The majority of visitors to the west of Sweden find themselves in the bustling city of Gothenburg, but there’s plenty to enjoy in the great outdoors away from the city.
Depending on the time of year you visit, there’s a fine selection of sports events, foodie celebrations and natural wonders to tempt you.
Here’s our guide to some of the best attractions in West Sweden, so you may plan your trip to Sweden next summer:
A lobster safari
The region’s shellfish is celebrated by foodies thanks to the region’s cold, clean waters. Set out to sea with an expert fisherman to learn how to catch and prepare one of the sea’s real treats, lobster. If you prefer other seafood, try mussel, oyster, crayfish or prawn safaris instead. The lobster season starts on the first Monday after September 20 each year and runs until the end of April.
Do the Dalsland Canoe Marathon
Held in August, the Dalsland Canoe Marathon (pictured above) is Sweden’s largest canoe event. But at 55 km, it’s not exactly for the novices. The route takes in pretty lakes and waterways surrounded by forests, so it’s great for spectators, while competitors are likely to be aged anywhere from 12 to 75. Children can join in on a shorter course. The event is followed by a crayfish party.
Probe the Fjällbacka murders
Camilla Läckberg’s books are huge in Sweden, the country’s top-selling crime novelist, with such titles as The Ice Princess, The Lost Boy and The Lighthouse Keeper selling like hot cakes. She sets her detective stories in the fishing village of Fjällbacka (pictured), and there the locals have been quick to cash in on her success. Guided tours follow in the footsteps of her characters but also give visitors the chance to walk up Vetteberget Mountain, which towers over the village and offers fine views.
Take a trip on the Göta Canal
Connected to the country’s largest lakes – Lake Vänern and Lake Vättern in West Sweden – the Göta Canal stretches all the way from Gothenburg to Stockholm. Built by engineer Baltzar von Platen between 1810 and 1832, it was a mammoth undertaking and stretches 190 km. You can travel along it on an historic steamship, cycle or walk along its banks or rent boats, canoes and kayaks at many stops. There are more than 20 locks and 58 locks; at Berg, seven lock systems lift boats around 18 metres from Lake Roxen.
See thousands of cranes
Every year, from mid-March to mid-April, bird-watchers flock to see the stunning sight of 10,000 cranes dancing above Lake Hornborga. They perform as part of their mating ritual, flying in from Spain to their traditional breeding grounds. Stay nearby in Hotel Andrum’s tree-house, Seventh Heaven, and have breakfast hoisted up in a basket every morning.
It’s not surprising that a people who have to endure long, dark winters feel the need to have a big knees-up come summer. Swedes celebrate its arrival on Midsummer Eve in June. Maypoles are raised in villages and everyone tucks into a Midsummer feast of such delicacies as pickled herring, boiled potatoes with dill, soured cream and red onion – washed down with schnapps. Strawberries are a popular, traditional dessert. One place to watch the Maypole dancing is at Victoriaparken in Lyckorna.
The Day of the Herring
Also in June is the national holiday known as the Day of the Herring, named after Sweden’s favourite fish. Locals started to make a living out of it on the west coast about 1,000 years ago, and fishing communities developed in the region between the 1500s and 1800s. Celebrate the day in Klädesholmen – known as Herring Island because 40% of Sweden’s herring comes from there. Tuck into a herring lunch on the pretty harbour and take a tour of the herring factory or a heritage walk around the island.
You might not want to take part but why not watch the Stena Match Cup from historic Marstrand Island in July (a 45-minute drive north of Gothenburg). More than 100,000 visitors gather on the cliffs and quaysides of this picturesque island to follow the yacht races. Head further north to the coastal gem of Lysekil for another sailing spectacular in August – the world’s biggest match-racing competition for women, the Lysekil Women’s Match.
Enjoy a crayfish party
Sweden’s summertime crayfish parties are one of its greatest traditions and usually take place from mid-August to mid-September. While most are private affairs, those at at Väderöarnas Värdhus guesthouse on The Weather Islands are public affairs. Visitors have the chance to catch the seafood delicacies fresh from the ocean before a big crayfish feast is cooked up, accompanied by schnapps and traditional Swedish drinking songs. Guests can enjoy hot tubs by the sea, kayaking and relaxing walks too. www.vaderoarna.com
Music at the Way Out West Festival
Held every year in August since 2007, the Way Out West Festival attracts some of the biggest names in music and some of Sweden’s biggest clubs. Held in Gothenburg’s central Slottskogen Park, acts seen over the years have included Solange, Primal Scream, Azealia Banks, Neil Young and Lily Allen. The festival has strong eco credentials.
Written by our friends at DailyTravelIdeas.com