The Rocky West Coast of Sweden

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Thousands of granite islands make up the Western Islands of Sweden, an archipelago that stretches north into the Norwegian border. It’s an exciting part of Scandinavia!

Gothenburg
Why not begin your exploration with the largest city of the Swedish West Coast? Wander the picturesque canal, with its cute bridges and majestic Gustav Adolf square (named after the founding father of Sweden). Enjoy some cold beers alfresco before spending a night at the floating hotel Ibis, housed in a ship on the Gothia river.

Gothenburgh by night
Gothenburgh by night

Kayaking Gothenburg archipelago can lead to other adventures
The Gothenburg archipelago, with thousands of islands, is ideal for kayaking. You can take lessons from outfitters, go on an afternoon outing on your own or sign up for a multi-day tour that includes camping. If you’re lucky, you’ll see seals and waterfowl that call the archipelago home.

Kayaking in Gotehneburgh. Photo Henrik Trygg/Visit Sweden
Kayaking in Gotehneburgh. Photo Henrik Trygg/Visit Sweden

Marstrand
The smallest town in the county of Västra Götaland is an absolute must-see – a Swedish playground for royalty and celebrities that boasts a rich and intriguing history. Here you can enjoy the impressive views across the archipelago from Carlsten’s Fortress.

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Klädesholmen
 
On this small island in Tjörn municipality, Bohuslän, you can join local fishermen on a seafood safari for lobster, oysters and mussels. Herring is so big on the West Coast that the folks here celebrate “the Day of the Herring” on June 6. A perfect day for festing and raising a glass or two to the picturesque fishing villages there. Be aware though, realize that much of the following day will be spent with head in hands. Exactly at which point during the celebration was it a good idea to get in yet another round?

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Visit the floating waterfront restaurant Salt & Sill.
Salt & Sill restaurant has one of the West Coast’s best locations. Outdoor serving and windowseats with a sea view that provides an almost surreal closeness to the sea. Here you will enjoy fishing, shellfish and Salt & Sill specialty “herring plate” that has contributed heavily to the tavern as international recognition. Salt & Sill, inter alia, awarded the reviews “Worth a trip” and “White Heart” by the White Guide and Quality Award “West Swedish tastes” of the West Sweden Tourist Board.

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The island is connected to Tjörn via a bridge to Bleket.

Lysekil
This adorable, postcard-pretty village is a great place to base yourself for further island exploration, including the island of Skaftö, where you’ll find Fiskebeckskil and Grandsund.

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Fjellbacka
is a peaceful burg about 90 miles north of Gothenburg. Fjallbacka boomed in the late 1800s when herring filled the waters offshore.

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It became a popular vacation spot for Scandinavians early in the last century and continues to draw visitors, many of whom come to see the about 600 panels of 3,000-year-old Tanum rock carvings, included in the UNESCO World Heritage site north of town. Many of the glyphs shoe boats, humans with bows, spears or axes, rituals and hunting scenes.

AppleMark
If you love lobster, come in September for the lobster fishing season and pot some of these darlings of the foodie world. Back on dry land, you get to prepare and devour your catch. Actress Ingrid Bergman spent many summers on Danholmen Island after she and producer husband Lars Schmidt bought a home there in 1958. And it is there, on the north side of the island, that her ashes were scattered after her death in 1982.
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The Fjällbacka archipelago boats leave from the town harbor (Centrumbryggan) by Ingrid Bergman square. Choose a vessel from motor cruisers, fishing boats, yachts and RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat). If you want a leisurely ‘cruise-type’ experience go for one of the first three. For a rush to the head and a bad hair day go for the RIB option.

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High above Fjällbacka rises Vetteberget, from the top of which there is a fantastic view of both the islands off the coast and the mainland. The rock is divided into Stora (Big) and Lilla (Little) Vetteberget by the unusual Kungsklyftan, a cleft that has huge stone blocks wedged in like a roof. That cleft is a must-see spot on Camilla Lackberg murder mystery tours. Lackberg, a bestselling Swedish author, used the Kungsklyftan as the opening scene in her book “The Preacher,” in which a boy finds the body of a young woman covering the skeletons of two young women killed decades earlier.

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Getting there:
From Gothenburg, you can rent a car and drive on E6 north for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Or you can take a train to the little town of Dingle and then catch bus 875 to Fjallbacka, which is about 15 miles northwest.

Väderöarna Islands
The aptly named Weather Islands are Sweden’s most westerly islands and among the most exotic islands in the country. This is kayaking heavens for seafood lovers.

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Väderöarnas guesthouse and restaurant is set on the main island – a wonderful retreat where guests can indulge in fresh seafood and enjoy the beautiful landscape, including walks across the smooth cliffs, swimming in the ocean or relaxing in a wood-fired sauna or hot-tub.

The restaurant is Taste of West Sweden accredited – one of a network of gastronomic eateries that make the most of West Sweden’s first-class produce. It serves up delicacies from the sea, with a menu changing according to season and availability. The tasty mussel soup, laced with cognac, has already become a classic.

Käringön
has an attractive and well protected harbor for guest boats. There are four hotels, bed and breakfast, guesthouses and many private rooms to rent for visitors. The island has 3-4 restaurants and coffee shops, the most famous are “Petersons krog” and “Karingo Oysterbar”, where people come from all over the world to enjoy the fresh seafood and fantastic views.

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Kosterhavet National Park
This is Sweden’s first national Marine Park with more than 6,000 sea creatures, including rare seabirds, brachiopods, spinge and coral larvae, live in waters of this preserve.

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Don’t miss:

Kosters Tradgarder
This is an organic garden restaurant, ideal for a fika, the traditional Swedish coffee brak, typically accompanied by pastries and sandwiches. The restaurant is run by Helena and Dtevan von Bothmer, who once taught at Uppsala University and now sell books and vegetables. The restaurant serves the day’s fresh seafood catc, garnished with selfgrown herbs and vegetables.

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Hotel Koster
Try to stop for a smorgasbord lunch at Hotel Koster. It looks like a hotel on the Main coast in USA and has been serving guests since 1905. Ask for a table on the deck with a view to the elegant sailboats heading into the Kosterfjord harbor.

Getting there
Take the regular ferry from the Disney-pretty seaside resort in  Strömstad, north of Fjallbacka.  The boat is usually packed with Swedish families showing off spectacularly efficient systems for transporting huge amount of camping gear on foot. You may rent bicycles on the island.

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Grebbestad
90% of Sweden’s oysters originate from this kooky, quaint fishing village. It is also home to Everts Sjöbod, a restored 19th century boathouse where eco-friendly seafood safaris and tasting sessions are on the menu.

The Rocky West Coast of Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg