Grimeton Radio Station Sweden: A moment of radio history frozen in time

(Last Updated On: December 25, 2021)

Grimeton Radio Station, near Varberg in southwestern Sweden, began relaying wireless transatlantic communications across the Atlantic in 1924. Today this rare and well-preserved station is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

field with a variety of radio towers

My cousins took us to the Grimeton Station because it seems like the kind of place my father (a former telephone man) would find interesting.

I’m not sure how interested he is, but I see that whatever weird magnetism has taken me to the remains of various Marconi stations and similar sites around the world is still hard at work. I have no idea why I end up at these monuments to dead communication technologies, but by now it seems inevitable.

Varberg’s radio station was part of a relatively short-lived long-wave radio network that relayed messages between Sweden and the United States in the days before and during World War II. It filled a niche between the telegraph and the ascendancy of short-wave radio and telephone.

Touring Grimeton Station

The Grimeton Radio Station was once one of nine long-wave radio stations using this technology to link Europe and North America. Today it is the only remaining example.

The station became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. But it is also still a fully functional station capable of transmitting messages using a number of different systems. They even start up the Alexanderson alternator each year and send a few messages using old-fashioned long-wave technology.

Inside the station

We are lucky and get a guided tour in English. That means we learn how all this equipment, including the Alexanderson alternator and tuned antennas, actually worked.

It’s pretty cool. The station is perfectly preserved and immaculately maintained to keep it operating indefinitely. As such, it’s a time capsule that gives a sense of what this place would have been like in its heyday during WWII. . . but without the all the people needed to keep things running or the deafening noise the alternator creates when in use!

Alexanderson alternator in the Grimeton Radio Station

(That’s just part of the Alexanderson alternator. The box beyond is the control panel. It was both big and high-tech for its time.)

On my visit, everything is still and quiet. That makes it a little hard to imagine what it really was like to be here in those frantic days when the news from New York might include a report on another victory by German forces.

Today the whole place evokes tidy Scandinavian efficiency, right down to the cooling pond outside that doubled as a decorative fountain.

Detail of a fountain in a cooling pond at Grimeton Station

Under the radio towers

What I like best are the towers.

people in a field below very tall towers

At 415 feet (127 meters) tall, the long-wave radio towers are a slightly eerie, almost alien form of industrial sculpture. They are at once both massive and delicate.

Looking up at a towers at Grimeton Radio Station

(Since my visit they’ve set it up so visitors can climb one of the towers. I like heights, but I think I’d pass on that adventure.)

The long-wave towers needed to be this tall to function properly. All of tallest towers here are part of the long-wave radio system and, together, they carry wire that forms a single antenna. An “antenna” supported by six towers and stretching over a mile. Aside from the removal of some of the wire, this is exactly the system that began operating in 1924.

But this isn’t the only type of radio signals transmitted from Grimeton Station, and different technology required different towers.

sign showing the towers at

Together the towers create a both a visual history of radio communications and an intriguing landscape.

Looking up at a shortwave antenna at Grimeton Radio Station

Grimeton Station still broadcasts occasionally at SAQ at 17.2 kHz using the historic long-wave equipment. Amateur radio operators also operate out of the station. You can follow them at SK6SAQ.

Plan your trip to Grimeton Station

Once part of a system of nine stations on both sides of the Atlantic, Grimeton Radio Station not only has the only remaining Alexanderson alternator in the world, it is also the only fully functional radio station left from this period.

The entire station, including the antenna field, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. But it is also an operational station, used by radio hobbyists and for commercial aviation and shipping.

Technology geeks will find a lot to like here. But, perhaps surprisingly, there are a lot of interactive activities and role-playing games designed to entertain and educate everyone, including children. Adventurous visitors can make a guided climb to the top of a long-wave radio tower and learn first-hand what it was like to work on those beasts.

Tours, informational signage, and games are available in both English and Swedish.

Lodging in Varberg

For a small place, Varberg has a wide range of lodging options, from plush spas to simple seaside cabins.

Check reviews and booking options at (affiliate links) TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, Booking.com, or Agoda.

Other things to do in Varberg

Varberg is a coastal city of 36,000 that was along the border – and caught in various battles – between Sweden and Denmark until becoming permanently Swedish in 1658.

This part of Sweden is popular with summer visitors for its wide, sandy beaches and outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and bird watching.

Other options include:

  • The Varberg Fortress and Halland Museum of Cultural History combines museum exhibits with a fortress that dates back to the 13th For those who like ancient murder mysteries, this is where the body of the 14th century Bocksten Man is displayed. There are also less-gruesome discoveries on display, as well as art exhibits.
  • Kallbadhuset (the Cold Bathhouse) is a cold-water bathhouse and sauna in a 1903 Moorish-style building. There’s a coffee shop available for those who just want to sit and enjoy the architecture and views of the sea. Varberg also offers a number of more traditional spa experiences.
  • Hamnmagasinet, a historic house from the 1870s, is now home to an art gallery, silversmith, glass studio, and pottery studio near the harbor.

As noted above, the scenic Kattegattleden bike route also runs along Varberg.

field with towers and text "Sweden's Grimeton Stration a UNESCO World Heritage Site"

Swedish flag with old Stockholm in background and text "Sweden"

2010 European tour

looking up at a radio tower
looking up at a radio tower

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