Road trip: From Gothenburg to Lake Vänern through West Sweden
Touring the green interior of West Sweden by car is a good idea at any time of the year. In the vast hinterland of Västergötland you’ll come across lakes, rivers, hills, vast forests and pretty villages aplenty.
Good to know:
A road trip through this part of Sweden is actually many trips, because Swedish nature and culture are best experienced on two feet, with many stops along the way. We’ve listed the 6 best stops between Gothenburg and Lake Vänern for you. Hop in and let’s get going!
Day 1: Gothenburg
The city of Gothenburg is more than just the logical start and end point of this tour. Its history, exciting art and culture scene and many culinary highlights make it a very attractive introduction to West Sweden, where you can get your fill of bustling city life before you set off to explore the great outdoors.
Photographer: Anders Wester/Göteborg & Co
Hop on a bike to explore the city centre or stroll through Gamlestaden – the Old Town – and use public transport to explore Gothenburg's beautiful archipelago just off the coast.
Day 2: The Gotaleden
The Gotaleden hiking trail starts just outside Gothenburg, winding through forests, fields and countryside, but never far from civilization and public transport. This makes planning a walk extra easy, because you can reach the various start and end points of the routes by train.
The Gotaleden stretches a total of 71 kilometres between Gothenburg and Alingsås, which would take you about four days to walk. Not a long distance walker? No problem, there are also plenty of options for short walks.
Along the way you will come across plenty of wonderful places to stop, not just for a picnic in scenic surroundings, but also for a great lunch such as at Garveriet in Floda. The trails are well marked with Gotaleden signs and in the autumn months well maintained nature trails take you through both colourful forests and inhabited areas.
Explore the Nääs Fabriker industrial heritage site, a unique mix of nature and culture with beautiful views of Lake Sävelången. And be sure to check out Nääs Castle, one of Scandinavia 's best preserved 19th century buildings.
Day 3: Alingsås
The town of Alingsås, also known as the fika capital of Sweden, is just over half an hour's drive from Gothenburg. Let’s get straight to the point: no visit to Sweden is complete without a fika. This traditional coffee break (preferably with a cake or sandwich) is deeply rooted in Swedish culture, and they really know how to do it in Alingsås. Here you will probably find the most cafes per square kilometre in Sweden and the sweet smell of fresh cinnamon buns wafts through the picturesque streets.
The oldest café dates back to the 1700s and whichever one you step into, you can't go wrong with a coffee and sweet treat. Time for a bit of exercise? Not only is Alingsås itself well worth a walk around, you can also tot up the kilometres in the countryside surrounding the town.
If you plan your road trip in autumn you’ll be able to see the Lights in Alingsås event (September 30 – November 6, 2022), where the entire town is illuminated with various light installations and creations by artists from around the world.
Photographer: Marcus Helmer Gustafsson
Accommodation tip: Grand Hotel Alingsås
Day 4: Alingsås – Lidköping
Follow the E20 in the direction of Lidköping, or explore more of the countryside along winding country roads. Lidköping is a pretty town on the edge of Sweden's largest lake, Vänern. When you stand on its shore, it’s almost impossible to imagine that you are looking at a lake. The open stretch of blue water is endless.
Lidköping is a design and ceramics centre. In the Rörstrand Museum you’ll get to know everything about the famous porcelain of the same name. Rörstrand porcelain dates back to 1726, making it one of the oldest ceramics in Europe. But the museum demonstrates that it’s not all about old crockery, by also showing work by contemporary designers.
Day 5: Läckö Castle
Today we’ll head to Läckö Castle. Its location alone is reason enough to visit this 17th century Baroque beauty. The castle is located on the banks of Lake Vänern and on sunny days the snow white exterior with the bright blue water of the lake in the background looks like a picture from a fairy tale. Even on less sunny days you can still enjoy a breath of fresh air in the surroundings.
Stroll around the castle grounds, visit the gardens and explore the castle's beautifully preserved interior with Baroque rooms overlooking the lake. In autumn, the castle is fully open in September and on weekends in October.
The nearby Naturum Vänerskärgården - Victoriahuset, a nature centre about the Lake Vänern archipelago, also offers accommodation and is home to the Gastrofär restaurant which uses vegetables picked fresh from Läcko Castle kitchen garden in its dishes.
Hire a kayak or canoe from Naven Outdoor Experience and glide along the rippling water while you wildlife spot. Hike part of the new Biosfärleden trail, a 140-kilometer route through the entire UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Vänerskärgården, near Kinnekulle. The first part of the route (a 20 km stretch) starts at Läckö Castle, passing through the archipelago landscapes, with lots of small islands and beautiful scenery, towards the Kålland peninsula.
The whole area around Läckö Castle is part of Platåbergens Geopark, Sweden's first UNESCO Global Geopark.
Day 6: Lidköping - Trollhättan
Lake Vänern is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. In the summer months lots of water sport activities happen here, but there is also lots to do in the autumn. As well as hiking and kayaking, you can enjoy cycling along the Vänerleden. The route winds all the way around Lake Vänern, but with a total of 640 kilometres that is a long bike ride. You can of course cycle shorter stretches of the route, along well maintained gravel and asphalt paths.
Hop back in the car and continue your road trip, driving gradually back towards Gothenburg, but not before a stop at the Ecopark Halle-Hunneberg, where you can enjoy lovely walks through dense forests and past clear lakes. This rugged part of Sweden around the Halle and Hunneberg table mountains has a long history dating back to the Ice Age. The traces are there to see with your own eyes, in the form of sheer cliffs and cave formations.
In addition to walking, cycling, fishing and sightseeing in the Ecopark itself, there are also good hiking trails in the surrounding countryside. But there’s still one day of your road trip left so let’s head off to the nearby town of Trollhättan.
Day 7: Trollhättan – Gothenburg
Trollhättan is about an hour's drive from Gothenburg. That leaves you plenty of time for sightseeing, starting with the famous waterfalls and locks there. The waterfalls in Trollhättan are the highest and most powerful of all in southern Sweden. The real power of the water is more clearly visible when the locks are opened in the summer months, but it is also an impressive spectacle in other seasons.
Trollhättan is the starting point of a number of hiking trails of differing lengths, including the Edvidsleden and Pilgrimsleden Göta älv. The two trails both skirt in part along the blue ribbon of the Göta river, with beautiful views, through colourful forests over slightly hilly terrain. There’s a lot you can do here but sadly it’s time to move on.
Make sure you take enough breaks (read: fika!) along the way to let the beautiful surroundings sink in. Then take a deep breath of fresh air, because before you know it you'll be back in the hustle and bustle of the city. But now you know: in West Sweden nature is always just around the corner!
Do you want more road trip inspiration?
Here is another planned route for you: