Söderköping, Östergötland, Exploring Sweden

Söderköping, Östergötland – Exploring Sweden

There are few things that Swedes associate more with summer than ice cream. And it is ice cream, in addition to long queues of cars, that the town of Söderköping offers during the summer. Well, there is more to explore here in the historical province of Östergötland, but many do mention the ice cream of Söderköping and are willing to drive far for the opportunity to eat it.

Söderköping, a town of around 7.500 inhabitants, has a long history probably dating back to the 13th century. It is a popular tourist destination during the summer months and not just because of ice cream. Göta Kanal goes through the town bringing many boat enthusiasts who stop here while waiting at the locks. In addition, the long queues along the road E22, caused by the amount of traffic heading to and from Sweden’s eastern coast, have established Söderköping as a rest stop for car-bound travelers.

We can really recommend any visitor to arrive early. Start your visit with one of the famous ice creams and once done continue with either climbing the many stairs of Ramunderberget or going for a walk along Göta Kanal. There are plenty of places for a late lunch once you are back from the climb or hike.

A Short History of Söderköping

It is believed that Söderköping established itself as a town in the 12th and 13th centuries. The town was at the time the location where kings and queens were crowned, making it an important center in early Sweden. Churches and convents were built in the town. Its importance is even more evident with the visit of Queen Margareta of Denmark in 1389. Margareta united Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in 1397 when the Kalmar Union was established, an accomplishment where the visit to Söderköping was essential.

In the 18th century, the tectonic uplift resulted in a decline in the importance of the town as the distance to the coast increased. Smaller gains for the town were made with the establishment of the bathhouse Söderköpings Brunn in 1766 and the opening of Göta Canal in 1832.

Things to Do and See

There is a lot to explore in Söderköping, but luckily much of it is close to the center of town. The many historical buildings create a scenery and an atmosphere that is open for everyone to explore. Walking along the canal or the main street, climbing the mountain, or just enjoying an ice cream. The options are many in Söderköping.

Göta Canal

Göta Canal is a waterway connecting the western and eastern shores of Sweden. It was opened in 1832 and even though it never fully came to its right for transports, it has become a tourist attraction in modern days. Söderköping has one of the canal locks right in the center of town, making it a natural stop for many of the ships traveling along the canal.

Ramunderberget

Ramunderberget is a mountain that is on the other side of Göta Canal in comparison with the town. There are stairs leading up the steep mountain wall to an observation deck from where most of Söderköping is visible. The mountain reaches 70 meters above the sea and offers several paths for running or hiking. If you start the climb from the canal, you have 318 steps to reach the top.

Ice Cream

Ice Cream has been a popular reason for visits to the town for decades. The ice cream restaurant Smultronstället is most likely the most famous place. It opened in 1982 and it is the look of the ice creams and not the quality that has made it famous. There are also several other places serving ice cream in town.

The Old Town Hall

The old town hall and its square Rådhustorget are among the many old buildings still standing in Söderköping. The Town Hall dates back to the 1770s and was in use until 1947. The building today houses an art gallery.

Hagatorget & Hagaparken

Hagatorget, the Haga Square, is one of the central squares in Söderköping. Right along the main street Storgatan, there is a wide open area split into a square and a park section. The park houses Söderköping’s Rosarium, a small park filled with colorful roses. There is also a smaller playground for the kids that have gotten bored with exploring the town or have had too much ice cream.

Söderköpingsån

The Göta Canal is not the only waterway in town. There is also the small stream Söderköpingsån running parallel with the canal through the town. The small river has walking paths along its shores and the trees offer shadow on hot summer days.

St Laurentii Church

The original church was built at the end of the 13th century but burned in 1494. The current church was completed a few years later but has since seen many alterations and reconstructions. It was in this church that the crowning of Hedvig of Holstein, the wife of the Swedish king Magnus Ladulås, took place in 1281. It was also here that Birger Magnusson was crowned king in 1302 and his wife Märta of Denmark became queen.

Drothem Church

Drothem Church is a white stone church on the outskirts of town. It dates back to the 13th century and was once the center of Drothem Parish.

How to Get to Söderköping

Flights: The closest airport is Norrköping Airport (NRK) 17 kilometers away. The airport has mostly seasonal flights. There are also Linköping City Airport (LPI) 47 kilometers away, Stockholm Skavsta Airport (NYO) 85 kilometers away, and Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN) 220 kilometers away to consider.
Car: Söderköping is along road E22 between Norrköping and Valdemarsvik.
Bus: Buses from Östgötatrafiken connect Söderköping with the surrounding region.

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

Stockholm – 185 kilometers (2 h 1 min)
Gothenburg – 318 kilometers (3 h 40 min)
Malmö – 462 kilometers (5 h 6 min)
Linköping – 49 kilometers (40 min)
Kiruna – 1415 kilometers (16 h 17 min)

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

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