Saturday 18 August 2018

Kalmar Waterside Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 13.6 km (8.4 miles), terrain: flat, gain 39 meters

NOTE: I was lucky, and did this run during the annual Kalmar town festival!

Sweden is modernizing quickly, with free wifi everywhere, lots of cafés and restaurants with outside seating, tourists from all over the world. But provincial towns like Kalmar still retain their quiet, remote charm, and I love exploring the neighborhoods.

This route takes you through all the best sights in town, combining the downtown/old-town, the castle, the Kalmarsund waterfront and some unspoiled Swedish nature out along the Stensö peninsula.

So if you want to see Kalmar's best side, come along for the run!
The main square and cathedral during the town festival
We'll start the run in the heart of the downtown, at the main square, with the cathedral and town-hall. This is at the corner of Storgatan and Östra Sjögatan.
Along Norra Långgatan
Let's see a bit of the old-town while we're here, so go behind the cathedral to Norra Långgatan and run northeast the three blocks past tiny old houses to the old stone walls guarding the town from the sea. There is parkland here, and nice views over the water.

Now turn right to the next street, Storgatan and start running southwest down this main shopping street through the whole old town until you come to the smaller square, Larmtorget, with its fountain and bandstand. 
Now turn right on Västra Vallgatan and run the block towards the giant water tower and the old stone gate-tower in the city walls, the Västerport. This gate is one of the town landmarks, and has a great glass store and a beautiful café within its walls.
Västerport and the water tower
Run through the gate, exiting the old town, and cross the wooden footbridge over the town moat. The thing that looks like a palace across the bridge is really the town jail.
Running out across the footbridge
Across the bridge, turn left and run along the water to Stationsgatan, where you cross it to turn right and run through the bit of parkland to the big corner at Järnvägsgatan, crossing the railroad tracks from the nearby main station.

Run south into the city park with its pretty, little pond and the art museum and we will now continue following the waterfront until the turnaround spot in another 5 kilometers.

Once past the museum, stay close to the water as we approach the most famous Kalmar landmark: the castle, Kalmar Slot, at the 2-kilometer mark.
Kalmar Castle with fencing tournament
The castle has its origins in the first tower built in 1180. It guarded the town and harbor from pirates and enemies, and was one of the biggest forts in Sweden.

The Danes settled and occupied the southern tip of what is now Sweden, and Kalmar was the southernmost Swedish castle, and was the scene of various battles and sieges. Finally, the Swedes won out and conquered the Danish lands south of here, so the castle lost its importance and fell into disuse. It was restored to its present glory during the last century.

You can only get inside the castle if you buy a ticket, but you can at least run inside the first gate to get a closer look.

Now run out to the main entrance to the cemetery and run to its little, circular chapel, then turn left to get back to the waterside trail.
The waterside trail
Now continue running south through the parkland along Kalmarsund bay, past a first little beach, then past sports fields (volleyball, skateboards, etc.), another beach with a diving platform, and then around the backside of the Vikingarna marina, at the 4-kilometer mark.
The marina, with little fishermen's huts
Now cross the little footbridge, continuing southwards onto the Stensö peninsula. This narrow spit of land was formed by boulders pushed there by the last glaciers to come through the area, and is three kilometers long.

At this end of Stensö, there is a mini-golf course and a campground. Later there is just pure nature. Smell the pine trees, feel the breeze on your skin and enjoy the view out over the Baltic waves, we're in the Swedish countryside.
The Stensö shore
This trail soon joins into a bigger one, but at the turnoff for the next beach, turn left to get back to the eastern shore of the peninsula. Follow this trail all the way to the point, at the 7-kilometer mark. Enjoy the water view here, because the route will now leave the water for a while.

So, now follow the main trail that heads up north, through the middle of the peninsula.

Take the trail to the left when it splits off, to go through the campground, then head north, on the paved road, leaving the peninsula along Stensövägen. This pleasant street is lined by trees on the one side and by typical Swedish wooden homes along the other. This is our chance to get a look at how lots of Kalmar people live.
Typical Swedish house
At the corner of Stensbergsvägen, turn right and run two blocks to Stensviksvägen where you turn left to continue northeast past more pleasant homes with white picket fences.

Eventually, at about the 12-kilometer mark, you'll see a stone wall and further dirt walls of the castle defenses to the left, and lines of trees on the right. We're back at the cemetery, and turn to the right there at Skansgatan.

Run to the chapel and turn left and now basically follow the same way back to the starting point as we originally came here.

When you cross the train tracks again, you can just follow Olof Palmes Gata right back into the old town and you'll find yourself on Storgatan again.

For something different, you might want to turn right to then head northeast along Södra Långgatan back to the main square.

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