The West Coast of Sweden and the Bohuslän region, is one of the most beautiful areas in Sweden. An archipelago dotted with small fishing villages, islands, and farm shops, the Bohuslän coast is one of the best trips you can take if you want to experience a mix of raw nature, good food and culture. I have spent the last three years living in this area of Sweden and after spending almost every weekend exploring a different area of the West Coast, I have slowly collected some of the best tips which I am excited to share with you!
This travel guide to Bohuslän and Sweden’s West Coast includes the best places to visit; whether it is spas, farm shops, beaches, islands or fishing villages, you will find them here!
So, let’s get started!
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Things to know about Sweden’s West Coast
While Sweden’s West Coast runs all the way from Malmö and up, the part I want to focus on in this blog post is the Bohuslän Coast, from Gothenburg to Strömstad, on the border of Norway. This area of Sweden’s West Coast is most well known for its islands, small fishing villages and beautiful nature! While the region is quite big, there are definitely a few places worth adding to your itinerary!
West Sweden’s Best Fishing Villages and Islands
Marstrand is one of the most iconic islands on Sweden’s West Coast, a popular summer island well known for its pretty wooden houses, picturesque nature and historic roots. Sitting in the middle of Marstrand you will find Carlstens Fästning, a fortress and prison that once housed famous Swedish criminals such as Lasse-Maja. Today, the fortress is open for tours and the restaurant often holds themed banquet nights in the summers. To get to Marstrand you have to take the small ferry over from the mainland, a very short trip but fun all the same.
Things to do on Marstrand
- Visit Carlstens Fästning
- Walk around the island on the Marstrand Naturstig
- Wander around the classic wooden houses in the town centre
- Take a spa day at Marstrands Havshotell
You can find even more tips in my Ultimate guide to visiting the island of Marstrand.
You will never regret a trip out to the island of Dyrön. It is the perfect stop for sailers, day trippers and island hoppers alike, with two big harbours, beautiful nature and a picturesque village. If you want a real Swedish experience, make sure to hire out the sauna and take a dip in the sea.
The island is only accessible by boat, making it one of the quieter spots on Sweden’s West Coast, especially in the spring and autumn months. With quite rugged nature, you can’t miss the walk that circles the island, or a visit to the harbour side sauna. This is probably one of the best ways to experience Sweden’s West Coast – heat up in the sauna and then take a dip in the sea from the private bridge. The sauna can be booked here up to 24 hours before you plan to visit and is open all year round!
Things to do on Dyrön:
- Hire the sauna
- Walk around the island on the Dyrönleden
Make sure to read through this blog post for even more tips on visiting Dyrön.
Åstol is one of my favourite islands on Sweden’s West Coast. Tucked away in the middle of the archipelago, it is well known for its cluster of white wooden houses that surround the harbour. Being so far out in the archipelago, the only way to get here is by ferry from Rönnäng. If you want a Swedish West Coast island hopping adventure, the ferry also stops at the island of Dyrön on the way. One of the best things about Åstol is that it is a car free island. Makes it feel like a real summer paradise. Being so close to Gothenburg, it is the perfect place for a little island getaway or day trip from the city.
In the summer months the island comes to life, the harbour fills up with island hopping sailors, and all the restaurants open! It’s a really special place. I really recommend spending the night if you have the chance!
Things to do on Åstol:
- Lunch at Åstols Rökeri
- Take a swim in one of the rock pools
- Röda Stugan Gallery
Want to plan a visit? Here you can find my full guide to Åstol.
Ljungskile is one of the smaller towns on this list. More inland and just off the E6 highway, it makes for the perfect stop on a West Sweden road trip along heading north from Gothenburg. Most well known is the restaurant Musselbaren, serving fresh mussels on their beautiful outdoor terrace throughout the summer. A highlight in Ljungkile is to take their guided mussel safari out into the archipelago where you can learn about collecting muscles and even get a lesson in cooking them when you arrive back at the restaurant!
Make sure to read this post if you want more tips for a West Sweden road trip!
Härön is one of the lesser-known islands on Sweden’s West Coast, just a short ferry ride from Kyrkesund Harbour. The island is home to an old fishing harbour, with the village now made up of houses sprawled along the coast with beautiful pathways down to the water. If anywhere reminds me of the houses on the canals in Venice, it is Härön.
The main attraction of Härön however is not the village, it is the beautiful nature reserve that covers the island. You can spend the whole day walking the loop track that passes through the marshlands, forest and rocky cliff areas of the island, giving you a real taste of the Bohuslän landscape. If you are visiting in the summer, don’t miss a stop at Magasinet Härön for lunch, and don’t forget to stop at St olovs valar and Utsiksplats Kyrkesund on the mainland for a beautiful view over the island.
The picturesque Swedish fishing village of Hovenäset is one of my favourite off the beaten grid village on the Swedish West coast. Located on the northern island of Sotenäs, just below the town of Kunghamn and island of Smögen, it is one of the most beautiful corners of Sweden’s west coast. On a calm and sunny day, the water in the harbour is still and turns a beautiful shade of turquoise.
While in Hovenäset you should make sure to walk around the village streets. Although it is one of the small towns along the coast, it definitely shows what life is life in coastal Sweden. Here the houses are all typical to the west coast – white houses with clay roofs. The streets here are small are lined with flowers throughout the spring and summer.
Things to do in Hovenäset:
- Explore the harbour
- Walk the Kuststigen towards Tullboden
- Drive down to the nearby island of Bohus Malmön
- Walk the Kuststigen to Kungshamn and Smögen.
Skärhamn is a lovely coastal town with so much to see and do. It is one of the more popular stops on Sweden’s West Coast and somewhere I recommend stopping for the night if you are planning a West Coast Road Trip. Head down to the harbour and you will find the Nordic Watercolour museum and the popular swimming spot at Gråskärs badplats. Head in the other direction and find the restaurants, all in old wooden fishing huts lining the water. I recommend visiting Port Sud Skärhamn, sitting on one of the outdoor tables and tasting some of the delicacies from Sweden’s West Coast. It is the perfect way to get a taste of the town and the whole coastline. Skärhamn is also known for the Wooden Boat festival that is held every July – a celebration of all the classic wooden boats that fill the harbour for the weekend.
Things to do in Skärhamn
- Visit the Nordic Watercolour Museum
- Eat lunch at Gråskärs Badplats
- Wander around the town
- Visit the Wooden Boat Festival
Käringön is hands down my favourite island on Sweden’s West Coast. It has such a magical vibe, especially during the long summer evenings. A popular holiday destination for Swedes, the island come to life in the summer as the restaurants and shops open up, the harbour fills up with boats and the ferry brings visitors in every morning. I think the best part of Käringön is the mix of beaches and swimming spots, a village full of classic Swedish west coast wooden houses, and the amazing restaurants! If you have the time, I recommend staying for at least one night. This to me, is as close as it gets to the real Swedish summer feeling.
Things to do on Käringön:
- Have lunch at Simons Restaurant
- Test the diving board at Trampolinbadet
- Enjoy some boutique shopping
- Dinner at Crêperiet Käringön
- Paddle at Barnbadet
Want to know all there is to know about visiting Käringön? Over the last few years, I have put together the ultimate Käringön island guide!
You can’t mention the Swedish West Coast without mentioning at least one of the islands in the Gothenburg Archipelago, and Vrångö is one you can’t miss. The southernmost island in the Gothenburg archipelago, Vrångö is well known for its beautiful nature and pristine beaches. The ferry heads out from Saltholmen and takes around 40 minutes, all of which are more like a sightseeing tour as the ferry passes other islands such as Styrö and Köpstadsö. When you arrive at Vrångö, make sure to grab a map and head out on the island walking trail. This will take you past most of the best swimming spots and over to the other side of the island where you can grab lunch from one of the local cafes.
Things to do on Vrångö:
- Lunch at Popsicle or Fiskeboa Vrångö
- Take in the view from Lotsutkiken
- Walk around Södra Slingan
- Swim at Vrångö Sand Beach
Want to know more about the islands in the Gothenburg archipelago? You can find my full guide to Vrångö and tips for visiting Styrsö here!
Fjällbacka is another of the more well known towns on Sweden’s West Coast. A classic fishing harbour surrounded by rows of white houses that line the rocky cliffs. However, Fjällbacka is not only famous for being a fishing town. It is also a popular destination for fans of the author Camilla Läckberg, Nordic Noir author who grew up here and has written many books that play out in the area. While you are in Fjällbacka don’t miss walking up Vetteberget for a view over the whole coastline, or to Kungsklyftan where you will be guided through an impressive rocky tunnel before reaching an amazing view!
Things to do in Fjällbacka:
- Walk up Kungsklyftan
- Wander around Vetteberget
- See the Bronze Age ruins at Bronsålders gravröse
Grebbestad is another very lovely fishing town with a big harbour and rows of colourful wooden houses situated on the hill behind. If you fancy a bit of a trip, make sure to head to the nearby Tanum Rock Carvings, the UNESCO world heritage site with hundreds of petroglyphs dating back to the Swedish Bronze and Iron ages. If you want a nice night in a hotel with good food and a spa make sure to try out Tanum Strand. This is a popular spot for sailors, with a full harbour throughout the summer. They have an amazing outdoor sauna right by the sea perfect for a swim all year round! If you like walking, there is a section of the Kuststigen that runs from Tanum Strand up to Grebbestad, otherwise make sure to head up to Stöberget and enjoy the view!
Things to do in Grebbestad:
- Walk around the harbour
- Enjoy the view from Stöberget
- Day trip to Tanum Rock Carvings
- Visit the spa at Tanum Strand
If you have already done any research on visiting Sweden’s West Coast you probably have already come across a photo of the colourful boat sheds that line Smögen’s picturesque harbour. This is one of the most iconic spots in West Sweden, making Smögen one of the busiest islands on the coast. While it is definitely a vibe to have the town filled with people, I would definitely recommend visiting Smögen off-season if you are looking for a more relaxed trip.
Things to do in Smögen:
- Wander down Smögenbryggan to see the boat houses
- Take the ferry out to Hållö
- Visit Smögenshafvsbad spa
For even more tips read my full guide to Smögen!
Bohus Malmön, Sotenäs
Bohus-Malmön is a very unique island, the landscape a mix of pristine beaches and remnants of the granite quarry that once covered the majority of the island. This is one of the larger islands on the Swedish west coast, with over 250 people living there all year round. If you like walking, then this is the place for you! The trail that surrounds the edge of Bohus Malmön is actually a part of the Kuststigen, Sweden’s West Coast hiking trail. This takes you past the best parts of the island, starting at the picturesque small fishing harbour, passing almost tropical Pärlane Strand, and on to the rugged landscape of the granite mine.
Things you can’t miss on Bohus Malmön:
- Walk the Kuststigen
- Swim at Pärlane Strand
- Hire a kayak and explore the island by sea
If you are looking for a really picturesque fishing village made up of thin alleyways lined with flowers and colourful wooden houses then you can’t miss Fiskebäcksil! This village is definitely special, with winding pathways leading down to the water, it really sums up the vibe of the Swedish West Coast. While it is small, you could definitely get lost here. Make sure to walk up to Fiskebäckskil Kvarn, the windmill on the hill in the middle of the village. From here you get an amazing view over the water towards Lysekil. Again, if you enjoy a walk, I definitely recommend the Kuststigen from Grundsund to Fiskebäckskil. This walk takes you from one picturesque fishing village to another, through a coastal rocky landscape and a lush forest.
Things to do in Fiskebäckskil:
- Walk from Grundsund to Fiskebäckskil along the Kuststigen
- Swim at Bökevik sandy beach
- Take in the view from Fiskebäckskil Kvarn
- Head over to Östersidan and take in the view of Fiskebäckskil over the water
Spas on the Swedish West Coast
Swedish style spas are a MUST when visiting the West Coast! There is nothing better than spending the day testing out different saunas, lying by the pool, and taking a quick dip in the ocean, all while surrounded by the rocky archipelago. Here are a few of the best spas on the Bohuslän Coast:
- Vann Spa
- Smögens Hafvsbad – Read my guide to Smögens Hafvsbad
- TanumStrand – Read my guide to TanumStrand
- Arken Spa
- Marstrands Havshotell
Make sure to read through this post if you want to see the full list of spas on Sweden’s West Coast! You will not want to miss the one with the underwater sauna!
Farm Shops and Cafes you can’t miss
Töllås fårgård is a really sweet farm shop on the island of Orust. Driving out to it you can begin to feel quite lost as it really is in the middle of the countryside. When you arrive and see the little wooden house surrounded by cosy sitting areas and pens filled with rabbits and sheep, you will understand why it is so special. The little cafe serves fresh baked cakes and biscuits for fika in the garden, while the shop sells all sorts of jams, vinaigrettes and cuts of meat from the farm. If you have been to any of the Christmas markets in Gothenburg you will likely recognise their delicious products!
Fröken Tulls is a really cosy cafe, farm shop and antique shop located in Ellös, on the North West of Orust. This is a really unique spot, with amazing decor inside and out. They serve lunch and fika from Thursdays to Sundays. It can get really busy here as it is a popular spot so be prepared for a lively atmosphere!
Sundsby Säteri is an old manor house on the island on the north of Tjörn. In the winter, it is a cosy and intimate cafe serving Christmas meals, while in the summer the garden comes to life as they serve good food and fika all day. It is the perfect stop if you fancy a walk, with several tracks looping around the nearby cliffs from the front of Sundsby Säteri. Alternatively, it is a perfect lunch stop on a West Sweden Road trip!
This is a real hidden gem just off of the main road out to Marstrand. The only real sign of it is the ambiguous “sourdough bakery” sign that points out into the countryside, but doesn’t even hint to the cosines of the little cafe that lies at the end! Mostly a bakery, Skåra Gårdsbageri serves delicious breads and pastries, with guests free to sit in the picturesque greenhouse out back. Cannot recommend this stop more if you want something a little off the beaten track with good food and a cosy atmosphere!
Sweden’s West Coast – An Overview
Sweden’s West Coast is a diverse and beautiful area. It is the perfect destination for anyone looking to visit somewhere authentic with the possibility of finding hidden gems and experiencing the real Swedish summer magic! These are just a few of my favourite places on Sweden’s West Coast. Make sure to check out my other guides for hiking trails, nature reserves, hotels and more!
Here you can find all my Sweden travel guides, and here are all my guides to Gothenburg.
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