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Island hopping in Bohuslän
Island hopping in the archipelago of Bohuslän outside Kungshamn and Smögen.
Photo credit: Göran Assner/ westsweden.com

West Sweden – an outdoor adventurer’s paradise

A highly esteemed part of the country, West Sweden serves up varied landscape with thousands of lakes and an idyllic archipelago. Adventures involving nature, culture and culinary excellence await.

West Sweden is a region with much to offer on many levels. The landscape is varied, ranging from the enchanted, lake-studded forest found in Dalsland and Västergötland to the spectacular Bohuslän archipelago, which begins just north of Gothenburg and stretches 280 kilometres north, all the way to the Norwegian border. It’s also home to many historically significant landmarks, such as Göta Canal and the castle Läckö Slott. Add to that a reputable food heritage based around organic, local produce – including what is considered by many the best seafood in Sweden – and you have an all-round destination providing culture, endless outdoor activities and a culinary offer to impress the most discerning foodie.

West coast aerial

Part of the stunning archipelago on the west coast of Sweden. A few cottages and a boat house add to the serenity. Perhaps the inhabitants are out fishing for crab or lobster. The west coast is also a popular spot for tourism and sailing.

Photo: Per Pixel Petersson/imagebank.sweden.se

Discover West Sweden on water

Opportunities to discover West Sweden from the waterside abound. The Bohuslän archipelago, with over 8,000 islands, is celebrated for its outstanding beauty, while the inland part of West Sweden is sprinkled with rivers and lakes, both mighty and small. The Bohuslän archipelago stretches across some 280 km and standout spots include Grebbestad, Fjällbacka and the Koster Islands. Kayaking is an ideal way to discover these unique coastal havens, which are blessed with both calm and wilder waters to accommodate paddlers of all levels. Rent a kayak and set off independently or join a guided excursion.

Exploring the Koster Islands and the surrounding Kosterhavet National Park – Sweden’s only marine national park – is an experience to behold. While paddling around the islets and rocky bays, keep an eye out for the local seal community, often found sunbathing on the rocks. These charming creatures aside, there’s much to discover in terms of flora and fauna as the national park is home to over 1,200 species. Come break-time, find yourself a secluded beach on your island of choice or stop by one of the many eateries serving freshly caught seafood.

There are also plenty of paddling opportunities further inland across the beautiful provinces of Dalsland and Västergötland. Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake, boasts some 22,000 islands and the Lurö archipelago, offers varying nature with numerous islets and sandy beaches.

As for long-distance canoeing, the beautiful DANO lake district in Dalsland is hard to beat. Its maze-like network of more than 1,000 lakes and rivers of crystal clear waters stretches some 135 km to the northeast.Although it feels delightfully remote, you’re never far from communities where food and accommodation are available.

Canoeing in Dalsland, West Sweden

Experience the nature by canoe on the many lakes of Dalsland.

Photo: Henrik Trygg/Westsweden.com

Experience nature and culture on foot or two wheels

West Sweden is a hiker and biker’s paradise with numerous trails snaking through scenic terrain and areas of cultural interest. Many of these trails are divided into sections, each dotted with accommodation and eateries. Gotaleden is one of the most popular walking trails. This 71 km route runs from Kungsportsplatsen in central Gothenburg to Alingsås, the “capital of fika.” So be sure to reward yourself at the finishing line with some coffee and home-baked goods. Along the route, you’ll discover stretches of forest, lush nature reserves, lovely viewpoints and swim-friendly lakes. There are many cultural experiences on offer too, such as the industrial village of Jonsereds Fabriker – home to the hotel Hotellet Le Mat and Poppels Brewery (Sweden’s largest organic micro brewery). Don’t miss Nääs and its castle and school of crafts, one of Scandinavia’s best-preserved 19th century estates.

The Skaraborg Pilgrim Path – running from Varnhem to Falköping in Västergötland province – is a manageable walk at just under 44 km. Suitable for the whole family, you’ll be wandering among lush, gently rolling countryside, forests and fields. Highlights include the beautiful lake Hornborgasjön, known for its rich birdlife and yearly dance of thousands of cranes. Along the way, you’ll find the ruins of Varnhem Monastery and close by, Kata Gård (Kata Farm), one of Sweden’s oldest churches, dating back to the 900s. The Pilgrim Path in Dalsland, between Vänersborg and Åmål, is another hiking trail offering beautiful scenery as well as varied levels of difficulty.

As for family-friendly bike routes, consider the banks of Göta Canal. This 190 km historic landmark from 1832 snakes its way from Gothenburg in the west, to Söderköping and the Baltic Sea in the east. You could consider stopping at Norrqvarn for a spot of outdoor cooking courtesy of the culinary DIY concept The Edible Country. Tjörn island is another top cycling spot, and for a culture fix, visit Nordiska Akvarellmuseet, the renowned art museum in Skärhamn.

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Jonsereds Gardens

Gotaleden hiking trail between Gothenburg and Alingsås pass by Jonsereds Gardens.

Photo: Jonas Ingman

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Jonsereds Gardens

Photo: Jonas Ingman

Jonsered Gardens

Photo: Monika Manowska

The Nordic Watercolour Museum, West Sweden

Photo: © Anders Arena

West Sweden – a gastronomy hotspot

West Sweden offers a smorgasbord of delicacies with focus on local, organic produce. The region is particularly known for its delicious shellfish. Prawns, crabs, lobsters, mussels and oysters grow slowly in the area’s cool, mineral-rich waters, which makes for high-quality seafood.

The restaurant Grand Tenan, housed within the historic Grand Hotel in beautiful Marstrand is a fine dining option where you can sample a wide range of fish and shellfish, as well as expertly prepared meat dishes and vegetarian options. Seasonal, locally sourced produce is used to prepare dishes such as bleak roe from Vänern, beef tartar and baked cod with aioli, shrimps and herbs.

Other options are Restaurant Hvita Hjorten, at Läckö Castle, and Lilla Spinneriet. At Hvita Hjorten, crops from the gardens of the medieval landmark are used, along with produce from local farmers and fishermen. Lilla Spinneriet, located in Lindome within a 19th century spinning mill, changes its menu weekly to make the most of the local produce available.

If you prefer to catch your own lunch, join one of the guided fishing trips and seafood safaris on offer in West Sweden’s archipelago. Everts Sjöbod, based in Grebbestad, organise safaris for everything from oyster and lobster to crab and mackerel.

Few places offer the diversity of West Sweden – its varied landscape, culinary heritage and broad cultural spectrum provide an experience for all senses.

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Seafood safari in West Sweden

Try freshly caught seafood and explore the beautiful coast during a Seafood safari in West Sweden.

Photo: Felix Odell

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Seafood safari in West Sweden

Photo: Felix Odell

Oystersafari in West Sweden

Photo: Roger Borgelid

Seafood safari in West Sweden

Photo: Felix Odell

Seafood

Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

Practical information before your trip to West Sweden