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Kayaking in West Sweden
Photo: Anna Hållams

Things to do

Beginner or experienced - Guide to great paddling in West Sweden

Paddle through the dramatic Bohuslän archipelago and discover hidden beaches, red granite rocks and impressive seaside wildlife. For a calmer experience up-close with nature, make your way to Dalsland with its streams, canals, creeks and grand lakes.

Imagine reaching small bays where the water is crystal clear, where the rocks are so smooth you’ll want to stay the night, and where you’ll float due to the salty waters. With its red fisherman’s huts and granite slabs, the Bohuslän coast has been rated the top ten last great wilderness areas in the world by CNN Travel. In total there are 8,000 islands to explore in the archipelago, and, thankfully, no strong currents or dangerous tidal waters. The food scene here is unique, too. Due to the cold and clear water, the seafood is top quality and can be enjoyed at restaurants or out in the wild. You simple buy a bag of freshly caught shrimps from the fishmonger and enjoy them on a granite cliff. 

Another great activity is to go on an oyster paddling experience in Grebbestad, a tour where you get to learn how to open oysters and eat them straight from the water. You’re definitely in for a treat – Michelin star chef Paul Bocuse has described oysters from this area as the best in the world. 

Regardless if you are a beginner or experienced paddler, there are plenty of kayak companies offering courses, guided or private tours and all the gear you need. These include Upplevelsebolaget and Nautopp. They will make sure to tailor-make the advice for you.

West Sweden truly is a paradise for kayaking in all seasons, even in the cold winter where you go past icy ocean and snow-covered cliffs. You should also try the popular Stand Up Paddling boarding “SUP”, but make sure the ocean is ice free this time around! Or why not combine paddling with yoga?

Paddling in West SwedenPaddling with a guide is a great way to explore the archipelagos of West Sweden. Skärgårdsidyllen offers guided tours in Bohuslän, for both beginners and more advanced kayakers. Photo: Anna Hållams

Sea kayaking in Bohuslän

From the Gothenburg archipelago in the south to the Koster islands in the north here is so much to discover. One of the highlights is the Kosterhavet National Park, Sweden’s first national marine park. It’s home to around 12,000 species, both above and below the surface, as well as one of Sweden’s largest seal colonies. Enjoy the sheltered waters and secluded beaches, and don’t forget to leap off into the sea on the way. Guided tours are available from Skärgårdsidyllen, starting from Ekenäs on the southern island.  

Just south of the Koster islands is Fjällbacka, a picturesque seaside village with a stunning archipelago and famous for being the setting for Swedish crime writer Camilla Läckberg. Start off from neighbouring village Grebbestad and make your way through the cobbles and islets. Go past Dannholmen where Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman spent her summers and soak up the beautiful view of red granite rocks against the horizon. West of Fjällbacka is Sweden’s most westerly point, the Weather Islands. You can book a guided tour with Upplevelsebolaget, Skärgårdsidyllen and Nautopp.  

Other highlights in the Bohuslän archipelago include Lysekil and Skaftö with beautiful channels and smaller islands. Tjörn and Orust offer spectacular fjords as well as cultural experiences, including museums and great food at spots such as Klädesholmen island and Skärhamn. If you are up for it, these routes are also possible to paddle during winter time.

Kayaking in West SwedenThere are many beautiful areas to explore from the kayak in West Sweden. Photo: Anna Hållams

Canoeing in Dalsland

For a different kind of nature experience, still in the same region, make your way to Dalsland where there are more than 1,100 streams, creeks and grand lakes to paddle. In this area, it’s mostly about canoes as opposed to kayaks, which are more popular in Bohuslän. Dalsland even organizes the world’s largest canoe competition with 16 countries attending.  

One of the most beautiful lakes is Svärdlång, a narrow lake with steep cliffs along one side and beaches on the other. North of the city Bengtsfors you paddle in drinkable water, so all you need to bring is a cup or canteen – which you simply fill and drink on the spot in your canoe. The aqueduct in Håverud, Mellerud is also a great route. Hundreds of thousands of visitors every year come to the Dalsland Canal to see this spectacular intersection of road, rail and waterway. A tour through this canal will take you through the heart of the most lake-rich landscape in Sweden.