The city is located on the shore of Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake
KARLSTAD, SWEDEN: When aroma of coffee is so noticeable that the odour is all over the city, you realise that this is a place with unique specialties. True, Karlstad in the district of Värmland in western part of Sweden, doesn´t have any coffee plantations, but one of the largest coffee brewing in the region. Here in the city centre, Löfbergs has burned beans since 1960, but the company was founded in 1906 and is one of the biggest coffee roasters in the Nordic countries. In Karlstad they spread freshly coffee powder over the historic district along the pier – an area recently transformed into an urban district.
I didn´t think about Karlstad as a port, not before I arrive and discovered the environment around the inner harbour. The city is located on the shore of Lake Vänern, Sweden’s largest and Europe’s third largest lake, full of fish and plenty of islands, and also part of the extensive canal system of Götakanal. Actually far from the sea shore, but still possible to visit by boat.
Family friendly. Karlstad is an urban center a two-hour drive from the border to Norway and a town close to nature, which means Karlstad is an ultimate holiday resort for families searching the combination of nature and urban life. Learn more about activities for the young ones; Spend a day or two at Mariebergsskogen park enjoying various activities in forest, playgrounds and beach. Leos Lekland is made for fun and games, and Sundstabadet has waterslides, heathed pools and kid´s pool as well as gym and spa. And for all ages; Golf, canoeing, kayaking and fishing are also popular activities. In fact, walking is the best way to discover nature and the landscape.
Opera. Opera fans praise the choice of programs at Wermland Opera ranging from heavy tragedies to the beautiful and simple. Recently, the Nordic premiere of “The Greek Passion” – a 60-year-old controversial opera dealing with something as relevant as refugees, but also about guilt, delusions and morals. Wermland Opera is a 42-year old institution and a first-class reason to visit and get tickets at low cost from 150 Swedish kronor or simply 15 euros.
Eat with locals. Karlstad is definitely the place to spoil your partner. To put it simple – there are dining places along streets and all corners – from romantic manor houses serving local specialities to new food trends. The Nordic White Guide 2017 takes you closer to the city’s food scene and leads you in many and varied directions. Check the Guide Here
From dance to art. Sandgrund is an iconic building and institution overlooking the Klara river, historically known for parties, music and shows. As one period came to an end, the painter and artist Lars Lerin moved in and filled up walls with art. Lars describes his works as; “what I see in my surroundings and when I travel”. Lerin is a master in watercolor paintings and also a TV-personality hugely popular in Sweden and fast approaching national treasure status. Lerin´s exhibition is permanent, but the artist changes artwork twice a year.
Exciting. A short drive from the city center we discovered Sliperiet, a modern and exciting art center located in a 100 years and renovated factory building from the old time when Borgvik was an industrial center. Owner and musician Oscar Magnussion is dedicated to young and promising artists and serving high quality food. Between May and September, the food profile is related to the name of the restaurant – Gastronomy.
“Art for everyone” was realized at Artscape 2017 – a festival for street art in Värmland. It ended with Karlstad having seven major works of art, which will delight everyone as long as the buildings exist.
Shopping. If you love hunting for bargains at second-hand and vintage stores then you should look out for the Swedish words; ‘Fynda’ ‘loppis’ and ‘begagnad’ on signs. In the same order these words in English mean ‘bargain’, ‘second-hand or flea market’, and ‘second-hand, or ‘used’. There might be bargains on offer.
Happy days. It´s said that people of Karlstad has a special humour, perhaps as pleasant as Klara river that slowly and lazily flows through the city. But Susanne Kielba explains why the locals are happy; “Here we live by the motto that everything is going well, and if not, it doesn´t matter”
Everything has a start, just as the four unknown members of “The Beatles” came to Karlstad in October 1963 on the group´s first tour outside England earning 100 pounds a day on sharing. After two concerts at a local school, music journalist Johnny Olsson was not particularly impressed by John, Paul, George and Ringo as he wrote in the local paper New Wermland News;
“They did not play rhythmically and was rather amateurish”. Last hint from Olsson was easy to understand as he is absolutely tired of being confronted with his somewhat hasty conclusion.
Nothing to worry about, Mr Olsson – The Beatles came here two weeks too early and remember the saying in Karlstad; It doesn´t matter!
Learn more about Karlstad
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Karlstad is a three-hour drive from Oslo and has train connection with Stockholm, Gothenburg and Norway. Just 20 minutes by car from Karlstad Airport- The airport has scheduled flights to and from Stockholm Arlanda, Frankfurt and Alicante. Karlstad has an excellent bus network.
Stay: Stadshotellet offers two guestrooms named "The Beatles Room". The Beatles stayed here in 1963 overlooking Klara river, and now with pictures of John, Paul, George and Ringo on the walls. I stayed at Clarion Drott with great rooms and excellent breakfast.
Eat: On street level at Löfbergs tower you find Café Rosteriet. Choose coffee by character, taste and different methods and taste latest news about coffee available. For bread and pastry with chocolate to freshly baked pizza; visit Swenströmskas Stenugnsbageri, Address: Östra Torggatan 16, Karlstad. At Artisan Bread, located at the Kasernhöjden, you get bread and cakes inspired by French tradition.
Play: “Party-Swedes” is a name on young Swedes from Karlstad working and living in Oslo. That does not mean that the party life in Karlstad suffers, weekend is high time for party in Karlstad.
Mini Guide: Karlstad has more than 90,000 inhabitants and a university with 16,000 students. The city has opera, several theatres and plenty of museums and private art galleries. Karlstad Tourist Office is located on Västra Torggatan 26, in the middle of the city.