What to see and do in Västerås? In fact, Västerås has a lot to offer. Here you will find charming old alleys on Kyrkbacken, nice walks along the eastern harbour and lots of ancient monuments, castles and museums.
Västerås is both a historical and a modern city. The city has a good parking space for motorhomes in the guest harbour, which contributes to the fact that we have been here several times. On our last visit, we took the opportunity to look around extra much.
Västerås is located on the northern shore of Lake Mälaren about 10 kilometres west of Stockholm.
What can you do in Västerås?
What can you see and do in Västerås? Everything possible actually! We have collected our best tips here in a list.
1. Strolling on Kyrkbacken
When you visit Västerås, you don't want to miss the charming Kyrkbacken. Here, small wooden houses from the past lie in a picturesque jumble. You can stroll back and forth in the narrow alleys, and it's hard to put your camera down.
It is also interesting to read all the signs, which tell about the printers, printers, bakers and other inhabitants who lived here in the past. Sometimes the stories are really dramatic:
Among the later owners is the poet Fredrik Sandberg, who in 1765 was killed here by his wife with poisoned chicken soup.
The first known owner of this farm was the baker Per Larsson. On a May day in 1614, his wife fell victim to drunken soldiers pursuing a merchant friend from the town into the farm. One of the 'lackeys' ran his sword through a hole in the door and hit the woman in the heart.
In the 17th century, this was the northern edge of the city. In the southern part, priests and teachers lived in a bourgeois environment and in the northern part the poorest people lived in what was more like a slum. Today it is probably popular to live in such a cosy, yet central location.
2. Walk or cycle along the Mälar Promenade.
It is also very nice to walk or cycle along the Mälarpromenade. It is four kilometres long and runs along the water, from Lögastrand to Lasse Färnlöfs plats. Along the way you pass the popular action pool Kokpunkten, the equally popular Steam Hotel, Notuddsparken and the lovely playground Poesiparken.
When we visited Västerås a number of years ago, because I (Helena) gave a lecture in my job as a public health scientist, a very funny thing happened. Peter was waiting outside the lecture theatre and just then received a phone call from an architectural firm in Västerås that was developing houseboats. They wanted to discuss some questions with us, who live in houseboat.
When they realised that we were in Västerås, they invited us to the architectural office and to see the planned piers. Since then we have been wondering how it went, and we were now hoping to see the houseboats, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to have materialised, at least not yet.
But even if you don't see any houseboats during the walk, you will see plenty of piers, boats, modern houses, nice parks and nice restaurants.
3. Visit Västerås Cathedral
Västerås Cathedral, whose oldest parts date back to the 13th century, is magnificent and well worth seeing. Inside the church there are 163 tombstones, including the grave of Erik XIV.
Address: Västra Kyrkogatan 10
Don't miss out on crossing to the other side of the street. There you will find several old buildings, including "Proban", the old school prison. This is the only preserved school prison in Sweden. Until 1801 it was used as a prison for students, and sometimes teachers, for drunkenness and other offences.
4. Take a boat trip in the archipelago
There are a number of large boats docked in Västerås that can take tourists on various tours. For example, you can go on a tour with the Elba ferry or make trips to archipelago islands such as Almö-Lindö, Ridön or Birka/Björkö. You can also go on a prawn cruise, a seafood cruise ... or why not a pizza cruise?
5. Looking at art in Västerås
There is plenty of public art in Västerås and we walked past several artworks that we couldn't resist photographing because we liked them. One of the most talked about artworks is "ASEA stream", created by Bengt-Göran Broström. The work depicts workers cycling to and from their workplace at ASEA.
The very first public artwork in Västerås is a bust of Gustav Vasa, which stands in Vasa Park and has been there since 1864. In the centre of the city you can also come across various stone tablets with the poems of Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer. In the pictures you can see some other artworks we came across and liked.
6. Check out Västerås Castle
Västerås Castle is located next to Vasa Park, overlooking the river Svartån. The castle is quite simple in its design, square with a courtyard, but has a long and interesting history. The building dates back to the 13th century, but was taken over by Gustav Vasa in the 16th century. Important parliamentary meetings were held in the castle, which led to Sweden becoming a Protestant country. Today there is a restaurant and café in the castle.
7. Visit museums on Charles Street 2
On Karlsgatan 2 in the centre of Västerås you will find no less than two large museums. Västerås Art Museum and Västmanland County Museum are located here. The art museum shows mainly Swedish and Nordic contemporary art, while the county museum shows interactive exhibitions for both children and adults.
8. Stay in (or check out) Västerås' most unusual hotel
In Västerås there are a number of really odd hotels. The hotels have been bookable during the summer months, but Hotell Hackspett was closed during the 2020 season.
- Hotel Woodpecker is built high up in an oak tree in Vasa Park.
- Ooops Hotel in Lake Mälaren looks like a sinking house.
- Utter Inn is an underwater hotel located in the middle of Västeråsfjärden, about one kilometre from land. The small cabin is located on a floating jetty, and you sleep three metres below the surface with panoramic windows in all directions.
9. Hang out on Djäkneberget
One thing you don't want to miss doing in Västerås is getting up to Djäkneberget, which is a mountain and park area right next to the centre of Västerås. We cycled up with our electric bikes on win or lose and were fascinated by what we got to see. From the mountain you have a nice view of the whole of Västerås. You can also stroll around on all the winding roads, and be fascinated by the over 500 (!) inscriptions on stones in the area.
10. Learn about old boats at the Västerås Historical Ship Museum.
If you want to get a bit of a Viking ship vibe, you can visit Västerås Historical Ship Museum, at Frösåker pier. There are around 25 Viking ships, medieval ships and traditional boats, both originals and copies. The boats are located outdoors and can be viewed at any time of the year. During the high season, the on-site café is open and serves homemade ice cream.
Address: Frösåkers brygga 7
11. Spend a day at the Vallby Open Air Museum.
The Vallby open-air museum in Västerås displays the cultural history of Westman in the form of houses and farms from the past, old-fashioned agriculture and farm animals that are rare today. In the summer, a 'Living Museum' is usually organised, when the houses are open and people in period clothing bring the environments to life. The museum also houses the COW Word Museum, with over 200 endangered words.
Address: Skerikesvägen 2
12. See old motorbikes at Tidö Castle
Tidö Castle is a beautiful 17th century Renaissance castle built by Axel Oxenstierna and now owned by David von Schinkel. If you come here during the summer season, you can book a guided tour of the parade floor, or visit the castle's bicycle and motorbike museum.
13. check out the Rytterne church ruins
In the neighbourhood of Tidö Castle there are two church ruins that are worth checking out. The last service in Lilla Rytterne church was held in 1817 and the church is now a ruin. At Stora Rytterne church ruin there are burial slabs from the 17th century and two rune stones from the beginning of the 11th century.
Address: Stora Rytterna kyrkoruin, Rytterne Lundby 6
14. Meeting ghosts at Engsö Castle
Engsö Castle (or Ängsö Castle) is basically a medieval castle, rebuilt in the 17th and 18th centuries. The castle now serves as a museum, displaying interiors from different eras and a large collection of paintings. There is also the opportunity to meet no less than three ghosts: a hunchbacked court dwarf, the evil Brita Bååt and the dog Cottilion. In the surroundings you can hike in Ängsö nature reserve.
15. Feel the wings of history at Anundshög.
Anundshög in Västerås is Sweden's highest burial mound. In the area around Anundshög and Badelundaåsen there are also no less than five large ship settlements, a rune road, a rune stone with a very special inscription, a labyrinth and several other interesting ancient remains.
Address: Anundshög 5
16. Experience the royal castle of Strömsholm.
Strömsholm Castle is a royal castle near Västerås. The beautiful castle was once built by Hedvig Eleonora, on the site of a former Vasa castle. Today, many people associate the castle with horses and equestrian sports. During the summer months, tours of the castle's halls are usually organised.
17. Take a trip to the Sala silver mine.
The Sala Silver Mine is located in Sala, 4 miles north of Västerås, and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Västmanland. Going 155 metres down into the mine and taking a guided tour is both exciting and educational. If you like it down in the mine, you can choose to book a night in the mine's suite.
Address: Drottning Christinas väg, Sala
More things to do in Västerås for those who like culture and history
Want even more tips on things to do in Västerås? Here are some more suggestions for those who like culture and history.
- Elektra People's cinema shows films from around the world (Sintervägen 6).
- Hornsåsen cemetery is the county's largest cemetery with 200 graves, cairns and various stone structures (Horn).
- Sorby fornborg is an ancient castle from the 6th century and is located along the Tidö tourist route outside Västerås (Sorby).
- Turbine house, built in 1891, is a facility for the production of electricity (between Västerås City Hall and Västerås Castle).
- Vårdmuseet Västerås is a medical history museum, about medical developments from the end of the 18th century (Landstingshuset).
- Västerås Aviation Museum is located near Stockholm-Västerås airport, and displays more than 25 aircraft (Hässlögatan 1).
- Västerås City Hall is interesting to check out for the architecture. The bull in gilded bronze, by Allan Runefelt, symbolises strength (Fiskartorget).
More things to do in Västerås for those who like nature and sports
Do you prefer nature or sports? Here are some more tips on things to do in Västerås for you.
- Bellevue Stadium is a sports centre with bowling, padel, squash and racket sports (Slånbärsgatan 2).
- Botanical garden is Sweden's oldest high school garden and is located between the Rudbeckian High School and the Västerås City Library (Biskopsgatan 2).
- Bruksleden is a 25-mile trail for experienced walkers, divided into 27 stages.
- Golf courses there are plenty, including Frösåker Golf & Country Club, Fullerö Golf Club and Hälla Golf.
- Ängsö nature reserve offers varied scenery and hiking trails ranging from 1.5 to 8.5 metres in length.
More to do in Västerås for those who like shopping and food
Even for those who like shopping and food, there is more to do in Västerås. Here you will find some additional tips.
- Market hall Slaughterhouse is a market hall with locally produced food and restaurants. (Slakterigatan 6-10)
- Skultuna Brassworks is located one kilometre north of Västerås. The mill, which is over 400 years old, has a museum, bistro and shops (Bruksgatan 8).
- Igor neighbourhood is located in the centre of Västerås and includes shops, restaurants, entertainment and more. (Vasagatan 25)
- Shopping centre Point is a shopping centre with fashion, food and more. (Vasagatan 20)
- Steam Hotel is a unique hotel built in a 1917 steam power station. It has three restaurants, four bars and a spa lounge. (Ångkraftsvägen 14)
More to do in Västerås with children
Travelling with children or teenagers? Here are some ideas on what to do in Västerås with children and young people.
- Actionbadet Kokpunkten offers what they call 'bathing gin'. The giant building holds 1200 visitors and has activities on 8 floors (Kraftverksgatan 11).
- King's Village shows different animals, such as lemurs, camels, tarantulas and pythons (Kungsbyn 33).
- Lögarängsbadet is a newly built indoor swimming pool on the banks of Lake Mälaren. In the summer there are also outdoor pools. (Sjöhagsvägen 1)
- Poetry parks is a nice playground inspired by poems (Notuddsvägen).
- Skate parks there are plenty in Västerås. Löga skatepark is located right by the guest harbour/parking area and is a 2400 metre outdoor park (Lögarängsvägen). There is also Västerås Skate & Parkourhall (Lugna gatan 18).
- Vedbo jaws is an activity centre where you can ski or downhill by bike (Naddenvägen).
- Västerås Cable Park offers wakeboarding where you are pulled by an electric cable, instead of a boat. (Lögarängsvägen)
Where can you park your campervan?
If you come with a motorhome, there is a parking space in a good location in the guest harbour. There are also other campsites in the municipality.
Västerås guest harbour and motorhome parking
In Västerås guest harbour there are several places for motorhomes. The site is in a good location, within walking distance of the city centre. There is electricity and a service centre, and during the summer months there is also latrine emptying. The site is popular at weekends and in the high season, and if you want to, you can pre-book a site via campingspot.com.
Campsites in Västerås
There are also several campsites in Västerås. Here you will find First Camp Västerås Mälaren, Björnö camping and Ängsö camping.
More to see and do in Västerås - nearby
When you visit Västerås, you can of course take the opportunity to check out the places and attractions nearby. Not far from Västerås you will find places like Enköping, Köping and Kungsör. It is also not too far to Örebro, Eskilstuna and Strängnäs.
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More suggestions for things to do in Västerås?
Have you been to Västerås? Tell us about your experiences and your relationship with the city! Do you have even more tips on things to see and do in Västerås?
Facts about Västerås
- Landscape: Västmanland
- County: Västmanland County
- Population: More than 155 000 (2020)
- District: Västerås Cathedral District, Lundby, Gideonsberg, Önsta, Badelunda, Viksäng, Dingtuna, Hubbo.
- The name of the city: The name was formerly Westra Aros (West Aros), where West refers to the direction of the wind and Aros means estuary and refers to the outlet of the Svartån river into Lake Mälaren.
- Read more: You can find more information on what to do in Västerås at city websites and on Visit.
History of Västerås
- Early history: During the Neolithic period, the sea level was significantly higher than today and a large part of today's Västerås was under water. As the land rose, the area around the mouth of the Svartån river rose.
- 11th century: Västerås was at that time Sweden's second largest city. Remains of a bronze foundry have also been found.
- 12th century: The town was named a bishopric. There was an early bishop and bailiff, and the cathedral was built.
13th and 14th century
- 13th century: From this time the city has its city seal, making it one of the oldest cities in Sweden. Västerås Castle was built as a defence facility, and remains of a Dominican convent from this period have also been found. The city was now also the most important port for exporting copper and iron from Bergslagen.
- 1244: A Dominican convent was established on Munkholmen, where the current City Hall is located.
- 14th century: The city's defence facility was expanded into a castle, i.e. Västerås Castle.
- 1501: For two months Västerås Castle was besieged by Sten Sture the Elder.
- 1503: The Danish King Christian was about to march into Västergötland. The Bishop of Västerås, Otto Olavi, was hired as a negotiator, but was later suspected of being a Danish lackey and locked up in Västerås Castle.
- 1520: Västerås Castle was taken by the Danes, who brought Otto to Stockholm. Christian II was crowned king and carnage ensued.
- 1521: Gustav Vasa and the Dalecarlians were attacked by the Danes outside the city. The Battle of Västerås was a great success for Gustav Vasa.
- 1527: Following Gustav Vasa's Reformation Diet, the Dominican convent and church fell into disrepair and were later used as building material in the restoration of Västerås Castle.
- 1538-1540: Västerås was the only mint in the country, probably due to its proximity to the Sala silver mine.
17th and 18th century
- 1623: Bishop Johannes Rudbeckius founded Sweden's then oldest upper secondary school in Västerås, the Rudbeckian Upper Secondary School. (The older high schools, located in Malmö and Lund, belonged to Denmark at the time).
- 1630: Rydbeckius started the first girls' school. In the same year, the first case of the plague was discovered, which killed 20 per cent of the city's population.
- 18th century: The Västerås cucumber was first cultivated by the German gardener Bernhard Johan Bohnsack. The cucumber was exported all over the country and to Europe.
- 1714: The city suffered one of several urban fires. After the fire in 1714, a new garden was created on the former Munkholmen, which was later transformed into Vasa Park.
19th and 20th century
- 1891: The turbine house at Svartån was built, which was part of the new industrialisation.
- 1900: The city of Västerås officially celebrated its 1000th anniversary.
- 1907: The new town hall was inaugurated, and soon became known simply as the Stadshotellet.
- 1938: The ICA was started after a meeting in Västerås.
- 1947: H&M (Hennes & Mauritz) was founded by Erling Persson with a store on Stora gatan. In the same year, Sweden's first restaurant pizza was served at the Sjöhagen restaurant in Västerås.
- 1950s and 1960s: There was a major wave of demolition and only limited archaeological investigations, so some historical traces have disappeared.
- 1972: The "Västerås Treasure" was found with a total of 16,332 coins.