The Bohuslan coast of West Sweden is dotted with more than 8,000 islands, each one with its own unique charm. Our trip to West Sweden began with a few days in Gothenburg (more on that later) and ended with a road trip in a brand new Volvo along the Bohuslan coast. Volvo offers a great program that allows Americans to purchase a new Volvo directly from Sweden at a significant savings. The best part? You get two free tickets to Sweden!
In order to bring attention to this program, Volvo and Visit Sweden asked us to experience a road trip through West Sweden to help travelers discover the best that the area has to offer. We visited the Volvo factory in Gothenburg and met with quite a few Americans who were traveling to Sweden to purchase their new car. We even met a couple from San Francisco at the airport who were doing the same thing!
Some of the people we met had already done this once before and they were on their second round of purchasing a new Volvo in Sweden, years later. It was an interesting experience for us. If we were in the market for a new car, this would be a no brainer.
We stayed in a new location every night during our time in West Sweden, so we were able to see as much as possible during our five days along the Bohuslan coast. Our trip coincided with Midsummer, so we had the opportunity to experience this Swedish tradition at Villa Sjotorp — pickled herring and all. I highly recommend a road trip through this area even if you are not in the market for a new car. It’s one of the prettiest coastlines we have visited. Here are a few of the highlights from our trip.
Our first stop was the tiny island of Kladesholmen, which is connected by a bridge to the larger island of Tjorn. We arrived at the Salt & Sill — Sweden’s first floating hotel — and checked into our quaint sea-view room on the bottom floor of the hotel.
It was a rainy afternoon, so we took full advantage of the floating sauna just a few steps from our room. If it had been sunny, we would have loved to rent kayaks from the front desk and explore this area from the water. A few of our neighbors didn’t let the rain stop them from jumping into the sea and warming up in the sauna.
The small island of Stenungson is very close to the mainland and it’s separated from the main town of Stenungsund (which is located on the mainland) by a narrow strait. We stayed at the romantic Stenungsbaden Yacht Club in a gorgeous suite overlooking the water and the bridge that connects this island to the mainland.
Stenungsbaden Yacht Club has an impressive spa on the third floor with a stunning view and the newly-renovated Kookaburra restaurant along the water. We were excited to find a floating sauna at this hotel as well.
Marstrand is a small, car-free island which is connected to the mainland by a two-minute ferry ride. We stayed at the Marstrand Havshotell on the mainland. Our room had a view of the island and was just a short walk to the ferry terminal.
Things to do on Marstrand include shopping, a visit to Strandverket and Carlsten fortress, and hiking around the island. There’s plenty of restaurants to choose from on the island, but we highly recommend making reservations for dinner at Grand Hotel. Their crayfish was simply amazing!
Tjorn is the sixth largest island in Sweden, near the island of Orust. One of the things we were looking forward to the most during our visit to this country was an afternoon with Meet the Swedes. Meet the Swedes is an organization for small companies who offer accommodation and are happy to give their guests a glimpse inside their lives. This gives travelers the opportunity to meet locals and learn about their way of life.
We met with Elisabeth and Bengt at their home on the island of Tjorn. They run a small farm and guesthouse (Turnips & Rooms) in Toftenas, where Elisabeth’s family has lived for several generations. We weren’t sure what to expect as we didn’t make any specific plans for activities, but knew we could choose between a boat ride, hiking, archery, or a BBQ.
Elisabeth suggested a walk through the nearby nature reserve with a stop to feed their sheep. As we walked — passing cows, colorful houses, and a couple of swans — she talked about her family, their life in rural Sweden, and a bit of the history behind the upcoming Midsummer tradition.
Her husband, Bengt had lunch waiting for us once we returned to their home. He had prepared a traditional Swedish meal of pickled herring, delicious Swedish sausage, potatoes from their garden, and fresh strawberries for dessert. Our afternoon with this welcoming couple definitely didn’t disappoint. Learning more about Sweden’s culture and history gave us more of an appreciation for this wonderful country and its people.