Images and text by Gabrielle.
Okay. Here’s my final report on our big Sweden trip. I wanted to share the West Coast Itinerary that the West Sweden Tourist Board created for us. World class cities are fairly straightforward to visit — they offer lots of hotels, excellent restaurants, good shopping, and terrific museums. But once you get out of the city, exploring can feel intimidating. So I was truly grateful to have an itinerary set that helped us take advantage of the best of the best that West Sweden has to offer, without having to spend a ton of time researching options.
I’m sharing our full itinerary here, so you can see when we stayed at each of the hotels I wrote about. I’ve also included notes on the museums we visited — and the amazing meals!
Day 1 Bohuslän
We left Gothenburg in the morning and drove to the sailing destination, Marstrand Island (the drive takes about 45 minutes). We parked the car at the big parking lot near hotel Marstrands Havshotell, then we caught the ferry to Marstrand. You buy your tickets in the tobacco shop in the port. Tickets costs 25 sek per person. The boat leaves every 10 minutes.
We explored Marstrand. Suggested exploring included visting the Carlstens fortress, hiking around the island, doing some shopping or buying some fresh shrimp for lunch and eating on the rocks overlooking the sea. They also suggested the beautiful spa at Marstrand Havshotell in case we wanted to relax.
We explored to our heart’s content, and caught our breath when we saw the island’s public “swimming pool”. There’s a diving board nearby as well!
2.00pm — We took a guided tour at Gallery Strandverket on Marstrand Island.
It’s such a cool museum — just the right size and housed in a fantastic historic building surrounded by the water. They have two floors, each one dedicated to a different exhibit, and the exhibits change 3 times a year. During our visit, the first floor featured sculpture by a French artist, and the upstairs had painting by a Swedish woman — she didn’t get her big break until her mid 50’s!
There’s also a café and an outdoor sculpture garden that is free to the public, and you can rent out the rooftop garden for weddings or events! If you visit Marstrand Island, I would say Gallery Strandverket is definitely a don’t miss.
8.00 pm — We dressed up for dinner at Salt & Sill‘s famed restaurant. Since this is “herring island” the restaurant’s speciality is herring, of course. We had their herring plate, with herring prepared six different ways. The herring is eaten with hard cheese, boiled egg, chopped red onion, and salt.
Salt & Sill hosts a huge herring contest each year, and the winners’ recipes are served in the restaurant. Our herring plate featured award winners from the past three years, plus some traditional options.
Day 2 Bohuslän
We ate complimentary breakfast at the Salt & Sill Hotel, then checked out.
We drove to Skärhamn (the drive takes about 20 minutes).
11.00 am — In Skärhamn, we visited the Nordic Watercolor Museum.
Oh man, we LOVED this place. It features one big gallery room, one small gallery room and one theater. The exhibit was about the work of a Swedish artist named Lars Lerin. His paintings are unlike any other watercolor art I’ve ever seen. We came home with a book about him. I’m still thinking about his work.
But it wasn’t just the museum that we loved. The whole area was remarkable. Across the water from the museum sits the 5 Guest Studios that I mentioned in the hotel post, and there are wooden walkways around the museum that go way out into the water.
At the end of one walkway, there is a high dive! A school class of children was visiting the museum, and afterwards we watched them run out to the high dive and jump in the water. But we were amazed because the wind was crazy that day and we were bundled in our coats. The kids jumped in the water like the weather was nothing!
2.30 pm — We visited the Pilane Sculpture Park. It was founded by a local citizen that could see the natural landscape of his childhood disappearing. So he set up a nature preserve, and then introduced a sculpture park on the preserve so that people could interact with the landscape. He also introduced sheep to the sculpture park — they keep the paths trimmed with their grazing.
We really appreciated how intentional this place was. As you follow the path of the sculpture, you get to experience the variations in the landscape. And the whole place is designed for generations to visit — grandparents take their grandchildren, and the sculptures spark thoughts for both of them.
At the end of the sculpture path, you’ll walk by an ancient burial ground with stone circles. When we walked by, the sheep were napping there — they blended right in with the grave stones!
The sculptures change each year, and there are 60,000 visitors to the park every summer.
8.00 pm — Dinner at Nösund. The setting is totally picturesque, overlooking a coastal village and the ocean. The food was a set seafood menu and it was excellent.
Day 3 Bohuslän
We had breakfast and checked out of the Lådfabriken Bed & Breakfast.
Then we drove to Fjällbacka (the drive takes about 1 hour 20 minutes).
11.00 am — We took a guided tour at Vitlycke Museum. It featurese Rock Carvings from the bronze age.
The carvings were made over centuries, but they all maintain the same simple style. There are hundreds of carving sites over a several square mile area.
Based on other artifacts found from the time period, we know the people had developed fine metal work and carving skills, yet they continued making these very simplistic carvings. No one knows what they mean.
I love stuff like this!
After we visited the carvings, we checked out the Bronze Age Farm on the premises, featuring two long-house replicas from two different times.
Next, we visited the charming fishing village, Fjällbacka, and explored.
This is the home town of the Swedish crime writer Camilla Läckberg and used to be the summer destination for Ingrid Bergman.
We took the hike up to Kungsklyftan to see the stunning view over the Fjällbacka archipelago. Then we took a “fika” at Ingrid Bergman’s favorite café “Setterlinds Bageri”.
Next, we drove to the oyster village, Grebbestad (the drive takes about 30 minutes). Fun fact: 90% of the Swedish oysters comes from Grebbestad! We checked in to Everts Sjöbod hotel (see my notes here).
Everts Sjöbod offered a fresh-as-possible seafood dinner.
Day 4 Göta Canal Area
We drove to Lidköping (the drive takes about 2 hours).
11.00 am — We visited the Rörstrand Museum. It’s one of Europe’s oldest porcelain factories. We were there on such a busy day!
The Museum is connected to a shopping center. After a quick run through the museum, we took advantage of the shopping, and we actually found several of our best souvenirs here.
Next, we drove to Läckö castle at Kållandsö (the drive takes about 30 minutes). We checked in at Victoriahuset (see my description and photos here). We parked the car at the big parking lot near the castle.
3.00 pm — We took a guided tour at Läckö Castle. It’s a stunner. It has medieval foundations and has been well-preserved since the Baroque period. It’s considered one of the country’s most beautiful castles.
The castle tour was excellent. We were guided through the 3rd floor and then welcomed to explore the first and second floors on our own. I think it’s nice to get to go on your own and pace yourself however you like.
8.00 pm — We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, Hvita Hjorten. This is an award-winning establishment that uses only the freshest local produce — grown in the small castle garden and purchased from local vegetable growers. Fish and meat come from the fishermen of Lake Vänern (the lake that sits alongside the hotel), local farmers and hunters. The menu is determined each day depending on what’s available. This was maybe my favorite meal of our whole trip!
Day 5 Departure
Drive to Gothenburg, drop off car, and head to the airport.
I should note one schedule change. Because of our early flight time, we shifted things around a bit and drove back to Gothenburg the night before we flew out. We stayed at the Hotel Pigalle back in the city. It’s a super stylish hotel, with a popular bar and restaurant. I got a kick out of the fact that they had old school room keys, and smiled when the desk clerk greeted us in a top hat!
And there’s the whole itinerary. I hope you found it helpful/interesting. : ) For our trip, the goal was to have us see as much as possible, so we stayed somewhere new each night. But really, any of the locations we stayed in would be ideal for a week. You could unpack and use your hotel/B&B as a base for exploring. Whirlwind itineraries have their own excitement, but staying for awhile at any one of the beautiful stops would have been equally wonderful.
Now, I’m curious to know if you’ve ever traveled with an itinerary that was prepared for you. There’s something lovely about not having to make decisions, but customizing the exact trip you want is so satisfying. What’s your itinerary preference?
P.S. — Find all the posts from our Sweden trip here.