Mariestad, Västergötland – Exploring Sweden

Mariestad is a locality in the province of Västergötland and it has a long history. It was once classified as a town and it was akso the seat of Skaraborg County. The population of around 16.500 people enjoys life at the shores of Lake Vänern, the largest lake in Sweden.

A Short History of Mariestad

Mariestad was founded in 1583 by the later-to-be King Charles IX of Sweden. The city was founded at the mouth of the river Tidan, where it flows into the largest lake in Sweden – Lake Vänern. The new town was named after Charles’s wife Maria of the Palatinate.

Mariestad turned out to be one of only two towns in Sweden that had a cathedral, but no bishop. The town became the seat of Skaraborg County in 1660 when the seat moved from Skara. It remained the county seat until 1997 when the county was integrated into the much larger Västra Götaland County.

The street patterns in the central parts of the town originate from the rebuilding after the fire of 1693. The fire only spared the church and a few buildings at the edge of town. The town continued to grow and at the beginning of the 19th century, it had passed 1000 inhabitants.

Things to Do and See

One of the things you can do here is to walk along the shores of Lake Vänern, enjoying the atmosphere of the Old Town. Another option is to head out on an excursion to explore the surrounding area. The possibilities in and around Mariestad are close to endless.

Old Town

The Old Town of Mariestad, Gamla Stan in Swedish, mainly consists of buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. In the north, there are also a few signs left from the time prior to the 1693 fire. At the center is the cathedral, with its tower rising far above the wooden houses.

Vadsbo Museum

Vadsbo Museum tells the history of Mariestad and the surrounding area. It is housed in what was once the residential palace of the governor, Marieholm. The yellow building is in itself worth a visit as it is one of the more prominent buildings in the town.

Lake Vänern

Vänern is the largest lake in Sweden and the third-largest in Europe after the Russian lakes Ladoga and Onega. Here you can either explore islands such as Torö or the national park on the island of Djurö. Swimming, fishing, and other outdoor activities are also very popular.

Mariestad Theatre

The theater in Mariestad is the oldest countryside theater in Sweden and dates back to 1843. It can house 193 spectators and has several shows each year.

How to get to Mariestad

Flights: The closest airport is Örebro Airport (ORB) located 113 kilometers away, with mostly chartered flights. There is also the larger Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT) 168 kilometres away, with both domestic and international flights.
Car: Mariestad is located along the E20 between Örebro and Göteborg.
Train: Västtågen has trains to Hallsberg, Herrljunga and Göteborg.
Bus: Local and regional buses connect Mariestad with the surrounding region.

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

Stockholm – 308 kilometers (3h 24min)
Gothenburg – 174 kilometers (2h 14min)
Malmö – 416 kilometers (4h 42min)
Linköping – 171 kilometers (2h 14min)  
Kiruna – 1408 kilometers (16h 18min)

Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden

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