Karlskrona has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. Spread across 33 main islands and countless smaller ones, it is my favorite part of Sweden. When you visit Karlskrona, as you must do, here are some tips.
- 1. Kayak Through the Karlskrona Waterways
- 2. Eat Dinner at Skeppsgossen
- 3. Sleep at the Opulent Hotel Conrad
- 4. Explore the Old Town of Kristianopel
- 5. Eat a Kroppkakor at Kafé Måsen
- 6. Bike Around the Harbors
- 7. Take a RIB Cruise to an Uninhabited Island
- 8. Enjoy a Fika in a Lighthouse
- 9. Snorkel With the Seals
- 10. Visit the Marinmuseum
- Visiting Karlskrona
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- Further Reading
1. Kayak Through the Karlskrona Waterways
Karlskrona Kayak operates kayak tours in Karlskrona. There are portions of the waterways controlled by the military, as Karlskrona is currently the only naval base in Sweden, so you can can’t access them. However, there are kilometers of other protected waters which take days to explore. Karlskrona Kayak is the only one with a key to the gunpowder house of Ljungskär, and they would be happy to give you a tour of it. They also offer lunch tours!
Be sure to spend at least two hours on the waters to see as much of Karlskrona as you can, and also to build up your appetite for what comes next.
2. Eat Dinner at Skeppsgossen
If you visit Karlskrona in the summer of 2016, you’ll be able to visit the Skeppsgossen Pop-Up beneath the old Karlskrona water tower. Joakim Bengtsson’s main restaurant is next to the Marina Museum, and he owns the ice cream truck down at the harbor too.
Joakim is a bit of a renegade when it comes to the quality of his restaurants. He didn’t like the lemon sorbet he was being provided, so he went down to Italy to create his own. It turned out his new formula was so good, it was awarded as best in Sweden! He then did the same with his coffee, beer and other products.
You can read about my incredible meal at Skeppsgossen here.
3. Sleep at the Opulent Hotel Conrad
This family-run, 4-star hotel dates back to the 1700s and is the epitome of a charming B&B-style hotel. There are 113 rooms and apartments available, plus plenty of facilities including a gym and sauna. The beds are wonderful, the bathrooms are huge (mine had a giant bathtub for two people) and all the amenities are provided.
Where Hotel Conrad really shines is the breakfast. It’s nearly endless. Yet again, Sweden shows how it is truly amazing when it comes to its culinary skills.
4. Explore the Old Town of Kristianopel
Within the municipality of Karlskrona is Kristianopel. This town has a fascinating history, including at one time being completely razed to the ground. Check out the old, stucco-walled church and peaceful dwellings, and visit the rebuilt fortifications. See if you can imagine the town being on an island, instead of its current peninsula.
To get there, take the 500 bus from Karlskrona to Fågelmara, and then either taxi, hitchhike or walk (depending on your budget and time) the last 5 km to the coast.
5. Eat a Kroppkakor at Kafé Måsen
If you want to eat something truly Swedish, unlike meatballs or herring, try the Swedish potato dumplings. Kroppkakor is balls of potatoes filled with minced meat and onions, and are commonly served with butter, cream and lingonberries. It might be an acquired taste, but personally I found them delicious. So much so that I had three! Kafé Måsen is in the town of Torhamm, 25 km south of Kristianopel.
6. Bike Around the Harbors
Karlskrona is a very bike-friendly city. There are also trails along all the islands you can follow to see some amazing scenery. Ride along the docks and harbors, check out the old and new fortifications, and perhaps stop to have a picnic.
You can rent a bike from any of the companies listed here, or you can rent from Hotel Conrad.
7. Take a RIB Cruise to an Uninhabited Island
Unquestionably, the most unforgettable excursion you could do in Karlskrona is a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) cruise with Saltstänk Boat Tours. They have several different excursions available, and will tailor one just for you. In my case, it was to the tiny, uninhabited island of Utklippan, 25m south of Karlskrona. Saltstänk might organize a barbecue for you on the island, set up the wood-burning sauna or even allow you to…
8. Enjoy a Fika in a Lighthouse
I don’t honestly know if this is available for everyone, but when I visited Utklippan, Patric from Saltstänk set out a full fika for us in the lighthouse. If you don’t know what a fika is, you could translate it to “coffee time.” It’s an integral part of Swedish culture several times a day, usually accompanied by pastries or sandwiches. In our case, it was coffee, tea, cappuccino and cookies, all with a truly breathtaking view!
9. Snorkel With the Seals
Just a few meters south of Utklippan are a series of small islands (literally about 2-4 meters wide) which are covered in seals. Saltstänk, as part of their tour, will suit you up in snorkeling equipment and a wetsuit, and take you out in the RIB to see the seals. They’re curious and will come check you out, but not too close. However, if you lie completely still and just look down in the water near where they are, they’ll come pretty close up beneath you. Sneaky critters, but oh so beautiful and fun to watch! It was certainly the highlight of my trip to Sweden!
10. Visit the Marinmuseum
I didn’t actually do this personally, but it requires mention as a key attraction in Karlskrona. Aside from an extensive collection which has built up for over a quarter of a millennium, there is also a full submarine on display since 2014. As I mentioned earlier, Karlskrona is the only naval base in Sweden, and the museum covers everything you need to know about that. Entry is free.
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, such as Hotel Conrad, be sure to search Agoda and find the best deals. Or if you’d prefer to to have your own house or room, you can also check out AirB&B and get a €20 credit on your first booking!
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For any additional information on Karlskrona, visit their website here.
- Stockholm is One Step from Perfect
- A Complete Guide to Visiting Landsort, Sweden
- Swedish Food is So Much More Than Meatballs!
- I Had the Best Meal of My Life at Skeppsgossen
- A Saltstänk Excursion from Karlskrona: Snorkeling, Seals, Barbecues and a Lighthouse Fika
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
- 5 Steps to Book Cheap Flights
- Hostels: To Book or Not to Book
- Is Workaway Worth it for the Traveler?
- Click here to claim your $25 credit with AirB&B
If you need any additional help with your journey, feel free to contact me. I’m here to help you!