Motala is situated on the eastern shores of Lake Vättern by the river Motala Stream (Motala ström) and Göta kanal.
Recent archeological excavations show that there was a Stone Age settlement by Motala ström several thousand years ago. During the 13th century, the Motala Church was built on the north side of the river, probably on a heathen ceremonial and religious site. Although a long-time settlement, Motala didn't obtain its town rights until the late 19th century.
The Motala Works (Motala Verkstad) was founded in the early 19th century and was Sweden's first mechanical industry. During a period of 22 years, Göta Canal was dug from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea. Motala is situated in the geographical middle of the canal and soon became the site of the canal company's head office.
During the 1920s, Motala became important in the progress of the Swedish radio network. The largest broadcasting station was in Motala. All transmissions started with the announcement "Stockholm-Motala", which soon became a well-known saying among Swedes.
- Skavsta Airport - Used by Ryanair. Lies some 140 km north-east of Motala. A shuttle bus  (90 min) overland link between Linköping and Skavsta airport.
- Linköping Airport - 40 km east from Motala. Flights almost only to Stockholm, Amsterdam, Riga and Copenhagen. There are no shuttles between the airport and Linköping central station and you need to take a taxi from the airport.
- Norrköping Airport - Flights almost only to Helsinki, Visby, Munich and Copenhagen. Lies 90 km east of Motala.
The Motala train station is linked with Mjölby in the South and Hallsberg in the North. From Hallsberg, you reach Stockholm and Gothenburg. From Mjölby, you reach Malmö/Copenhagen.
Buses leave from the Bussterminalen (Bus terminal) close to the Main Square.
- Swebus Express, ☏ . Motala is on one line of the wide network of Swebus Express services.
- The local bus company is called Östgötatrafiken . They also run the buses and trains in the rest of Östergötland and is the cheapest way to get to Motala.
It's not possible to pay cash for a ticket on the bus. You can get ticket in Quickomats and some stores. It's also possible to buy an SMS-ticket, information how to do that can be found at . The ticket is valid for a limited time so you can use the same ticket for more than 1 trip.
You can also buy a bus card. It is a magnetic strip card and you can load money in it. The advantage is that each trip fare is cheaper than the normal fare. You'll find more info about tickets and fares at 
Taxis are on the expensive side. The meter is used to control the cost but always make sure that this is set when commencing a journey.
Motala is a popular town for bicycling. In the harbour you can rent a bike.
- Motala Works. The oldest industrial works in Sweden. Several 19th and 20th century industrial buildings are still standing. In the area are museums, exhibitions, café, restaurant and hostel.
- Göta Canal, ☏ . Built. Crosses the country from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea. In Motala there are locks at Borenshult and Motala harbour. The founder, count Baltzar von Platen, is buried by the canal in Motala.
- The Motala Church. Built in the 13th century, and rebuilt several times through the centuries.
- Charlottenborg Palace, a chateau by river Motala ström. See Motala Museum below.
- Motala Museum (in the Charlottenborg Palace). Exhibitions connected to the history of Motala. Also a nice art collection with 17-20th century artists.
- Swedish Broadcasting Museum (Sveriges Rundradiomuseum) in the old transmitter building from 1927. Tells the history of the Swedish radio broadcasting since the 1920s.
- Motala Industrial Museum at the Motala Works. Shows the wide range of the products from the town's industrial works.
- Take a bath at the famous and popular Varamobaden sand beach in lake Vättern
- See the boats in the locks at Borenshult.
- Climb the radio towers at the broadcasting station.
- Attend a speedway event at Dunteberget race track.
- Shopping in the city centre.
- Vätternrundan is an annual 300-kilometre bicycle race around lake Vättern, part of the Swedish Classic Circuit.
Systembolaget is the state-owned monopoly liquor store. This is where you go if you want to buy a bottle of wine or spirits or beer stronger than approx. 3% alcohol which you can find in supermarkets. There is one Systembolaget in Motala, close to the Main Square.
- Birgittas udde, (Saint Bridget's Point). Ruins of the medieval manor house where Saint Bridget of Sweden lived during the 14th century.
- Borensberg, a village with a lock on Göta Canal.
- Farfarstugan coffe house, next to Övralid, with a nice view over lake Vättern.
- Godegård, a small village with a manor house and a porcelain museum.
- Linköping, largest town in the area, good shopping and a cathedral.
- Medevi, a small village and a health spa since 1678. Many old buildings with museums, hotel, restaurant and a hostel. You can still drink the healthy water during the summers.
- Medieval churches in Ask, Ekebyborna, Fivelstad, Kristberg and Nykyrka.
- Nubbekullen, small old time farm and museum. Birthplace of academic painter August Malmström (1829-1901).
- Övralid, the well-preserved home of the author and Nobel Prize lauriet Verner von Heidenstam (1859-1940).
- Ulvåsa manor house, south of lake Boren. Gardens are open for visitors.
- Vadstena, a town with a castle and an abbey.