Along the northern shores of Europe’s third largest lake, you find the town of Karlstad. With its slogan “Sola in Karlstad”, translated into English as “Sunbathing in Karlstad”, it’s said to be the sunniest place in Sweden. The town is the capital of the county of Värmland and is with its population of around 62.000 the 17th largest town in Sweden.
Karlstad: A Short History
The town of Karlstad was founded in 1584 by the later to be Swedish king Karl IX.The importance of the town during the 17th century came mainly from its central location in the region and on the shore of lake Vänern. Iron and wood export took place from the harbor, via lake Vänern to Gothenburg. This process was made easier when canals were built on the other side of the lake during the 19th century.
Until 1994, the town was also the base for Värmland’s regiment and the Värmland’s brigade. Thus the town was an important military location as well.
7 Things to Do In Karlstad
There is quite a lot to enjoy in Karlstad. These things include a few museums, ice hockey games, not to mention the amazing nature in the area.
Värmlands Museum and Sandgrundsudden
Värmlands Museum – the museum of Värmland – is a regional museum in the central part of Karlstad. It offers its visitors the possibility to explore and learn more about the local culture. The museum is housed in the Cyrillus building, a Chinese-inspired building from 1929. It lies on Sangrundsudden where the river Klarälven is splitting in two, being the beginning of the small delta that runs into lake Vänern.
Brigadmuseum – The Brigade Museum – is a museum with the purpose to increase the understanding of the history and development of the Swedish armed forces. If you are interested in learning more about how the Cold War influenced the development of the Swedish army, then this is the museum to visit. You find it along the right bank of the river Klarälven, a short walk from the city center.
Klarälven – Time for a walk?
If you prefer to spend the day outdoors, then a walk along the river Klarälven might be a good option. The river flows through both Norway and Sweden and eventually ends up in the delta around Karlstad before flowing into lake Vänern. Some parts of the river are also made into a track for ice skating during the winter months.
Stora Torget and Centrum
In the center of the town, you find Stora Torget – the main square. Around and in the vicinity of the square, you can admire some of the more important and historical buildings in Karlstad. Here is Värmlands Tingsrätt (the regional court) and Karlstads Domkyrka (the cathedral). In the middle of the square, you also find the peace monument from 1955, celebrating the peaceful dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway in 1905.
This is also the place where you can enjoy most of the city’s restaurants, bars, and cafés.
Lake Vänern and Hammarö
Lake Vänern is the largest lake in Sweden and the third largest lake in Europe. Its surface area is 5,650 square kilometers, about twice the size of Luxemburg. Karlstad is located on the northern shore of the lake, which gives you the possibility to enjoy a day of swimming or just relaxing along the waterfront. It is especially the island of Hammarö, a short distance from the central part of town, that offers some of the best possibilities to enjoy the lake.
Ice Hockey and Färjestad BK
The pride of the town is probably the ice hockey club Färjestad BK, do not be surprised if you see it mentioned in a lot of places. Do consider enjoying a game at the Löfbergs Arena, where it is even possible to follow a game from a sauna.
Sundstabadet – Swiming Pools and Water Slides
If the water of lake Vänern is still too cold, but you want to go swimming – try a pool! The best option for this is Sundstabadet. This is the local public bath with a few water slides.
How to Get There?
Do you want to travel to Karlstad? Here are a few ways you can go there:
Car: The highway E18 goes through the town and connects it in the east with Oslo as well as with highway E45 to Gothenburg. In the west, it continues to Örebro, Västerås and eventually Stockholm.
Bus: There are buses connecting the town with most of Sweden, but especially the major cities.
Train: There are regular trains going to Gothenburg, Oslo, Stockholm, as well as other smaller regional towns.
Flights: The local airport – Karlstad Airport (KSD) is located 16 kilometers from the center of the town. From here there are both national and international flights, mainly to Frankfurt (FRA), Jönköping (JKG) and Stockholm (ARN).
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
Stockholm – 303 kilometers (3 h 30 min)
Gothenburg – 249 kilometers (3 h 14 min)
Malmö – 518 kilometers (5 h 54 min)
Luleå – 1.045 kilometers (12 h 41 min)
Linköping – 213 kilometers (2 h 51 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden