Lilla Edet, Västergötland, Exploring Sweden

Lilla Edet, Västergötland – Exploring Sweden

At the eastern shores of the great river, Göta Älv is the community of Lilla Edet. This locality of around 4.800 inhabitants has grown along the river and has both a large hydroelectric power plant and a canal with locks. Well, the canal that is still active is actually on the other side of the river.

The river Göta Älv marks the border between the provinces of Bohuslän and Västergötland. It is the river that separates the communities of Lilla Edet and Ström, standing on either side of the river.

A Short History of Lilla Edet

The first known written source of Lilla Edet dates back to the 16th century. The name comes from “lilla”, which means small, and from “ed”, meaning a land passage between waterways, something similar to an isthmus. So in other words, this is the small isthmus, the large “Stora Edet” has another name these days, Trollhättan.

It was the rapids Bergaström that prevented ships to pass Lilla Edet along the river Göta Älv. This obstacle was cleared in 1607 when a lock was completed after a few decades of work. Once completed, it was, by many sources, the first lock in Sweden. It was, however, destroyed in the wars with Denmark and then later rebuilt in 1784. It was also getting competition from the locks and canal built along the other shores of the river in Ström in 1832.

The year 1888 was a dark year for three Swedish towns. This is the year that both Sundsvall and Umeå suffered devastating fires and were in large parts destroyed. Lilla Edet shared their fate and all three fires actually occurred on the same day.

The 20th century started with increased development in Lilla Edet. The railway arrived in 1906, the current locks in Ström were completed, and the first bridge across the river was built in 1926. The hydroelectric power plant was also opened in 1926, with three turbines, a fourth was added in the 1970s.

Things to Do and See

The hydroelectric power plant is, without doubt, the most prominent building that most visitors will see. But there is more to explore, on both sides of the river.

Sweden’s Oldest Lock

Right next to the hydroelectric power plant there is a small canal and lock. The original lock from 1609 was destroyed in a war. It was rebuilt in 1784. The lock once helped ships to continue their travels along the river, passed the rapids.

1830 Memorial Stone

Not far from the old lock there is a memorial stone. The stone was raised in 1930 in memory of the 47 soldiers from the Västgöta-Dal regiment that drowned in 1830. The soldiers had just assisted with extinguishing a large fire in the town.

Göta Älv

Göta Älv is the river. It drains the largest lake in Sweden, Lake Vänern, and passes by towns such as Vänersborg, Trollhättan, and Lilla Edet before reaching Gothenburg and the sea of Kattegat. This is a distance of about 93 kilometers. At Lilla Edet the river will both offer the sight of the locks, but also of the huge hydroelectric power plant.


Right on the other side of the river is the small community of Ström, all within walking distance from Lilla Edet. Ström has three attractions that might be of interest. It is the Trollhättan Canal, with the locks. You will also find the castle with its adjacent park and the guest harbor along the shore of the river.

How to Get to Lilla Edet

  • Flights: There are domestic and international routes to and from Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT), which is 77 kilometers away.
  • Car: Lilla Edet is along the road E45, between Kungälv and Trollhättan.
  • Bus: Local and regional buses from Västtrafik connect Lilla Edet with the surrounding region.

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

  • Stockholm – 441 kilometers (5h 7min)
  • Gothenburg – 55 kilometers (43min)
  • Malmö – 328 kilometers (3h 26min)
  • Linköping – 326 kilometers (3h 33min)
  • Kiruna – 1538 kilometers (17h 44min)

Explore More of Västergötland and Sweden

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