Vättern: at the shores of Sweden’s second largest lake

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As the second largest lake in the country, Vättern is a popular excursion and holiday destination. Along its shores you will not only find idyllic Swedish nature and beautiful beaches, but also historic towns with a variety of cultural sites and museums. Here you will find everything you need to know about a trip to the centre of southern Sweden.

Sweden's second largest lake

After Lake Vänern, Lake Vättern is the second largest lake in Sweden. It is also located in the south of the country and borders four historic provinces. Many municipalities around Lake Vättern draw their drinking water from the lake.

Size1,885.98 km²
Scope550 km
Water volume73.483 km³
Average depth39,5 m
Maximum depth120 m

Why go on holiday to Vättern?

Sweden’s second-largest lake offers clear water and cosy villages for an exciting holiday. Here you can go hiking in the lush Swedish countryside, enjoy the warm water on quiet beaches or explore one of the towns worth seeing on the shore. If you prefer an active holiday in particular you will get your money’s worth here, but those interested in Swedish history and culture will also find what they are looking for at Vättern – for example in the historic town of Vadstena or on the island of Visningsö, which is steeped in history.

Vättern: Holidays
Vättern is the perfect place for a holiday with idyllic Swedish backdrop.

A collection of bathroom furniture from the Swedish furniture chain IKEA is named after the lake.

Where is Vättern located in Sweden?

Vättern is centrally located in the south of Sweden and forms the centre between the historic provinces of Närke, Östergötland, Småland and Västergötland. Its “big brother” Vänern lies around 50 kilometres to the north-west. Both lakes are connected by the Göta Canal. The largest towns on Vättern are, clockwise, Askersund, Motala, Jönköping and Karlsborg.

The next largest city is Gothenburg, which is around two hours’ drive from Jönköping on the southern shore of Vättern. If you are planning a road trip through Sweden, a stopover in Norrköping or Örebro is a good idea when travelling on towards Stockholm or the north.

Vättern: weather and water temperature

Due to Vättern’s more southerly location, the climate is comparatively mild for Sweden – but the shore breeze should not be underestimated. During the summer the average temperature is around 20° Celsius, so the best time for a holiday on Vättern is between May and September, with the warmest months being July and August. By Swedish standards, there tends to be less rain on and around Vättern (but you should still take a rain jacket with you, just in case).

The warmest water temperatures on Vättern are also found in the summer months. Due to many hours of sunshine in the Swedish summer, the lake warms up very quickly so that you can spend relaxing days on the beach without freezing until September. Vättern is at its warmest in July and August, when the water temperature can reach 23° Celsius.

Cities and sights at Vättern


Jönköping is the largest city near the Vättern and is located at the southern tip of the lake. The former trading and residential town is also the largest town in the province of Småland and is excellently connected to the rest of Sweden. The city park, which is more than a 100 years old, is home to the city’s largest playground and a small petting zoo, and therefore particularly worth a visit. Further, the park offers a fantastic view over the Vättern.

Jönköping is also known as the “city of museums” – among other things, there is probably the only matchstick museum in the world, a radio museum and a factory museum of the well-known Husqvarna brand.

Vättern: Jönköping
Jönköping is located on the southernmost shore of Vättern.


The town of Motala is located on the eastern shore of Lake Vättern in the province of Östergötland. This is where the Motala stream – a section of the Göta Canal – flows from Vättern towards the Baltic Sea. The former industrial town is considered the capital of the Göta Canal and especially the harbour area is a popular and lively venue for young and old.

Further, Motala is home to the Varamo baths, a five-kilometre-long sandy beach that is also Northern Europe’s longest inland beach and is perfect for relaxing days by the lake. In addition, Motala marks the starting point of the Vätternrundan – the world’s largest amateur cycling tour, which takes place every year in mid-June.


Vättern: Vadstena
Vadstena Castle dates back to the 16th century.

The historic town of Vadstena is also located on the eastern shore of Vättern. It grew out of a Birgittine monastery and developed into an important political venue – Vadstena Castle was built in the 16th century.

The castle was commissioned by Gustav Wasa and served as a royal residence after its completion. Even today, the excellently preserved Wasa Castle attracts numerous visitors and tourists to the banks of Vättern.

However, it is not only the historic castle that is worth a visit, but also the remains of the monastery, including the monastery church. The medieval town centre with its pedestrian zone is a wonderful place to stroll and enjoy the historical flair.


The island of Visingsö is the largest island located in the midst of Vättern and is primarily known as a place steeped in history. You can reach it best by ferry from the village of Gränna on the south-eastern shore, part of Jönköping’s commune. Visingsö is home to several prehistoric sites, rune stones and two castle ruins – the island was Sweden’s first royal seat in the 12th and 13th centuries due to it’s well-defended location.

Activities on and around Vättern

Bathing places at Vättern

Due to its size, Vättern offers numerous fantastic bathing spots. These vary from small and hidden bays to long sandy beaches. One of the best known and most popular bathing spots is the beach at the aforementioned Varamo baths in Motala. Another highlight is the Vättern beach in Jönköping, which attracts visitors with its many sunbathing areas and leisure facilities. Due to clear water and the considerable depth, the lake can be considered a paradise for divers.

Vättern: Bathing spots
There are countless picturesque bathing spots at Vättern.

Out and about in the nature of Vättern: hiking, fishing and more

Away from the water, the shoreline areas of Vättern are an invitation to enjoy a wide range of activities. There are many hiking trails along the shore through nature reserves and riverside towns. Cyclists can expect excellent conditions for cycling tours around Vättern – even off the beaten track. Those looking for other sportive challenges can take part in the “Vättern Challenge” triathlon.

Just like Lake Vänern, fishing in Vättern is free of charge and possible without a fishing licence. Nevertheless, you should inform yourself beforehand or book a fishing guide. Fishing from the shore is difficult, so it is better to take a boat out. However, there are plenty of fish to be found in Vättern – around 30 different species, such as pike, perch and zander.

Boat trips on Vättern

The lakes clear water is not only perfect for swimming, but also ideal for boat trips. There are numerous harbours on the shores from where you can go on excursions on the water – whether round trips or tours to the islands.

If you prefer to be active yourself, you can hire a canoe or kayak. There are countless boat rental companies that allow you to explore the water. However, you should be aware of the wind and high waves, so paddling can be difficult sometimes. Due to the wind, the Vättern is very popular with sailors.

Vättern: Boat trips
Boat trips are one of the most popular leisure activities on Vättern.

Accommodation at Vättern

Camping by Vättern

Camping in Sweden is just as popular as holidays in a holiday home. Accordingly, there are several campsites at the Vättern that welcome visitors, especially in Jonköping and its neighbouring towns. Camping is very popular in Scandinavia, since it is close to nature – almost all the campsites on Vättern are located directly on the shore – and simple, but also inexpensive. However, nowadays many campsites offer a wide range of accommodation and services, such as breakfast, water sports or a sauna.

If you want a completely independent holiday, you can try wild camping. The Swedish Everyman’s Right allows you to spend several days (one or two in the same place) in a tent in the great outdoors and pick berries and mushrooms for your own use. Especially in summer this is a particularly good idea due to the friendly surroundings of Vättern.

Holiday cottages at Vättern

There are lots of holiday homes on the shores of Lake Vättern, as those are very popular in Sweden. Especially on large lakes like Lake Vättern, holiday homes are often directly located at the water and have a garden, regardless of whether they are located in one of the larger towns or in a neighbouring village.

In addition to the proximity to the water and the independence, holiday homes offer plenty of space, as well as their own cooking facilities, making them the ideal accommodation for families and other larger groups. Pets are often welcome, but you should still check it individually before travelling.

Travelling to Vättern

Travelling by car and ferry

Due to its southern location, it is quite easy and uncomplicated to reach Vättern by car or motorhome from Germany. You can either take the overland route via Denmark and the bridges, or you can take a ferry – either from Germany or Denmark. Choosing a suitable ferry connection depends on how much time you want to spend in the car and how much on the ferry.

Once you are in Sweden, the Vättern is easy to reach. From Malmö it is best to take European road 6 and 4, from Gothenburg via Riksväg 40. Therefore, Vättern is ideal for everyone planning a short tour or a short road trip, since you can experience around 300 kilometres with a round trip.

Travelling to Vättern
If you want to see picturesque places at Vättern, you can easily travel there by car.

Travelling by plane

If you want to travel quickly and comfortably by plane, you should head for Gothenburg. The airport is the second largest in Sweden and therefore well connected to the rest of Europe. From there, you can continue your journey to Vättern by public transport or organise a rental car.

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