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The houseboat at Naturbyn
The houseboat at Naturbyn is situated in the quiet lake Eldan in Värmland.
Photo credit: Martin Edström/

Värmland – a lake-rich haven of natural beauty

Whether you’re seeking nature-based tranquillity or outdoor adventures, you’ll find it in the vast region of Värmland.

Värmland is a natural wonderland stretching across central-west Sweden, spanning rolling hills and deep forest, and boasting some 10,000 lakes. You’ll also find Sweden’s longest river, Klarälven river snaking through this idyllic province before it flows into one of Europe’s biggest lakes, Vänern. The varied landscape and abundance of water is ideal for outdoor activities including kayaking, swimming, fishing, cycling, hiking and skiing.

There are also plenty of cultural experiences to enjoy. Located on the shores of Vänern, Karlstad could be described as the capital of Värmland, while Arvika, Kristinehamn and Sunne – each with its own character – are also worth exploring. The province is also celebrated for its unique manor houses. Dömle Herrgård Spa & Resort, dating back to 1446, and Hennickehammars Herrgård are two of the notable mansions providing a slice of historic grandeur in the midst of Värmland’s magnificent nature.

Waterside adventures

If you were to pick one activity, then timber-rafting along the Klarälven river is a must. Follow in the wake of the Värmland’s historic log drivers, who ensured the smooth passage of timber and pulpwood to sawmills or pulp factories. With eco-tourism company Vildmark i Värmland, you can build your own raft and set off down the river. There are various packages to choose between, from one day to a week and beyond.

Värmland’s many rivers and lakes lend themselves well to canoeing, too. Arvika Canoe and Tourist Centre organises a range of idyllic tours. Most are designed for independent excursions but guided trips can be arranged on request. Värmlandsgården, another canoe trip organiser, also arranges other types of outdoor adventures including fishing trips around the beautiful Upplunden lake. The fish you’re most likely to catch in these pristine waters are pike and perch.

Whichever water-based adventure you opt for, it’s bound to be an unforgettable experience involving unspoilt nature and local wildlife. Look out for beaver and moose while exploring the forests of Värmland and if you’re very lucky, you may come across the rare white moose that has only ever been sighted in this region.

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Raft adventure on Klarälven, Värmland

Travel on a timber raft on Klarälven in Värmland, and set up camp on the river banks.

Photo: John van Halvert

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Raft adventure on Klarälven, Värmland

Photo: John van Halvert

Canoeing on river Klarälven in Värmland

Photo: Deluxturer - Waara World Wide

White moose

Photo: Anders Tedeholm/

Explore Värmland on foot, skis and two wheels

Hikers and bikers will find numerous cycle routes and hiking trails across Värmland – the scenic ones running along the Klarälven river are particularly worthwhile. Both the Klarälvsbanan and Klarälvsleden cycle route will take you across varied terrain from Hammarö, by lake Vänern in the south, all the way north via Karlstad.

Seek out Långbergets Sporthotell – enjoying a lofty mountaintop position 630 metres above sea level – for the chance to cycle along the Egga pebble ridge. This fascinating 30 km trail was formed during the ice age and goes all the way to Tåsjön in Dalagränsen, the border area of neighbouring province Dalarna.

Värmland is mesmerising all year round and offers excellent snow sports activities. Långberget ski resort is well-known for its cross-country skiing and has trails for experienced and novice skiers alike, and there’s also a button-lift equipped slalom slope. At Torsby Skidtunnel & Sportcenter, in the northern part of Värmland, you’ll find Sweden’s first ski tunnel, a high-tech facility allowing you to ski even in summer as the temperature inside is kept suitably low all year round. If you prefer alpine skiing, Branäs has been voted Best ski resort for families no less than 13 times in the past years.

An array of winter activities for all ages are served up by outdoor experience specialist Going North. Take your pick from cross country skiing excursions, snowshoe walking, sledge riding and ice fishing on Gräsmången lake – located just in front of the cosy Fyrbo guest house.

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Most of Sweden’s open space remains essentially untouched, and the Right of Public Access means that people are free to roam the forests, camping, fishing or picking berries and mushrooms. Spending time in nature is an essential part of the Swedish lifestyle.

Photo: Clive Tompsett/

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Photo: Clive Tompsett/

Mountain Tossebergsklätten in Sunne

Photo: Jenny Nohrén

Hiking i Glaskogen nature reserve, Värmland

Photo: Per Eriksson

Mountain biking in Värmland

Photo: Lars Sjöqvist

Värmland’s must-visit cultural spots

Mårbacka, the former home of author Selma Lagerlöf, is one of Värmland’s key cultural attractions. Lagerlöf lived in this idyllic part of Sunne most of her life and the house – and its fruit tree-filled garden – has been left mostly intact with the writer’s personal décor and belongings. Alsters Herrgård, just outside Karlstad, is another memorial estate, namely that of much-loved Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding. His 18th century manor house, in which he was born in 1860, perches idyllically by Lake Vänern and is open to the public from May to September.

While in Karlstad, set aside time for Värmlands Museum, where the history of the region reveals itself via various exhibits. You’ll also be able to catch temporary exhibitions with focus on international artists and photographers. A short walk from the museum is another highlight, the Sandgrund Lars Lerin Museum. This vast space houses a permanent showcase of renowned Swedish water colour artist Lars Lerin’s work, alongside temporary exhibitions featuring guest artists.

Don’t miss the opportunity to stock up on some locally woven linen – favoured by royalty and used at the Nobel Banquet, no less. Klässbol’s historic weaving mill – located just outside Arvika – has an on-site factory shop filled with quality items for your home.

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Mårbacka memorial estate in Värmland

Mårbacka in Värmland was the home of the Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf.

Photo: Jenny Nohrén

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Mårbacka memorial estate in Värmland

Photo: Jenny Nohrén

Selma Lagerlöfs estate Mårbacka, Värmland

Photo: KM IDÉ, Östra Ämtervik

Mårbacka café in Värmland

Photo: Mårbacka Café

Alsters Herrgård, Värmland

Photo: Per Eriksson

Aerial view over Karlstad in Värmland

Photo: Karlstads kommun/City of Karlstad

Klässbols linen weaving mill, Värmland

Photo: Klässbols linneväveri

Top restaurants and fine local produce

Värmland has another string to its bow – the culinary kind. Matbruket is a must for foodies. Located within Karlstad’s Värmlands Museum, the kitchen is headed by top chef Niklas Pettersson, who favours seasonal, high-quality ingredients often sourced locally. Try Swedish classics such as spinach soup with poached egg and “raggmunk” – a potato pancake served with fried pork and lingonberries. Almars Krog is another much-loved Karlstad restaurant where the ever-evolving menu is based on seasonal ingredients and revolves around serving classic Swedish dishes – think meatballs, black pudding and hot dogs – in totally new ways that guests could never imagine.