Trollhättan and Vänersborg: A landscape of wonders
By Liz Longden
W ith their intoxicating mix of natural beauty and history, Trollhättan and Vänersborg have been drawing visitors since the 18th century. Whether it’s witnessing the waterfalls in action, admiring the spectacular natural environment, or indulging in the delicious local cuisine, these neighbouring towns promise an experience to remember.
Trollhättan and Vänersborg have both been shaped by water. The former is situated on the narrow waterways of the Göta Älv river, taking its name from the spectacular natural waterfalls that pour down the mountainside, while the latter lies on the shores of Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake. And the beauty of these wild waterways and peaceful lakelands, combined with the stunning local scenery, continue to enchant.
With 100 kilometres of Vänern shoreline, which includes everything from sandy beaches to secluded cliffs, it’s little wonder the region has been nicknamed the ‘Scandinavian Riviera’. Here, amidst some of Sweden’s finest beaches, visitors can enjoy swimming and fishing – salmon, perch, zander and trout are all found in the crystal-clear waters – or simply immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surroundings. “A lot of people come here mainly for the peace and quiet,” explains Maria Engström Weber, CEO of Visit Trollhättan-Vänersborg. “Vänern has 22,000 islands, so people come with their own boats and are amazed that they end up having an entire island to themselves for a week.”
It’s a stunning natural environment that is, quite literally, fit for a king – the area is home to King Carl XVI Gustaf’s royal hunting grounds – and in the luscious forests of the Halleberg and Hunneberg Ekopark, visitors can enjoy a ‘hunting trip’ of a more peaceful nature by taking part in moose and beaver-spotting safaris. Add to this several hiking paths, cycle paths and fishing lakes, and there is no shortage of outdoor recreational activities.
Unsurprisingly, the area is very popular over the summer months, but there’s plenty to enjoy over the winter too. At this time, Vänern is transformed into a sparkling wonderland, offering, among other things, ice skating and ice-fishing. And, with a recently upgraded five-star campsite at Ursand with cosy shoreside cabins open all year round, it has never been easier to snuggle down by the water’s edge.
Ingenuity and culture
The natural environment is only part of the appeal of the local area, however, and the town of Trollhättan itself is most renowned for a marvel that is entirely man-made. Dubbed the eighth wonder of the world when they were first created in 1800, the Trollhättan Waterfalls release 300,000 litres of water per second when they open their sluices. “It’s quite spectacular – you just don’t understand how much water that is until you experience it,” says Engström Weber. “People come here to experience that alone.”
There is also plenty to enjoy away from the water. Families with young children will love Trollhättan’s ‘playpark city’, which includes no less than five different themed play parks on one site, and Trollhättan is a lively and vibrant city, with a programme of events all year round. Anyone with an interest in history will enjoy a trip to Olidan, Sweden’s oldest state-owned hydropower station, or a guided tour around Trollhättan’s locks. And for a unique peek into Swedish industrial history, don’t miss the Saab car museum, which has a fascinating display of Saab motors, including the very first prototypes from the 1940s. “Needless to say, it’s a must-see for car enthusiasts, but also those with an interest in design will enjoy following the entire process here,” Engström Weber points out.
And if all the sightseeing and outdoors adventure leaves you with a rumbling stomach, what better way to round off a day than enjoying some top-quality local cuisine? The region is renowned for its high-quality produce, including fish from Vänern, game and locally produced cheese, and boasts a host of cafes, bars, farm shops and restaurants, which serve mouth-watering local specialities. Trollhättan is also home to the European Oyster Opening Championships, a prestigious competition that also doubles up as a celebration of food, drink and local crafts.
In 1746, Carl Linneus described by the area as ‘an earthly paradise’. With stunning scenery, fun for all ages and interests, and exquisite cuisine, it seems like he might well have had a point.
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