Feel the beating wings of history!
For those who wish to feel the beating wings of history, there are many places to visit along the Göta Canal and in its vicinity. Below we have listed a selection, and you decide for yourself whether you wish to make a day trip to a couple of them, or make a longer road trip to see them all.
In the old red harbour warehouse in Sjötorp is our Canal and Maritime Museum . Here you can learn more about the history of the Göta Canal and the thrilling stories of maritime life in the olden days on the Göta Canal and lakes Vänern and Vättern. It also tells the story of Sjötorp's shipyard and the boats that were built during its glory days.
One of the boats built was known as the Vänern sloop Oskar . Today the replica Oskar II can be seen in the shipyard basin in Sjötorp, and during the summer it makes several trips where you can come along!
In picturesque Hajstorp, you may feel as if time has stood still. Here, the canal environment is largely preserved as it once was, even if the beautiful buildings today house other establishments than they once did. The charming lock keeper's residence is now home to the Hajstorp lock café and hostel . Every summer, the warehouse next door is filled with arts and crafts from local artists' studios and workshops. On the upper floor of the warehouse, the exhibition A peasant family's life 100 years ago is on display. Here the children can try their hand at weaving, carving bark boats and more.
Forsvik is a real gem with genuine charm. Here is the canal's oldest lock, which was completed as early as 1813 and has a drop height of a whopping 3.5 metres. Right next to the lock is Kanalbutiken 5 knots and Forsviks Café och mat, which has a really lovely service in its garden. There you can have coffee, so close to the boats that glide by on the canal that you could almost reach out and touch them.
A stone's throw away you will find the Forsvik mill, which is a lively mill museum where you can learn more about the work at Forsvik's shipyard, forge and mill. The mill has a 600-year history as part of Swedish industry. In addition to a selection of the thousands of casting moulds that have been preserved from the mill, there is an exhibition about the life and work of the women at the mill. In the old miller's residence next door is Café Ada, serving ice cream and good coffee.
In the idyllic summer village of Karlsborg, you can experience gunpowder smoke, underground passages and rumbling floors... At Karlsborg Fortress and the Fortress Museum both young and old can experience exciting tours. Within the walls of the mighty fortress from the 19th century, there's something like a community of its own, where you can enjoy good food and coffee, an exciting museum and the beating wings of history.
Baltzar von Platen had a dream of growing cities along the Göta Canal, but it was only in Motala that the dream came true. Here the city plan has the shape of a handheld fan and was drawn by von Platen himself in 1823. Tradition tells us that on a hot summer day the von Platen couple were out in a rowing boat on the Motala stream. When Hedvig Elisabeth dropped her fan in the lake, and for a moment it lay spread out on the surface of the water, Baltzar is said to have been inspired with an idea for the shape of the city plan. Whether this is true we do not know, but the historical record of Baltzar von Platen somewhat contradicts the romantic narrative. He seems to have rarely spent time on rowing trips with his wife. It is true, however, that the central parts of Motala are still laid out in the shape of a fan. Out in the Gulf of Motala is Platen's point, the place where von Platen put down the point of his pair of compasses on the map, to draw the fan. Today it is marked by a sculpture, Visionärens vinkelben (the Visionary's Compass) by Tommy Jerhammar, which sprays water 30 metres into the air.
Down by the harbour you will also find Sweden's largest Motor Museum . Here is a large and exciting collection of vehicles and other technology in settings true to the eras in which they were made. It is a museum out of the ordinary that is often appreciated by the whole family!
In Motala there is also the Göta Canal exhibition From idea to reality. It is located in one of the two pavilions next to the canal in the Old Motala workshop district, between the Borenshult locks and the Motala guest harbour in Vättern. The exhibition shows how Baltzar von Platen took the 300-year-old idea of building a waterway across Sweden and realised it by building the Göta Canal. Here you get to meet the people who made it possible to build the canal and the technology they used. It is also in Motala that von Platen, according to his own wishes, is buried next to his life's work.
Anyone who wants to learn even more about the Göta Canal in general and the Motala workshop in particular should take the opportunity to go on one of one of the historical guided tours arranged every day during the summer by Svecia travels.
In Berg is our exhibition " A beautiful story" where you will learn more about our 200 years of canal history and how the engineering challenges were overcome along the way. We give a taste and insight into how the canal has been experienced and aged over the years, from its birth until today, and how it is being prepared for the future through the major renovation project Göta Canal 2.0. Just outside the indoor exhibition is our lock gate exhibition where you can walk around and experience 200-year-old lock gates hands-on!
Not far from the lock area in Berg, you will also find Vreta Kloster church village and monastery ruins. The church is one of Sweden's most interesting medieval buildings and was built as a royal church in the early 12th century. There was also a monastery here, which for many centuries was Sweden's leading nunnery.
At Ljung Castle you can encounter the 18th century! The castle, which is a Gustavian gem, is beautifully situated between Ljungsbro and Borensberg. Here you are greeted by staff wearing historic clothing, to give you an authentic experience of a bygone era. Come and share the exciting and sometimes dramatic history of the castle and its owners!
At Löfstad Castle, you can join us on a journey 100 years back in time, when Emelie Piper lived. Here her home stands complete with about 34,000 objects and just as many stories. You get to see an actual noblewoman's home that has stood more or less untouched for 100 years. Join a guided castle tour or wander around one of Sweden's best-preserved English parks. Bring a picnic basket and follow the nature and culture trail or have a bite to eat at our beautiful inn and browse the amazing plant nursery..
Stegeborg Castle ruin
Stegeborg Trädgårshotell is a garden hotel in a beautiful location, brimming with chivalric romance. During the Middle Ages, Stegeborg was one of Sweden's most important strongholds and a royal castle until the 17th century. The old castle ruins are located on a small island on Lake Slätbaken near the entrance to the Göta Canal. There at the castle, the most powerful families of the time met in bloody battles and fierce negotiations. Today, the surroundings are more peaceful and offer an almost pastoral idyll.
Vadstena is not in the immediate vicinity of the Göta Canal. But with its fantastic location on Lake Vättern south of Motala, this picturesque mediaeval town is well worth a detour for all canal visitors! In Vadstena you can feel like you are immersed in history, with castles, manors, monasteries and mediaeval buildings all around you. Strolling through the cobbled streets of the inner city, you may well meet modern nuns on their way to and from the convent building, but you will also find lively commerce with many different shops. Sit down for a while at one of the outdoor seating areas and enjoy the grand beauty of all the little things!
Plan your trip
Find our canal-side accommodation