The archipelago of Gothenburg is one of the Sweden’s most beautiful rocky island formations, with many picturesque fisherman villages.
Northern and southern archipelagoes consist of small islands, filled with charming wooden and mostly red houses. People are living in lush green nature, with fence-less yards and without loud traffic noises or many cars. As many Scandinavian places, you can find total calmness and quiet here, and get lost in your thoughts. This hidden gem is not really busy tourist destination yet, and it is only a ferry ride away from the second biggest town in Sweden, Gothenburg. Find out which one of these islands appeals to you the most, to put on your bucket list.
While living in Denmark, we rented a car and drove up north to Gothenburg. The highways in Sweden are free of charge and well kept, so it easy to travel by car.
Getting around the charming islands is really pleasant, as you can use the islands’ ferries! The easiest way to get to Southern archipelago is to take the boat from Saltholmen. The southern part is completely car-free, which is a perfect opportunity to explore the islands on foot or by bike. The Northern part has ferries from Lilla Varholmen. The boats are available every day, from early morning to usually sunset time. Cafes with cold or hot beverages, snacks, buns, and sweets are waiting for you on the board of the ferries. All forms of payments, like cards or cash and even mobile-pay, are accepted in most of the places.
When to go:
- Definitely in the summer time, when it almost never gets dark. On the long days, there is light until midnight. In nordic countries, the summers are short, so possibly plan your trip from June to August, when you get the best chance to catch a lot of sunlight.
- During cold months, the weather can get very windy, foggy, gloomy and overall depressing. The exception, for me, is before Christmas, when you can get lost in the magic of holiday decorations and colorful lights.
We had used Airbnb again for accommodation here, and for us, it was the best Airbnb ever! I loved the location and house accessories too! Ola’s cottage is in the perfect location for exploring the amazing area especially nearby Hönö, Fötö, or Björko.
Ola’s cottage is the perfect Swedish experience. The Scandinavians are well known for their interior design skills and this comes out greatly in Ola’s cottage. At the same time, the cottage itself is very well equipped for basic functions – fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, and beds. It is next to Ola’s house so you can talk to him and his wife. The garden was blooming when we visited and it provides great views from the cottage’s window. You can take a stroll in the neighborhood with some awesome sea views. The location is also perfect for visiting the archipelago. You can reach the ferry terminal in 5 minutes by car and visit all the islands that permit the cars (all for free).
The cottage is 25 minutes from Gothenburg city center. Very convenient!
What to eat and drink:
Cinnamon buns are my favorite Scandinavian sugar treats! I got at least one with black coffee, every day while exploring the islands. Maybe because of lack of sun, there is high consumption of sugar in the nordic countries. To compensate for a lack of vitamin D, there a wide range of sugar delights. So much so, that there is even a calendar of particular sugary dishes celebrations. Kanelbullens dag (Cinnamon Bun Day) is celebrated on 4 October.
Lingonberry jam is widely used with everything. Mostly used with meatballs or pancakes which you might have already tried in popular meatball IKEA’ dish.
Dry crispbread comes in many shapes and flavors. In the past, this was a food of poor people. Nowadays you usually find it served on a side of your main dish in the restaurants. It can be also topped with ham, cheese, jam or even caviar.
This concept of open sandwiches is very popular, especially served with shrimps on top. You can also find combinations of hard boiled eggs or ham and cheese.
Popular Swedish meatballs, as previously mentioned. I can’t resist them and I have a plate every time I am in IKEA.
Ärtsoppa och pannkakor
Pea soup and pancakes, as a tradition, they are usually served on Thursdays. Many Swedes grew up with this habit. You can even find this traditional menu in local lunch restaurants on Thursdays.
We were cooking in the house, most of the time we spent in Sweden. Without going to a restaurant you can try to buy a local fish, which are incredibly fresh. There is a popular fish market hall in Gothenburg Feskekôrka (‘fish church’ ). This place is an indoor seafood market, where you would be pleased to get all kinds of seafood delicacies.
In addition to this most of the big supermarkets have fresh fish. If you are not staying in the town, you can consider this option. We also bought local spice mixes to have the proper Swedish experience.
- Visit fish market auction. This is one of the biggest Sweden’s fish auctions. Find Fiskhamnen harbor and visit this event which is usually at 6.30 a.m (except weekends). Unfortunately, you can’t join the excitement of bidding but you can experience restaurant suppliers or Gothenburg’s famous chefs “fighting” for the best seafood pieces to use in their masterpieces later on.
- On a sunny day, rent a bike or a kayak on Vrångö island and explore the coast from the water.
- Cook at home! This way you can experience local supermarkets and save money. Don’t drink alcohol. It is really expensive in Scandinavia, so maybe wait until you get home or to another travel destination.
- Bike around like locals. You can use the ferries to get to the islands with the bike on your side.
Top Things to do:
Best harbor experience. One of the bigger islands in the north part of Gothenburg’s archipelago. It has small restaurants, pub, flower shop and more bathings spots.
2. Vrångö .
The most natural and authentic. If you decide to spend a day on Vrångö or Vargö, bring water with you. It is quite hard to buy drinks there.
Uninhabited natural reservation island
An island that people live on with narrow alleys and white houses. You can find restaurants, post office, school or shops here.
Old fisherman community with lovely hiking trails.
Another uninhabited island with lots of greenery and long sandy beaches.
Great for summer time, even with a beach for kids.
Located in the middle of Gothenburg’s archipelago. You can go for a nice walk and it is a great spot for swimming, too.
Natural reserve in the northern part where you can rent kayaks. With a lot of walking trails, there is a beautiful marina and a store. Fishing here dates back to 1600s!
This town is located in the northern part with a lot of fishing spots. If you are looking for a beach, the Tjolmenis beach is very popular in the warm weather.
11. Hönö .
Filled with beautiful houses, Hönö has a busy popular marina and activities such as scuba diving and kayaking in the summer. You can even visit the Fishing museum if you are interested in the history of the archipelago.
This green area has 10 inhabited islands and you can find a pharmacy, post office and a store here besides all the beautiful colorful houses.
Artist in you:
Visit local shops with white and blue marine motives. This is really authentic trait in smaller fisherman villages. The whole area is like photographer’s paradise, even when the sun is not out. All the colors of the wooden fisherman houses around you are very picturesque. It is almost a tourist obsession, who get’s a better picture.
Guides and Books:
If you need more information about Sweden check out Lonely Planet Sweden (Travel Guide) or if you would love to try Sweedish lifestyle and learn about happy people of Scandinavia. Find out how to appreciate small happy moments and two coffee breaks per day, definitely get illustrated book Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats.
Thank you for reading! Did I miss anything? Have you been here or is it on your bucket list? Would you like to see something more in this post? I would love to know in the comments bellow!