It’s a tourist-agency cliche to say that a place has “something for everyone”, but with Kristianstad, it’s also a reasonable claim. The economic rise and fall of the city over the centuries has resulted in a pretty spectacular mish-mash of architectures old and new, for example, while those more oriented toward wide-open spaces and nature will go wild (quite literally) for Vattenriket (“the water kingdom”), where the floodplain of Helge Å is allowed—within certain limits—to do what a floodplain should do; the result is a rich marshland threaded with pontoons and paths for walking, which teems with all sorts of fascinating critters. (Vattenriket is one of the two biggest highlights of Skåne for twitchers and bird-fanatics, the other must-see being Näset, at the other end of the county.)
This proximity of the floodplains brings with it certain challenges, and provides an angle for fans of complex civic infrastructure: as the lowest point in the Skånian landscape (it’s actually below sea-level), Kristianstad is very susceptible to flooding, and after some dramatic and costly incidents in the C20th and C21st (in which the protective walls proved inadequate to purpose) big pumps were installed to keep the town center dry.
While there’s a significant military element to the history of the city—it’s named after Christian IV of Denmark, and was among the big fortified locales during the era when Skåne was a Danish possession—the broader kommun of Kristianstad is really a food-producing region. They’re proud of it, too… and why wouldn’t you be, if everything from fine wheat and flour to fancy distilled spirits was produced where you live?
Once you’ve seen enough of the city—and who knows how long that could take—you may want to check out some other spots. Head southeast onto Hammarsjön to experience the floating markets, and see how exurban residents have adapted to the increased risk of flooding; then maybe head further still toward the coast, where the little port of Åhus is the last stop before you hit the Slow Coast proper, and the start of eel country.
Alternatively, head out of the city in the opposite direction, and up Helge Å itself, perhaps as far as Osby; life is very different out here, though it’s still very Skånsk! Rather less traditional—or perhaps much more so, depending on who you ask—are the activities to be found near Tollarp to the southwest, which are recommended to those who harbour a long-standing instinct to howl at the moon…