The northern shore of Lake Vänern
The municipality of Karlstads Kommun is located in the south of the central Swedish province of Värmlands Län and borders with its almost entire width on the northern shore of the huge Vänern, the largest inland lake in Sweden and Western Europe. The central town is the university town of Karlstad, located directly on the lakeshore, which is also the provincial capital and the cultural, economic and political centre of Värmland.
In terms of land area, Karlstads Kommun is in the mid-range compared to the 15 other municipalities in the province, with around 1,170 square kilometres. The immediate neighbouring municipalities Hagfors Kommun and Filipstads Kommun are a few hundred square kilometres larger, while the remaining neighbouring municipalities are in part significantly smaller.
The landscape within Karlstads Kommun presents itself from north to south as forested lowlands with flat soft hills, with about half of the municipal area covered by forest. In between are smaller agricultural areas and about 60 lakes, which make up about a quarter of the area. The largest lake within the municipality, apart from Vänern, is the 20-square-kilometre Gapern to the north-east of Karlstad.
On the shores of Lake Vänern, the landscape is maritime, with a rugged coastline, numerous bays and an archipelago consisting of thousands of islands, which makes you forget that you are actually on the shore of a lake. In the area of the town of Karlstadt, the landscape is also characterised by the estuary delta of the Klarälven, which flows into Lake Vänern with several river arms.
Sights in Karlstads Kommun
With so much water on the doorstep, there are all kinds of opportunities for different activities on and around the water. These include summer boat trips in the archipelago or on the estuary arms of the Klarälven through the centre of Karlstadt.
A total of 16 nature reserves within Karlstads Kommun offer ample opportunities to explore nature on short walks or even longer hikes. The size of the reserves varies from the over 5,300-hectare Segerstads Skärgårds Naturreservat down to the smallest, the only 3-hectare Nordbybergets Naturreservat.
In addition, there is a network of 30 designated hiking routes of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty within the municipality, on which you can explore the landscape on foot and which partly also cross one or more nature reserves. For cyclists, there is also a well-developed network of cycle paths with tours of varying lengths, with by far the longest tour along the Klarälven running along the 90-kilometre asphalt Klarälvsbanan, a former railway line from Karlstad to Hagfors.
A typical destination for the whole family is the city park Mariebergskogen in Karlstad. The park, which is open daily with free admission, offers all kinds of activities such as playgrounds, a petting zoo and a fun train, as well as a café and various exhibitions. In addition, the park houses the visitor centre Naturum Värmland, which provides information on the special features of nature throughout the region.
An in-depth look at the cultural history of the entire Värmland region is provided by the interesting exhibitions at the Värmlands Museum in Karlstad, which is one of Sweden's most visited provincial museums. A visit to the Brigadmuseum, on the other hand, reveals recent Swedish history at the time of the Cold War.
As a well-known region of cultural figures, Gustav Fröding (1860 – 1911), another very well-known Swedish literary figure, was born in the region, along with the Nobel Prize winner for literature Selma Lagerlöf. His birthplace Alsters Herrgård outside Karlstad commemorates the poet's life and work with exhibitions and hosts various cultural events in the summer.
Karlstads Kommun in numbers
By Värmland standards, Karlstads Kommun is quite densely populated, with around 95,000 inhabitants. After all, the population density is about four times the national average, with over 80 inhabitants per square kilometre. However, it should not be forgotten that more than 61,000 people live in the immediate vicinity of the central town of Karlstadt. The next largest town, Skåre, for example, has just under 5,500 inhabitants and the population density shrinks visibly the further one moves away from Lake Vänern in a northerly direction.