I loved Karlskrona. I hadn’t had much time to travel in Sweden, and I admit, I didn’t know what to expect from this small dot on the map. However, Visit Karlskrona whisked me away on an island adventure of a lifetime. I had the chance to snorkel with seals in the Baltic Sea, ride a speedboat, sleep in a lighthouse, eat delicious food and explore beautiful towns and villages on the Swedish Coastline, all within easy reach of Stockholm. Althought there are still a lot of areas I want to explore in Sweden, here’s why I think that Karlskrona could be the best place to visit in Sweden.
Why is Karlskrona the Best Place to Visit in Sweden?
I loved the simplicity of Karlskrona, but at the same time I loved the variety of what was on offer. History buffs will enjoy the Naval Museum and the Fortifications around the town, as well as the beautifully preserved houses in Kristianopel. Foodies will not be disappointed by the delicious traditional and international food here, from restaurant pop-ups and homemade ice-cream to the goat farms and fabulous cured cheeses you find on the coastal roads, I loved the food in Karlskrona. For active travellers, cycling, kayaking, snorkelling and sailing are just some of the activities on offer here, and there is plenty to keep the kids entertained too. Sunshine also helps of course, and as one of Sweden’s sunniest towns, the weather was fabulous when we visited in July. Here is the round up of my favourite things to do in Karlskrona.
What to do in Karlskrona
Explore Karlskrona by Bike
Our first adventure was a bike tour of Karlskrona town and sea-front. We hired bikes from the Tourism Office, which had a basket at the front for my bag. There are various places around town where you can get bikes, check this website for a list. A note for the vertically challenged among you – Swedish people are tall, and although the bikes are adjustable to a certain extent, shorter people may struggle to touch the floor. It was a beautiful sunny day, not surprising in Sweden’s sunniest town, and we cycled around the town, visiting landmarks like the town hall, lighthouse, and all along seafront and port.
The Naval Port of Karlskrona was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1998, for having “Outstanding Universal Value” and the Naval Museum in Karlskrona shares the history of the Swedish Navy since Karl XI established the naval base here in 1680. The Museum is free, and has some fascinating exhibits including a real submarine, the HMS Neptun.
Another testament to Karlskrona’s military past, and present, is the Kungsholm Fortress, built on one of the islands just outside the town. It is the oldest fortress in the world that is still in use today. The gardens within the fort also house a wonderful collection of plants and trees, brought back by the sailors from various voyages all around the world. Guided tours & boat trips to the fortress run regularly in the summer and can be arranged offseason as well. Contact the Tourist Office for details, you have to pre-book the tour and provide identification details as the area is still an active military area.
Explore Karlskrona Archipelago by Kayak
Karlskrona Archipelago is made up of a whopping 1,650 islands, and the town itself is spread across 33 islands. As well as providing plenty of islands to explore, the ring of islands around Karlskrona created a perfect place for the Naval Base, which is still so well protected by the islands and fortifications around them. Kayaking is a great way to explore some of the closer islands around the port, and Karlskrona Kajak provides multi-day kayak tours too, check out their website here.
Snorkel with Seals & Sleep in a Lighthouse on Utklippan
This was my favourite part of the few days I spent in Karlskrona. Utklippan is a tiny, uninhabited island and the most southerly in the archipelago. We were part of one of the first organised trips to Utklippan before the hostel on the island officially opened, it was fabulous to be one of the trailblazers! We took a highspeed boat to the island, which is used as a birding station to track the migration of birds in Sweden and were blown away by the beautiful little island. We spend the night in the lighthouse, went snorkelling with seals in the Baltic Sea (wearing thick wetsuits!) and simply enjoyed the isolation of being surrounded by the ocean.
If you thought Karlskrona town was pretty idyllic, then you NEED to go to Kristianopel. Traditional wooden houses with beautiful gardens are incredibly well cared for in this little town, and the harbour and beach also have great areas for swimming. You can take themed guided tours to learn about the history of Kristianopel, which was right in the middle of the war between Denmark and Sweden in the 1600s. You can also walk around some of the fortified walls which still exists today and enjoy some great views of the town and the sea beyond.
Eat Delicious Food
Restaurants in Karlskrona
There are some excellent dining options in Karlskrona. While I was there, Skepsgossen Restaurant had a pop-up restaurant which served incredible Italian food, but usually, their restaurant next to the Maritime Museum serves traditional Swedish food (only at lunchtime). On the weekend they serve a buffet, or during the week you can choose from the a la carte menu. If the Italian food we tried was anything to go by, you won’t be disappointed here. Other popular restaurants in town include Nya Skafferiet and Landbron and don’t forget ice cream for dessert from one of Karlskrona’s ice cream shops. We tried the Glassbussen which was fabulous!
Another thing I loved about Karlskrona is the plethora of local producers who are making speciality traditional products. We called at Orranäs Gårdsmejeri to sample some of their incredible goat cheese, and meet some of their friendly goats. In the Karlskrona area, you can also find smokehouses, honey shops, venison producers, and incredible cafés where you can try their products.
Where to Stay in Karlskrona
There aren’t any hostels in Karlskrona that you can book on Hostelworld, but there are some listed on the Visit Karlskrona website here. You can also find single or twin rooms in some excellent budget hotels in Karlskrona. We stayed at the beautiful Conrad Hotel which had clean, sleek décor combined with typical Swedish touches, and a generous buffet breakfast.
Camping is another popular option, as you can free camp anywhere in Sweden, as long as you are not in sight of someone’s home, or you can find a list of the camping sites in Karlskrona here.
How to Get to Karlskrona
Getting to Karlskrona By Train
We travelled by train from Stockholm to Emmaboda, changing at Alvesta from the SJ high-speed train to the local train, and then had a car transfer from Emmaboda to Karlskrona. The train journey from Stockholm to Emmaboda takes around 4 hours, and the transfer another hour.
You can also take a train all the way from Stockholm to Karlskrona, which takes around 6 hours and costs around 95 euros for a basic second-class return ticket, or more if you reserve a seat or add extras.
If you’re coming from Denmark, you can take a train direct from Copenhagen to Karlskrona, which takes around 3.5 hours, or from Malmö in around 2 hours 45 minutes. You can check train times here.
Getting to Karlskrona By Bus
Svenskabuss runs buses to Karlskrona during the summer months, although there are two changes between Stockholm and Karlskrona. Tickets cost about 80 euros for a return ticket, and it takes about 7 and a half hours each way. Check their website here.
Getting to Karlskrona By Air
There are flights from Stockholm Arlanda and Bromma Airports to Ronneby, about 30 minutes drive from Karlskrona. Flight times are about an hour and cost approximately 170€. Transfer buses run regularly from Ronneby Airport to Karlskrona, with two companies, this one whose timetable coordinates with SAS flights to Ronneby and this one which coordinates with BRA flights.
Is Karlskrona the Best Place to Visit in Sweden?
So what do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion on whether Karlskrona is the best place to visit in Sweden, I really enjoyed my time here and was constantly surprised about how much fun I had here and how beautiful traditional Sweden is. If you have been, what do you think of Karlskrona? Or have you been somewhere else in Sweden which tops it? Please let me know in the comments below.
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