The quiet town of Strängnäs may not be on the list of famous tourist destinations, but its idilic location on the shores of Lake Mälaren and in the historical province of Södermanland surely make it a very attractive place to visit. Strängnäs is one of Sweden’s oldest towns and has been a church administrative center in the middle ages.
A Brief History
The history of Strängnäs dates back to the Viking era. The oldest document that formally recognizes the town was granted by King Magnus Eriksson in 1336. The city became of importance in the Södermanland province when Gustav Vasa was elected king of Sweden in Strängnäs Cathedral in 1523. The town served as the governing assembly place and was also famous for an annual market that was held here.
During the Reformation era Strängnäs was a very important religious and military spot. As a result the impressive Strängnäs Cathedral was built. After the Reformation however, the urban development slowed down considerably, so the town didn’t continue to extend.
In 1871 large parts of Strängnäs were destroyed in a fire, but luckily some areas survived. The parts that remained are around the old windmill and the cathedral. Here you can also find some of the oldest houses in town.
Things to Do and See in Strängnäs
Because of its close proximity to Stockholm, Strängnäs makes a pleasant and easy day trip from the capital. In fact, many of the town’s 11,000 inhabitants commute to Stockholm daily. One of the nice things about this town is that you could benefit from a free guided tour provided by local volunteers who are always glad to share their unique knowledge with the visitors. But in case you like to visit the town by yourself, here are some of the things you shouldn’t miss:
1. Walk Around the Harbor Area
Strängnäs’ little harbor on the shore of Lake Mälaren gives the town a lovely atmosphere. Lake Mälaren is Sweden’s 3rd largest lake and offers a lot of activities. You can walk along the shores and enjoy the great view, relax in one of the beautiful parks, or if the weather is warm, you can also go for for a swim or fishing.
The climate around Lake Mälaren seems to be quite different from the other areas in Sweden, with more humid and warmer days in the summer, and not as cold in the winter. Because of that, there are several species of flowers and trees that grow only in this area. For a panoramic view of the town, walk to the old windmill that sits atop a high hill overlooking the harbor.
2. Visit Strängnäs Cathedral
The Cathedral is located on a beautiful spot, up on a hill towering the city. It’s difficult to miss it when walking around and is just a short walk away no matter where you are in Strängnäs. This is a well preserved historical building closely tied to Sweden’s history, as several Swedish kings are buried here.
One of the most impressive pieces in the cathedral is the high altar cabinet, that dates back to the 1490’s. The tomb of Princess Isabella –the daughter of King Johan III who died in Gripsholm in 1566– is covered by a beautiful monument.
3. Have Breakfast at Café Grassagarden
The lovely little garden café located in one of the oldest buildings in Strängnäs is the perfect place to sit in the sun (or even indoors) and have breakfast, or lunch, or just simply enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. They have special rooms for larger parties to book, too. Grassagarden Café is just off the harbor and has an interesting historic setting. Each of the dining rooms us laid out in a country cottage style, with fresh flowers on each table.
The small selection of daily dishes, Swedish pastries, coffee and sweets are fantastic. Everything is home made and delicious!!
4. Take a Day trip to Mariefred
Just 25 minutes away via E20 you can visit the Gripsholm Castle and Mariefred, another town in Strängnäs municipality that also has plenty to offer when it comes to history.
5. Enjoy Lunch at Rogge Bageriet
This remarkable café-bakery is one of the best spots in town to enjoy a unique lunch and is located on the main square in town, very close to the cathedral and the harbor. They serve a great variety of home-made bakery products, delicious salads and a wonderful bread directly from the oven. Their cinnamon buns are the whole familie’s favorites. The Best Western Hotel Rogge right above the café is also owned by the family. The hotel was built in 1921 and features 34 rooms, conference & event facilities, a restaurant, bar, lounge, and an outdoor roof-top hot tub.
How to Get There
Strängnäs is just an hour away from Stockholm and can be easily reached either by car on highway E20, by bus using the green line, or by the regular trains from the Central Station.