Kristinehamn – Small-town charm and wilderness adventure
By Emma Rodin
Nestled on the shore of Sweden’s largest lake, the charming town of Kristinehamn gives you wilderness adventures and culture all in one. With a combination of stunning scenery, welcoming people, and an abundance of activities, visitors are sure to get an experience they won’t forget.
Lake Vänern consists of 5,650 square kilometres of freshwater. In fact, it holds the title of the third-largest lake in Europe, houses an archipelago of 22,000 islands and islets, and provides ample space for water activities – perfect for guests looking for adventure.
“There’s so much space to roam and many hidden spots to be discovered. It’s easy to find your sense of freedom, your place, your own island far away from other people, right here,” says Linnéa Palmqvist, tourism and destination developer at Visit Kristinehamn. “There are lots of ways to explore the lake, including several boat tours running regularly between the bigger islands during summer. And in winter, you can try ice skating or ice bathing which is an incredible experience that rejuvenates the senses.”
Walking through a nature reserve
Speaking of islands, there’s an excellent walking trail to hike between the islands of Vålön, Kalvön and Sibberön, all with their own allure and reasons to visit. The trail, which is located in a beautiful nature reserve, is four kilometres long and connects the three islands via a series of footbridges. Some exciting news is that next year, the trail will become certified by Hiking Värmland.
“What makes it special is the difference in what the islands offer. You’ll basically walk through rich forests on the first island, through to a charming archipelago on the second one, then finish with an unbeatable view of the grand lake’s horizon from the third island. It’s a wonderful experience for all ages and I couldn’t recommend it enough.”
To help visitors find other spots to take in the beauty of Vänern and particularly its magical sunsets, the Visit Kristinehamn website has a webpage listing the best spots for a picnic at sunset. Don’t worry, there’s “only” 27 to choose from.
New cycling trail around the lake
In 2022, the new cycling trail Lake Vänern Grand Tour was inaugurated. Sweden’s sixth national cycling trail covers 630 kilometres around the lake. Divided into four parts, the route passes lots of lovely beaches and swimming spots, cosy cafés and restaurants with White Guide status, and stop-off destinations brimming with history. The new trail is just as exciting for locals as it is for visitors from afar.
“We’re excited that Lake Vänern Grand Tour is finally ready. This has been in the works for a long time, and it’s been a passion project for everyone involved,” says Palmqvist. “The trail provides beautiful views of the lake and opens up for the exploration of places off the beaten path that were previously hard to reach. It guarantees an incredible cycling and hiking experience.”
Local culture and cuisine
Despite the town’s relatively small size, Kristinehamn has no shortage of world-class culinary experiences and plenty of amazing food and local food culture to bite into. Local produce, ranging from wild meat to locally brewed beer, is offered by the town’s restaurants and farm shops. One restaurant, Oliveriet, is top-ranked on TripAdvisor in the province of Värmland, and Ölme Prästgård is listed in the White Guide. There are also new restaurants popping up regularly, including newcomer Gattet in Kristinehamn’s archipelago.
The picturesque town is also home to an exciting cultural scene. Did you know that one of the world’s largest Picasso sculptures is located here? Thanks to local artist Bengt Olsson, the sculpture found its way to Kristinehamn and now proudly overlooks Vålösundet. In fact, this is the town’s most popular destination for visitors all year round.
Additionally, there are plenty of quaint flea markets and small shops dotted around town, inviting visitors to discover local curiosities and perhaps bring a little piece of Kristinehamn with them home.
There’s also the Kristinehamn Art Museum. Home to lots of fascinating eye candy, the museum will host the new exhibition Scandinavian Design of Everyday Life between February and May next year. Showcasing day-to-day items from author Thomas Lindblad’s unique collection, the exhibition is full of coveted classics, designed in Scandinavia. “You can also look forward to Lisa Larsson showing her work next summer,” says Palmqvist. “She’s an internationally acclaimed ceramicist whose work has already touched millions”.
Easy to get to and with plenty of places to stay (including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and camping spots) Kristinehamn makes for a wholesome destination where adventure is right on your doorstep. The only question is, when will you visit?
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Receive our monthly newsletter by email