The Best Things to Do on the Archipelago of West Sweden

The fishing villages along the Bohuslän coast and archipelago once made their fortune from the sea, hauling in herring and other catches. Now the region draws its many visitors during summer who come for the sailing, swimming, kayaking and other outdoor adventures.

Take the bus to Kungälv and walk up to Bohus Fortress (Bohus Fästning), which has guarded the northern entrance to Gothenburg at the Nordre River since 1308. During the summer lots of medieval-style activities take place, like sword fighting, archery, and “knight school” for children. Don’t go back to Gothenburg until you have taken a walk along Västra gatan, a charming street with old wooden houses. Maybe stop for fika, too.
Kosters Trädgårdar Långegärde, 452 05 Sydkoster, Sweden
The beautiful Koster Islands are Sweden’s most westerly populated islands with only around 300 year-round inhabitants and almost no car traffic. Sustainability and ecology are key values here and visitors flock to the islands’ sunny climate and natural attractions. The surrounding archipelago, with its seal colonies, skerries, and rocky isles, is a unique environmental treasure. The islands’ focus on sustainability and local traditions is especially evident at Koster Gardens on South Koster, operated by a collective of environmentalists dedicated to inspiring its visitors toward a more sustainable lifestyle. The prize-winning restaurant was built with materials such as straw and earth and is open year-round, serving lunch and fika (coffee break) from the best ingredients available from the garden and sea. Guided tours are arranged on foot, by bike, or kayak.
Åstol, 471 44 Åstol, Sweden
On this small island between the island of Marstrand in the south and island of Tjörn in the north, the houses seem to cling tightly to the rock. Åstol was a major fishing community up until the 1970’s, but has since then struggled. Take a walk around this remote island, and then settle down for a meal of smoked shrimp at Åstols Rökeri on the inlet. From there you have a great view over the harbor, and watch the incoming boats navigate the rocks just outside the harbor and find their way in to dock. If you’re lucky, you might catch some live music at the Rökeri.
The Bohuslän archipelago has a harsh kind of beauty that can be enjoyed in many ways. One of the best, of course, being a journey by boat along the coast trying to find one’s own special paradise. Will it be the glamorous Marstrand, the charming Käringön or the lush, green Orust? There are several boat companies that sail along the coast, so with a bit of planning you can go from Gothenburg in the south to Strömstad in the north. You can also buy a prearranged package, complete with overnight stays and activities along the route. If you want to bring a bike so you can cycle on the islands, be sure to check if bikes are allowed on board and on the islands.
Sjövägen 60, 457 73 Havstenssund, Sweden
What happens when two librarians fall in love and decide it’s to do something else in life? Linnèa Sjögren and Jonas Petterson wanted to spend more time outdoors and explore their interest in the wild, Swedish seaweed as culinary raw material, so they opened Catxalot in Havstenssund. Catxalot organizes seaweed workshops, seaweed safaris, cooking courses for both professionals and interested amateurs, and has in just a few years, gained a reputation on the Swedish culinary scene. Joint them for an interesting day by (and in) the sea to learn more about the different kind of seaweed that grow on the coast, and finish the day by cooking dinner, with dishes like salmon, salad or chocolate cake all made with — you guessed it — seaweed
456 50 Smögen, Sweden
In a province with a long coastline and long-standing fishing tradition, spending the day deep sea fishing is a great way to feel like a real “bohuslänning” – a local resident of Bohuslän. All along the coast you find tour operators who offer a range of charters from, family-friendly three hour tours to customized itineraries. You’ll fish for whatever is in season: in summer, it’s cod, mackerel or crayfish while autumn is lobster season. Remember to bring warm clothes — the winds can be strong, even a warm day.
Käringön, 474 74 Käringön, Sweden
The isolated, car-free island of Käringön is a 40-minute ferry ride from Orust, and has less than 100 full-time residents who stay year round, even through the long winter. But it’s a different story in the summer. In the 19th century, the middle classes in Sweden became enamored with the benefits of fresh sea air and started flocking to the small islands along the coast. Today about a thousand visitors arrive daily by ferry or private boat to enjoy the island’s relaxed vibe. Come for a lunch of fresh-caught seafood at Petersons Krog or watch children on the pier trying to catch the little crabs crawling through the seaweed down below. In the cold weather, visitors can take a lobster fishing tour or sample fresh oysters at the Käringö oyster bar, which also has a hot tub that seats six.
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