Gävle, Gästrikland, Exploring Sweden

Gävle, Gästrikland – Exploring Sweden

Not many get famous for destructive power, but Gävle certainly is one of those places. This smallish town lies two hours from Stockholm and most people know it because of the annual fate of the Gävle Goat. This Christmas decoration has a history of not surviving the Christmas holidays.

However, there are many more reasons to visit Gävle than just the goat. This city – with around 75.000 inhabitants – is today probably most famous for two things. The first one is the town’s ice hockey team Brynäs, and the second one is the local coffee roastery Gevalia.

A Short History of Gävle

Gävle is the oldest city in Norrland, the northern part of Sweden. It received its town charter in 1446. The settlement grew at the banks of the Gävle River. For a long time, the town consisted of wooden buildings, and it was plagued by several fires throughout the years. Two of these fires changed the look of Gävle dramatically. As a result of the fire in 1776, the town was rebuilt with straight streets and city blocks. To prevent further big fires, stone and brick houses also became increasingly common. The biggest fire did, however, occur in 1869. This devastating blow to the city left around 8.000 of the town’s 10.000 inhabitants homeless.

However, one can still detect some of the traces of how it used to look. Between the museum and the library, a part of the Old Town still stands as a historic reserve. Its name is Gamla Gefle. The word gamla means old and Gefle is the old way of spelling the city’s name.

The port in Gävle has historically been important for the town. The 15th century saw copper and iron being exported from the port. It grew in the 16th century with shipyards and many shipping companies. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the port had ships departing to America with emigrants from the region.

Four Things to Do In Gävle

Gävle is a large town that offers a lot of activities for its visitors, here are our four recommendations:

Gävlebocken / The Gävle Goat

Are you visiting around Christmas? If you are lucky, you might get the possibility to see the Gävle Goat or Gävlebocken in Swedish. This huge hay goat is famous not only for its size but also for its history to just occasionally survive the Christmas holidays.

Gavlerinken and Brynäs IF

Do you like ice hockey? Brynäs IF is one of the teams in the Swedish Hockey League. Actually, it is a very traditional team. Formed already in 1912, it has won the Swedish championship 13 times, the most recent win being in 2012.

Ice hockey is a really popular sport in Sweden, and if you are visiting in the wintertime, you should definitely give it a chance.

Have a fika!

Sweden might not be on the top of your mind when you think about coffee. However, the largest coffee roastery in the country, Gevalia, is in Gävle. To be honest, I don’t know if you can go to the roastery for a tasting. But no need to worry, just like in the rest of Sweden, the town has many cafés where you can get familiar with the Swedish fika. Why not grab a cup of bryggkaffe and a cinnamon roll while you are at it.

Enjoy the Nature

Bears and eagles. Islands and forest. There are plenty of places where you can enjoy the silence and beauty of nature. Get a car or a boat and just go explore!

Going to Gävle?

Do you want to travel to Gävle? Here are a few ways you can go there:

  • Car: Gävle is right next to the junction between the highways E4 and E16. These two roads connect the town with other towns in three directions, south, west, and north.
  • Bus: There are buses connecting the town with several places along the northern coast as well as Stockholm. From the capital, it is possible to connect to most other parts of Sweden and a few places abroad.
  • Train: The town is just 1:20 away from Stockholm with the fast train. Except for that option, the town is a connecting point for the trains to the northern part of Sweden.
  • Flights: Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN) is the closest airport with international flights. The local airport Gävle–Sandviken Airport (GVX) has no regular flights. Stockholm-Arlanda Airport is located about an hour’s drive south of Gävle.

The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:

Stockholm – 173 kilometers (1 h 51 min)
Gothenburg – 518 kilometers (6 h 8 min)
Malmö – 781 kilometers (8 h 11 min)
Luleå – 735 kilometers (8 h 46 min)
Linköping – 368 kilometers (3 h 50 min)

This post belongs to our series Exploring Sweden. Read the other posts of the series here >>

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