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Boat to Marstrand, West Sweden
Travel by boat to Marstrand in the archipelago of Bohuslän.
Photo credit: Jonas Ingman/Vastsverige.com

Bohuslän – a gem on the idyllic west coast of Sweden

Stretching along the west coast of Sweden from Gothenburg to the Norwegian border, Bohuslän is a seaside paradise celebrated for its seafood delicacies, cultural heritage and numerous outdoor activities – boating and sailing included.

Bohuslän – Sweden's westernmost province – boasts an extensive archipelago studded with over 8,000 islands and skerries. The coastline is famed for its smooth rock formation and picturesque fishing villages dotted with red boathouses. But there are also forests, meadows, wetlands and lush nature reserves to discover, including Kosterhavet National Park’s marine nature reserve – the first of its kind and one of the hidden gems of Sweden.

Bohuslän has an eventful past – during the 9th century reign of Harald Fairhair, the region became a part of Norway and later the unified Denmark-Norway, until it was ceded to Sweden in 1658. The many fortresses found in the province are testament to its compelling history and a joy to discover. As for key industries, the 18th century was dominated by herring fishing, so much so that Klädesholmen was nicknamed ‘herring island’. Fishing is still a major part of life and the seafood caught in these salty waters are considered some of the best in the world. Don't miss the opportunity to join one of the many seafood safaris organised by the local fishermen, collectively specialising in seafood delicacies such as crab, lobster and oyster.

There's no shortage of cultural experiences on these shores. The Nordic Watercolour Museum attracts art lovers from around the world with its impressive collection, and so too the Bronze Age rock carvings in Tanum.

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Bohus Fortress

Old fortresses dot the countryside in Sweden. Bohus Fortress, along the previous Swedish-Norwegian border, is impressive in size and fairly well-kept. Here, we can see the fog roll in over the fortress grounds.

Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

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Bohus Fortress

Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Smögen, Bohuslän

Photo: Åsa Dahlgren/Westsweden.com

View of Marstrand, Bohuslän

Photo: Per Pixel/ Westsweden.com

Grundsund in Bohuslän, West Sweden

Photo: Åsa Dahlgren/westsweden.com

Fjällbacka in West Sweden

Photo: Roger Borgelid/westsweden.com

Bohuslän’s top destinations and calendar highlights

Key destinations include Smögen, Marstrand, Lysekil, the Koster Islands, Fjällbacka, Grebbestad, Uddevalla and Strömstad. Hotspots such as the island of Smögen – with its famously picturesque Smögen pier – tend to get busy during the peak summer season but have year-round appeal. Visit in the quieter autumn, and you'll time your trip with the lobster premiere and cultural highlights such as ‘Island of Light’, an annual art festival lighting up Smögen. Wintertime, you'll be able to enjoy invigorating cold baths and relaxing kayak excursions. Come spring, plenty of fresh shellfish is to be had (bar lobster), followed by peaceful hikes in varied nature.

In short, Bohuslän is a delight whenever you choose to visit, brimming with activities for all ages.

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Lysekil, Bohuslän

Explore the magnificent coast of Bohuslän from the waterside in a kayak.

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

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Lysekil, Bohuslän

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

Bohusleden, Bohuslän

Photo: Lukasz Warzecha/Westsweden.com

Käringön island, Bohuslän

Photo: Amplifyphoto/Westsweden.com

Ramsvikslandet, Bohuslän

Photo: Lukasz Warzecha/Westsweden.com

Biking, Bohuslän

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

The Koster Islands, West Sweden

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

Lap up the stunning archipelago via a range of outdoor activities

Bohuslän facilitates a plethora of outdoor activities across its stunning west coast archipelago, nature reserves and marine national park. Take it all in from the waterside in a kayak, navigating open water and peaceful inlets. Trusted organisers offer everything from kayak rentals to guided tours and courses, as well as niche experiences such as ‘kayoga’. You'll find them along the coastline from the Gothenburg archipelago in the south to the Koster Islands in the north. Catering for beginners and experienced paddlers alike, Skärgårdsidyllen in Grebbestad is open year-round, serving up a well-rounded set of activities.

Bohuslän is also an ideal hiking destination. Discover the coastline on foot along the major trails Bohusleden and Kuststigen, or explore the islands of Dyrön, Koster, Käringön and Marstrand – all of which are exceedingly walking-friendly. Don't miss Ramsvikslandet nature reserve, also known as 'the kingdom of rocks'. The path snaking through this extraordinary landscape forms part of both Kuststigen and Soteleden trails.

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The Nordic Watercolour Museum, Bohuslän

Experience exhibitions and art education at the Nordic Watercolour Museum in Skärhamn, Bohuslän.

Photo: Jesper Anhede/westsweden.com

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The Nordic Watercolour Museum, Bohuslän

Photo: Jesper Anhede/westsweden.com

Pilane sculpture park, West Sweden

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

Rock carvings

Photo: Emelie Asplund/imagebank.sweden.se

Notable art and culture spots on the west coast of Sweden

There's plenty to do in Bohuslän for art lovers. Contemporary Nordic Watercolour Museum (Nordiska Akvarellmuseet) is based in Tjörn – nicknamed the 'island of art'. Expect to see a medley of works by Swedish artists and talents of international renown.

Of equal calibre and on the same island, Sculpture in Pilane will provide you with an art fix in natural surroundings by way of its stunning, eight-hectare sculpture park populated with a family of sculptures that mostly change every year.

Other must-sees are the rock carvings in Tanum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site displays Bronze Age carvings applied to the smooth rocks that define the area. The most famous of these extraordinary, ancient artworks is 'the bride and groom', thought to depict a prehistoric wedding ritual.

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Fishing for lobster, Bohuslän

The west coast of Sweden is known for its fresh seafood delicacies.

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

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Fishing for lobster, Bohuslän

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

Seafood at Everts Sjöbod, Bohuslän

Photo: Badass Food Stories/westsweden.com

Musselbaren, Ljungskile

Photo: Peter Mild/Musselbaren

Culinary experiences to savour in Bohuslän

Good, sustainable food is integral to the local culture of Bohuslän – particularly the seaborn variety. The salty water found here makes the seafood particularly tasty – spring and autumn are the seasons to enjoy these world-class delicacies fresh out of the water. If lobster is on your radar, the highly anticipated lobster premiere kicks off in September, inviting you not only to feast on this tasty shellfish but also participate in catching them. In August, you'll be able to take part in crayfish parties – a must for anyone wanting to get a taste of Swedish culture.

Get to know the creatures of the sea by joining a seafood safari. Everts Sjöbod in Grebbestad – the 'oyster capital of Sweden' – offers all manner of experiences. Set off on a guided excursion to fish for oyster, mackerel, crab and lobster. Your fresh catch will be served up in the boathouse and there's a B&B if you opt for an overnight stay.

Mussel lovers have options aplenty at renowned eco restaurant Musselbaren in Ljungskile – think mussel risotto, fried chili mussels and moules frites. Fresh fish and seafood is the order of the day at charming Hotell Strana and you'll find restaurants of equal quality at Slussens Pensionat and Stora Hotellet Fjällbacka – all of which focus on the local flavours of Bohuslän.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION BEFORE YOUR TRIP TO BOHUSLÄN

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Pater Noster, Bohuslän

Pater Noster is a unique accommodation situated on a small island in the west coast archipelago.

Photo: Erik Nissen Johansen/Westsweden.com

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Pater Noster, Bohuslän

Photo: Erik Nissen Johansen/Westsweden.com

Exterior of Slussens Pensionat, West Sweden

Photo: Slussen Pensionat/Vastsverige.com

Lådfabriken B&B, Bohuslän

Photo: Roger Borgelid/Westsweden.com

Sauna at Strandflickornas Havshotell, Lysekil

Photo: Amplifyphoto/westsweden.com

VANN Spa hotel and conference, West Sweden

Photo: Vann SPA Hotell & Konferens/Vastsverige.com

Crab fishing

Photo: Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se