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  • Photographer: Göran Assner

Frequently asked questions

On this page you will find the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about Koster Islands. Do you need more help? Please do not hesitate to contact us infocenter@stromstad.se

The Koster Islands are tucked high up the north-west coast of Sweden near the border with Norway and the Koster ferry take you to the Koster Islands every day, all year round. Both islands have a variety of landscapes dotted with red-roofed houses with lovely swimming beaches, moors, small forests and rocky coasts with clear traces of the Ice Age. These two main islands have 300 year-round inhabitants (240 of them at South Koster) and since both are virtually car-free, attract large numbers of cyclists and hikers in the summer.

Remember that a large part of the islands is a nature reserve and at the Koster boat landing piers there are information signs with maps of routes and trails. If you are bringing a dog, it must be on a leash.

South Koster has an area of 8 square km and North Koster an area of 4 square km. Tiny North Koster is hilly and has good beaches. Larger South Koster is flatter and better for cycling, with bike-rental facilities, restaurants and two large beaches at Rörvik and Kilesand. You’ll also find Sweden’s national marine park, Kosterhavet National Park, here – a home to 12,000 species of marine life and Sweden’s largest seal colonies.

Getting there

Photographer: Katrin Sjögren

From where do the boats depart?
There are regular passenger ferries to the Koster Islands departing from the north harbour in Stromstad, adjacent to the square and tourist information centre. The journey takes around 40 minutes with the red and white catamaranes. There are two landings on North Koster: Vettnet on the east side and Västra Bryggan in the Koster Strait. South Koster has three: Långegärde in the Koster Strait, Ekenäs and Kilesand on the east side. 

How long does the Ferry to Koster from Strömstad take?
The travel duration for this ferry route is approximately 30-60 minutes depending on where you get off and what time of year you travel.

Where do I get off? 
The ferry stops at several places on the islands, both South and North Koster. On North Koster you can get off at the harbour Västra Bryggan and Vettnet (only summer season). On South Koster there are three harbours, Kilesand, Ekenäs and Långegärde.  

Timetable?
Please visit Koster Marin or use the Travel Planner Västtrafik, more information can be found here

Where do I buy tickets for the Koster ferry?
Tickets are purchased on board and there is a charge for bicycles (card only) or in machines on the quay in Strömstad (card only). 

Can I bring my dog, kayak, bike or stroller on the Koster ferry?
Yes, you can bring your dog on the boat (also wheelchair and stroller).
Some ask if you can bring a bike on board and it is possible, but it is only biking on South Koster. North Koster is not bike friendly. It´s better to hike there.
There is an extra charge for bike and kayak and you can bring them in case of space in the storage on board. These tickets are purchased on board! 

Tips for fun activities

Photographer: GORAN ASSNER/VIEW 932266

Where can I go swimming?
Smooth rocks, secluded bays and sandy beaches surrounded by a glittering sea. The Koster Islands are one of the sunniest places in Sweden and well-known for offering wonderful opportunities for sunbathing and swimming. On North Koster you can go swimming near Västra bryggan, Basteviken and Norrvikarna up north. On South Koster there are large beaches such as Rörvik outside Ekenäs and the kilometer long sandy beach at Kilesand. More information. 

Where can dogs go for a swim?
Dogs are able to swim anywhere and as a owner you are still obliged to keep their dogs on a leash and to clean up after their dogs.

Hiking?
On both North Koster and South Koster there are several different marked hiking trails and circuits. They take you through dim pine forests and deciduous groves, across heaths and bare rock and down to damp seashore meadows. But the North island has a different feel, much wilder and desolate with white sandy beaches. Enjoy the stunning scenery from the marked paths and trails, or from the various resting spots. 

Biking?
You can cycle between different attractions on smaller roads on South Koster.
Down load bike map

Kayaking?
The archipelago around the Koster islands is an incredible area for kayaking. Explore seals, tiny straits - perfect passage for kayaks, oyster banks, stunning and protected wildlife areas, beaches and a lot more. 
You can bring your own kayak or hire at any rental on the two main islands. Please read more about it here.

Where can I find a map of Koster? 
Down load map here.

You also can pick one up at our tourist bureaus placed in the city centre, next to where the ferry to Koster departs or on the Koster ferry and naturum Kosterhavet.

Where can I rent a bike?
At the harbour Ekenäs and Långegärde on South Koster, see Kostercykeln for information

Experience

Photographer: Göran Assner

Naturum Kosterhavet
The Naturum visitor centre is a stone’s throw from the Ekenäs jetty on South Koster. It is a staffed information centre where visitors can get answers to questions about the national park, pick up maps and find lots of information. See opening hours here. 

View point?
Valfjäll on South Koster, accessed by steep wooden steps, gives a great panoramic view including the shingle church down below and the ocean in the distance.
Högen (lighthouses) on North Koster, it is worth climbing up to the lighthouses to see the panorama across the islands and the horizon.

Sights?
Visiting the Koster Islands is like taking a holiday from everyday life and here are plenty of things to discover once on Koster. See more here. 

I enjoy being in the nature, where should I go?

On North Koster there are two marked circular routes that let you walk to the varying land and seascapes easily. Distances are comfortable so you don’t really have to plan ahead and there are plenty of interesting detours. Look out for: the shingle fields at Valnäsbukten (bay) are a stunning remnant of the ice age and the sea that formed the ramparts as the Kosters rose from the sea. Visit Kosters highest vantage point at Högen where there are two former lighthouses at almost 60 metres above sea level for fabulous views. Go for a dip, weather allowing, at Basteviken, Norrvikarna and Hasselvikarna. 

There are four colour-coded walking trails on South Koster between the harbours and paths that go around and criss-cross the island. Look out for: Valfjäll with jaw-dropping views across the Koster Islands. Visit the Koster gardens and sculpture park. Pretty sea holly and the Koster thistle at Kilesand beach. The leg from Kilsand to Brevik harbour goes over a plant-rich shoreline and meadows and you enter the national park; one of two areas of South Koster island that is part of the national park.

See more information hiking and sights along the hiking trails. 

Good to know

Photographer: Åsa Dahlgren

How do I get between North- and South Koster?
Between North and South Koster (Västra Bryggan-Långegärde) there is a small cable ferry that is manned summertime. At other times of the year you can take the Koster boat. The journey costs SEK 15 SEK. 

Any special regulations or restrictions accordting to the national park and nature reserves?

As mentioned before, camping is allowed only to the designated campsite at North Koster. In the archipelago around the main islands there are special regulations. Please visit the national park´s website for more information.

Places to stay?
There is a range of accommodation types, for instance the Pensionat Ekenäs offers high quality rooms and meals. Cabins plus there is a campsite on North Koster are also available. If you want to spend the night on one of the islands during the summer months, it is advisable to pre-book, as the holiday accommodation is often fully booked during high season (primarily in July and August). Also camping is only allowed at the designated campsite. 

Restaurants on Koster?
Fresh seafood is part of the culture here and there is a fish shop and smokehouse at Ekenäs (Kosters Rökeri) and at Västra Bryggan (Strandkanten). There are also numerous restaurants scattered about and each with varying menus, for example Kosters Trädgårdar, Bokhandlarnes Pub, Tavernan på Syd and Pensionat Ekenäs on South Koster. If you are on North Koster we can recommend Kosterhavets Ekobod and Galejen at Västra Bryggan.