Exploring nature in Björnö

Björnö Naturreservat – Hiking, Camping, and exploring nature.

A view of boats and the lake at Björnö Naturreservat
If you’re lucky enough to have a boat, this spot is for you.

Yesterday we went hiking in Björnö Naturreservat. This is a nice spot to start exploring if you’re limited on time and just want to make a quick day trip out somewhere, or stay overnight. I thought I’d do a quick overview of our Björnö camping experience.

It took us around 2.5 hours to get around the long side of the trail at a slowish pace, and only about an hour to take the main road through back to the bus stop. 

Björnö Map
We quickly realized it really wasn’t that far, and took the scenic detour. On reaching the far campsite, it was crowded with families already, so we doubled back to the previous almost empty campsite. Way better!
Björnö map back
The main route back goes much much faster, with a slight detour at the end to check out a large beach.

A Swedish lesson – Don’t fear the bears

There are a couple ironic things about the naming of Björnö, which if you translate the Swedish to English literally means:

  • Björn – bear
  • Ö – island

There aren’t bears there, (at least none that I saw) which I was skeptical about when my girlfriend first brought it up. Why would they name a place bear island if there aren’t any bears?! Maybe it’s kind of shaped like a bear if you squint really hard, but i digress.

Second, it’s not actually an island, but more of a very fat, round, peninsula with a thin connection to the mainland. There are plenty of islands around however, and it’s a great spot to get some amazing views of the archipelago. If you’re into boating it’s even better, as evidenced by the massive number of sailboats, paddle-boarders, and canoes roaming from island to island off the coast. 

Canoes on the lake at Björnö, on the Stockholm archipelago
More sightings of people canoeing than bears. Unless they were bears in canoes, in which case all is lost.

Hiking for the non hiker

The trails on Björnö are fairly easy to manage. This is excellent for me as I’m super new to hiking and backpacking, but am trying my best as it’s one of the best ways to get out of the house and continue to explore nature in Sweden.

Rather than heading straight for one of the several campsites, we took a roundabout route around the south side of the “island”. You’ll head through some picturesque little cottages and a field of sheep who couldn’t care less about you.

Easy trail at björnö
Take your pick of the easy trail
More difficult trail at björnö
The medium trail
Most difficult trail at Björnö, a tree blocking the path
Or the “I definitely didn’t trip and fall trying to get over that tree” trail
Sheep grazing in a field
There’s too much good grass here for us to bother with you. Go away.

Obligatory Swedish lesson

At the southern end, there is a lookout tower with a spectacular view over the archipelago and back out over the forest. In keeping with my theme of trying to teach some Swedish on this blog, I’ll break down the sign you’ll see on the way to this tower.

Sign for the utsiktstorn, lookout tower
  • Ut – Out
  • Sikt – Sikt in an interesting one to translate. You can use it in phrases like “kort sikt” (short term), “lång sikt” (long term, long run), it can be very close to “sight” or “visibility”, and “insikt” is almost exactly analogous to “insight”. In this case “utsikt” or “out sight” means “view” as in, “what a great view!”
  • Torn – Tower

So we have our English to Swedish translation from “Utsiktstorn” to “View Tower”. There we go, keeping things educational! I’ll include a short table of hiking and camping related words with this post to give some additional Swedish learning goodness. Now for the views themselves:

View from the lookout tower at Björnö, looking over the forest
Phenomenal day for views!
View over Stockholm Archipelago from the lookout tower
Next time I’m set on renting a kayak and getting out to those islands.

Campsite and sunrise

Finally to the campsite! It’s fairly easily accessible from the main road if you want to quickly head in and set up camp instead of hiking in from the other side, There are outhouses, shelter structures, and water pumps available. This is the ideal location if you want some beautiful views, moderate hiking exercise, want to explore nature, but you don’t want to leave all of civilization behind just yet. 

sunrise view of our campsite with boat
Sunrise view of our little area. Plenty of boats pulled up and stayed for the night near the shelter. We actually stayed in a tent in the field behind this shot.
Sunrise over the lake
For some cursed reason, my drive to document and take pictures of everything made me wake up and 4am and hike out across some rocks to get photos of the sunrise. 

To sum it up, this is a great little spot less than an hour away from Stockholm by bus, where you can sneak away for a day hike or a quick overnight camp. Our Tyresta trip was a little more wild wilderness, but sometimes it’s nice to just escape the city noise for a little bit. 

Detailed Björnö Nature Reserve information

  • Cell phone signal: yes
  • Terrain: stroller accessible path -to- steep rocks 
  • Beach: Sandy 
  • Travel there: 
    • 1. Subway to Slussen from Stockholm C. 
    • 2. Bus 429X or 428X från Slussen to Björnö naturreservat.
    • 3. Walk 10 minutes North East to the main entrance to the national park. Total travel time: approx 45 min -to- 1h and 10 min.
  • Water in Björnö (not regulated so quality varies): 
    • 1. Ramsviken
    • 2. Norrviken 
    • 3. Näset
  • Tents: Only specified spots as this is a national park (see map):
    • 1. Ramsviken
    • 2. Norrviken 
    • 3. Näset
    • 4. Småängsuddarna
    • 5. Bryggan
    • Tents may be set up for a maximum of 48 hours in one place.

Additional info and map

Bonus Swedish Vocabulary

Vocabulary list of hiking words in Swedish
Words to help you explore nature

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