Vänersborg, Västergötland – Exploring Sweden

Vänersborg is a town in the province of Västergötland with around 23.900 inhabitants. It is the seat of the regional parliament of Västra Götaland County, the second-most populous county in Sweden after Stockholm. The town lies at the southern point of Lake Vänern, almost where the large river Göta Älv has its beginning.

A Short History of Vänersborg

Vänersborg is a town with a strategic purpose and later administrative importance. Its history has in many ways been decided from the capital Stockholm and fitted to the needs of the area and country.

Establishment and Conflicts

The plan to establish a town at the location dates back at least to the mid-16th century and King Gustav Vasa. It wasn’t, however, until 1641 that the town was established and it received its town privileges a few years later in 1644. It wouldn’t take long before the conflict with Denmark-Norway reached the new town. The town was burned down already in 1644 and saw repeated attacks during 1645.

Regional Capital

Vänersborg became the seat for Älvsborg County already in 1679. It remained the county seat until the merger of the three counties Älvsborg, Göteborg and Bohuslän, and Skaraborg in 1998. Instead, Vänersborg became the seat of the regional parliament of Västra Götaland County.

Garrison Town

The Västgöta-Dal Regiment moved to a location outside of Vänersborg in 1685. The location acted as their mobilization point and exercise area until 1863. It then moved to Grunnebo a few kilometers further away before moving to Halmstad in 1906 and changing its name to Halland Regiment.

As a replacement for the regiment that just moved away, the decision to move Västgöta Regiment to Vänersborg from Axevalla was made the same year and the move was completed in 1916. The regiment was disbanded in 1927, leaving a lot of its infrastructure to the town.

Industrialization and Trade

With the completion of Trollhätte Canal in 1800, Vänersborg finally had a waterway to Gothenburg and the sea of Kattegat. It was made possible by locks next to the rapids in Lilla Edet, Trollhättan, and Vänersborg. The canal was joined by the railway between Uddevalla and Herrljunga in 1867.

Earlier productions in Vänersborg included matches from 1848 to 1932 and shoes from 1860 to 1969. The shoe factory of Anders Fredrik Carlsson was in 1928 the largest manufacturer of shoes in Sweden.

Things to Do and See

With a long history and Lake Vänern at its doorstep, there is a lot to explore and enjoy in Vänersborg. It is easy to combine culture, nature, and play and once you run out of options, there are more towns within easy reach. Some towns nearby are Trollhättan and Uddevalla.

Vänersborg Museum

Vänersborg Museum claims to be the oldest museum in Sweden and the building was ready in 1885. Exhibitions include mainly pieces from the museum’s art and natural history collections, but also other more exotic artifacts.

Vänersborg Art Gallery

The art gallery of the town is on the main square and its exhibitions include both domestic and international art.

Brinkebergskulle Lock

Just south of Vänersborg is the first lock for ships traveling from Lake Vänern to Gothenburg and the sea of Kattegat. It is the only lock in the area, the other five of the Trollhätte Canal are much further south.

It is also possible to walk or bike along the canal from the lock to Lake Vänern.

Halleberg and Hunneberg

Not far from Vänersborg, after passing Vargön, are the mountains Halle and Hunneberg. The area has since the 14th century been royal hunting grounds, but these plateau mountains are today an eco-park and a popular place for hiking.

Skräckle Park

Skräckle Park is a park area in the northern part of Vänersborg, along the shores of Lake Vänern. The park offers visitors nature close to the center, as well as a playground for the kids and bathing sites for anyone looking for a cooling swim in the lake.

How to Get to Vänersborg

Flights: There are domestic and international routes to and from Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT), which is 110 kilometers away.
Car: Vänersborg is on road E45, between Trollhättan and Mellerud.
Bus: Local and regional buses from Västtrafik connect Vänersborg with the surrounding region.
Train: Both SJ and Västtågen have trains arriving to and departing from Vänersborg, destinations mostly include Gothenburg, Herrljunga, and Uddevalla.

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

Stockholm – 420 kilometers (4h 38min)
Gothenburg – 88 kilometers (1h 7min)
Malmö – 361 kilometers (3h 41min)
Linköping – 280 kilometers (3h 18min)  
Kiruna – 1517 kilometers (16h 56min)

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

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