Lake Vattern Attractions
Lake Vättern, Sweden's second largest lake (area 1,912sq.km/738sq.mi; 130km/80mi long, greatest width 30km/19mi) extends through the four provinces of Västergötland, Östergötland, Närke and Småland. Its water is so clear that the bottom can be seen at depths of up to 10m/33ft, and at these depths the surface appears green as a result of the reflection of light from the sandy bottom. The clarity of the water is due to the fact that the lake is fed partly by springs and partly by water from mountain streams, purified by passing over gravel.The lake has an average depth of 40m/130ft, but reaches as much as 128m/420ft at the deepest spots round Visingsö. This great mass of water stores so much heat that the lake does not freeze until late in the year - rarely before New Year, and in many years not at all. On the other hand it is slow to warm up in summer. The colder water on the bottom supports a large fish population, including the Vättern salmon, a species of trout.
27km/17mi north of Gränna, at Ödeshög in Östergötland, Road 50 goes off on the left, running at some distance from the shores of the lake, and comes in 8km/5mi to Alvastra, with the ruins of a Cistercian abbey (founded 1143), at the foot of the Omberg (Hjässan, 263m/863ft; viewing platform), a range of hills 10km/6mi long which is wooded on the east side and falls steeply down to Lake Vättern on the west.
6km/4mi from Alvastra, off the road to the right, is Väversunda, which has a 12th century Romanesque church with a triumphal cross (replica: the original is in the National Museum in Stockholm). To the east lies Lake Tåkern, the haunt of large numbers of birds, which features in Selma Lagerlöf's "Wonderful Adventures of Nils" and in Bengt Berg's animal stories.
16km/10mi north of Vadstena lies Motala (pop. 41,000), located on the waterfront and offering beautiful scenery. The town was the meeting place of the local ting (assembly) as early as the 14th century. The church dates from that period. Motala became a place of some consequence, however, only after the construction of the Göta Canal. The engineer responsible for the canal, Count Baltzar von Platen, also planned the layout of the district around the Motalavik. There is a statue of Platen in the Stortorg (Market Square), and his mausoleum stands on the banks of the canal. Other features of interest in the town are the nine-arched Storbro and Borenhuits Slusstrappa, a "staircase" of five locks leading into Lake Boren.
From Motala, Road 50 runs north to Medevi, Sweden's oldest spa.
The Tjej-Vättern cycle race for women is in June.
Lake Vättern Cycle Race
Cycle race round Lake Vättern is held in June.
Askersund (pop. 12,000) is the most northerly of the towns on Lake Vättern. There are about 50 islands accessible by boat as well as a nature reserve and large forest. Around the market square are a number of old wooden houses and a beautiful little Baroque building. In the Municipal Park is an interesting local museum.
Tiveden National Park
Road 49, running along the west side of Lake Vättern, is one of the most beautiful roads in Sweden. Tiveden National Park (28km/17mi) is a hilly and well wooded area with a number of lakes (good walking).
Askersund Jazz Festival is held in June.
At Karlsborg (pop. 4,000) the Göta Canal runs into Lake Vättern. Karlsborg Fort, built in the 19th century, is still of military importance. In the event of war, the fortress would have served as the reserve capital of Sweden. Within the ring of walls and moats are a number of separate buildings; the Museum and the park are open to the public.
From Road 195, which leads south from Mölltorp, there are fine views of the long island of Visingsö, the town of Jönköping at the south end of Lake Vättern and the attractively situated suburb of Bankeryd.