The port of Karlskrona is one of the most important in Sweden, with large car-ferries departing daily to Gdynia in Poland. The port is also included in the so-called ”Green corridor,” which aims at connecting the countries around the Baltic Sea.
These modern-day connections seem to prove that the thinking behind the relocation of the Royal Swedish Navy at the end of the 17th century was correct. It was the strategic position of the island of Trossö that convinced the ruler at the time to construct a new town here. The sailing distances to various countries around the Baltic Sea were considered favorable – an important factor for a superpower like Sweden in the 17th century. At the time, Sweden included areas in today’s Finland, Estonia, Latvia and northern Germany. The navy was key to controlling the various regions.
Named after the Swedish King Karl XI, Karlskrona received its city charter in 1680. The new town grew rapidly, reflecting the importance of the new city to the rulers. In fact, Karlskrona was once the second-largest city in Sweden (after Stockholm).
The city’s architecture also bears witness of Karlskrona’s weight. The broad streets and the vast square in the center signal significance, as do the many Baroque buildings. Karlskrona is known as Sweden’s only baroque city, and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Shipbuilding and ship maintenance has been a very important business in Karlskrona already since its foundation. Construction of new naval ships and maintenance of old vessels is still carried out at Karlskronavarvet (the Karlskrona yard). Over the last couple of decades, however, the city has branched out. IT and telecom are now important areas of business, with companies such as Ericsson and Telenor having established offices here.
And, of course, the city’s port continues to play an important role.
Founded in 1680 as Sweden’s primary naval base, Karlskrona is surrounded by islands. Ships transit a beautiful archipelago and a series of fortresses en route to the Karlskrona’s harbor. Smaller cruise ships dock in close vicinity to the city center. Larger ships have to drop anchor, with passengers enjoying a short tender to the city. Tourist information, taxis and shops are available quayside.
- Karlskrona has many advantages, but one of the best things about this city is its accessibility. Experiencing its many features is easy: the city center is situated on an island called Trossö. Walking around Trossö to experience the historical buildings is a great way to start your visit here. Highlights include the Fredrikskyrkan (the Fredrik Church), Hoglands park, and Amiralitetskyrkan (the Admiralty Church). Just outside the church, you will find “Gubben Rosenbom” – a well-known statue of an old man that serves as the poor box of the parish.
- At Marinmuseum, learn everything about the Swedish Navy since the mid-18th century. The museum is a real highlight, situated on the island of Stumholmen – once a military area but nowadays a civilian locale with residential areas. Marinmuseum is a splendid attraction for families with kids, with lots of items and exhibitions adapted for children.
- Blekinge Museum is the museum for the region of Blekinge, to which Karlskrona belongs. The museum gives a good overview of the World Heritage, the city and the archipelago.
- If you venture outside of central Karlskrona, you will have the opportunity to experience Sweden’s southernmost archipelago. There are some 90 islands and islets to choose from, each with a character of its own. The area is an Eldorado for fishing or kayaking, but the islands are worth experiencing for their quaint surroundings alone. See here for an overview of transportation by boat in and around Karlskrona.
- Situated on an island in the archipelago south of the city, Kungsholms Fort has kept watch over the entrance to Karlskrona ever since its foundation in 1680. Still a military area, Kungsholms Fort can only be reached by boat. Note that visitors will need to carry a valid id card. There are more defense works to be experienced in the archipelago, such as the defense facility on the island of Kurrholmen (established in the middle of the 19th century). For more information about guided tours, visit the Tourist Information in central Karlskrona (street address: Stortorget 2).
- Another highlight with naval roots is the Old Naval Shipyard at Lindholmen, where you will be able to learn more about the central role played by Karlskrona when it came to shipbuilding. It is one of few dockyards in the world where it is still possible to see buildings and docks specially designed for the construction of sailing warships.
- If you are visiting Karlskrona with children in tow, you might want to explore some of the more kid-friendly activities on offer. Not specifically aimed at children, Wämöparken (the Wämö Park) is still an ideal destination for families. The park features twelve older buildings from Karlskrona and the surrounding area, plus a mini-zoo. The World Heritage Mystery gives children the possibility to experience Karlskrona’s rich history in a way that is specifically adapted to them. Ten minutes from the city center you will find Barnens gård (the Childrens’ farm), a combination of a water park and a leisure park with lots of activities for children. Another alternative is Barnens lekland (the Childrens’ playland).
A number of shore excursions can be on offer in and around Karlskrona. Examples include:
- Guided tours of the city will include many of the highlights mentioned above, under Do Not Miss.
- The multifaceted archipelago can be in focus on other excursions, allowing you to explore quaint fishing villages as well as old fortifications.
- About one hour north by coach from Karlskrona, you will find a number of the glassworks that have resulted in Swedish glass becoming world-famous.
Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, is located some 305 miles/490 kilometers north of Karlskrona. It’s closer to Copenhagen: the distance to the capital of Denmark is some 160 miles/260 kilometers.
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