was no problem. And it was fun to go wherever the mood took me, be that steering down enticing-looking lanes or pulling over at a field edge to gaze at an unexpected flock of leggy common cranes.

First I drove to the historic trästäder (wooden town) of Hjo, on the shores of vast Lake Vättern. Once a stopping place for monks, then an industrial hub, then a smart spa town, it’s now a delightful place to wander. On this sunny autumn day, the car park was barely half full and the queue at Moster Elins was tiny – in summer this harbourside ice cream hut is so popular the wait can be two hours.

Then I motored towards Kinnekulle, just one of the ancient table mountains now encompassed within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s not only a place of really cool rocks, it’s also layered with human history, from megalithic tombs and Christian burial slabs to medieval mines and stately homes. I especially enjoyed sifting through the knick-knacks at Hellekis Manor’s fabulous flea market (and filling the car boot with my finds).

I also drove along Kållandsö island where, at the tip, imposing 17th-century Läckö Slott looms over Lake Vänern and the award-winning Hvita Hjorten restaurant which serves up dishes using produce from the castle’s garden. It was a bit of a detour – I wouldn’t have had time without the car – but it was worth it for a single mouthful of chef Katrin Ljungblom’s creamy pike-perch, sprinkled with summer phlox and wild garlic.

But while I loved the freedom of the car, there was also a profound joy in leaving it parked up to explore more by foot, bike or boat. For instance, the Polestar couldn’t probe the tempting trail that led from my off-grid cabin at Inforest, near Hjo; the path became narrower and narrower as it approached Lingonberry Head. I cycled there in the late afternoon and listened to a woodpecker’s tat-a-tat as the little pond glowed in the rosy twilight.

In West Sweden there’s joy in the journey, but even more in discovering what happens next.

Feeling inspired? Experience the magic for yourself by booking one of our Sustainable Journeys.

Editorial submission – 14th December 2023