The Ultimate West Sweden Road Trip Itinerary
This summer I was invited to visit West Sweden in celebration of Midsummer and to learn more about Volvo’s Overseas Delivery program. After spending a few days exploring Gothenburg, my mom and I headed west on an epic road trip through a few different islands.
The area known as West Sweden surprisingly does not include the entire west coast of Sweden, but is instead the area from just outside Gothenburg all the way up to the Norwegian border. It includes thousands of islands (over 8,000 I believe!) and is known for having some of the best seafood in the world and being an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.
With Gothenburg in West Sweden being the birthplace of Volvo, it only made sense to partner with them for our journey. We were lucky enough to test out a Volvo XC-60, their most popular car, for our road trip which we truly loved to drive.
It was spacious, drove like a dream, and even knew all of the speed limits which it displayed for us on the dash! As someone who does not even own a car in San Francisco and barely drives in general, let alone in a foreign country, I found this to be especially helpful — and kind of mind boggling (technology these days).
Marstrand is a small but charming island well known for its sailing and for being a playground for both royalty and celebrities. Visitsweden.com lists it as being an absolute must-see and after seeing it for myself I have to say I could not agree more. The island is so small that you can comfortably and easily walk around the entire thing and the views from the fortress at the top were the best I saw during my entire trip! It is a popular summer destination and has many restaurants, bars, and shops, making it a great place to spend a day exploring.
Stay at Marstrand Havshotell - it is a beautiful hotel right on the water with modern Scandinavian design rooms, a great restaurant, and a really unique spa area.
Visit Carlsten Fortress, a 300 year old fortress with interesting history and the best view in Marstrand! You can walk around the base of the fortress for free but all of the good stuff is within the paid area so do not miss it. Entrance for an adult is just 95 kr (~$11 with the current exchange rate) and 50 kr for children.
If you stay at Marstrand Havshotell grab a lunch pack from them before heading out and enjoy it as a picnic from the base of the fortress!
Walk around the base of the island
Stroll through the picturesque cobblestone streets
Do some shopping!
Orust island is the third largest in Sweden and is another picturesque gem not to be missed. I was there for Midsummer so I spent most of my time participating in Midsummer festivities instead of exploring the island, but I do have one big recommendation — stay at Slussens Pensionat.
Slussens Pensionat is a legendary music hotel, perched on the shoreline in one of the most beautiful settings I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I enjoyed my time here so much that I find it a bit challenging to put into words what makes this place so special. Slussens is ran by the sweetest husband and wife duo, Vibs and Robert. Robert can also often times be found taking part in the nightly live music gig with his band BIG IS LESS. The in-hotel restaurant is delicious and so fresh that you can, for example, see out the window exactly where the muscles you are eating were caught. Staying here feels more like staying with family than it does a hotel, and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone - whether you are traveling alone, with a significant other, your parents, your children, etc.
Another island I visited that I would recommend you do too is Tjörn Island. Tjörn is the sixth largest island in Sweden, is known as Herring Island, and is home to two of my favorite museums of all time! As with most West Sweden islands, the population triples in summer.
Visit the Nordic Watercolor Museum — the only watercolor museum in all of Europe! The space is beautiful and showcases world-class exhibitions including work by Salvado Dali, Bill Viola and Louise Bourgeois as well as Swedish favorites Elsa Beskow, Anders Zorn and Lars Lerin. It is very inspiring and something that everyone will enjoy - regardless of how big of a watercolor fan you are.
Stay at the Nordic Watercolor Museum studios — this may sound weird, but the museum has studios for rent a short distance across the water and they are dreamy. The museum and studios are located in Skärhamn in a beautiful harbor with a lot to see and do, making it a great spot to camp out in for the night.
Lunch at Restaurant Vatten — this beautiful, waterside restaurant is attached to the watercolor museum and the perfect spot to grab lunch at after your visit. It offers both jaw-dropping views and delicious food.
Dinner at Salt & Sill - I feel a bit like a broken record here but the view from Salt & Sill is to die for as is the amazing food. Try the herring plate since that is what they are known for. On a nice day the outdoor patio is one of the best I have ever sat at and if the weather isn’t great, even indoors is wonderful! It was even featured in Vogue recently.
Visit Pilane Sculpture Park - Pilane is an outdoor museum showcasing the work of world leading contemporary artists in an ancient landscape. As someone who loves to be outdoors and gets easily bored inside a typical museum, I found this to be a wonderful way to see art and learn some history while also being outside and getting in some exercise!
Walk around the picturesque harbor in Skärhamn