Sälen is a locality known for skiing, both the alpine and cross-country kinds. Located in the Swedish mountains, close to the Norwegian border, its surrounding area is scattered with ski resorts. But it is not only in the wintertime that Sälen awakes. The popularity of summer activities is also on the increase. Sälen’s around 820 inhabitants are usually joined by several more temporary visitors during all times of the year.
A Short History of Sälen
The most famous part of Sälen’s history is connected to the sagas telling the stories of the Swedish uprising against the personal union with Denmark and Norway in the 1520s. Sweden was at the moment a part of the Kalmar Union and ruled by the king of Denmark. Gustav Vasa had earlier escaped captivity in Denmark and had tried to raise support in Mora. It had not gone as he had hoped and he set off towards the Norwegian border. The people of Mora did, however, change their minds and two men set out on skies to get Gustav Vasa to turn back. It was in Sälen that the men from Mora were able to catch up with him. The following years saw an independent Sweden and Gustav Vasa as the Swedish king.
In memory of the sagas, a cross-country ski race was started in 1922 and it is today one of the biggest sports events in Sweden. Skiing became even more important for Sälen in 1937 with the construction of the alpine ski resort at Högfjället.
Things to Do and See in Sälen
It is outdoor activities that are on most people’s minds when visiting Sälen. Skiing in winter and hiking in summer. No matter what time of the year you visit, you will most likely not stay indoors for long.
There are seven alpine ski resorts around Sälen. Here you find Hundfjället, Högfjället, Kläppen, Lindvallen, Näsfjället, Stöten, and Tandådalen. The area is one of the major ski destinations in Sweden. The Norwegian ski destination Trysil is also within reach.
Vasaloppet is an annual 90-kilometer cross-country ski race between Sälen and Mora in Sweden. The main race has thousands of participants and it is usually followed by even more people on the national broadcast. It is the reason why many Swedes have heard about small places such as Mångsbodarna, Evertsberg, and Oxberg, all of which have checkpoints.
At the start, you can see the monument of all the winners, known as Vasaloppsstenen. It is not until you see the arena that it is possible to visualize the number of skiers participating.
There are, of course, also other possibilities in Sälen for cross-country skiing.
There are several hiking trails in and around Sälen. These include both mountain trails as well as trails down in the valleys. Two of the most famous ones are Södra Kungsleden and Vasaloppsleden.
Södra Kungsleden starts at Högfjället outside of Sälen and continues around 340 kilometres to Storlien in Jämtland. The first two kilometers are paved and easily accessible.
Vasaloppsleden starts in Sälen and follows the route of the cross-country ski race Vasaloppet to Mora. The distance is around 90 kilometers and there are several rest stops available along the route.
Olnispagården is the local heritage open-air museum in Sälen. It has been inhabited from the 16th century until the 1940s. It is known from the escape route of Gustav Vasa in 1520, it should have been here that the men from Mora were able to catch up with him and he turned around and let the uprising. Today this is where you can learn more about local history and culture.
Minnessten Gustav Vasa
In Sälen you will also find the memorial stone of Gustav Vasa. The stone was raised in memory of Gustav Vasa’s visit to Sälen in 1520.
How to get to Sälen
- Flights: The closest airport is Scandinavian Mountains Airport (SCR) located 29 kilometers away. It connects the area with the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN) for connections around the globe.
- Car: Sälen is located along Road 66 between Malung and the Norwegian border as well as along road 311 towards Särna.
- Bus: There are local buses connecting Sälen with the nearby towns.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
- Stockholm – 399 kilometers (4 h 51 min)
- Gothenburg – 466 kilometers (5 h 52 min)
- Malmö – 735 kilometers (8 h 27 min)
- Linköping – 409 kilometers (5 h 15 min)
- Kiruna – 1154 kilometers (14 h 21 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden