Kalmar and Öland

I go by ferry and train from Ærøskøbing to Kalmar on Friday, May 18.  After two nights in Kalmar, I go by train to Stockholm on Sunday the 20th.

I've been trying to figure out whether spending part of my Kalmar time on Öland is worthwhile.  I posted on Rick Steves' Travelers Helpline and on Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum, and the responses I got lead me to think I should definitely go.

I will arrive in Kalmar fairly late on Friday evening.  The train from Svendborg to Kalmar is about 6 hours or longer, and that's after a 75-minute ferry ride from Ærøskøbing.  I can take a ferry at 11:45, and then there's a train at 14:12, arriving in Kalmar at 20:50.  Or I can take a ferry at 14:45 and catch a train at 16:12, which is a quick transfer, arriving in Kalmar at 22:00.  Either way, I don't plan on having tourist time in Kalmar on Friday night.

On Sunday, the train to Stockholm is about 5 hours.  The B&B where I'm staying in Stockholm has check-in until 21:00, so the latest train I can take leaves at 15:04, arriving at 19:50.  That still gives me a good portion of the day on Sunday in Kalmar.  So if I wanted to, I could do a full day on Saturday on Öland and still have plenty of time on Sunday to spend in Kalmar.

If I do that, I could rent a car, and that way explore more of the island, or I could take a bus.  Having a car would allow me to wander as much as I want around the island, which is 137 km long and 16 km wide at its widest point.  But it's pricey (over $100 and possibly closer to $200 for a one-day rental), and as I've learned from other driving vacations I've taken, it's tedious to be a solo driver sightseer.  It's one thing to drive to destinations, but I suspect touring Öland would be like driving the Cabot Trail, which was a wonderful but long day of pulling over to enjoy views and jumping back in the car.

I found a blog post from someone who did this in 2008.  He said he logged 200 miles and it was a very long day.  I wouldn't have to do the entire island, but still, I am leaning toward just hopping on a bus and visiting Borgholm.  The bus ride is a little under an hour each way.  I could potentially rent a bike too.

UPDATE (March 14, 2012)

I got some more advice that led me to go ahead and reserve a car for Saturday May 19.  I don't have to pay in advance (didn't even need to provide a credit card), so if I need to cancel, there won't be a problem.


Cassie, thank you so much for the suggestions. I checked the site, and I think I can figure it out even though it's in Swedish.

Enjoy Öland tomorrow, and if you have any more suggestions after your day over there, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks again,

Hi Lane,
Just got back from Öland the other day. If you only do one thing on the island, definitely go see Borgholm castle--the ruin itself is beautiful, and there are wonderful views overlooking the water. At the southern tip of the island is a lighthouse, and many bird enthusiasts go there to watch the hundreds of different species that come to Öland around this time of year. We didn't have any binoculars, but we watched the sunset, which was nice. In my opinion, the scenery in the southern part of the island is more interesting; there is the 5-ft wall that King Karl X Gustav built, as well as many windmills, flowers, and sheep. Eketorps Borg is also worth checking out. It hadn't officially opened yet, but we were still able to walk around the fort for free (and to be honest, I didn't really miss the medieval reenactments, though I suspect it is great for families with children). On our second day, we drove all the way up to the Troll forest at the northern tip, but it was a letdown. While it was nice to stretch our legs and go for a walk, we didn't see very many of the gnarled trees that it is supposedly known for. If you are going to drive up/down the island, the road on the eastern side is somewhat more scenic. The owner of the B&B that we stayed at also recommended a lovely cafe and candy shop called Cafe & Karamellkokeri right off the road in Bredsättra. It is run by a sweet German couple, and all of the baked goods and candy that they sell is homemade. We were able to catch the tail end of one of their daily candy-making sessions, which was fun to see.

I don't know that it is worth driving over the entire island, especially if you only have one day. It's probably better to pick 1 or 2 attractions, and then spend the rest of the time going on one of the numerous hikes along the water or in the many forests that are peppered throughout. The whole island is very flat, so the "hiking" is not very strenuous at all. We were able to pick up a detailed trail map from our B&B, and I imagine you could probably find the same at your hotel in Kalmar. To me, the most enjoyable aspect of Öland is the nature. You can see and hear tons of birds, smell the sea, and encounter all sorts of animals (we saw wild deer and hares, in addition to the horses, cattle, and sheep that belong to many of the farms).

Hope this gives you a little insight into what to expect!

Cassie, How great of you to provide all this info. This will really help me tailor my trip and not get burned out by driving all day long in an attempt to see everything.

Thank you for sharing!