This part of the Vänerleden cycle route follows the existing Biosfär cycle route. Here, you will discover varied natural and cultural landscapes with beautiful views, tempting bathing beaches, deep forests, exciting sights and interesting nature reserves along the way. The route mostly runs on roads with a low level of motor traffic and sometimes on gravel tracks, but there are also a few sections that are totally free of motor traffic.
It’s a good idea to start in central Mariestad by the guest marina, where you can also obtain more information about the cycle route. Before you ride towards Lidköping, we recommend that you spend some time in Mariestad discovering all the town has to offer. Go for a stroll in the pleasant old town district, Gamla Stan, visit a museum or an art exhibition, hire a kayak and explore the coast or join a tour boat on a trip to the Vänern archipelago. You are also close to several great spots for swimming and fishing. Gamla Stan, the old town, is one of Sweden’s best preserved town centres and includes buildings from the 1700s and 1800s. The cathedral, which started to be built in the 1500s, stands tall amidst wooden buildings and cobblestone streets. Mariestad’s tourism website includes an information brochure that you can use when you explore the town yourself. In summer, you can go on guided town walks.
Detours to several bathing spots and a campsite
After cycling for about 1 km, you can take a detour to go for a swim. Ekudden’s heated outdoor pools and First Camp Ekudden with its bathing beach are popular in summer. A couple of kilometres further south, you can visit the Sandvikens Badplats bathing spot. When you continue southwards, you will first cycle through lush mixed forest, after which the landscape opens up into fertile farmland and you will see Vänern in the distance. This section of the route includes a lovely organic plant nursery, Lisas Trädgård, which is a short detour from the route and a great place for keen gardeners to visit. The nursery is located in Sjöängen, about 7 km from the town centre, and is open in spring and early summer when the sign by the road is in place.
After about 7 km on these roads, when you have nearly reached the church Björsäters Kyrka, you should turn right onto Årnäs Kinnekullevägen Road. Roughly 5.5 km later, turn right again and onto a gravel track that leads you closer to Vänern. There, you can also take a detour to Jutevikens for a swim.
The Aranäs Borgruin fort ruins are beautifully situated by the shore of Vänern with a view over the lake. Aranäs used to be one of our oldest and foremost royal residences. At the end of the 1100s, the fixed keep was constructed, consisting of a granite foundation directly on the cliff with substantial walls and finely hewn sandstone squares embellished with a beautiful plinth. The surrounding curtain wall, about 30 m in length, was added later. The fort was built in its entirety between 1150 and 1304.
Hällekis’ handicrafts, quarry and view
After about 4 km, turn off Kinnekullevägen Road and onto the road towards Klingetorp, Björstorp and later Hällekis. By the guest marina, you’ll find a nice roofed barbecue fireplace along with several tables and benches for picnics. In Hällekis, you can take the opportunity to visit one of the artisans who have open workshops in the handicrafts village Falkängen Hantverksby. If you want to stay the night, accommodation is available at the Kinnekulle Vandarhem youth hostel or Marias Logi.
Hällekis is home to several interesting places to visit if you take short detours, such as the café Utsiktens Kaffestuga or the lookout tower on Kinnekulle Hill with a fantastic view of Lake Vänern. You can take a detour to Hellekis Kök & Trädgårdscafé, which offers lunch and coffee in the garden and orangery. If you don’t take the detours and instead continue cycling for another kilometre or so, you will arrive at Kinnekulle quarry.
Stora stenbrottet on Kinnekulle is a former quarry. It is one of the area’s most popular sights and is locally nicknamed “the little Grand Canyon”. In addition to the fantastic view and environment, there is a small fishing lake in the centre of the quarry. This former limestone quarry on Kinnekulle Hill is 40 m deep. The lower layers of limestone date all the way back to 400 million years ago.
After the quarry, the cycle route meanders through the scenic landscape. Accommodation is available at Trolmens Bed & Breakfast. Just south of Trolmen, you pass Hjelmsäter farm, which has origins in the 1300s. The Hamilton family has owned the estate for the past 200 years, and parts of the house date from the 1500s.
Västerplana Storäng is also worth a detour. It is a nature reserve right beside Vänern’s shore on Kinnekulle Hill’s layer of sandstone. The area is a small remnant of what was once extensive meadowland on the west side of the hill, as described by Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) in his account of his expedition to Västergötland in 1746. Today, broadleaf forest and oak pastures dominate. The northern section comprises closed forest, while the southern section is grazed. Small streams become waterfalls when they plummet down the precipice towards Vänern. In spring, before leaves appear, the ground is covered in wood anemones, yellow anemones and Corydalis. Wild garlic (ramsons) flower in early summer, spreading the scent of onions throughout the area. When you continue towards Blomberg, we recommend you stop at Caféet på Klostretand replenish your energy levels with home-baked delicacies in a very beautiful, rustic environment.
The cycle route passes several railway stations along the Kinnekullebanan line, which permits passengers to take a bicycle on the trains. You pass, among others, Hällekis station, Blombergs station and Källby station.
After you have passed the long barn in Blomberg, turn right. After about 5.7 km you will reach the bathing spot Källby Badplats and the marina Källby Småbåtshamn, where you can take the opportunity to enjoy the boating scene. The cycle route meanders through areas of holiday cottages, so there is plenty to look at along the way. On the section of the route towards Lidköping you can also make a detour to the bathing areas Truve Badplats or Filsbäcksbadet if the weather is hot and you need to cool down. It is about 12 km from the Källby Badplats bathing area to the Nya Stadens Torg square in Lidköping.
Visit Vänermuséet and Rörstrands in Lidköping
Lidköping contains some great sights and attractions that we recommend you visit. The town is one of Sweden’s finest. Its vibrant town centre includes the old town hall Gamla Rådhuset on the large square Nya Stadens Torg, and Limtorget Square with old preserved wooden buildings. At Rörstrand Center you can visit the porcelain museum and bag a bargain in the shop at outlet prices. The route continues out towards Vänern and follows the shoreline past the guest marina. Shortly afterwards, you will reach Vänermuseet, which is a museum well worth a visit. Here, both children and adults can learn all sorts of facts about Sweden’s largest lake; the 17,000 exhibits, 1,600 artworks and 150,000 photographs teach us about nature and life in and by Vänern. The most popular exhibit is the aquarium, in which ypu can see several examples of Vänern’s 38 species of fish. If you’re lucky, you can watch them being fed.
Outside the museum you’ll also find a heated outdoor pool, Framnäsbadet, if you want to stop for a swim, and slightly further on you will come to Kronocamping, which is handy for accommodation in cabins and tent pitches directly next to Vänern. If it’s not time to turn in for the night, the site also includes a restaurant.
Signage in progress
As the Vänerleden is a completely new trail that is under development, signage of the trail is currently underway. From Åmål via Säffle, Grums, Karlstad, Hammarö, Kristinehamn, Gullspång, Mariestad, Götene, Lidköping, Grästorp to Vänersborg, the Swedish Transport Administration will sign during the month of June and July. From Vänersborg via Mellerud, Bengtsfors to Åmål, signage will take place later in the summer (in late August and September). Until the signage is complete, you need to download gpx files to your phone. These can be downloaded here on the website.