Halmstad is a locality with a long history that includes both Danish and Swedish rule. It is the seat for the Halland County. It is on the western coast of Sweden at the mouth of the Nissan river. With a population of around 70.000, Halmstad is the 17th largest city in Sweden.
A Short History of Halmstad
The first known mentioning of Halmstad dates back to the 13th century, from a time when the town and the rest of the province of Halland belonged to Denmark. Its location has changed since it was first mentioned as the town has moved closer to the coast. For a time, the current location of the town was known as Broktorp.
Halmstad came under siege several times during the wars between Denmark and Sweden. Because of this, its fortifications were improved and extended at the turn of the 17th century. Shortly after, in 1619, the castle was also built. The castle would the same year be one of just a few surviving buildings from a devastating fire. Because of the fire, a new city plan resulted in the street structure that is visible still today in the center of Halmstad.
Halmstad became Swedish together with the rest of Halland in 1645 with the peace of Brömsebro. Less than a hundred years later the fortifications of the town were demolished and only a few parts still stand.
It was industrialization that eventually made Halmstad grow. The first industries were established early in the 19th century, the harbor was rebuilt soon after and the population grew from around 1.300 in the year 1800 to around 15.000 a century later.
The military returned to Halmstad at the beginning of the 20th century and it eventually housed the Halland Regiment and the Air Defense Regiment.
Things to Do and See in Halmstad
Sandy beaches and historical sights are all protected by Recruit 91, Karlsson. Visitors will be reminded of the military past and present of Halmstad almost wherever they look. There is still that feeling of something missing and the question of how the town once must have looked.
Situated right next to the river Nissan is the castle. The castle was built by the Danish king Christian IV and was completed in the early 17th century. The castle is today used as the residence for the county governor and includes public office spaces. Events such as markets and other festivities occasionally take place at the castle. The castle park is also one of the town’s green oases.
Most of the old fortifications built by the Danes to defend the town from Swedish attacks have been demolished. The northern gate, Norre Port, is one part of the old fortification that is still standing. This is one of the previous four city gates.
Blondie, Recruit 91, Karlsson
91:an Karlsson, or Blondie, is famous for any Swedish comic book reader. He was created by the cartoonist Rudolf Petersson (1896-1970) and first published in 1932. Rudolf was native to Halmstad and his main character now stands guard at its gates at Norre Port.
The local heritage museum is at Galgberget, a hill north of the center. This is Hallandsgården, an estate including several historical buildings. The green surroundings make it difficult to imagine that the center is so close by.
Galgberget is the hill north of the center, right above the hospital. This was earlier an execution site and the name means the hill with the gallows. Today it is a large green area with hiking trails and viewpoints. On a sunny day, a big part of Halmstad is visible from here. In addition to Hallandsgården, there is also the19th century observation tower. The tower is 13 meters high and was originally in use by the forest ranger.
Pablo Picasso – Head of a Woman
Halmstad is one of sixteen cities worldwide that received a donation of a sculpture of Pablo Picasso. The sculpture “Head of a Woman” stands in the Picasso Park. It is 15 meters high and made out of concret.
The Sandy Beaches
There are several long sandy beaches within easy reach from Halmstad. The closest ones are Östra stranden, Västra stranden and Jutarum strand.
Lynga Sand Dune
The Lynda Sand Dune is a few kilometers north of Halmstad. It reaches a height of 36 meters above the sea, which makes it the highest sand dune in Scandinavia.
How to Get to Halmstad
- Flights: The closest airport is Halmstad Airport (HAD) located 4 kilometers away from the center, with mostly domestic flights. There is also the larger Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT) 157 kilometers away, with both domestic and international flights.
- Car: Halmstad is on road E6 between Göteborg and Helsingborg.
- Train: Several train services have departures and arrivals in Varberg, including Pågatågen, SJ, and Öresundståg. Destinations include Göteborg, Helsingborg, Jönköping, and Malmö.
- Bus: Local and regional buses connect Halmstad with the surrounding region.
- Ferry: Stena Line has the ferry Stena Nautica that connects Halmstad with the town of Grenå in Denmark.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
Stockholm – 489 kilometers (5h 45min) Gothenburg – 140 kilometers (1h 40min) Malmö – 138 kilometers (1h 33min) Linköping – 294 kilometers (3h 38min) Kiruna – 1720 kilometers (19h 59min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden