Mariestad is one of my favourite small towns in Sweden. I may be a little biased as we lived there for four months over the late summer and early autumn a few years ago – but I think Mariestad is one of the best summer towns to visit in West Sweden! Let me tell you why!
How to get to Mariestad
You can reach Mariestad by car, bus, train and boat! If you are travelling by car, Mariestad is located just off the E20. It is only a few hours from Gothenburg and around 3.5 hours from Stockholm. There is a train station in Mariestad, however, not all trains pass through. If you are arriving from Gothenburg or Stockholm you may have to change in Skövde and from there catch a train or a bus to Mariestad. It is best to check the Västtraffik website or MTRX to find your best route. One of the most common ways to travel to Mariestad in the summer is by boat. Here there is a big guest harbour that houses many guests that sail from other cities of along the Vänern each year.
The best things to do in Mariestad, Sweden
The Old City (Gamla Stan)
Gamla Stan in Mariestad is by far the prettiest part to walk through. Here the streets are all lined with timber frame houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. It is not hard to miss that you are in the old town as this is the most colourful part of the city. As you stroll through, make sure to look out for the unique mirrors by the windows and historic displays in some of the buildings.
Mariestad Cathedral is by far the most intriguing this in Gamla Stan and something you definitely need to see when you visit Mariestad! Built in the late 1500s, the Cathedral was once one of the largest in Sweden. Today, it looks unusual for such a big church to be in the centre of such a small town. However, when it was built it was said that Mariestad was to become one of the most important harbour cities in Sweden. Obviously that didn’t end up changing as distribution channels changed.
One of the best ways to visit Mariestad is to arrive by boat and sleep in the harbour. This is a common thing for people to do in summer as Mariestad is one of the bigger towns along the southern Vänern lake. The harbour in Mariestad is lined with great restaurants in the summer time. This includes Sill & Dynamit as well as the summer pop ups from inner city restaurants that open in Mariestads Hamnbodar. This is one of my favourite places to come for lunch on a summer day. From Mariestad harbour you can walk down the centre strip of land out to the water for the best view of the lake. In the summer this is a great place for a picnic.
Gamla Ekudden Forest
Gamla Ekudden is a beautiful coastal forest area on the western side of Mariestad. It is about a 5 minute walk from the harbour and old town and is a beautiful place for a stroll in the summer. If you keep walking through the forest and past the camping place the path continues up to Mariestad golf course. This is a beautiful forest walk but is a one way track so you will have to retrace your steps! On the way back you can stop at Sommargården Bäcken for a delicious fika and a game of mini golf!
Vadsbo Museum and the Royal Residence
The Vadsbo Museum is a museum with exhibitions on the history of Mariestad and the industrial era. The museum is only small and does not take very long to visit. It is located in the old royal residence where there is a beautiful garden to walk around.
Karlsholme Folkets Park
This is one of the best parks in Mariestad, especially in the summertime. Here there is children’s play equipment, an outdoor gym, and plenty of space for activities and picnics. In the summer you can visit Emils Mariestad or Café Holmen for lunch. Occasionally there are folk music concerns in the park too!
The best swimming spots in Mariestad
Being a summer city, there are so many great swimming spots in Mariestad! Some of my favourites are:
- The pier at First Camp Ekudden-Mariestad
- The beach by Sommargården Bäcken
- The beach at Sandvikens Badplats
- Ekuddensutomhusbad outdoor swimming pool
The best restaurants in Mariestad
There are a few restaurants I love in this city, and we have tried out the majority of them! Here are my favourites:
- Kingfisher: Kingfisher is a fusion restaurant that combines Indian and Swedish flavours to make the most incredible dishes! Monday through friday they have lunch deals where the food is a little bit cheaper and you get coffee and salad included, although the menu is a lot smaller! This is the best place to eat out in Mariestad if you want a romantic or fancier style restaurant!
- Heda Kök och Skafferi: This is the BEST lunch restaurant in Mariestad by far! Here you will get 4 options of a main meal as well as soup, salad, cake and coffee. It is the best value for money lunch with the most interesting flavours! The salad bar often includes items such as watermelon salad and spiced vegetables. It can get really busy here from 12 – 1.30 so expect to wait a little while for a table!
- Wilais Sushi, Taco, Sallad och Grill: If you are wanting delicious sushi then head here! Wilais Sushi is some of the best sushi I have had in Sweden! They have a lunch deal where one dish is a special price, but the menu is available all day!
Outside of Mariestad
To the west of Mariestad you have the nature reserve of Kinnekulle. This is one of the best places to visit in Sweden in the spring time when the flowers are blooming.
In the south of Mariestad you have the city of Skövde which is one of the bigger cities in the area. Here there are great restaurants and a lot more shops. Skövde is known for the surrounding walks through the meadows.
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