When researchers at MedieAkademien asked a thousand people which Swedish city or town they considered best to live in, Halmstad came second. Its advantageous location on the west coast contributes to thriving tourism and a pleasant living environment for its roughly 90,000 inhabitants.
After having belonged to Denmark for a long time, Halmstad became Swedish in 1645 and celebrated its 700th anniversary in 2007, when the town turned into a massive party venue for the whole year. With frequent happenings as a film week, walking-tours, author evenings, festivals, concerts and sport events, and an intimate town center near nature and the sea, Halmstad is a loved town among locals and visitors.
One of Halmstad’s most well-known sights is Pablo Picasso’s sculpture Female Head, located in the Picasso Park by Nissan River. Sun chairs near the sculpture invite to a pause in the sunshine.
In the 12th century, Halmstad was shaped around Nissan River that floats through town, past the football arena, Norrekatt’s Park, modern architecture quay Nissa Strand, the City Library, the Picasso Park, and closer to the river mouth, Swedish Navy training ship Najaden (now a museum anchored in front of Halmstad’s Castle), and the marina. The pedestrian paths along the river are ideal for tranquil walks.
A Laidback Town Center
After Halmstad was destroyed by fire in 1619, Christian IV, king of Denmark, recreated Halmstad as a modern Renaissance town with regular-sized quarters and straight roads. Many of the town’s shops, cafés and restaurants are located along Storgatan, Brogatan, Fredsgatan and Norra Vägen. Drottning Kristinapassagen (a side passage to Storgatan) pictured above, is home to an interior shop, shoe store, lingerie boutique, clothing shop, and the popular café Espresso House.
Halmstad offers a variety of cuisines; Italian, Greek, British, Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese. The outdoor restaurants on the little square by Bankgatan are often crowded warm summer days. Other favorites include Taverna Plaka on Nygatan 8, Piccolo Italy on Karl XI:s väg 19, exclusive Lilla Helfwetet on the corner Hamngatan/Bastionsgatan, Morfars on Storgatan 35 for drinks, and Kafé Brooktorpsgården on Kyrkogatan 12, one of Halmstad’s well-preserved half-timbered houses, for coffee in an old-fashioned atmosphere.
The International Street Theater Festival
The 15th International Street Theater Festival since its start in 1998 will take place on 1-4 August, 2012. During four days, streets and squares of the town are turned into temporary theater stages with performances for all ages.
Prins Bertil’s Path
Awarded “Cycle Town of the Year 2004”, Halmstad has 200 km of bicycle paths as well as many foot paths. The coastal Prins Bertil’s Path, named after a former Duke of Halland, stretches for 18 km between Halmstad Castle and Mollegard Nature Reserve via cliffs and small beaches in Tylösand.
The beach between Ringenas in east to Tylosand in west ranks among Sweden’s longest. In summer, life here can last from dawn (with joggers or people who do tai chi, yoga or meditate) until late night. During day time from mid June to mid August, lifeguards from the specialist lifeguard school in Tylosand (the only one in Scandinavian) watch over the 10 km beach.
Every afternoon at 4pm throughout July and part of August, hundreds to thousands people (depending on the weather) gather on Solgården at Hotel Tylösand for After Beach with well-known cover bands. You’re never too young or too old for an after beach in Tylösand, they say.
Chilled Out Evenings in Tylösand
A sunny summer evening in Tylösand is well spent on the sundeck of Restaurang Salt with views of sea and neighboring island and nature reserve Tylön. As evenings turns to night, many people head to the nightclub Leif”s Lounge at Hotel Tylösand, which is owned by Swedish musician Per Gessle.
Photos above courtesy of Ing-Marie Abrahamsson, Halmstad & Co.
Where to Stay
For those who value luxury or a central location, Hotel Tylösand and the quality hotels in central Halmstad (First Hotel Mårtensson, Clarion Collection Hotel Norre Park, Scandic Hallandia, Grand Hotel Halmstad and Hotel Continental Sweden Hotels) are all excellent choices. For visitors whose budget rules the choice of accommodation and who don’t mind a maximum 10-minute drive or bus ride, there’s a good budget hotel 2,5 km outside the center of Halmstad.
Named after Halmstad Arena, a new event stage for concerts, exhibitions, culture and sports, Arena Hotel is situated along Strandvallen with free parking at no extra cost and a bus stop right outside the building, making it both easily accessible and affordable. Another highlight is Hotel Arena’s outdoor swimming pool, the only outdoor hotel pool in Halmstad.
The non-smoking rooms, single, budget or family, can be booked at standard rate or budget rate, there are also wheelchair friendly rooms, and some come with view of the garden and pool. All guests have free access to wireless Internet.
There’s also a sauna, a children play room, and Halmstad’s only real sports bar, Olivers Sportsbar & Restaurant, with 86 TV screens, including the town’s largest screen, darts, pool and live music.