Ever heard of Kalmar? A town of roughly 37.000 inhabitants nestling on the Swedish East coast. A must-visit if you’re fond of culture, history – and good food. This could be the ideal winter holiday destination.
Medieval charm by the coast
Located approximately 3,5 hours by car from Copenhagen and 4,5 hours from Stockholm, Kalmar enjoys a calm and picturesque location on the Swedish East coast, but it wasn’t always so. Shrouded in a rather dramatic history, the city was of vital importance to both Swedes and Danish fighting over land some 400 years ago. It was on the castle of Kalmar, which still stands tall today, that the Kalmar Union was gathered in 1397 (if you don’t know what that is, click here), and a lot of blood has been shed on the grounds surrounding the Medieval town. But let’s take a look at the present city of Kalmar. Compared to the relatively low amount of inhabitants, there are more shops and restaurants here than in any other Swedish city – a stroll through the quite small yet very charming city center is mandatory.
We arrived in Kalmar at dusk, where the cobbled streets, timber framed houses and lights came into their own. What a pretty sight. And of course we checked in to the historical Calmar Stadshotell, which is located on the main square of the city. The history of the hotel goes back around 300 years, but it’s hard to tell when entering the lobby area, which has been refurnished from one end to the other. Guests are offered free coffee, tea and cookies all throughout the day, and there’s a lovely rooftop view from the top floor. Still, the highlight of the stay was the hearty breakfast buffet, which didn’t miss a single item! Swedes do it best when it comes to breakfast buffets, and this one was no exception.
The presence of history
When visiting Kalmar, it’s quite obvious that you have to drop by the old castle, which is still the focal point for tourists and proud locals. Dating back to the 12th Century, it’s the best maintained Renaissance castle in all of Europe. It had its Golden Days in the 16th Century, where it served as a strong bastion for the Swedish people. At that time, The Danish border was only a few miles away (Denmark owned a big part of Sweden, but lost it all in 1658), so the castle of Kalmar had to be significant, both in looks and materials. One still feels the strong presence of history when crossing the moat – a guided tour of the castle is definitely recommended!
When it’s time to relax during the afternoon, go to one of Kalmar’s cosy coffee shops or tea rooms. One of the oldest ones is called Holmgrens, and here you can easily satisfy your craving for a traditional Swedish fika (coffee and cake).
Afterwards, head for dinner at Källaren Kronan, which might be one of the best restaurants in the city. The menu offers traditional yet refined Swedish food made from local ingredients and the atmosphere is laid-back. Still, it’s impossible not to be captivated by the historical settings: Källaren Kronan is located inside an old cellar from the Middle Ages.
Having a car is preferred when visiting Kalmar, but there are also well-connected trains running from both Stockholm and Copenhagen. This Swedish gem by the coast is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway, for example during the coming winter holidays. For more information, see www.kalmar.com