It is a University city located in the rural centre of the country that also serves as the regional capital of Värmland county. It was founded by King Karl IX in 1584, and is sited on an island of the Klarälven river, and beside Europe's largest freshwater lake, Lake Vänern. If it isn't raining, it is a cute little town. However, there is very little to do there.
Karlstad is also known for the expression Sola i Karlstad (Swedish and translates The Sun in Karlstad). Originally referring to a beautiful girl working in one of the restaurants in the city but today also referring to the weather. As Karlstad is near lake Vänern light clouds often dissolves over the very huge lake.
Karlstad Airport  has daily business priced flights to Stockholm and Copenhagen. Tickets are purchased from the airline Skyways (Now in BANCKRUPT) . Do not go to the airport too early for the morning flights - there will be no one there, and the cafe will not open before the flight. Getting between Karlstad and the airport will set you back about SEK 250 if you take a taxi. Airport taxis can be ordered on +46 20 979797. A cheaper option is to take the bus for SEK 60, however you need to order the bus in advance on +46 20 323201. An even better way for the one that don't mind walking a bit is to walk down to the main road (about 1-2 km) and just take the bus. The name of the bus stop is Hynboholmsmotet.
Another way for international travellers headed for Karlstad is to fly to Oslo airport (Gardermoen) and go to Karlstad from there.
Karlstad can be reached by direct train from Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden and Oslo in Norway. Bookings on the SJ site . The train journey from Stockholm takes about 2.5 hours on a X2000 train (slow to spotty wifi internet free in first class, pay in 2nd class).
You can also go to Karlstad directly from Stockholm's Arlanda Airport with Air-bus/Arlandalinjen . Click on "Arlanda" in the menu on top to see bus timings to and from Arlanda to Karlstad. You can also book  the tickets in advance.
The town centre is all walkable, so if you're coming to see the town there is no need to hire a car.
There is a good local bus service (especially to the university), but if you want to travel beyond the suburbs then a car is still the best way to go.
Walk beside the river, or the lake. Karlstad is best treated as a base to access the natural areas beyond.
The city is also a city of sports:
-The World Rally Championship  visits Karlstad in the early weeks of February for the annual Uddeholm Swedish Rally. Spectating that rally will give you a chance to visit the small towns in Varmland and to see the forest under a fresh blanket of snow. Be aware that rental cars and seats on Skyways out of Karlstad can be sparse during Rally time.
-During the winter the city have an ice hockey team in the highest division in Sweden. Bandy is a sport played on ice with sticks and a small ball but rules similar to football (soccer). In Karlstad you also find good Curling teams.
-During the summer athletic events also take place.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities in the town centre, especially on Drottninggatan, Västra Torggatan and Östra Torggatan. Nothing you can't find everywhere else in Sweden though.
In the western outskirts of the city at Bergvik you will find another main shopping area. Several shops including garments and electronics as well as smaller restaurants serves not only the local area but also the region and is popular among visitors from Norway as prices in Sweden typically are lower than in Norway.
There are plenty of restaurants in the town centre, especially on Stora Torget (the main square).
Find a spot beside Lake Vänern and have a picnic or a barbecue, such as Skutberget.
If you are interested in Swedish literature, you can visit Alsters herrgård  and Mårbacka , where two well-known Swedish authors (Gustaf Fröding and Selma Lagerlöf) used to live and where there are museums nowadays.