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Sweden is home to 95,700 lakes. Some of them might be closer to home than you think

‘Bolmen is so much more than an item with which you clean your toilet’, local tourist board insists.
‘Bolmen is so much more than an item with which you clean your toilet’, local tourist board insists.   -   Copyright  Visit Sweden
By Lottie Limb

Sweden is taking back its flat-pack furniture - or at least the names, many of which really belong to stunning destinations in nature.

There’s much more to Sweden than its most famous cultural exports - Abba, IKEA, Swedish meatballs - and a “twinkly-eyed” new tourism campaign wants you to know it.

What does a toilet brush and a beautiful Swedish lake have in common, it asks? They both share the same name, but for years Bolmen has been better known as a toilet brush sold by the furniture giant, instead of a picturesque lake in southern Sweden.

“In Sweden, we are proud of IKEA and in a way, you can say that they helped us make Swedish places world-famous through the names they borrowed for their products,” says Nils Persson, chief marketing officer of Visit Sweden.  

“Now we want, with warmth and a twinkle in our eye, to show the originals behind the product names and invite the world to discover the whole of Sweden.”

The name of the game: Has IKEA dwarfed Sweden’s natural environment?

Mikael Svensson/johner.se/Visit Sweden
Toftan is a beautiful lake in the central Dalarna region.Mikael Svensson/johner.se/Visit Sweden

The popularity of IKEA’s household items means that the Swedish places they are named after are often lost in online searches.

Visit Sweden says there are 21 iconic places across the country that it wants to put back on the map.

With nearly 270,000 islands and 95,700 lakes in total, and generous Right of Public Access (‘Allemansrätt’) there’s so many starting points for your 2022 holiday.

Some local areas are reclaiming their names in unique fashion. Bolmen has launched a new slogan: “Bolmen – more than an IKEA brush” on a billboard to help travellers find the serene lakeside location.

Magnus Gunnarsson, chair of Smålands Sjörike and municipal council member in Ljungby, points out that Bolmen’s “crystal-clear” water couldn’t be further from the toilet association.

VisitSweden
Bolmen is really an "unspoiled natural environment" - a far cry from a toilet brush.VisitSweden

“We do appreciate that IKEA has named a product for our beautiful lake and that Visit Sweden is bringing global attention to this. But now we would like to show the world that Bolmen is so much more than an item with which you clean your toilet.

“It is an incredibly beautiful place, much loved by us locals. We would like to invite the whole world to spend time in our wonderful, unspoiled natural environment, showing the same care we do and enjoying the crystal-clear water,” he says.

21 places reclaimed by Sweden

As ABBA take off on their comeback tour next year, the Swedish tourist board are eager to welcome tourists back.

Sweden, they say, offers a smörgasbord of destinations and memorable experiences. These include everything from Viking monuments to picturesque towns, castles, and silver mines, with activities from white-water rafting to dog sledding, fly-fishing and ice swimming.

If you’re feeling inspired to get up off your Grönlid (IKEA sofa) and go on a Nordic adventure, here are the 21 places to get reacquainted with.

  1. Järvfjället, a mountain in Swedish Lapland (gaming chair)
johner.se/Mikael Svensson/Visit Sweden
Swap your gaming chair for a snowmobile on the real Järvfjället.johner.se/Mikael Svensson/Visit Sweden
  1. Bolmen, a large lake in the Småland region of southern Sweden (toilet brush)

19. Ektorp, a suburb of Stockholm (sofa)

18. Skärhamn, a fishing village on the island of Tjörn off the coast of West Sweden (door handle)

17. Stubbarp, a manor house in the Skåne region of southern Sweden (cabinet legs)

16. Ingatorp, A village where you'´ll find one of Sweden’s oldest wooden buildings, in the Småland region (extendable table)

15. Höljes, one of the most sparsely populated areas in Sweden, a forest in the Värmland region (pendant lamp)

johner.se/Mikael Svensson/Visit Sweden
The forest of Höljes is better known in the UK as an IKEA lamp.johner.se/Mikael Svensson/Visit Sweden

14. Hemsjö, a village in the Blekinge region (block candle)

13. Toftan, a lake in the Dalarna region (waste bin)

12. Mästerby, an historical battleground on the island of Gotland (a step stool)

11. Voxnan, a river with waterfalls and rapids in the Hälsingland region (shower shelf)

10. Himleån, ravines in the Halland region (bath towel)

9. Laxviken, a rural village in the Jämtland Härjedalen region (cabinet door)

  1. Kallax, a coastal village near Luleå in Swedish Lapland (storage shelf)
johner.se/Mikael Svensson/VisitSweden
Kallax is actually a stunning part of Sweden near the Finnish border.johner.se/Mikael Svensson/VisitSweden

7. Misterhult, an archipelago of 2,000 islands near Kalmar in the Småland region (a bamboo lamp)

6. Vrena, a village near the east coast in the Sörmland region (countertop)

5. Björksta, a village close to the university town of Uppsala (picture with frame)

4. Norberg, a small town in Västmanland region (folding table)

3. Askersund, a small town near Örebro in central Sweden (cabinet door)

2. Rimforsa, a small village in the Östergötland region of east Sweden (work bench)

1. Bodviken, a mountain lake in the UNESCO World heritage area of the High Coast in northern Sweden (washbasin)