You’ve probably never heard of Sweden’s ‘most beautiful’ place

The Swedes know a thing or two about beauty. After all, they live in one of the most captivating countries on the planet. They have the cosmopolitan allure of water-surrounded Stockholm; the vast sweeping beaches of Skåne; the skyscraping white sierras of Lapland and much, much more. Yet, when they were asked in a survey which part of Sweden was most beautiful they chose none of these celebrated places.

You've probably never heard of Sweden's 'most beautiful' place
Photo: Mikael Jonsson /Fotograf Mikael Jonsson

Instead they voted for the High Coast, the majestic mountainous coastal stretch of the Bothnian Gulf in Västernorrland, 500 km north-east of Stockholm.

“Where?”, chorused millions of baffled non-Swedes.

The High Coast may be a mystery to everyone else but the Swedes are justifiably proud of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Find out about opportunities in Sweden's High Coast

The High Coast is loved by Swedes for its vertiginous granite cliffs and spectral stony islands rising from the sea. This extraordinary natural beauty is a consequence of a post-glacial rebound following the retreat of the vast ice sheets that blanketed northern Europe 10,000 years ago – the land has risen as high as 286 meters (938 feet) which is the highest-known level of rebound in the world. And it’s still rising by 4mm a year!

This part of Sweden may be largely unknown, but it offers a huge variety of opportunities for leisure and business.

1. When it comes to having fun, the High Coasts rocks!

Kayaking away from Veåsand, at the foot of Mount Skuleberget. Photo: Fredrik Lewander

The High Coast is not just spectacularly beautiful – its unique combination of ocean, mountain and forest landscapes offers a unique playground in which to enjoy outdoor life. Hiking, surfing, fishing, kayaking, climbing and skiing are all possible at different times of the year. And then, when you want to kick back, the High Coast also offers highly-acclaimed drinks from local producers, such as Hernö Gin and High Coast Distillery.

2. The tourism industry offers a vast vista of opportunity

Birka Cruises navigating through the High Coast archipelago, close to Högbonden lighthouse. Photo: Nils Bjuggstam

It might be unheralded outside Sweden but the High Coast has a booming tourism industry. Tourism in the rest of the country may have remained steady over summer, but it skyrocketed in the High Coast which saw a 29.4 percent increase in overnight trips.

However, demand is fast outpacing supply. Have you always dreamt of running a dog sled outfit or becoming a fishing guide? Or do you fantasize about opening a boutique B&B or a luxury resort in the abundant beauty of the Sweden countryside? There are so many opportunities for growth in the recreation and tourism industries that you’ll almost be spoilt for choice on the High Coast.

3. The High Coast is a magnet for the ICT industry

Co-workers at digital agency Esatto. Photo: Kristoffer Lönnå

It’s not just tourism that’s thriving in the High Coast region. Incredibly, employment in the ICT sector is 40 percent higher in the Sundsvall area of the High Coast than in the rest of the country. To highlight the area’s strength in the ICT sector, the Swedish government recently established DIGG, the national authority for digitizing the public sector in Sundsvall

4. Innovation is threaded through the DNA of the region.

Nina Thelin, CEO of Stringo. Photo: Kristoffer Lönnå

The High Coast is a true hotspot for innovation and growth. This is from where BizMaker operates, a business incubator that has coached a startling 438 new startups. The results of such a can-do attitude is obvious. The Swedish innovation agency Vinnova ranks BizMaker as one of the best-performing incubators in the country. In the High Coast you will also find innovative companies in all sectors, like Peckas Tomater, the largest aquaponics farm in Europe and Stringo, that produces a smart and user-friendly vehicle mover that is being used by car producers and car dealers all over the world.

5. The mission to replace oil with wood

Cutting edge science at RISE Processum. Photo: Ludwig Arnlund

Another prodigious child of High Coast inventiveness is one of the most progressive and successful bioeconomy clusters in the world. This cluster features well-established traditional companies as well as agile and nimble startups implementing and finessing groundbreaking R&D. The aim? Nothing less than to replace oil with wood! Right at the vanguard of this biorefinery innovation is Processum, a company based in the north part of the High Coast.

Find out about opportunities in Sweden's High Coast

6. Hike it out, baby!

Hiking on Trysunda Island. Photo: Peder Sundström

But, when you live somewhere as astonishingly beautiful as the High Coast, it can’t all be about work. And there are a multitude of ways to let off steam. There’s hiking for one: head to Skuleskogen National Park, a magical but accessible park that has lush old-growth forests, sheltered sandy beaches and spectacular views of the Bothnian Gulf bejeweled with green islands.

7. Let’s catch a wave!

One of the many surf spots along the coast of Härnösand. Photo: Mats Forssell

Or try taming the surf of the Bothnian Gulf. The High Coast offers surf spots which suit beginners as well as advanced surfers. Smitingen in Härnösand has some of the best waves in Sweden and is a magnet for both the local surf community as well as visiting enthusiasts.

8. The dark, rather smelly, side of the High Coast

Röda Ulven – fermented herring from Gösta Hannells Fisksalteri in Örnsköldsvik. Photo: Håkan Nordström

There have to be some downsides to life on the High Coast, right? Well, the pungent Swedish, er, delicacy, surströmming (fermented herring, tins of which are not allowed on aircraft due to their propensity to explode!) is thought to have originated in the High Coast area, although nobody seems that keen to take responsibility for inventing a foodstuff that smells literally of death.

Oh, and the area also has a measure of notoriety for a spasm of witch trials in the 17th century, the worst of which saw 71 people executed in one day in Torsåker.

9. A region that produces sporting legends

Ice hockey twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Photo: Håkan Nordström

But, despite the rotten fish (or is that because of?), they breed them tough up here. The High Coast has produced a raft of overachieving sports stars. At the last Winter Olympics in South Korea, High Coast athletes were responsible for more than half Sweden’s 14 medals, while, out on the ice, the NHL in north America has gone pucking crazy for the likes Peter ‘Foppa’ Forsberg (Philadelphia Flyers) and twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who are generally acknowledged to have been the greatest players in Vancouver Canucks’ history.

10. And it doesn’t cost a fortune to live here

Traditional houses on Ulvö Island. Photo: Peder Sundström

So, astonishing natural beauty, boundless recreational activities, great public services, cutting-edge technology and a thriving commercial and civic life – there has to be a catch. Property must be vastly inflated, surely? Not at all. Spacious houses in the countryside with a parcel of land can be bought for as little as €40,000 ($45,000).

Find out about opportunities in Sweden's High Coast

That’s a formidable combination of benefits and advantages. The High Coast really does have it all.


This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by High Coast Invest.



German firefighters arrive in Sweden to fight scathing flames

Help from Germany has arrived in Sweden in order to fight an outbreak of forest fires described as the most serious in modern times.

German firefighters arrive in Sweden to fight scathing flames
Firefighters on Sunday were battling around 50 wildfires. Photo: DPA

A total of 52 firefighters from the Nienburg district of Lower Saxony arrived on Sunday in nine fire trucks, said the state’s lower ministry.

“Their location is Älvdalen which lies in the most affected region Dalarna,” they said, referring to the area in central Sweden.

Firefighters on Sunday were battling around 50 wildfires after an unprecedented drought in the region and historically high July temperatures, which are hotter than they have been in at least 260 years.

Sweden had asked the German government for help in order to get a grip on the devastating fires.

“The idea of ​​European solidarity is of particular importance to us. And of course we offer help and support wherever we can,” said Lower Saxony's Interior Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD).

Hartmut Ziebs, president of the German fire service (DFV) posted a photo of the newly arrived trucks on Facebook, saying that after a short break following the journey to Sweden, that the firefighters would get to work on Monday.

Fire trucks are in particularly high demand in Sweden, as they can carry larger amounts of water. The firefighters from Lower Saxony were initially requested for a week for use in Sweden.

Firefighters from the Hanover region and Bavaria are also available as a reserve and could be sent to Sweden if necessary.