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Västergötland / Sweden

Cycling along the Göta canal – An adventure with more flavor

Me and cycling have a complicated relationship. Actually, I love my bike. It's big, black and really big. It's the kind of bike that you look at and think "Oh, that was a nice bike!". A bike that gets me there in style. I have a cognac brown leather saddle with springs that rock my bottom in slow motion with the bumps in the road and the gears are shiny. But then what is it that I don't like about my bike?

Actually, it's probably not the bike that's wrong, but all other cyclists. You know, those marauders who see everything as a competition and can't let us granny cyclists enjoy the bike ride to work. The ones who swear and point fingers and who cycle as close as they can to make us granny cyclists fall over in our well-ironed pleated dresses. The marauders who have actually made me stop cycling in Stockholm. But this summer I got to enjoy cycling again. Completely without bicycle marauders. Because at Göta Kanal, you don't cycle fast. Here you cycle to enjoy yourself.

Locks: 58 st
Start - End: Sjötorp – Mem
Length: 19 thousand (8,7 miles of dug canal)
Highest point: 91,8 m
Maximum speed in the channel: 5 knots

Göta Kanal in numbers
Cycle break along Göta Kanal

Start and finish in Sjötorp

We arrive at Sjötorp in time for the afternoon coffee. It's that perfect summer day when you can actually wear shorts without freezing in the shade. The outdoor restaurants are full of vacationers with sparkling beer glasses in hand and children running with towels around their shoulders on their way to the pool. I don't think we could be more lucky with the weather, the whole day is made to enjoy the Göta canal in the afternoon sun.

Right next to the Göta canal's first lock is Sjötorp's bicycle rental. The red bikes are lined up outside the gate. Although the rental would close at 17:30, we could return the bikes until 20:XNUMX. Not much to think about. Suddenly, all three of us are sitting on our red Svea bikes on our way to Lyrestad.

Peaceful cycling from Sjötorp
Sluice along the Göta Canal

The red rental bikes are surprisingly pleasant to ride with their three gears and bike basket. At first I think that three gears sounds like very few, but I quickly realize that you don't need more gears when cycling along the Göta canal. Because it is a very flat cycling. Almost pancake flat. With the exception of a few slopes at the locks, no effort is required. As Stenmark would have said - "De ä bare å ak".

So we roll on along the nice little dirt road that runs right next to the canal. We get overtaken sometimes, but it's more because we stop and take photos and look at the locks than because people are in a hurry. We meet families, groups of friends and a group of pensioners. Cycling along the Göta Kanal seems to attract all types of cyclists – except the bike marauders in lycra.

The locks close at 18pm and although we don't have any time to fit, we can see that some boats seem to be in a bit more of a hurry after 17pm. Not as rushed as in the classic old movie, but a bit more stressed. The whole family stands at the rail, ready to jump ashore and hold the boat. It is probably the reserved dinner table in Sjötorp that attracts.

You are allowed to swim in the Göta canal, as long as you do not swim in the lock area and are alert for passing boats. After 18 p.m. when the locks have closed, it is quiet in the canal and then the nearby cottage owners take the opportunity to go down to their small canal piers in their dressing gowns and dip their toes. An evening dip in the Göta canal - well, thank you!

Swimming in the Göta Canal
Plants in the Göta Canal
Charming little village by the Göta Canal

Arrived in Lyrestad – 7km

We definitely could have cycled further than to Lyrestad, but we choose to stay for a while. Buy an ice cream and a Ramlösa and watch people, boats and mini golf players. The purpose of cycling along the Göta canal is not to get there the fastest, but to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the scenery, the cute little villages and the engineering of the locks. In the same way as the boats that slowly slide at 5 knots between the locks and the villages along the road. Although the cycling from Sjötorp to Lyrestad was neither tiring nor difficult, the evening sun is warm and it's nice to have a water break.

Now that the locks are closed, the grills start to be brought out on the boats and more than one beer is cracked open on deck. They are spoken loudly from boat owner to boat owner and the laughter echoes across the channel. It looks so incredibly cozy that I'm starting to think about whether it would be possible to rent a boat with a captain to experience the canal for real.

Break in cycling
Cafe by Göta Kanal

Back to Sjötorp

The sun is starting to cast long shadows over the bike path now, but there are still many cyclists who are going somewhere. To or from their boat. To or from their hotel. For us, a dinner with roe roe pizza at the Kanalkrogen in Sjötorp and a night in the attic at Börstorp castle attract. The bike swings forward over the tufts of grass while the wind of speed swirls in my curls. With good accommodation along the way, good restaurants (and weather like this), I could easily imagine cycling the entire Göta canal.

We slide into the parking lot and leave our bikes. No muscle pain after the flat cycling, but I still have a bit of pain in the butt after the bike ride. For the next time I cycle Göta Kanal, I get to bring my own cognac brown leather saddle with springs. Then they ate and went.

Family-friendly cycling along the Göta Canal
Evening sun along the Göta Canal

How does it work to rent a bike in Sjötorp?

We rented bikes from Sjötorp's bicycle rental. The price per day for an adult bike/children's bike was 200/150 kronor (prices from summer 2020). There are also tricycles, electric bicycles, child seats and bicycle trailers. Bicycle service (for example in the event of a problem such as a flat tire) is included between 09.30 and 17.30. It is possible to rent bicycles with a one-way rental for those who want to cycle longer.

From Sjötorp you have time to pass by many locks on a day trip. Don't focus on how far you cycle, but on the experience after the journey. Stop, look at the locks and eat ice cream and turn around when you feel like you're halfway there. We cycled back and forth to Lyrestad from Sjötorp.

NB: Distance one way
Sjötorp-Lyrestad = 7 km
Lyrestad-Norrkvarn = 2 km
Norrkvarn-Hajstorp = 5,2 km
Hajstorp-Töreboda = 4,4 km
Töreboda-Vassbacken = 10,8 km
Vassbacken-Tåtorp = 5,5 km

Sjötorp lock

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About the blogger

Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.

4 Comments

  • Eve/ Live like Eve
    29 December, 2020 at 17: 42

    What a wonderful trip! I also have a complicated relationship with cycling, and live at the top of a very hilly town. So I don't even have a bike. But this really attracts.

    Reply
    • Eva Gyllenberg
      29 December, 2020 at 17: 51

      When the weather is on your side, cycling along the Göta canal is a real balm for the soul. Like that Swedish summer movie where everything is just idyllic. Next time I get to add some cozy b&bs too, so it will be a real cycling holiday ❤️

  • Daniel at FlyingDryden
    30 December, 2020 at 11: 39

    What a beautiful post! Became even more keen on cycling now that we scouted further to continue the Sydkust trail from Ystad to Helsingborg this spring/summer. This might be an at least as interesting alternative, now that they have electric bikes. 😉

    Reply
    • Eva Gyllenberg
      30 December, 2020 at 23: 05

      Definitely an alternative to the Sydkust trail, although I think Scania's landscape after that stretch feels more varied? Göta canal in any case got me hooked, traveling along the canal feels like a bit of the most Swedish of Swedish things. And if you don't have a boat, you can cycle, that's old fashioned 🙂

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