Kalmar: historic city by the sea

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Tranquillity between history, art and culture: Småland’s third largest city, Kalmar, is located directly by the sea and offers urban flair without being hectic. Discover the historic architecture of the old town and enjoy the sea and beach on a trip to the island of Öland.

Map: where in Sweden is Kalmar ?

The city of Kalmar is located in the Småland region at the Kalmarsund, a strait in the Baltic Sea between the Swedish mainland and the island of Öland. The Öland Bridge connects Kalmar and Öland. Politically, the city is the administrative centre of Kalmar län.

Sights and activities

Kalmar Castle

Kalmar castle
Kalmar Castle

A piece of Swedish history was written in Kalmar: to be more precise, the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway and Denmark were united in Kalmar Castle in 1397 with the signing of the Kalmar Union. At that time it was still a defensive structure, but in the 16th century under the Vasa kings it became a Renaissance palace. Today it is the best-preserved Renaissance palace in Northern Europe.

With its location on a small peninsula at the Baltic Sea coast, the castle is a popular excursion destination and photo motif. A moat separates it from the mainland. Visit the castle and immerse yourself in Sweden’s medieval history. Guided tours in English are offered in summer. Further, there is a permanent exhibition about the 800-year history of the castle.

Historic town centre and Kalmar Cathedral

Kalmar baroque cathedral
The baroque cathedral of Kalmar

The city was founded in the Middle Ages and belonged to Denmark for a long time. The former medieval centre is now Kalmar’s old town (“Gamla Stan”) and consists of cosy wooden houses and buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The city centre has been located on the island of Kvarnholmen since a devastating fire in the 17th century. There is plenty to discover here architecturally: the old city wall is still largely intact and surrounds historic buildings. The centrepiece is Kalmar Cathedral from 1660, which is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Sweden. The weekly market takes place on the cathedral square. Kalmar also has an art museum and a provincial museum.

Kalmar beach

Not far from the city centre, sprawled around the cathedral, is Kalmar Sund beach. If you are in Kalmar in summer (Kalmar is one of the most popular Swedish cities in summer), visit Kalmarsundsbadet with a view of Kalmarsund and Kalmar Castle. In the bay, you can jump into the cool waters of the Baltic Sea from a long jetty.

Öland Bridge
The Öland Bridge takes you to the island of Öland in just a few minutes.

Kayaking, hiking, cycling tours

In addition to sightseeing, hiking and cycling tours are among the most popular activities in Kalmar, for example on the approximately 200 kilometre-long Kalmarsundsleden. There are excellent cycle paths around Kalmar. On a canoe or kayak tour on the city’s canals, you can discover everything from the water.

Trip to Öland

Öland idyll
Natural idyll on Öland

It takes only a few minutes by car from Kalmar via Ölandsbrön and you are on the idyllic island – perfect for a day trip or a few overnight stays. Incidentally, Öland is a historical province of its own, making it the smallest in the whole of Sweden.

However, that doesn’t make it any less popular: even the Swedish royal family spend their holiday on the elongated island every summer, as many beaches and hours of sunshine await here. Nature lovers will get their money’s worth on Öland, since over a third of the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is also an art museum, castle ruins and the summer residence of the royal family, Solliden Castle.

Travelling to Kalmar

You can fly to Kalmar from Stockholm Arlanda. Alternatively, you can fly to Copenhagen and take the Öresund train from there, which will take you to Kalmar Airport in 3.5 hours.

However, travelling by car is less complicated. From the ferry terminal in Ystad in Sweden or from the ferry terminal in Trelleborg, it is around 3.5 hours to Kalmar.


Campsites in Kalmar

The First Camp Stensö – Kalmar campsite is located right by the water on the beautiful Stensö peninsula in Kalmarsund. From here you have direct access to beaches and various hiking trails that lead to the tip of the peninsula. Kalmar city centre is only about 2.5 kilometres away.

Hotels in Kalmar

If you are travelling through Kalmar or prefer something a little more comfortable, there are various hotels, B&Bs and hostels to be found in Kalmar. Recommendations include the romantic Slottshotellet near Kalmar Castle or the Calmar Stadshotell, which is located in a beautiful Art Nouveau building on Kalmar’s main square, Stortorget.

Holiday homes in Kalmar

There are numerous holiday homes throughout Kalmar län, some of which are in the immediate vicinity of the city of Kalmar. They are particularly suitable for families or larger groups. Experience the nature of the southern Swedish region of Småland from here.

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