Originally a medieval city, Ostergotland’s provincial capital Linkoping, located on plains of farmlands, yellow fields, lakes and canals, is one of the country’s fastest-growing municipalities with a population approaching 150,000. A popular University city, Linkoping is Sweden’s seventh largest city and home to about 27,000 students.
What to See & Do
Spend a morning in one of the Nordic region’s largest and best-preserved cathedrals. A splendid example of Gothic architecture. Building started around 1220 and its 107 meter high spire overlooks the entire city. For full effect of the space and light in the cathedral, visit early to avoid crowds. And consider a moment in the quiet corner for lightning of candles, prayer and reflection.
Also make time for 19th century S:t Lars Church, whose bells chime three times a day, to view its interior and striking white façade.
One of the largest and most beautiful parks in Sweden, The Garden Society is a green oasis in the heart of the city. Stroll through the grounds, along foot paths and over bridges, play in the beach volleyball court and on the boules pitch, lunch in the Tropical House, buy plants in the next-door store, visit the unique Belvederen Café, situated in the park’s high yellow tower, or savor a fresh picnic in the green grass.
The meandering paths of Stångån River are ideal for walking and cycling. Stop by Åbacka Café near Drottningsbron bridge, housed in a red cottage and private large garden, to taste home baked waffles, cakes and cookies. Visitors often say it’s like coming home to one’s grandmother. Or continue to Café Tannefors Slussar, 1,5 km away right by the locks in Tannefors, and relax in the city’s prettiest outdoor café.
In Berg, north of Linkoping, the famous Carl Johan flights of seven interconnected canal locks is the greatest sight along the Gota Canal drawing thousands of visitors a year. To compensate for the height difference to Lake Roxen, the locks raise and lower boats almost 19 meter. The surrounding area offers miniature golf, cafés, youth hostels, bike rentals, and swimming in Roxen.
If you travel by bus in Linkoping it feels good to know that the entire city’s public transport runs on green biogas.
Air Force Museum
Museum and aircraft lovers will enjoy the museum of the year in 2011, the Air Force Museum in Linkoping, Sweden’s aviation capital. In June 2010, they opened the doors to a completely redesigned building with new departments and a museum twice as big as the old one. In total, 11,000 sqm. Last year brought 170, 000 visitors.
The permanent exhibition, an impressive collection of aircraft used in the Swedish Air Force, follows the development of Swedish military aviation from the early 20th century. Highlight? A salvaged DC-3 that was shot down with eight men on board over the Baltic in 1952, during the Cold War. Plus. in the new science center, the Flight Lab, you can experience how it feels like to fly on a floating carpet and test the JAS 39 Gripen simulator.
Open-air Museum of Old Linkoping
Another museum to visit is Old Linkoping with its 90 turn-of-the-20th-century buildings from the city and the surrounding area. While the neighborhood is a museum in itself, Old Linkoping contains a number of historical museums, including a pharmacy, school, bank, and painting museum, as well as the hands-on science museum Fenomenmagasinet – a favorite among kids. My sister and I visited many times throughout our early school years and were equally fascinated every time.
You can also see the produce in Cloetta chocolate factory, fika at Dahlbergs café (by the main square), watch children performances at Sjöbergska theater, admire crafts by artisans, shop ceramics, textiles, art with local motifs, woodcarvings, and candies in paper cones, or speak to one of the 30 or so persons who live within the open-air museum. Only 20 minute walk from downtown, Old Linkoping has about 450,000 visitors a year. From midsummer and seven weeks, the area attracts mainly international tourists.
Other museums to consider? The Swedish computer museum, IT-Ceum shows the history of Swedish computers from many perspectives. Art lovers will enjoy Linkoping’s art gallery Passagen, Galleri K Konsert & Kongress and Ostergotlands Museum (whose restaurant Hagdahls Kök’s fresh produce equals excellent lunch). The museum offfers exhibitions, art collections, a museum store and digital walking tours with handheld computers on Linkoping’s architecture and art. (The city has 150 public art pieces.)
With unique independent stores, well-known chains such as Åhlens, Lindex and H&M and malls like Filbyter-gallerian (with Lin & Co, Peak Performance, Boomerang, MQ, Gant, and Esprit), as well as Sweden’s second largest shopping center Tornby, Linkoping can cater to the styles of all ages. Most shops are located around the city’s three town squares, Lilla Torget Square plus Trädgårdstorget Square and Stora Torget Square, which are linked by the diagonal street Tanneforsgatan.
Eating and Entertainment
Linkoping’s restaurants offer food from many parts of the world. For sushi in a stylish place, ShinNori (Ågatan 28) is your best bet. A stone’s throw away, Afrodite (on Nygatan) serves good Greek cuisine, and Sangria (Platensgatan 1) gourmet Spanish cuisine. Restaurant and bar Yogi (Platensgatan 5) makes immaculate Indian food. Sol och Ris (Östgötagatan 18) opposite the City Library does Thai food well (we love their veggie wok with green curry). As does Ming Palace (Storgatan 38). For pizza and pasta of the real Italian kind, Ristorante Mozzarella (Nygatan 11) will satisfy. Vegetarians like the generous veggie lunch buffet at Restaurant Konsert & Kongress, the biggest restaurant in Linkoping (they can cater for 1500 sitting lunch guests).
As for cafés, we love old-fashioned Berget Café and Tea House (Klostergatan 56) for their scones and home baked goods, Santinis at Stora Torget Square for people-watching, and Bosses Glassbar (Platensgatan 3, open May-Sep) for superb ice cream. Fans of coffee chains have Wayne’s Coffee, Espresso House and Coffehouse by George.
For locally produced and fresh products from around 20 different countries and cultures in the same place, wait for the annual International Street Market in August. Plus, during the summer months, visitors can choose between 72 outdoor cafés and restaurants in Linkoping. As it darkens, chill out at one of the spots on Stora Torget Square or head to Ågatan Street for more restaurants, bars and pubs. Drink and dance at Platå, Plaza or Sliver.
For theater and other performances, The Ostgotateatern offers a repertoire of new plays, classical drama and musicals, Sagateatern stage features free theater groups, children’s theater and guest performances, Konsert & Kongress’ venue for up to 1,200 people targets classical music, and Linkopings Comedy Club – LKPG HA HA! is all about stand-up comedy.
If you’re the type of traveler who would rather stay in and read, buy a few magazines at Press Stop, awarded the title “The country’s best magazine store, on Trädgårdstorget Square.
Photos above courtesy of Visit Linköping.
Where to Stay
Linkoping has a great variety of hotels, inns, and B&Bs. The top three chain hotels in the city, First Hotel, Best Western and Scandic City, all offer a distinct atmosphere and experience.
First Hotel Linköping
For a calm and comfortable place to return to after a day of sightseeing, opt for First Hotel Linköping situated near the cathedral and the City Library, not far from Stora Torget Square. With 133 classically or contemporary styled rooms and suites, views over the park or roofs of the city, free bottled water in the mini bar, All White toiletries, Wi-Fi at no cost, an in-house squash court, a penthouse relaxation area with sauna, showers and rooftop sun deck as well as free breakfast buffet, the hotel clearly live up to its name. And breakfast time turns into pure bliss with Norah Jones and other tranquil tones in the background.
For added luxury, book a First Lady room. These rooms are especially aimed to guests who seeks that little extra or are in need of some self-care. With romantic interior, complimentary beauty products from LUSH, bathrobe, slippers, relaxation CDs and a selection of glossy magazines this room really exceeded my expectations.
Best Western Hotel Linköping
If you like the idea of immediate access to bars and nightclubs, choose business and leisure hotel Best Western Hotel Linköping, with the entertainment of Ågatan just outside the door, for optimal fun. All 74 rooms have modern Scandinavian interior and appreciated touches such as free bottled mineral water in the mini bar. Choose between Single, Grandlit, Queensize, Kingsize, Twinroom, Suite (with bubble bath) and luxurious Penthouse (with a large dining table, sauna, steam shower and a specially built bed).
Next to the reception, Cioccolata, one of the city’s finest cafés, serves coffee, cakes plus warm and cold sandwiches. And onsite Aioli Tapas bar with 50 different tapas welcomes guests for lunch and dinner in a stylish setting. My tapas choices included patatas con aioli, escalivada (a Catalan dish with roasted vegetable), and Diablo, a hellish strong sauce with tomato and chilli.
Other reasons to spend your visit at Best Western? The hotel’s attractive packages (gourmet weekend, tapas, family, golf, romance & luxury, and entertainment).
Scandic Linköping City
For another stay in style, with stunning surroundings to boot, select Scandic Linköping City by Stångån River. Even with its 216 standard and superior rooms, the hotel staff makes every guest feel specially treated. Not a regular occurrence in all chain hotels. But Scandic goes the extra length to ensure satisfying stays, whether guests are five, twenty-five or fifty. The open, light atmosphere and seating arrangements of the lobby are welcoming elements, as are the rooms’ spaciousness and Nordic design with unique colorful art work on the walls. The superior rooms and suite on level 6 have balcony, and all rooms feature panorama windows – many overlook the river. Also the hotel’s onsite restaurant ModMed (Modern Mediterranean) greets guests with panorama windows. And its pretty outdoor terrace is ideal for savoring ModMed’s seasonally prepared cuisine in good company warm summer evenings. Rather stay in? Order a room service package from ModMed and relax with an in-house movie.
In the morning an all-organic breakfast, including the hotel’s homemade yoghurt with blackberries, yellow raisins, and red Goji berries as well as an array of fresh bread, is served in the restaurant. For kids who can’t sit still as long as their parents, TV and Nintendo are available in the lobby. Before check-out, treat yourself to a workout- and/or sauna session in the relaxation zone Living Well Express. As my last spinning session was more than 10 years ago and these machines aren’t exactly like normal bikes, I felt somewhat like Bridget Jones on my first attempt. That a cute fellow guest ran like a champ on the band next to me and a sign on the wall said “TV surveillance“ made the sauna a more tempting option.
Like most Scandic Hotels, Scandic Linköping City offers value for money and is a reliable option for solo travelers, couples, friends and families. Sports and events arena Cloetta Center is only 700 meter away and you have walking distance to the railway station and the town center.
If you don’t favor chain hotels and value a personal atmosphere as well as friendly conversation (with both staff and other guests), Park Hotel, alias Fawlty Towers, near the railway station, is a wonderful choice. One of Linkoping’s oldest hotels, Park Hotel was first built as a railway hotel in 1888 and has since undergone a number of renovations. The building houses much of Linköping’s culture, ancestry and history, something the hotel wants to preserve. All rooms are individually decorated in a charming, old-fashioned way with traditional furniture and chandeliers. Thanks to the park outside, some rooms enjoy a view of tall, leafy trees, and the pretty promenades below.
A complimentary full breakfast is served in Sybil’s Smörgås Café. Afternoon Tea, with a great selection of teas, and lunch/dinner of Swedish (non-vegetarian) plain fare are available by reservation. In the evening I opted for a tasty veggie baguette with a filling of fried vegetables and dressing. Downstairs, the China shop displays beautiful gold and silver jewelry as well as shawls, kimonos and selected teas. All guests receive one free training pass at World Class across the street. Park Hotel’s special packages include individual cruises on Kinda canal, evening cruises, and Linköping weekend with Afternoon Tea.
In case you don’t travel for only leisure or pleasure and need to check up on business matters during your time away, or can’t stay away from your social media profiles, all of the above hotels offer free Wi-Fi via the Cloud.
How to Get There
Linkoping City Airport is just 5 km from downtown. You can fly directly to Linkoping from Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Plus, Stockholm Skavsta Airport serves over 40 international destinations and offers airport coach transfer to Linkoping. Linkoping is approximately 2 hours by train from Stockholm. Weekdays about 30 intercity and express train services depart from Resecentrum, a local transit hub for buses and trains, to Sweden’s capital, and about 15 to Malmo and Gothenburg. Around 300 meter northwest of the central station, the long-distance bus terminal serves the national, Scandinavian and European journeys. By car, The E4 highway gives quick and easy access to Linkoping and for traveling through the country.