Åmål is the largest town in the historical province of Dalsland. Most of the province is today part of Västra Götaland County. The town stands along the shores of Lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden.
It is, however, not the location that many Swedes associate with the town. In 1998, a Swedish drama film was released with the title “Fucking Åmål“. Even though most of the film was filmed in Trollhättan, the plot is about teenagers in Åmål.
A Short History of Åmål
The settlement that would become Åmål started to be established in 1640 and the town received its town privileges in 1643. The people of Dalsland had previously preferred cross-border trade in Norway. This was especially troublesome due to that the timber that was exported was needed domestically. The purpose was to attract the trade to stay within Sweden.
A devastating fire and the occupation during the wars probably describe the 18th century in Åmål. It was, however, be a new war that would end the trade with Norway and force the people of the province to trade in their own town. The Napoleonic Wars meant that the border with Norway was closed and the town of Åmål started to grow. But wars do come to an end and Åmål continued to have a lot of competition for the trade in the area.
With the railway in 1870 also came the industrialization of the area. Åmål saw the establishment of several smaller industries. However, it continues to be dependent on the smaller manufacturers. Svenska Elektromagneter AB was founded in 1915 and Håkanssons Industrier in 1944. It was these two companies that became important for the town during the second half of the 20th century. Håkanssons Industrier was, however, acquired by Electrolux in 1971.
Things to Do and See
With the lake close by, a few museums telling the history of the town, and nature around the corner, Åmål might not be as boring as the film from 1998 claimed.
Lake Vänern is the largest lake in Sweden and Åmål’s town center is right at its shores. Here you will find the marina, a beach, and several cafés and restaurants.
A few enthusiasts in the Railway Society have collected train the old roundhouse close to the train station. Several locomotives and coaches are now on display for visitors of the museum, mostly from the old railway between Åmål and Årjäng.
The industrial museum is all about the small workshop of Carl Wilhelm Thorstenson. The small workshop was opened in 1918 and was in operations during the 1920s.
Local Heritage Museum
The local heritage museum is housed in a late 1700s warehouse. The museum exhibits the history of the town and its inhabitants, with several objects and displays from the past.
There is a small zoo in the park at Örnäs. The animals include farm animals such as bunnies, horses, goats, and sheep. The zoo also has a playground in its vicinity.
Kungsberget, or the King’s Mountain, is next to the center of Åmål. This hill offers both a view of the city and has a story to tell. Once the spot for the gallows it was transformed into a park in the 19th century.
How to Get to Åmål
Flights: There are domestic and international routes to and from Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT), which is 197 kilometers away. Other options for mostly domestic flights are Karlstad Airport (KSD), 81 kilometers away, and Trollhättan–Vänersborg Airport (THN), 100 kilometers away.
Car: Åmål is close to the E45 between Mellerud and Säffle.
Bus: Local and regional buses from Västtrafik connect Åmål with the surrounding region.
Train: SJ and Västtågen have trains to and from Göteborg, Karlstad, Säffle, and Trollhättan.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
Stockholm – 383 kilometers (4h 29min) Gothenburg – 175 kilometers (2h 21min) Malmö – 448 kilometers (5h 10min) Linköping – 287 kilometers (3h 47min) Kiruna – 1452 kilometers (17h 21min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden