What can you do in Trollhättan as a tourist? We came here by motorhome right after our visit to Vänersborg because we decided to follow the Trollhätte Canal and the Göta River. Apart from planning to see the locks, we had no particular expectations, but Trollhättan really surprised us!
Trollhättan has grown up along the Göta River and the mighty Trollhätte Falls. Three rounds of locks have been built here, industries have been run and Saab cars have been manufactured. We came here completely unprepared and started by looking for a place to park our motorhome, which we found near the lock area.
Trollhättan is located in Västergötland, less than 15 kilometres south of Vänersborg.
What can you do in Trollhättan as a tourist?
Yes, what can you do in Trollhättan as a tourist? We spent two days in the city, and here are our top tips. Feel free to add a comment!
1. Hanging in the lock area
The lock area is a nice area with both new and old locks, guest harbour, boats, lock café and ice cream kiosk. In the summer, there is a great holiday atmosphere here, and you can easily spend a few hours looking at boats, having coffee and ice cream. Normally you can also visit the Canal Museum here, but in the summer of 2020 the museum is closed due to the pandemic.
2. See the old sluiceways
In Trollhättan there is not just one lock route, but three. There are also two older locks, which are no longer in use. The oldest lock route was built in 1794-1800, and includes a total of 8 locks. In its day, it was considered the eighth wonder of the world.
After some time, the first lock channel became too small and it was realised that a new channel for larger boats needed to be built. Lockway number 2 was built between 1838 and 1844, using the same dimensions as the Göta Canal locks.
3. look at sluicing
After some time, the second sluiceway became too small and a third one had to be built. This one dates from 1916 and replaced the two older locks. Both leisure boats and large freighters lock here, and somehow your eyes are constantly drawn to the spectacle.
The lock in use today takes boats that are 90 metres long, 13.7 metres wide and 5.7 metres deep. It's really fascinating to see these big ships locking. Powerful!
4. Take a boat trip on the Göta River
During the summer months, M/S Elfkungen makes trips along the Göta River. Our motorhome neighbours at the site booked a shrimp cruise, and we were keen to join them. Then we realised that we needed to work at the computers in the evening, so there was no cruise. But it seems nice!
5. Discovering the city by bike
Trollhättan is great to discover by bike. We took our electric bikes around the lock area, to the Trollhätte Falls and to the city centre. Most of the time you cycle along water (there is really water everywhere through Trollhättan!) and it is nice to cycle.
Among other things, we cycled past Trollhättan's church, which is very beautiful surrounded by water.
6. Experiencing the drop and the drop zone
Trollhättan is renowned for the mighty Trollhätte Falls, which erupt at specific times when the water gates are opened for the falls. In the summer of 2020, the waterfall releases are cancelled, so unfortunately we could not see this. We have, with permission, borrowed a picture from Visit Trollhättan Vänersborg, which shows what it can look like.
However, we made it to Oskarsbron where there is a view of the falls area. Why Peter points to Christopher Polhem? The scientist Polhem (1661-1751) designed two lock routes, one at Brinkebergskulle and one past the 30 metre high Trollhätte Falls. The latter project was a major challenge that encountered major problems and accidents, and was later abandoned in favour of a completely new lock route.
Right next to the falls is the King's Cave, which can be said to be Trollhättan's own guestbook for royal visits through the ages.
7. Admire the view from the Copper Cliff!
If you want a really cool view, you should go to Kopparklinten, which is located just above the Trollhätte Falls, if you follow the motorway and then walk. We had both good and bad weather in Trollhättan, and as you can see we happened to go to Kopparklinten when the weather was really bad.
We still managed to take a decent picture of the view (yes, the picture is edited for better and happier colours!).
8. Visit the SAAB car museum
A perfect activity when it rains is to visit the Saab Museum. It doesn't really matter if you are interested in cars or not, this is Swedish history! At the museum you can see everything from the oldest models to the newest ones. You can also see models that were developed but never produced for sale, racing cars and various odd objects such as boats and postal cars.
9. Explore the Innovatum area
The Saab Car Museum is located in what is known as the Innovatum area. Here are the industrial buildings from the glory days of the engineering company NOHAB, but today the premises are filled with other things. In addition to the car museum, you will find Trollhättan's art gallery here, as well as a preserved smithy from the NOHAB era. Families with children may also appreciate the Innovatum Science Centre.
10. stroll along the Walk of Fame
Trollhättan is known to many as Trollywood, thanks to the fact that "Film i Väst" has its recording studio here. Several major Swedish and Nordic films have been shot here, and many famous actors have visited Trollhättan. You can't visit the film studio, but you can walk along the Walk of Fame on Storgatan. Just like in Hollywood, there are large stars in the ground, indicating film stars who have visited.
I (Helena) made sure I was photographed with my namesake Helena Bergström (yes, my surname is Bergström). Other famous names we noticed included Pernilla August, Rolf Lassgård, Mikael Persbrandt, Stellan Skarsgård, Lena Olin and Nicole Kidman.
More to do in Trollhättan
There is of course more to see and do in Trollhättan! The tourist office mentions among other things that you can hike in the nature area Älvrummet, which connects the falls area with the locks. You can also fish in the Göta River and usually you can go on guided tours at the former Olidan hydroelectric power station (cancelled in 2020). The tourist office also promotes Trollhättan as a "playground city", with various exciting playgrounds for children. Perhaps you have more tips?
Parking spaces in Trollhättan
There is a car park right next to the lock area, and this is where we stood. We thought this was an excellent place with a nice view of the canal and good service in the form of electricity, the possibility of filling water and emptying grey and black water, and toilets (although on the other side of the lock). From here you are within walking distance of the lock area and the Innovatum area, and within cycling distance of the city centre. The price is 200 SEK/day, which we thought was quite ok.
If you do not need service, or if it is full, there is now also a simple and free car park with a few spaces within the lock area. The site is called "Gården Åker".
See more in the neighbourhood
Not far from Trollhättan you will find Vänersborg. It is also not too far to the west coast, with places like Orust, Lysekil or Hamburgsund. If you prefer to travel towards Lake Vänern, you can visit the beautiful city centre. Läckö Castle.
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More tips for things to do in Trollhättan?
Trollhättan was a real positive surprise! Have you been here too? What are your best tips on what to see and do in Trollhättan?
Facts about Trollhättan
- Municipality: Trollhättan municipality (a small part is in Vänersborg municipality).
- County: Västra Götaland County
- Landscape: Västergötland
- Population: Around 60 000 (2020)
- The name: The name Trollhättan comes from the fall itself and was originally used only for the fall. In the Middle Ages there was a fortress on Slottsön in the Göta River called Edsborg, Ekholm Castle or Ekeholm Castle. Today the name "Edsborg" is the name of the home stadium of the football team FC Trollhättan. Another early name for the town is Stora Edet, to distinguish the place from Lilla Edet.
Things to do in Trollhättan
- Attractions: Drop in the Trollhätte Falls (cancelled in 2020), old and new lock routes, views from Kopparklinten, Walk of Fame, Skulpturrundan and more.
- Museum: Saab Car Museum, Kanalmuseet (closed 2020), Innovatum Science Center, Trollhättan Art Gallery, Olidan Power Station (guided tours cancelled 2020), Höljebacka Fire Museum, Forngården Open Air Museum and more.
- Activities: Hike, cycle, fish, see the locks, take boat trips on the Göta River and more.
- Experiencing nature: The Älvrummet nature area with various hiking trails (e.g. Kärlekens stig).
- Read more: You can find more information at Western Sweden.
History of Trollhättan
- 11th century: Harald Hårdråde's saga mentions that the boats of the Norwegian fleet were dragged past the falls, with the help of drag chutes, in the winter of 1063/1064.
- Middle Ages: Milling and sawing activities were carried out where the centre now stands.
- 1752: The tomb of Canal Charles was completed.
- 1753: Polhem's sluiceway was completed.
- 1754: The Ekeblad lock was completed and inaugurated by King Adolf Fredrik.
- 1844: Larger locks, built under Nils Ericson, were completed.
- 1847: Nydqvist & Holm's mechanical workshop (later Nohab) established itself and utilised the power of the river.
- 1860: The town became so large that the parish of Trollhättan was formed. The name Stranna was changed to Trollhättan.
- 1905: The state bought Trollhätte Kanal AB, which later became Vattenfall.
- 1914: The Olidan power station was completed.
- 1916: The nine current locks were completed, and the two older lock systems were decommissioned.