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Lake Vänern by Bike

You will experience Vänern in a fabolous way from the saddle. Beautiful trails stretch around the entire lake and you can stop anytime and explore exactly what you want. A perfect combination of exercise and experiences.

On small roads, cycle paths and pilgrimage routes

Among all the ways to experience Lake Vänern, cycling around the lake is probably the very best! You take in the surroundings with all your senses and can stop whenever you like and talk to people, have a swim or pick berries and mushrooms. You will pass through three provinces - Dalsland, Värmland and Västergötland. No two days are alike. The route goes along the sea, in narrow ravines, across vast plains, through deep forests, on hilly gravel roads and over the idyllic mountain Kinnekulle with its magnificent manors, orchids and its ​​ramson havens. The roads are a mixture of small country roads, cycle paths and gravel and forest roads. Parts of the tour follow the bicyle routes Linnéleden, Sverigeleden, Dalslandsleden and Biosfärleden.

You will pass one of Picasso's largest statues, spend a night in a castle owned by a cycling lord, visit the unique aqueduct in Håverud, live manor life in a beautiful 14th century environment with haunted houses on site and perhaps swim every day. On group tours, the start and finish is in Karlstad. On self-guided tours, you can start anywhere.

Most of your time will be spent in the countryside, but you will also visit the towns Åmål, Säffle, Karlstad, Kristinehamn, Mariestad, Lidköping and Vänersborg. The cities each have their own uniqueness, but all are shaped by their immediate proximity to the inland sea.

On self-guided tours, you choose your own pace. On guided tours, you should be in good physical condition and be able to cycle six-seven hours a day. The ground is rather flat Karlstad-Håverud and more hilly Håverud-Karlstad.

An area rich in history, nature, culture and local gastronomy welcomes you. Every night is spent in a carefully selected accommodation, each with a different character, from castles and sheep farms to mansions and farm hotels.

Globalrunner's tour leader will tell tells you about the landscapes and interesting places along the way on group tours. Safety is a must and in addition to cycling, we love coffee breaks, good food, photo stops and laughter. Undoubtedly we will have a lot of fun together! On self guided tours you get an extensive and personally designed info-kit about the places you pass by.

Enjoy a cycling adventure with beautiful views, interesting culture, friendly hosts, good berries and beautiful swims, while you learn more about the nature och history around western Europe's largest lake. We promise unforgettable memories, lots of fresh air and strong legs!

Facts

Length of Tour: 8 days/7 nights
Dates self guided: May-September
Dates guided group: July 24-31, Augusti 7-14
Start and Finish: Selfguided anywhere, guided tours in Karlstad.
Participants on guided tours: Min 8, Max 14.
Price selfguided: 895 Euro.
Price guided tour: 995 Euro.

This is included

  • Seven nights in shared double room in carefully selected, special hotels, castles and farm houses.
  • Maps on paper and digital GPX files (maps that can be used for GPS or GPS app:s in smartphones).
  • Detailed, personally designed info kit.
  • Eight days of cycling on carefully selected routes.
  • Big, nutricous breakfast every day.
  • Literature list with good reads about Lake Vänern and its surrondings. 
  • Emergency phone for self-guided tours. 
  • Globalrunner's tour leader on group tours.

Rent or bring your own

A suitable bicycle around Lake Vänern has at least 7 gears, runs without problems on gravel roads and has got a rear rack for luggage bags. An e-bike works fine, too. Bring your own or rent a bicycle through our partner in Karlstad. Hybrides cost 20 €/day, E-bikes 50 €/day.

Europe's third lake

If you have any querries, please call +46 733 61 22 55 or send us an e-mail to info@globalrunners.se and we will be happy to answer any questions. 

Other tours

We arrange many tours for cyclists, runners, trekkers and cross country skiers. Our most popular tour is Marcialonga, the Queen of Cross Country Races in Italy. Welcome to join us in the Dolomites, too!

Hand-picked, personal accommodations

We have hand-picked a great mix of accommodation around Lake Vänern, perfect for cyclists. Below you can see brief descriptions of these. They are not in chronological order. Everyone who books the tour will of course get the names and full contact info to these gems. 

  1. One night you will stay in a fantastic castle from the 17th century where they work with organic farming and where the lord of the castle is an enthusiastic cyclist.
  2. Another night you fall asleep in cozy rooms on a farm where the mother bakes fresh bread for breakfast every morning togehter with the farm's own eggs and honey (and plenty of other food). Dogs, cats, horses, sheep and the host family accompany you in and around the garden.
  3. An old manager's home will be your home a third night, where the pleasant and energetic hostess transformed the old yard into an upper class home with its own tennis court, marble floors, oak parquet and exclusive bathrooms. You will hear the story when a stingy, Norwegian youth made career, took over the house and ended up as the owner of 13 paper mills.
  4. A fourth night, your bed is in a lovely farm hotel near a well-known coffee roaster, which you might smell. A strikingly caring host couple welcomes you and tells you about the beautiful surroundings and maybe some of their secret chanterelle places. Relax and feel spoiled!
  5. In a beautiful mansion among magnificent oaks, you hear the wingspan of history echoing between the walls. Maybe you will sleep in the same room that Nicole Kidman had when she stayed here. If you are restless, there is a nice running trail and a relax area. In one wing there is said to be a ghost - the previous owner strikes again.
  6. After milk production and later on pig breeding and meat production, the owners today focus entirely on grain and horticulture, which provides the shop and restaurant with locally produced food. Your hosts are passionate about contributing to a vibrant countryside and think sustainability at all levels. Stay calm and rural outside the city noise with nature close at hand. If anyone would like to paddle, this is the place near the hotel.
  7. The seventh night you stay near the world-famous aqueduct in Håverud where you will experience the spectacular meeting between country road, railway and waterway. Engineering at its best.
Playa del Vänern.
Between Halle- and Hunneberg you cycle in a narrow ravine.
In Mariestad you find one of the oldest city centers in Sweden.

Itinerary

On self-guided tours, you can start anywhere along the route. On group tours, the start is as shown below in Karlstad. 

Day 1 Karlstad - Kristinehamn 42 miles/68 km

A fairly flat, easy-to-cycle stretch in the most densely populated area of ​​all during the week. You cycle through Karlstad and pass the delta of the Klarälven river. After the last outskirts of the residencial city, farms and cottage areas dominate the landscape. Heritage sights, whiteguide restaurants and nice little beaches take turns. The day ends on a lovely stretch full of jetties with leisure boats, and continues out to a giant Picasso statue with a fantastic view towards Lake Vänern's horizon, before you turn east to the first night's accommodation.

On self-guided tours, we can divide the Kristinehamn-Lidköping section into four stretches instead of two, so that you cycle 21 miles/40 km per day instead of the double. If you do so, the trip will be two days longer and you pay a supplement for two extra nights.

Day 2 Kristinehamn - Sjötorp 52 miles/85 km

Another fairly flat trip in a distinct agricultural landscape on cycle paths, gravel roads and country roads, both inland and along Lake Vänern and a smaller lake with good opportunities for swimming. A deer farm with a game store is a nice stop, before cycling through a beautiful oak alley and on rural gravel and forest roads. Visit a creative craft studio for wool work before you reach a reconstructed, very beautiful old church - a magnificent example of medieval architecture and a perfect place for picnic lunch.

In Gullspång you can see the salmon ladder for the rare Gullspång Salmon, a fish only found in Lake Vänern. In the fashionable community of Otterbäcken, there is a good fish restaurant if you skipped picnic by the church. In Sjötorp, Göta Canal ends and you can scout the boats going up and down through the locks. Göta Canal starts on Sweden's east coast and from Vänern you can continue via Trollhätte Canal to Gothenburg on the west coast. There are tasty ice cream cafés in Sjötorp as well. Continue to your exclusive and interesting accommodation where we recommend you to have dinner. There are also optional restaurants in Sjötorp.

Day 3 Sjötorp - Mariestad - Kinnekulle - Lidköping 50 miles/81 km

An idyllic day in lush forests, past magnificent manors, a medieval castle, holiday villages, farms, small villages and two pleasant towns. Welcome to the Province of Västergötland! This is the County of our Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel. It will be easy cycling today as well. Visit craftsmen in their open studios. The city center in Mariestad is among the oldest in Sweden. Lunch is recommended in an orangery, probably the best lunch place of all during the trip. This day follows in botanist Carl von Linneaus' footsteps during his journey to Västergötland in 1746. Pine forest, oak groves and waterfalls that plunge into Lake Vänern are mixed with an extrordinary rich flora. In spring and early summer, the smell of blooming ramson is present everywhere. A delicious choice in soups and a local speciality. Tonight you sleep in a very sustainability-oriented accommodation.

Day 4 Lidköping - Vänersborg 34 miles/55 km.

The flattest stretch of all passed some of Sweden's most fertile soils with large farms. Churches are abundant and you can have the next church spier as an intermediate goal for the next mile. The tour follows a pilgrimage route, cycle paths and small paved country roads. Halfway there is a shop in the village, suitable for lunch. Before reaching your next accomodation, you cycle through a narrow ravine between the mountains Halle- and Hunneberg. You have arrived to Little Paris according to the Swedish poet Birger Sjöberg.

Day 5 Vänersborg - Håverud 41 miles/66 km.

Perhaps the most beautiful day of all and you enter the extremely varied, little-forgotten province of Dalsland. Dalsland is called a Sweden in miniature, where almost everything in Sweden is found. Deep forests, mountains, fertile plains, lakes and archipelago and last but not least: lots of berries for cyclists. As long as they don't grow to near a house, you are allowed to pick them! This stretch is mostly paved but a short part follows a small forest road. A country road winds its way along the headlands of Lake Vänern, surprisingly lively and inhabited with Hunneberg as a nice background in the south. After the town of Mellerud, you continue towards the unique aqueduct in Håverud. The last miles are hilly and very scenic.

Day 6 Håverud - Säffle 43 miles/70 km.

The engineering that combines car road with canal and railway in one place is impressing. Continue through Dalsland's magical forests on small, windling, hilly paved and gravel roads. If you like hilly roads, this is your day. Take a lunch break in the picturesque town of Åmål. You should bring snacks along the way because there is no dependable shop or restaurant in Ronja and Birk's land (from Ronja The Rubber's daugher by Astrid Lindgren) before Åmål. In the afternoon, you step into the literary Province of Värmland where many well known authors and poets were born.

Day 7 Säffle - Karlstad 34 miles/56 km

Famous shrimp sandwiches, Sven-Ingvar's musical band, mooses and slag stone houses characterize this day, run through cultural landscapes and forests. In Värmlandsbro you pass the Green Cow market hall with organic meat from nearby farms. You continue to the town of Grums with seven works of art in memory of Sven-Erik Magnusson, singer in the musical group Sven-Ingvars. Grums municipality is very engaged in nature, culture and design.

Saint Lucia in Grums
Outside of Grums, the first folks settled in Värmland when the ice retreated to the North. According to legend, there was a castle in the 8th century strategically located by Slottsbro's strait, which you cross. The greedy wife Rangela at the castle demanded customs from everyone coming by land or sea. Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf writes about Rangela and her merciful niece Lucia in Lucia's Legend.

In the evening, you approach the Karlstad area, which is striving to be Sweden's most hospitable region. The authors and poets Nils Ferlin, Gustaf Fröding, Göran Tunström and Inger Sandberg were born in this pleasant, residencial city, which the locals are proud of and characterized by. A woman who also made Karlstad known is Sola in Kallsta (Sunshine in Karlstad). She ran an inn and was always in a happy mood.

Day 8 Time to say Good Bye 

Maybe you want to visit Lars Lerin's Sandgrund outdoor exhibition or the Museum of Värmland before you head home. You will be full of wonderful experiences, new knowledge, and Swedish friends. The deepest impressions are probably from meeting people along the way. You will be fit as a fiddle!

Height Charts

Karlstad-Kristinehamn
Kristinehamn-Sjötorp
Sjötorp-Lidköping
Lidköping-Vänersborg
Vänersborg - Håverud
Håverud - Säffle (hilly day)
Säffle - Karlstad (some more hills)
Enjoy!
Enjoy!
A lock keeper at Göta Kanal in Sjötorp.
A lock keeper at Göta Kanal in Sjötorp.

Lake Vänern

During more than 10 000 years, Lake Vänern has been shaped and filled with life. With its strategic location, it has been a hub for transport. Its wild nature and lovely people will welcome you with open arms.

In the heart of Scandinavia, between Sweden's and Norway's capitals, you find Sweden's largest lake - and Europe's third largest after Ladoga and Onega. The water is very clean, you can drink it straight from the lake. It is indeed a place where memories are created.

Three provinces and 13 municipalities coexist around the inland sea. Here you find Europe's largest freshwater archipelago with just over 22,000 islands and islets . The lake is a swimming paradise with fine sandy beaches and shallow bays. No less than 38 species of fish live in the Lake Vänern.

A beautiful, trustworthy piece of Hope
The name Vänern is considered to originate from the Old Swedish vænir, with connections the words from 'hope' and friendly 'trustworthy', 'beautiful'. Simply a beautiful and trustworthy piece of Hope. As usual, there is more than one interpretation. The name may be several thousand years old and linked to unknown words today.

Dalbo Lake and Värmland Lake
The average depth is 90 feet/27 meters and at its deepest point it is 318 feet/106 meters to the bottom. Lake Vänern is divided by an archipelago between Kållandsö in the south and Värmlandsnäs in the north in a western and an eastern part. The western part is called Dalbo Lake, and the eastern part Värmland Lake.

Lake Vänern is part of the waterway Göta älv - Vänern - Göta Canal - Baltic Sea and is connected to the North Sea and Skagerack near Gothenburg through Göta älv and with Sweden's second biggest Lake Vättern at Karlsborg via Göta Canal.

The rivers of Klarälven, Gullspångsälven, Upperudsälven, Byälven, Norsälven, Lidan and Tidan all flow into Lake Vänern, while there is only one outlet via Göta Älv to the sea on Sweden's west coast.

FAQ

What physical level is required?
Expect long wonderful days, 6-7 hours of cycling per day. Karlstad-Mellerud is flat, Mellerud-Karlstad more hilly. You get a great variety in cycling, no days are the same.

Can I go alone on a group trip? Absolutely, you get to know new people who share your interests. You can share a room with another solo traveller or book a single room.

I want to go with a friend, but we are on different levels.
No problem, if you don't feel fit enough, choose en e-bike.

What do I need to bring? Bicycle if you don't rent one, helmet and bicycle bags. One month prior your tour, you will receive an equipment list. Your luggage fits in two light bicycle bags on the rear rack and we will teach you how to pack smart.

Is my luggage transported by car? No, we tested the entire route with two light bicycle bags and find luggage transport unnecessary (and less sustainable). We promise to teach you to pack smart.

How do I book my trip to Lake Vänern? Once you have booked the tour and paid the registration fee, we will send you a pdf with detailed information on how to book your trip and train tickets. 

And the Bicycle?
Bring your own or rent from our partner in Karlstad. Hybrides cost 20 €/day, E-bikes 50 €/day. Once you have paid the registration fee, you will receive information on how to book rental bicycles. They have plenty of good hybrides, 7-24 gears, but limited number of e-bikes.

Dates 2021

8 days/7 nights
Selfguided tours: May-September.
Guided groups: July 24-31, August 7-14. 

Price per person

895 Euro on Selfguided tours. 
995 Euro on Guided group tours. 

When you have sent the filled-in booking form, we will send you a confirmation of the booking and an invoice of the booking fee which is 400 Euro. The final payment (the price of the tour minus already paid booking fee) is due two months prior the tour and we will send you an invoice well in time by e-mail.

Booking

When you have sent the filled in booking form below, you will get a confirmation and an invoice of the booking fee which is 400 Euro. If you book the tour later than 60 days prior departure, the whole tour should be paid.

The final payment is due two months prior each tour (the price of the tour minus the already paid booking fee). We will send the invoice for the final payment to you by e-mail well in time.

General Conditions
Information about how we handle personal data

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  • Which date would you like to start and in which city?
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  • On selfguided tours, you can add two nights between Kristinehamn and Lidköping to make each day shorter to cycle. This means an additional 150 Euro for two extra nights.
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