Is Hellasgården the best winter hike in Stockholm, Sweden?
Stockholm is a wonderful city full of beautiful architecture and culture. The Swedish capital also boasts an impressive abundance of nature. The hundreds of islands that make up the city and surrounding area are perfect to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Yet with so much choice, it can be hard to choose where to go on a tight itinerary! If you have plenty of time you can travel to one of the outer islands or right to the edge of the city. If you do not have much time yet you would still like to see some of the wonderful Swedish nature read on to see where we hiked, just 20 minutes from the old town Gamla Stan!
As I was researching, I realised quite how vast the city was! There were so many wonderful hikes to choose from yet we only had time to do just one hike. I spent a long time pondering which hike to do.
Our visit was in December when there was thick snow on the ground. I wanted to find Stockholm’s best winter hike! In the end, we chose a short hike closest to where we were staying. We decided we would visit the Hellasgården area of the Nacka nature reserve.
This was one of the nicest winter hikes we have ever done.
How to get to Hellasgarden
Hellasgården is easy to reach from downtown Stockholm. Simply hop off at Slussen station and jump on the 401 bus. Apparently, it is possible to cycle there. It is a 30 minute bike ride from the city center and the whole way is a designated cycle lane. Not sure if this is possible in winter though and we just stuck to the train and bus. As you get off the bus you feel as if you are hours from a busy city centre. All around you are rolling hills, dotted with deep green pipe trees. They are swaying gently, carefully brushing some of their snowy coats off creating little flurries of white. The ground crunched beneath our feet as we walked through the frozen snow towards the start of the trail.
Are there many people at Hellasgarden?
There are numerous walking paths and jogging trails around the nature reserve. Some are wide and well maintained whilst others are narrow and wild. We chose the trail that circumnavigates the lake Källtorpssjön. This path was well trodden, yet we saw just 3 other hikers during our day at Hellasgarden. Afterwards we discovered that the reserve receives approximately 1.5 million visitors per year. Luckily our visit fell on a week day which must have been why we saw few others. This winter solitude was exactly what we were looking for.
Walking around Lake Källtorpssjön in Hellasgarden
We started our walk around the lake. The first part was very open, and we stuck very closely to the lakeside. A wooden deck stretched out over the frozen lake was covered in pure white snow. It was hard to imagine what this place must look like in summer.
The low winter sun cast golden rays over the lake and we felt as if we had entered winter paradise. Despite the cool temperature of -6C the sun warmed our bare cheeks. The tree covered hills also sheltered us and protected us from the fierce coastal winds we had braced by the bay.
After the lakeside deck the trail led us away from the sun and into the dark forest paths. The trees absorbed any sounds from beyond the reserve. Alex and I enjoyed just hearing the few birds, the gentle winds, our waterproof trousers rub against each other and the crunch of the frozen snow from our clumsy steps. I liked seeing other creature’s footprints in the snow next to ours.
The trail began to head upwards. We followed the slippery path out of the forest and back into the sunshine.
As we emerged into the light, we realised we were stood high above the lake. From up here we could truly take in the scale of the frozen wonderland.
The trail was almost non-existent as we continued upwards. We soon reached a rather rocky section. Whilst I was once an avid boulderer, scrambling over steep icy rocks in the depth of winter was terrifying! As Alex nimbly scrambled, I gingerly tried to place my feet in safe positions. The rocks were very slippery, and I began to panic. As I was having a lovely day, I did not want to ruin it by injuring myself therefore I went back and took a safer route up to the top where I met Alex.
Back on a safer track we once again took in the incredible views across the frozen landscape. We did see a few other hikers along the ridge. Everyone we passed was smiley and happy to be in this beautiful place.
It was wonderful just walking in the snow. We merrily kicked up the powder as we wondered along. I also very much enjoyed taking photographs in this incredible place. The low Scandinavian light was casting a beautiful golden glow causing the snow to glisten in the rays. I had completely forgotten that we were in a major European capital city.
Ice skating at Hellasgarden
The path then took us back down towards the lake side. The lake was completely still as it lay under a layer of translucent ice. Alex had never walked on frozen ice before. He enjoyed being a dare devil and seeing how far he could venture on the ice before hearing it crack and running back to shore to safety.
I have heard from others that it is possible to skate on lake Källtorpssjön. At the weekend the lake is full of ice skaters and ice hockey players but the only skaters we saw were a few birds playing on the ice.
In addition to skating there is also a sauna. Should you be feeling the cold you could visit the sauna at Hellasgarden which is split by gender. If you are very brave, after your sauna, you can jump into a hole in the lake which should be very refreshing! There is a restaurant as well. Storstugan serves light meals, snacks and has vegetarian options.
Do I need a guide when hiking in Hellasgarden?
No, you don’t need a guide. Whilst to start with there was a very clear path to follow, Alex wanted to stay close to the lake, so we started following smaller trails which then disappeared entirely. Yet as there is a huge lake, it is impossible to get lost as you simply need stay close to the lake and follow it around.
What should I wear when visiting Hellasgarden?
If you visit during winter as we did wrap up warm. It was pretty cold in December. Bring your hat, scarfs and gloves. If you have waterproof trousers wear them as they will keep you warm and dry. We were pleased we had brought our water proof trousers for our walk in the snow.
Also make sure you bring your camera to capture the epic scenery at Hellasgarden.
Would you like to go hiking in Hellasgarden?
Hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to Hellasgarden. It was wonderful to be able to be completely surrounded by nature despite being in the city centre. What are you favourite city walks? Would you like to go hiking in Hellasgarden? Let me know in the comments below.