Newest Review: ... head to the respective stations and find your SJ train (it's worth buying your ticket in advance). Time from both Gothenburg and Stockholm ... more
A Peaceful Haven for Water and Nature Lovers Alike!
Member Name: jimmymagix
Advantages: Ready access to watersports, great transport links with the rest of Sweden.
Disadvantages: Still takes 3 hours to get there from the nearest airport.
The city of Karlstad is located in Swedish Municipality of Värmland, and anyone with a basic grasp of Swedish will know what "Värm" translates as...for those that don't - it means "warm". I sense your ears pricking!
Wonderfully located on the banks of Vänern, the largest freshwater lake in Sweden, most of what you will find here involves the water in some regard.
I travelled there in the Summer of '09 and spent two weeks exploring the place. The weather was flawless every day - part of the undeniable charm of the Swedish summer is that the sun is pretty much inescapable.
Getting there is easy - simply fly into either Gothenburg or Stockholm Arlanda, head to the respective stations and find your SJ train (it's worth buying your ticket in advance). Time from both Gothenburg and Stockholm is circa 3 hours, but, heading through the heart of Sweden at speed has to be one of the most scenic and peaceful journeys I've ever taken. You arrive pretty much in the heart of Karlstad...don't expect a huge townscape though - this is Sweden we're talking about.
Major attractions you'll find here include the Varmlands Museum, which I really enjoyed. Exhibitions stretch from Ice-age Sweden right up to the contemporary, and you can quite comfortably spend a day perusing the exhibits.
If that's not your thing, head outside to the Asian garden which surrounds the museum. There's a long water feature with the top half of the word "ECHO" peaking out of the top of the water. When it's still, the other half is reflected, augmented with a small Bhudda statue looking peacefully toward it. Adorned with benches, it's a wonderful place for contemplation.
There's also a jetty just off the side of the museum, fantastic for a picnic while you watch the sun go down in concert with the boats milling slowly up and down the river which traverses the centre of the city.
Mariebergs Skogen is a great place to take the kids, it's a blend between a petting zoo and an open air museum. There's a collection of old Swedish houses and cottages with the inhabitants in full costume selling handicrafts and ice cream. An extensive collection of animals can also be found - especially pigs and horses. Petting them is actively encouraged and they are extremely tame. The walk down from the city centre is very picturesque too, and you'll pass a couple of small beaches on the way.
There's a vast quantity of outdoor bathing places on the banks of Vanern - one of the best is Skutberget, which is very easy to get to one on of the busses departing regularly from the town square.
Other sporting and leisure facilities include a 90km track called Klaralavsbanan, which used to be a railway line - it's now concreted over and was choc-full of cyclists, rollerbladers, runners and skateboarders when I was there. Being a railway line, it also has the quality of being exceptionally flat, so it's great for the kids and their bikes too.
Summary: Discover the parts of Sweden you never knew!