If you are researching flights to Stockholm, you may well come across an airport called ‘Stockholm Västerås’, particularly if you are flying with love-it-or-hate-it airline, Ryanair. But, what you should know in this scenario is that Västerås is, in fact, a city 100 km to the west of Stockholm; and that as the 5th biggest city in Sweden it has plenty to offer tourists in its own right. For those of you flying to Stockholm, here’s why you should consider spending a weekend in Västerås as part of your trip.
Culture in Västerås
Vallby Friluftsmuseum (open air museum)
Founded in 1921, this adorable open-air museum will be celebrating its centenary in 2021 – how much Swedish life must have changed since then! The museum documents changes in Swedish life over time with a number of exhibits, including an old-fashioned sweet shop, a church, and a schoolroom. You can also see the history of Swedish farming and meet all sorts of cute animals. When you have finished looking around, you can enjoy a range of Swedish delicacies for fika at the cafe.
And if all that doesn’t sound great already you should know that entrance into the museum is completely free, so you can enjoy all of this without making a dent in your budget!
Power Big Meet
If you are interested in classic American cars you could schedule your trip in July to coincide with the Power Big Meet convention, where you can watch meticulously well-kept American cars driving around the city’s ring road. You can also see less meticulously well-kept cars decked out as party wagons circulating the city ring road, whilst their inhabitants sit on the back drinking and hollering. The convention pulls in a huge crowd from all over the world and is always a fun weekend where everybody gathers in the parks to drink (usually discouraged by the local authorities) watching the cars roll round and the carnage unfold.
Anundshög Viking Burial Ground
Västerås is one of Northern Europe’s oldest cities; as is evidenced by the remnants of Viking life at Anundshög burial ground. I have written about it on RunawayBrit before and you can see that post here. Entrance to Anundshög is also free, and you are quite likely to have the place to yourself if you visit.
Västerås Cathedral is an imposing gothic structure that dominates the city’s skyline. Founded in 1271, the church has seen numerous moments of historical significance, such as the forming of the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) which renounced the catholic church and adopted Lutheranism in 1527. The cathedral is worth a look around as there are many interesting artefacts inside.
Shopping in Västerås
If shopping is your thing then Västerås is like any other city with plenty of contemporary malls and branded stores on offer. However, you may be interested to know that Swedish favourite, H&M, was born right here in Västerås in 1947. You should also check out the old town for more traditional souvenir stores and boutiques, mostly located in traditional red wooden Swedish houses.
Relaxing in Västerås
There are plenty of parks, lakes, and forests in Västerås, so finding green space for a moment of relaxation is not difficult. On a warm day the harbour area and lögarängsbadet (an outdoor pool and beach area) are popular places for sun-worshippers; so grab your bathing suit (or not – there are a few beaches in Västerås for those who prefer to go without), a book, and get ready to spend a day by the water. If adventuring is more your thing then there are plenty of boats at the harbour that will take you across to the closest islands for a hike.
Eating in Västerås
You have saved some money with free activities during the day and now is the time to splurge (and I do mean splurge, as the price tag is very steep at this place), but the money is well-spent as Frank restaurang in the city centre is the best restaurant food I have ever eaten, bar none.
The rules of the house are that you eat a four-course meal chosen by the chef, and your only choice is meat, fish or veg; although it would be wise to mention any allergies you might have too. Based on your decision, you will be served a range of dishes cooked to perfection with only the freshest seasonal ingredients.
You can also opt to take the drinks package where each wine is carefully selected to enhance your particular dish. In all honesty I would never have chosen any of the dishes from a menu, but I loved every single one of them. Your waiter will knowledgeably explain every single part of the dish to you, and they are happy to speak in English.
Drinking in Västerås
Skrapan Sky Bar
Another splurge, but as it’s easy enough to find relatively cheap drinking places in Västerås I prefer to tell you about a place where you can drink like a Queen. Skrapan is the tall skyscraper building that you can see from all over the city, and the Sky bar is the tallest bar in Sweden. From this bar you can overlook lovely nighttime views of lake Mälaren whilst sipping your cocktail and listening to live piano jazz. Drink one drink here and then find a cheaper bar.
Sleeping in Västerås
There are plenty of regular hotels in Västerås, but if you want to try something just a little bit different you could opt to sleep in a traditional Swedish red and white wooden house suspended 13m up in a treetop, or even an underwater cabin in the middle of the lake. Both are the work of Swedish designer Mikael Genberg.
Tiny cabin-like Västerås airport currently has all-year round flights operating to London and Iceland, as well as seasonal flights to Alicante, Malaga, and Antalya; or you can use the train for your onward journey, with regular trains departing to most Swedish cities. Stockholm is one hour away and Gothenburg (Göteborg) around 4 hours.
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