The location has had a resident population for centuries, at least since the stone age time. The town was then built alongside the bridge over river Varnan. Its name was Broo (or Bro) until 1642, and "Bro" literally means "Bridge" in Swedish.
Kristinehamn got a Royal Charter for the first time in 1582 but lost it in 1584, and regained it in 1642, and changed its name in honour of the monarch Queen Christina of Sweden. It thus qualifies as one of Sweden's historical cities. Its city arms were designated with a bojort, which is a Dutch ship in use in the 17th century.
The oldest runestone in the county of Värmland, the Järsberg Runestone, is located in Järsberg around 1 km outside the city, with origin back to 500 AC. The latest interpretation of the runes was made by Sven B. F. Jansson. Quotation: "My name is "Ljuv". My name is "Ravn". Me "Eril" am making the runes". A pearl from the same period of time has been found in the area.
Kristinehamn Church was designed by professor Carl Georg Brunius and was first opened in 1858. The church also has a museum in the sanctuary gallery that is worth a visit because of its unique architecture.