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Why Kalmar is Sweden’s best summer city

Kalmar was once voted Sweden’s top summer destination. Here's way you should go there immediately — and bring your swimming gear.

Why Kalmar is Sweden's best summer city
Kalmar! Photo: Hedvig Sävenryd

Kalmar, the pretty city on Sweden’s south-east coast, came out on top when travel site Reseguiden counted the 37,000 votes in its annual poll. So, what makes it such a special place when the sun shines? 

The cat’s bottom 

Not only does central Kalmar boast a wonderful beach – it also has arguably the best name of any beach, anywhere. Kattrumpan (The cat’s bottom) shares its cheeky moniker with a small city district and is popular among youngsters. 

If that’s not your scene, the city is awash with amazing beaches, so much so that there are two reserved for naturists and one for dogs. Woof! 

This is Kalmarsundsbadet. Not bad, eh? Photo: Magnus Bremefors

The Öland Bridge 

Driving across the Öland bridge is awe-inspiring. And on the other side of that bridge is Öland itself, a beautiful Baltic island and one of Sweden’s most popular summer getaways. 

And when you’ve lazed away a day on one of Öland’s seemingly endless sandy beaches, you can cross back over the bridge and there, again, is Kalmar. What’s not to love? 

The six-kilometre bridge was Europe’s longest when unveiled by King Carl XVI Gustaf in 1972. On September 30th that year, 50,000 people rocked up for the opening and tailbacks stretched from the mainland to Öland. 

Photo: TT

Kalmar Castle

If you’re in town you simply can’t miss Kalmar’s most iconic landmark. Back in 1397 the Kalmar Union was signed here, bringing the Nordic nations together under a ginormous three million square kilometre umbrella.

It survived for more than 120 years, which is a good innings for an umbrella. But in 1523 it fell apart and the lands were once more covered in snow. Except during the summer, when Kalmar, then as now, was the place to be. 

The castle took on its renaissance look in the late 16th century, and it remains the most impeccably preserved castle of its kind in Sweden. 

Photo: Christian Alsing 

Iron man, sand sculptures, that kid Emil out of the Astrid Lindgren books

Top tip: Sip on a glass of whatever you’re having at the central Larmtorget square and watch the rest of the world exert itself unnecessarily. 

You can maybe, at a stretch, walk a few steps to the beach for the sand sculpture festival in July, then there’s the pleasant summer bustle of the city festival in August. 

If you like Astrid Lindgren’s books for children – and let’s face it, you do – there’s an exhibition about the Emil character at the Castle. 

Then, why not look on with awe at the raw power of the Iron Man triathlon, and hey presto, you’ve got yourself a smashing summer.  

Britain’s Leanda Cave won the women’s Iron Man event in 2014. Photo: Getty Images 

The kiss stop 

By the beach at Kalmarsundsbadet you’ll find the perfect place for a quick kiss. It’s the pusshållplats, the kiss stop, a play on the busshållplats, or bus stop. And not the kisshållplats, because that would be the pee stop. 

Anyway, it’s cute. Or nauseating, depending on your mood and inclination.

Photo: Destination Kalmar 

Feed me

That’s all well and good, but where am I going to eat? 

Well, where to start?! Kalmar knows how to feed its visitors, that’s for sure, and we could go on a bit. But we’ll settle for three sure-fire hits: Postgatan, Slottsrestaurangen and Gröna Stugan. 

If you’re not satisfied with any of those we offer a money-back guarantee. Which is not worth much because we’re a free website. (Subliminal message: Support our sponsors). But seriously, you won’t be disappointed. 

Photo: Gröna Stugan

TOURISM

Sweden launches bid to become world’s top tourism destination by 2030

Forget the pyramids, the canals of Venice or the Eiffel Tower – the Swedish government has presented a plan to make Sweden the world's most attractive tourism destination by 2030 – but it's not yet clear how.

Sweden launches bid to become world's top tourism destination by 2030
Many tourists are attracted to Sweden because of its nature. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In a press conference on Monday, Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan outlined the new strategy, which aims to make Sweden “the world’s most sustainable and attractive tourism destination built on innovation” by 2030.

Baylan referred to Sweden as a country which “is usually ranked as one of the world’s most innovative countries”, which he argued can “create value for the tourism industry”.

According to Baylan, the strategy builds on “sustainability’s three dimensions – it has to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable”. The strategy will also “tie into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030”, he said.

Topics covered by the new tourism strategy include the climate impact of tourism, equality and inclusion in the tourism industry and the importance of preserving shared resources such as national parks and sustainable nature tourism such as fishing and hunting.

The press release highlights the importance of natural tourism, explaining that the pandemic has led to people visiting natural and cultural environments “to a greater extent than before”, increasing wear and tear to natural areas.

DISCOVER SWEDEN: The Local’s guide to Sweden’s top destinations and hidden gems

Tourism is an important industry for Sweden, providing employment in both urban and rural areas, as well as generating wealth – before the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry represented on average 2.7 percent of Sweden’s GDP per year. The tourism industry also employs a high amount of people from foreign backgrounds – making up over a third (34 percent) of all employees in the industry.

During the pandemic, overnight stays declined in almost every Swedish municipality, with the biggest declines seen in Sweden’s larger cities and border municipalitites.

The government’s plans also include a focus on jobs and skill development, so that workers have the right qualifications for the industry – this reflects issues currently faced by the restaurant and hotel industry in finding skilled workers in the wake of the pandemic. 

There are currently no details as to how the government will achieve this strategy, or indeed how it will measure success. But Sweden is aiming high if it wants to be the world’s most attractive tourist destination by 2030. In 2019, it was ranked the 54th top tourist destination in the world by the UN World Tourism Organisation.

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