Road Trip: Island hopping along the Swedish West Coast
We could talk about the west coast of Sweden for hours… From the endless coastline with thousands of rocky islands, to the pretty fishing villages tucked between granite cliffs, and the fresh seafood on your plate. But we're not going to do that. Bohuslän’s beauty is best experienced for yourself.
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So hop in your car and explore this coastal region in less than a week, experiencing the highlights at your own pace. To make it easy for you we’ve planned a route with 6 stops, taking you on a relaxed road trip through this unique part of Sweden.
Day 1: Start in Gothenburg
The city of Gothenburg, the gateway to Bohuslän, is an excellent starting point to discover West Sweden. Leave the car here for the day, because the city centre can easily be explored on foot or by public transport.
Photographer: Tina Stafren
Charming Gothenburg has a lively cultural scene, a fascinating history and an easily accessible city centre with many restaurants and shops. And on top of that, it has the best backyard imaginable, because just outside the city stetches the beautiful archipelago, ideal for an extra day trip. The Gothenburg archipelago, with its hundreds of lovely islands, is easily accessible by public transport.
Day 2: From Gothenburg to Marstrand
An hour's drive from Gothenburg lies Marstrand, an idyllically located island with the mighty Carlsten Fortress topping it. Stroll around the quayside and make sure you find time for a fika, the typical Swedish coffee break with tasty treats.
If you like walking, you can get a good stretch on the various walking routes around the island, including the Koön trails. The routes vary in length and difficulty. An extra plus when you reach the top of the Carlsten Fortress is the phenomenal 360 degree view of the coastline, with the boats in the harbour, the sea and countless islands.
Day 3: From Marstrand to Tjörn
The journey continues in the direction of the island of Tjörn. Tjörn is one of Sweden's larger islands and ideal for hiking, cycling and kayaking enthusiasts. You won’t need your car here, because you’ll see the most while walking or cycling. The trails are tranquil and often wind along the coastline (including the famous Kuststigen coastal path) with views of the many small islands.
Make a stop at Skulptur i Pilane (open until the end of September), an imposing outdoor sculpture park near Klövedal. Cycle on to the seaside town of Skärhamn. Need a breather after all these activities? Unwind in one of the most beautiful places on the island. The Nordic Watercolour Museum is located in Skärhamn. It’s not only worth a visit for the great exhibitions inside, but because its location on the edge of the archipelago is just as lovely.
The museum houses Restaurant Vatten with a gorgeous view of the surrounding islands.
There are also culinary delights to enjoy in other places on Tjörn: stop for a fika at Lottas Bak & Form, then drive on to Klädesholmen for a delicious dinner or stay overnight at Salt & Sill.
Photographer: Tony Meyer
Day 4: Into the archipelago to Dyrön
The Bohuslän archipelago is of course best experienced from the water. Hop into a kayak and paddle – with or without a guide – at a leisurely pace between the islands. Bring a thermos of coffee and a bag of fresh cinnamon buns for some extra energy, and picnic on one of the hundreds of uninhabited rocky islands. Kayaks can be rented from Kajaktiv, among others.
A little less challenging, but just as beautiful, is a short ferry crossing from Rönnäng to the nearby islands of Åstol or Dyrön. Nowhere is the Bohuslän feeling as special as on the islands themselves.
On Dyrön you can go on a 5 kilometre walk around part of the island via the Dyröleden. Along the way you’ll pass several spots with great views of Marstrand and Åstol. Or cross the island via the Dynes ravine, a narrow passage between two cliffs, a beautiful walk for lovers of unusual flora. Ten metres from the sea is Dyrön's famous sauna, with spectacular views of the rocky coastline and sea.
Finish your visit at the delightful restaurant Trålverket on Dyrön, then return to Tjörn where you continue by car via the island of Orust to Lysekil.
Day 5: Lysekil and Fiskebäckskil
The two harbour towns of Lysekil and Fiskebäckskil are connected by a handy ferry, where you can get to the other side with your car in a short time. Lysekil is a great base for discovering the northern part of Bohuslän. Part of the long distance Kuststigen walking route passes Lysekil and skirts the coast, with beautiful sea views.
The entire Kuststigen coastal path runs from Tjörn to Oslo and is divided into 38 sections that can all be walked separately. If you prefer to just explore Lysekil, then stroll at your leisure past the charming wooden houses along winding streets.
Tip: go on a seafood safari onboard Signe or an oyster and mussel fishing trip with Lysekils Ostron och Musslor. And of course you’ll get to taste your catch afterwards. Sea breezes don’t just make you hungry, they also make you tired. Treat yourself to a comfortable overnight stay in one of the lovely hotels in Lysekil, often beautifully situated just by the water.
Day 6: Back to Gothenburg via Ljungskile
Head away from the coast and return to Gothenburg along the E6, but preferably not without stopping along the way, because there is still plenty to see and do in this part of the West Swedish coast. And to taste!
An ideal lunch stop is Musselbaren in Ljungskile, where you can taste the 'blue gold' harvested fresh from the sea: mussels. You can also go on a mussel expedition here between April and October, sailing with fishermen who’ll prepare the day’s catch for you on the spot.
Photographer: Kristin Wiktorsson
If you want to stretch your legs after all those mussels, there are some lovely walks in the area. The Kuststigen walking route can also be accessed here. Bredfjället hill rises majestically a few hundred meters above Ljungskile, a wonderful place to explore the natural scenery, with hilly walks passing fish-rich lakes, and glimpses of the sea between the pine trees. Ljungskile has long been a popular seaside resort and spa destination, so if you want to extend your stay in West Sweden, now is your chance…