Trollhättan and Vänersborg: Sweden’s grandest lake, a pilgrim route and a UNESCO Global Geopark
By Malin Norman | Photos: Visit Trollhättan-Vänersborg
Neighbouring cities Trollhättan and Vänersborg team up as a popular holiday destination filled with exciting history, nature experiences and waterfalls, good food and much more.
Water has always been central to both Trollhättan and Vänersborg. In the case of the latter, an old marketplace, the waterway was key to the shipping and collection of iron found throughout the county. The long beaches around Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake and technically an inland sea, made it beneficial place from both agricultural and safety perspectives. Vänersborg got its town privileges in 1644, and the lake is crucial for its role as a meeting point and trading hub. Today, it’s a regional capital boasting generous nature and wildlife, and is sometimes described as a miniature Sweden.
In Trollhättan, it was the narrow water passages of the river Göta Älv that led to the ground-breaking discovery that put the town on the map. These passages caused more than a few headaches, as goods had to be reloaded to continue transportation on land. Then in 1800, after a range of different ideas and more than a few failed attempts, the problem was solved when the first sluice in Trollhättan was completed. The creation was dubbed the world’s eighth wonder and immediately turned Trollhättan into a must-visit town for a combination of technical enlightenment and a romantic setting.
“Every day at three o’clock in the summer months, the floodgates open and 300,000 litres of water per second are released. It’s quite spectacular,” says Maria Engström Weber, CEO of Visit Trollhättan-Vänersborg. “People come here to experience this alone.”
The trail of sights and insights
The Göta Älv pilgrimage is a 140-kilometre trail of sights and insights. “It’s an internal and external journey that you complete on your own or together with others,” says Engström-Weber. In three stages, the pilgrimage combines nature with history. Each of the stages – Gothenburg-Lödöse, Lödöse-Hålanda and Lödöse-Vänersborg – has its own character, and you can find your favourite or do all three.
Route Trollskogen is the longest stretch, at 22 kilometres from Utby to Trollhättan, through the enchanting deep forest and up and down the steep hills. You will pass Åkerström Nature Reserve with some of the best views on the route, especially around sunset. Just don’t forget to bring a packed lunch along on this little adventure.
Kärleksstigen (‘the love path’) is the last stretch of the Göta Älv pilgrimage, from Trollhättan bridge to Dalbobron in Vänersborg. It passes the grave of Karl, an almost four-kilometre-long water channel built so that ships could avoid the falls at Vargön. When you reach Vänersborg, enjoy a well-deserved rest, and remember to fill up on energy if you plan to continue the pilgrimage towards Norway.
Sweden’s first UNESCO Global Geopark
Lake Vänern is one of Europe’s largest lakes, offering heaps of activities regardless of season and weather. It’s a fishing paradise, naturally, and has lots of world-class hiking and cycling routes, as well as fantastic cultural experiences. Lake Vänern Grand Tour is a nature tourism initiative aimed to connect Vänern as a destination, with various activities on and around the lake. The bike route passes beautiful beaches and nature phenomena such as the eco-parks Halleberg and Hunneberg, and other activities including paddling, boat tours and hiking are available too.
The Halleberg and Hunneberg eco-parks have recently been named Sweden’s first UNESCO Global Geopark, which means that the geology and landscape is deemed unique and of international significance. The area has 15 varied hiking trails in untouched nature, with magnificent views of Lake Vänern, as well as fairytale wilderness. Along the route, you will find great spots for having a barbeque or a picnic.
“Being named Sweden’s first UNESCO Global Geopark is very exciting,” says Engström-Weber. “We will continue to focus on nature, protect our mountains and work sustainably. And Lake Vänern will continue to offer something for all the senses, all year round: nature, culture, food and activities that can fill you with joy.”
Web: www.visittv.se Instagram: @visittv.se Facebook: visittv What is a UNESCO Global Geopark? UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. www.unesco.org
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