The Dalsland Canal

The Dalsland Canal is made up of a string of large and small lakes, bays, fjords and ancillary channels which are linked by a dredged/blasted canal of around 12 km. Spanning approximately 250 km in total, the lake system stretches from the western side of Lake Vänern and passes through the county of Dalsland before continuing into Värmland, and on towards the Norwegian border and into Norway. The lake system consists of 31 locks spread across 17 lock stations. The fall height is 66 metres in total. The Canal is considered one of the most stunning waterways in Europe.

The idea of connecting the inner part of Dalsland and southern Värmland with Lake Vänern and the West Coast was conceived during the 1700s. These plans were firmed up in the early 1800s, and after a long decision-making process, work on the canal began in 1865.

The renowned railway builder Nils Ericson was given responsibility for construction. With work proceeding quicker than expected, the canal was completed in 1866. It was officially opened in the famine year of 1868.

The completed canal provided a communication route whereby multiple lakes were linked through short dredged or blasted canal routes equipped with locks.

From Lake Vänern, it was now possible to venture inland at Köpmannebro, past Dals Långed and Bengtsfors to Gustavsfors and onwards into Värmland towards Årjäng, or to Töcksfors or Dals Ed via Lennartsfors.

The canal was intended to serve as a transportation route for the many ironworks based in Dalsland and south-west Värmland. However, it did not end up playing a significant part in this industry. Owing to changes in the market – including increased competition from England – the majority of ironworks closed down at the end of the 1800s.

It would still make a contribution, however, playing at times a key role in the localisation of alternative sectors – the timber and sawmill industries in particular – which took the place of iron. In addition to providing a transport route for goods, the canal also aided transport and courier services right up the early 1900s. Voyages by houseboat also become more popular after the canal was built.

The golden age of the canal fell from 1868 to around 1895, whereupon freight volumes dropped dramatically. This was due to a growth in competition posed by the extension of the rail and road network.



Sometimes the journey is more
important than the destination.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, there are fewer and fewer new, exciting and undiscovered holiday destinations from which to choose. Finding something which suits the whole family is a particular challenge.

One such hidden gem can be found in Dalsland-Nordmarken – Sweden’s most lake-rich region. The area is home to the Dalsland Canal, one of Europe’s most stunning waterways, which links together a maze of small lakes, rivers and idyllic, winding stretches of canal with boating and canoeing you’ll have to go a long way to better! There is just 10 kilometres of dredged or blasted canal, with the rest made up of a 240 km-long navigable lake system.