Walk along the Göta canal
Sjötorp - Norrkvarn - Tåtorp
Walking along the Göta Canal is an essentially calm experience. The slow pace gives you time to enjoy the unique channel environment with boating, locks and a great mix of people along the canal. You walk 35 kilometres on the gravel towpath alongside the canal, where there is so much to enjoy - interesting attractions, good food and unique accommodation.
Swedish construction of the millennium
Sweden’s largest ever construction work is an amazing feat: 190 kilometres of canal from Söderköping in Östergötland, via the lakes Roxen and Boren out into lake Vättern. In Västergötland the canal goes through Bottensjön and Viken before continuing all the way up Sjötorp, on Vänern’s east coast.
You can walk alongside the canal on a car-free, old towpath through wonderful scenery. The towpaths were built along the canal as it was constructed since it was not possible to use sail power on the narrow sections of the canal. Oxen or horses provided the muscle power to pull the cargo boats. A number of guides have been written to describe the fascinating history associated with the canal.
Experiences along the path
There is so much to see along the canal. The small picturesque villages are filled with activities and events, and have something to offer for everyone. During the summer season, the Göta Canal is full of private leisure boats and passenger boats and there are many cyclists touring the towpaths, watching the procedures at the locks. If you enjoy cycling, there are many different packages on offer. Sjötorp's experience centre, for example, rents out bicycles.
Along the section from Sjötorp to Tåtorp there are many different options for accommodation and many events take place here during the high season. Go to intimate music evenings, look at art, exhibitions and museums and enjoy good food and drinks. Don't miss Hajstorps Slusscafé at the locks and Café Visthuset, two atmospheric places to rest right next to the canal. Several companies along the Göta Canal offer walking packages with accommodation and food included. One attractive option for the whole family is Norrqvarn Hotell & Konferens. In this unique place you can spend the night inside trolls and mushrooms, play in the Children's Mini-Canal or enjoy good food and drink at the restaurant's charming outdoor dining area on the pier.
The canal is open between May and September, but the area around the Göta Canal is busy all year round. Recreational fishers have many varied waters to choose between and in cold winters the canal freezes over and turns into a fantastic winter sports arena for ice skaters and other sports enthusiasts.
Photographer: Niclas Albinsson
Fact about the trail
The section from Sjötorp to Tåtorp is 35 kilometres and can be divided into three days. Sjötorp to Norrkvarn is 9 kilometres, Norrkvarn to Töreboda is 9.6 kilometres and Töreboda to Tåtorp is 16.3 kilometres.
The entire section takes about 8 hours to walk, excluding breaks, so it is suitable for two or three days of walking.
The path is unmarked but there are road signs and information boards. Just follow the gravel towpath, which is car-free, and always keep the canal in view.
Level of difficulty:
The walk alongside the canal is classified as easy and follows a flat, car-free, gravel towpath.
Start and end:
You can start the walk at several places along the path, but Sjötorp and Töreboda are probably the best since they can be accessed by public transport and have car parks right next to the path.
- Sjötorp - Norrkvarn section (9 kilometres) Sjötorp is a good starting point for your walk. There is a car park and a bus stop just next to the path and there are regular buses from Skövde and Mariestad. You can take a train to Lyrestad, two kilometres from Norrkvarn, on the Kinnekulle line which runs from Gothenburg via Lidköping and Mariestad to Hallsberg.
- Norrkvarn- Töreboda section (9.6 kilometres) In Norrkvarn there are good parking facilities but no connections with public transport.
- Töreboda - Tåtorp section (16.3 kilometres) Töreboda has car parks and access to the walk by train from the large cities. From Gothenburg it takes about an hour and a half, and there are express trains from Stockholm that take around two hours. Vassbacken is only five kilometres from Tåtorp and has a bus stop a few hundred metres from the path, from which buses run to Töreboda. From Tåtorp it is possible to continue your walk on the other side of lake Viken by taking the Vikensnabben ferry to Brosundet during the high season (about 40 minutes).
How to get here:
The total length of the Göta Canal is 191 kilometres, from Sjötorp on Lake Vänern, just north-east of Mariestad, to Mem by the Baltic Sea, just east of Söderköping. In West Sweden, the Göta Canal links the two huge lakes of Vänern and Vättern. A good starting point for the walk is Sjötorp, about 20 kilometres north of Mariestad. There are regular buses from Skövde and Mariestad. If you want to travel here by car, it takes about two and a half hours from Gothenburg. If you travel by train, Töreboda is a good starting point; you can get here on a direct train from Gothenburg in an hour and a half and from Stockholm in three hours.