The island of Öland is a magical and ancient place—and the smallest province in Sweden. The area was first settled some 4,000 years ago and is fringed with fine sandy beaches and dotted with old windmills, churches, and archaeological remains.

The island also has spectacular birdlife—swallows, cranes, geese, and birds of prey. Many migrate to Öland from Siberia. The southern part of the island, known as Stora Alvaret, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due partly to its stark beauty and unique flora and fauna. After you cross the bridge from Kalmar on the mainland, be sure to pick up a tourist information map (follow the signs as soon as you get on the island); most of the scattered sights have no address.

Private car travel is allowed, but you can let the public bus shuttle you around instead. Just be sure not to miss the Kalmar Slott just before heading here over the bridge from Kalmar; this well-preserved castle is a fascinating step back in time.

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