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Walking the simple grid of streets that makes up BORGHOLM, Öland's "capital", it's clear that tourism is the lifeblood of this villagey town. Although swamped well beyond its capacity each July by tens of thousands of visitors, cramming its pizzerias and bars and injecting a riotous carnival atmosphere, Borgholm is in no way the tacky resort it could be. Encircled by the flaking, turreted villas that were the pride of the town during its first period as a holiday resort in the nineteenth century, most of the centre is a friendly, if bland, network of shops and restaurants leading to a pleasant harbour.
The only real attraction here is the Borgholm Slott ruin (daily: April & Sept 10am–4pm; May– Aug 10am–6pm; 50kr; Web: www.borgholmsslott.se ). A colossal stone fortification with rows of huge arches and corridors open to the skies, it can be reached either through a nature reserve (a signposted five-minute walk from the town centre) or from the first exit south off Route 136.
The best of the hotels in the centre of town is Villa Sol, at Slottsgatan 30 (Tel:0485/56 25 52, Web: www.villasol.nu ; Price: Kr500-700). A charming old pale-yellow house set in a fruit tree-filled garden, it's beautifully furnished; book early for July, when the place fills up. Hotell Borgholm, Trädgårdsgatan 15 (Tel:0485/770 60, Web: www.hotellborgholm.com ; Price: Kr900-1200), has smart en-suite rooms, while the vast Strand Hotell, overlooking the harbour at Villagatan 4 (Tel:0485/888 88, Web: www.strand.borgholm.se ; Price: Kr900-1200), includes a nightclub, pool and sauna. Eight kilometres south of Borgholm on Route 136 lies one of the few really fine hotels on the island, Halltorps Gästgiveri (Tel:0485/850 00, Web: www.halltorpsgastgiveri.se ; Price: Kr900-1200), with contemporary, neutrally decorated rooms set in a beautiful eighteenth-century manor house.
For restaurants, Hemma Hos, just behind the main church at Kvarngatan 13, serves good pizzas (80kr) and meat dishes (from 130kr) on a pleasant terrace. On the northern side of the harbour, Skeppet is a jolly little Italian restaurant, hidden behind a group of silos. For the finest food on the island, head for Bakfickan at the Hotell Borgholm, whose chef, Karin Fransson, is something of a celebrity in Sweden.
Pubben, Storgatan 18, is a cosy pub run by a friendly local who knows his malts. Otherwise, try the fun Robinson Crusoe, jutting into the water at the harbour. For night-time drinking and occasional live bands, there's Znaps, at Södra Långgatan 18. Otherwise, a raucous young crowd invariably swarms past the gorilla bouncers into the Strand night club in the Strand Hotell every evening, turning it into a sort of Baltic Ibiza throughout the summer nights (cover charge 100kr).