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. This year, the region presents a new pilgrim route and initiatives around Sweden’s grandest lake.

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, and the long beaches around Vänern – Sweden’s largest lake, technically an inland sea – made it a beneficial place to stay from both agricultural and safety perspectives. The importance of the lake for the position of Vänersborg, which got its town privileges in 1644, as a meeting point and trading hub cannot be underestimated. A regional capital boasting generous nature and wildlife, it is sometimes described as a miniature Sweden.

In Trollhättan, it was the narrow water passages of the river Göta Älv that eventually led to what was to become the town’s pride. These passages caused more than a few headaches, as goods had to be reloaded to continue transportation on land. But it was not until 1800, after a range of different ideas and more than a few failed attempts, that the first sluice in Trollhättan was completed. The creation was dubbed the world’s eighth wonder and immediately became a popular place to go 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 is released. It’s quite spectacular,” says Maria Engström Weber, CEO of Visit Trollhättan-Vänersborg. “People come here to experience this alone.”

Visit Trollhättan: Sweden's grandest lake and new pilgrim route

The trail of insights and prospects

There are two new adventures for visitors to the region this year, Pilgrimsleden (The Pilgrimage) being one of them. The Göta Älv pilgrimage is a 140-kilometre trail of insights and prospects. “It’s an internal and external journey that you complete on your own or together with others,” says Engström-Weber. The pilgrimage in three stages combines nature experience 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 some well-deserved rest, and remember to fill up on energy if you plan to continue the pilgrimage towards Norway.

This is Sweden’s grandest lake

The other new initiative is Lake Vänern Grand Tour, a nature tourism pilot aimed to connect Vänern as a destination, with the help of activities on and around the lake. Lake Vänern is one of Europe’s largest lakes, with 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.

The new bike route, Vänernleden, around the lake makes the backbone of the initiative, passing 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.

You could say that this is a place for good quality of life, for both locals and visitors. “Lake Vänern offers something for all the senses, all year round,” concludes Engström-Weber. “Nature, culture, food and activities that fill you with joy.”

Visit Trollhättan: Sweden's grandest lake and new pilgrim route

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