With only a short stop in Vemdalen on our way from Östersund, we were soon on our way even further south. We were heading towards the province of Dalarna and the historical town of Mora, where we planned to stay for five nights at the local camping. Our days there were filled with exploration and adventures before it was time to drive the last stretch home to Stockholm.
Driving south it didn’t take long before we reached the vast forests of the provinces of Härjedalen and Dalarna. It could be kilometres without any other signs of human settlement other than the road on which we drove.
Our first stop along the route south was in the locality of Sveg. This is the main urban area of the province of Härjedalen and on the crossroad between many of the ski destinations in the area, such as Vemdalen and Funäsdalen. For us, it meant a short stop at the local heritage museum before we said hello to the world’s largest wooden bear and had some lunch. As you can guess, many of the buildings here are built in wood. Is it worth a stop? Yes, especially to say hi to the bear.
There is not much else than forest between Sveg and the Orsa, the next major settlement along the 125 kilometres of road. The one and only exception is Noppikoski. This small settlement is a part of Finnskogen, the forests of the Finns. The area was settled during the 18th century by people from the eastern part of the then much larger Sweden. The Finnish name meant that we just had to make a short stop here. Well, at least to have a look at the waterfall, from which the name comes. It was also a nice reason to stretch our legs before getting back in the car.
We arrived at Mora Camping in the early afternoon and where soon settled in our small tent. Funny enough, our closest neighbours, around 50 meters away, had a tent of the exact same model.
Mora Camping was a nice stop. It had a lot of activities, such as playgrounds and miniature golf. The centre of the town was also really close by and could be reached on foot in a few minutes. The facilities were nice, but quite far apart and maybe not really adopted to people tenting at the premises. So here we were, not really knowing how cold the nights ahead would get.
Exploring the town of Mora and the surrounding area during the coming days turned out to be an adventure. The province of Dalarna has so many famous towns and places, not to mention the annual 90-kilometer cross-country skiing competition that we know as Vasaloppet.
First Afternoon in Mora
Our first afternoon in Mora was spent settling in and getting a grip of our surroundings. Questions included where to find food and how to easiest walk to the centre? A short walk answered both questions and we had soon caught our first glimpse of central Mora and found something to eat. It turned out to be a cold night in the tent, something we noticed quite late. It wasn’t until the sun had set that we encountered the chilly temperatures, the summer heat had not yet returned.
Day 1: Orsa
Waking up quite frozen and waiting for the sun to warm us up we looked at our options for the day. We checked the weather and it was going to be unstable, with the risk of rainfall. We decided to gamble with the weather and headed towards Orsa Grönklitt a bit north of Mora. This is where you can find Orsa Rovdjuspark, a zoo with predators. Their focus has been on bears, but there are plenty of cats as well. We had just arrived as the rain started to fall, and we really mean fall. It was pouring down. So, we did what we could. We found a table at the café and ordered some pancakes for Little A and me to share.
We were soon walking along the paths and saw some of our great neighbours here in the Nordics, the brown bear. Little A did mostly enjoy two sights, the playing of the brown bear cubs and the grandiose sight of the Siberian tigers. Well, we do believe that animals do better to be wild and free. However, it is still a delight to be able to let Little A see these animals alive and not only as stuffed animals from the toy store.
On our way back towards Mora, we also made sure to take a short walk in the small town of Orsa. With the sun shining, the green trees really made a beautiful frame for the main sights.
Day 2: A Second Look at Mora
We planned to stay put in Mora during our second full day there. We started off with a walk through the centre. Some of the sights we saw included the goal portal of Vasaloppet and the statue of King Gustaf Vasa. We finished the tour with a nice view of Lake Siljan. While enjoying an ice cream and the beautiful view of the water little warned us about the upcoming change in the weather. Once back at the tent, Susann and Little A rested while I drove to the store to buy a heater. Two cold nights were enough, we wanted to get the tent a bit warmer for the remaining three.
It was on my drive back to the tent that the thunderstorm approached. The heavy rainfall had just begun as I parked the car next to the tent and got in to tell Susann of some changed plans. With the thunderstorm soon above us, we didn’t want to be sitting in the tent. So we moved a sleeping Little A to the car and discussed what to do.
Day 2: Rättvik
We had planned to drive to Rättvik and Leksand the next day. As the rain fell, we decided to see if the weather would be better a bit further away from Mora. We started with Rättvik and while we were looking at the old church town and the monument for Gustav Vasa, the sun was still shining. There really were no signs of the heavy rain and thunderstorm a short drive north. Little A, who had just fallen asleep prior to the rough move out to the car in Mora, was still asleep. So we took turns to have a look. Well, so we thought. Once I was back Little A was ready to join us so we set off along the shores of Lake Siljan to enjoy the sunshine. Once finished we also made sure to make a short stop in the centre, but soon opted to continue to our next stop.
Day 2: Leksand
Our second stop this afternoon was in Leksand. The town has a big hockey rivalry with Mora. The first priority was dinner and we were soon sitting at a local pizzeria. There were still no signs of rain and we could even enjoy the outdoor seating. Our first impression of Leksand was quite disappointing. Many talk so highly of the town and we just couldn’t see why when we walked along the streets in the centre. Once more, this is Sweden and it is not always the centre that makes a town shine. It wasn’t until we made it to the shores of Lake Siljan and could enjoy walking around the many historical cottages and farmsteads, that had been collected and moved here, that we started to change our minds about Leksand. Let us just say, do not stay only at the central streets when visiting a town in Sweden.
The biggest surprise of the day? When arriving back in Mora, the streets, the grass, everything was still really wet from the rain. We had succeeded in escaping the rain and enjoyed the sun at the other side of the lake.
Day 3: Vasaloppet
Our third day in Mora started off with a tent that was a bit warmer, even after heavy rainfall the day before. The new heater had been able to get the moisture out of the tent, which was a great relief.
We were soon in the car. Our plan for the day was to get one more glimpse of the Swedish mountains. The closest stop for this endeavour? Sälen, the starting location of Vasaloppet and the centre of many ski resorts in the area. While Vasaloppet goes from Mora to Sälen, we drove in the opposite direction with stops at some of the well-known checkpoints. Few who have watched the competition on the TV would not know of places such as Oxberg, Evertsberg, and Mångsbodarna. For us, there were just short stops, but it was interesting to see how these areas looked during the summer without the snow and all the skiers that are usually here when these locations are on TV.
The drive eventually led us all the way to the ski stadium in Sälen, where the size of the large starting field gives you an idea of how big this competition really is.
Day 3: Sälen & Högfjället
Our stop in Sälen started with a hamburger at one of the local fast food restaurants. Luckily, this was not one of the larger franchises. With our bellies filled, we continued to the local heritage museum to see some more of the traditional cottages from this part of Dalarna.
Our main target was not the small locality of Sälen, it was the mountains between here and the Norwegian border. There are plenty of ski resorts here and there are good hiking possibilities during the summer. However, our first stop along the road turned out to be quite crowded and we continued to Högfjället.
Högfjället is the starting point for the 340 kilometre long hiking trail Södra Kungsleden. We were not about to start a hike all the way to Storlien, but we wanted to enjoy the first part. So with Little A stubbornly walking up the hill, we made ground toward the first rest stop along the path. This was the easy part, friendly for both kids and people with disabilities. That didn’t matter, it still offered a great view along the path and especially when reaching the highest point of this first easy stage. This was of course where we turned back down, but first we made sure to enjoy the view, the sun, and a small fika.
Day 3: Malung
We didn’t take the same road back to Mora, instead, we took a detour to Malung for an afternoon stop and some more ice cream in the sunshine. This is a Swedish centre for both leather and dansbandmusik (“dance band music”). We have tried to explain this concept a bit more in our post about Malung, but we have probably not scratched more than the surface.
Our short walk took us around the centre and to a park with a playground. This playground was a bit different than many others we have seen. Instead of the usual attractions, it had several cottages and animal sculptures. Someone really had had some fantasy and built a playground in the shape of a small village.
Once back in Mora, we were quite tired and soon asleep in our small tent. It had been a long day of driving, hiking, and sunshine. We were now looking forward to a more relaxing last day in Mora.
Day 4: A Last Look at Mora
Our fourth and last full day in Mora was dedicated to relaxing. We only took a shorter walk to the centre and spent the rest of the day at the many activities at the camping. Little A fell in love with miniature golf and we went there to play three times during this one day. Well, playing was as simple as assisting her with how to hold the club and getting the ball moving. She was certainly better at playing than her mother.
Our stay in Mora eventually came to an end and with it so did our last major stop along our northern road trip, It was time to head home. However, the drive home can be turned into an adventure with new explorations. We had two stops in mind before leaving Mora, but the total turned out to be three before reaching Stockholm.
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