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Photographer: Roger Borgelid

Marstrand – Hiking, sailing and historical experiences

Far out to the west, where the archipelago ends and the open sea starts, lies Marstrand. A haven for sailing and swimming, with quaint neighbourhoods and car free streets. Discover the island’s lovely scenery, salty swimming spots and fascinating history.

What’s on!

How to get there

The island of Marstrand lies just north of Gothenburg along the Bohuslän coastline, and it’s easy to get there in around 50 minutes. From Marstrand’s ferry terminal there’s a short journey over the sound to reach the island.

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A journey back in time to the 17th century

Marstrand has an exciting history, not least when it comes to Carlstens Fortress which has watched over the town since the middle of the 1600s. Explore the fortress by yourself or on a guided tour. Creep into gruesome dungeons, see the Walk of Sighs, Gallows Hill, Lasse-Maja’s kitchen and the fortress chapel, or just enjoy the endless view from the lookout point. The fortress has its own restaurant for meals or fika, and you can also stay the night, go to the theatre or watch a concert.

Photographer: Per Pixel Petersson

Hike through smugglers’ secret passageways and magical forests

There are many lovely ways you can explore Marstrand on foot. Start by strolling around the postcard pretty neighbourhoods and narrow lanes, then head out to the coastal path which leads around the island. Along the way you can stop at several places for a dip in the sea, walk through the Smugglers’ Tunnel, explore caves and the magical Trollskogen forest, and admire the rare red waterlilies in Näckrosdammen.

Photographer: Roger Borgelid

If you want to go on a longer hike then go to Koön, where there are three lovely well marked trails of different levels of difficulty and terrain. What they all have in common is beautiful scenery, nice picnic areas and fantastic views. If you look north you can see the coastal villages and to the west you’ll get a glimpse of the famous Pater Noster lighthouse. The most advanced trail takes you along the shoreline, over rocks and boardwalks, while the somewhat easier trail is along paths by Älgö Fjord.


Three views you don’t want to miss when you’re hiking around Marstrand!

1. Skallens Lighthouse

You’ll pass several beautiful viewpoints on the trail around Marstrand island, but this is probably the loveliest of them all. Skallens Lighthouse is the island’s outermost post, from where you can see the mighty meeting between the two seas, Skagerak and Kattegatt. The lighthouse is as nice to visit on a warm early summer evening as on a gloomy autumn morning.

2. Passages between the rocks

The coastal scenery is truly spectacular. While you’re out hiking you’ll spot many remarkable rock formations, including the pretty Vargklyftan (Wolf Cleft) on Koön and Nålsögat (‘The eye of the needle’) on Marstrand – a passage between two cliffs that’s so narrow you have to go through it sideways.

3. The silhouette of Carlstens Fortress

This magnificent fortress is Marstrand's most popular attraction. If you get the chance, you should naturally visit in person, but just seeing its characteristic silhouette is a good second best. And where better to do it than from one of the viewpoints along Koön's hiking trails?


Go for a quayside walk like a local

Everyone in Marstrand enjoys a ‘kaja’, in other words a walk along the quayside (kaj) and back. It’s the perfect opportunity to buy an ice cream, check out the boats in the guest harbour and quite simply enjoy the surroundings.

Photographer: Roger Borgelid

If you’re visiting on a warm summer’s day, or if you actually prefer winter dips, there are several lovely spots with everything from family friendly swimming areas with sandy beaches, to hidden bays where you can dive from the rocks. 


Sweden’s largest guest harbour

Marstrand is undoubtedly Sweden’s sailing capital, and attracts every year the world’s best sailors and a massive audience to spectacular competitions. Being there when the world elite compete out at sea in the GKSS Match Cup Sweden is an awe inspiring experience whether you’re interested in sailing or not.

Much revolves around sailing and boating, and in the guest harbour, which is Sweden's largest, the boats are packed in tight. If you want to go out to sea yourself, there are several different boat trips you can enjoy – travel around the island, out into the archipelago, visit a seal colony or go kayaking. You can even join a sailing school! Or go out on a shellfish tour. Learn all about oysters, sea crayfish, lobsters and crabs with a local, experienced skipper and try your luck at fishing.

Photographer: Roger Borgelid


Restaurants with flavours of Bohuslän

For its size Marstrand is a real paradise when it comes to food. Many restaurants here serve top class cuisine, and dishes inspired by the sea are often a speciality. At Grand Tenan you can enjoy classics like oven baked langoustine, on the fantastic veranda overlooking the leafy Paradispark and the harbour. Ottos Kök has a menu based on regional flavours from Bohuslän and offer among other things an outstanding Toast Skagen.

Photographer: Jonas Ingman @ Bruksbild

Naturally you can also fika here. Bergs Konditori opened on Marstrand in the 1930s and is a popular place where both locals and visitors go to fika. Buy a cinnamon bun and a coffee, sit at one of the tables outside on the quayside and enjoy a spot of people watching. 


Stay until the next day

If you want to stay the night there are several choices. The historic Grand Hotel Marstrand is a stylish and charming hotel where King Oscar II once spent much of his time. Kurhotell Marstrand is just the place for you to get some rest and recreation in a historic building that housed cold and hot baths in the 19th century. If you would rather stay in Scandinavian style rooms then Marstrands Havshotell, with a view of the island, is for you. Here you can relax and enjoy the spa area with pools, salt rooms, steam sauna, outdoor hot tubs and a sauna raft by the sea - all inspired by the Bohuslän coast. Halfway down the quayside in Marstrand is Villa Maritime, providing apartments with a bedroom, living room and your own kitchen. 


Next to Gothenburg

There’s a whole lot to discover in Gothenburg. And there’s even more to explore outside the city. All you have to do is ride just a few stops beyond the city limits to enjoy some really memorable experiences. 

What’s on!

How to get there

The island of Marstrand lies just north of Gothenburg along the Bohuslän coastline, and it’s easy to get there in around 50 minutes. From Marstrand’s ferry terminal there’s a short journey over the sound to reach the island.

To travel planner

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