In the 50’s, the Swedes picked up wooden buildings from one evolving city and dropped them in what became known as Gamla Linköping. Gamla Linköping means ‘Old Linköping’. It is an open air museum just outside Linköping city, 2.8km (a 36-minute walk) south west of Linköping Central Station, to be exact. Inspired by Stockholm’s Skansen and conceived to preserve old buildings condemned in favour of growing industries, Gamla Linköping became a haven for history and was designed in exact copy of its original site. Buildings that weren’t moved in one chunk were dismantled and rebuilt in Gamla Linköping, and today, the cobbled pavements and colour splashed structures take you back to the days when women spun wool and men hoed earth.
In Gamla Linköping’s centre, we find a table in Dahlsbergs Café’s outdoor area. The chaffinch community flutters to life.
“Eww! There’s poo on the chair.”
“Sit on this one.”
“Eurgh! There’s poo on that one too!”
“So … maybe we shouldn’t sit under the tree?”
The birds fill the air like confetti. They land on the tables, perch in used teacups, and splash in the fountain. You wouldn’t think they know people are here. Even though they’re bold, customers can’t help chuckling at their antics and marvelling at their painted feathers. But when you want to move, they get out of your way.
After claiming a cleaner table (I still need to antibacterialise some chair backs), my in-laws drink pretty lattes, and I pick at a blueberry muffin. It’s a spongey, dense treat.
Dahlsbergs is an old style tea room, which does a selection of drinks and both sweet and savoury dishes. It’s always got a buzz of customers, but I’ve never been left without a seat.
We gander round Flärd, a perfumed heaven of handmade soaps and fabrics; ogle in Kanevad, a wood-carving studio sharing remarkable skill; and puzzle over busy, old-school machinery in Grafiska museet, a working printing museum.
Near the entrance to the woods, we find Knyppelbod. It’s full of vintage quirks. I entertain myself with deer heads and hand-played music boxes until I find a tribute to V (from V for Vendetta, which me and Joe watched the other day), and I just have to get a kinda creepy snap.
We amble home through the woods I got lost in before, but unlike at night, it’s a vibrantly green, dappled oasis.
Go to Gamla Linköping for some rustic charm. It’s a 13-minute ride on buses 3, 12, 51, or 540 from Linköping Central Station. You’ll find everything you never realised you wanted, and you’ll meet plenty of character—mainly in the birds that dance at Dahlsberg Café. Just take some antibac gel and some tissues.
Many of these photos were taken by Becky Lawton. Follow her on Instagram.
Aside from visiting, I learned about the history of Gamla Linköping that I share in this post from its website.