Island Hopping In West Sweden
If you are after a genuinely unique and easily achievable Scandinavian adventure then this is for you.
Sweden is home to a staggering 221,800 islands. We were lucky enough to spend two action packed days exploring a handful of these tiny islands off it’s west coast. Below is a breakdown of our experience:
To kick off our West Sweden adventure we drove from Gothenburg to a picturesque little fishing town called Hälleviksstrand. The drive is only 1 hour 20 minutes and is predominantly through beautiful Swedish countryside making it quick and very easy on the eye.
Once there, we parked up and were met by a man named Klas who was to be our captain and guide for the day. We boarded his small boat and took to the seas. Klas is the owner of The Lotshotellet hotel and knows the area like the back of his hand - the ideal local guide.
Meet The Seals of Seal Island
After introducing himself, Klas wasted no time in heading full throttle out into the sea of Skagerrak, dipping and diving expertly in between small islands and around the rugged coastline. After about ten minutes we drew to a halt alongside what could either be described as a small island or a large bit of rock marooned in the sea. On top of the rock was a pod of about 40-50 seals basking in the midday sun, with a further 20 or so bobbing up and down in the water. To our surprise the seals seemed unfazed by our arrival and in fact a few of the more inquisitive ones began to swim towards us to say hello. Klas soon explained that this was because they recognised his boat. Due to the frequency with which he visits the island they trust him, making for a unique opportunity for us to get up close and personal with these weird but wonderful creatures.
Klas then asked if we wanted to get in the water and swim with them, however much to our disappointment we didn’t have any swimming kit with us and so had to pass. However if you get the chance to visit seal island with Klas, please don’t make the same mistake, this would be an extraordinary experience.
The Lighthouse of Måseskär
We said goodbye to the seals and set off to our next stop, a slightly larger rocky island called Maseskar. Due to it’s westerly position and the many ships wrecked on the surrounding rocks during the 19th Century Maseskar is home to a tall and proud lighthouse.
Klas moored the boat, stepped on land and headed towards the traditionally red and white striped structure. The island is now uninhabited by humans but the old lighthouse master’s family house remains in good condition, enabling you to imagine what life might have been like for these adventurous people all those years ago. Imagine shunning a ‘normal’ existence to live on a tiny island in order to keep sailors safe - these were extraordinary people and the opportunity to climb the lighthouse and walk in their footsteps was very special.
Käringön is one of those special places on earth where as soon as you arrive you can’t quite believe it exists. A car-less island (not even bicycles are allowed) with beautiful white wooden houses and a clear affiliation with the surrounding nature, it has a distinctly Swedish feel. We spent the afternoon being shown around the island by Klas who has lived there for many years and is both passionate and knowledgeable about all things Käringön.
Lunch at Lotshotellet.
We enjoyed a sun soaked al fresco lunch at Klas’ boutique hotel, Lotshotllet that he runs with his wife x. We ate fresh Swedish shrimp pancakes washed down with a local beer whilst hearing about the island’s history. Quick note on the pancakes; they were completely delicious and our first real introduction to the delights of Swedish seafood, if you get the chance to order them do not hesitate!
A unique treat.
We were lucky enough to be invited to look around Karingo, a tiny 7 seater family run oyster and champagne bar with glorious views over the Swedish sea. We were there in July, a few days before it opened for oyster season so were unable to sample any of the food but did sit down for a glass of champagne with the owner kenth who told us about the history and ethos of Karingo. An old converted boathouse the restaurant is a real family business with Kenth inheriting it from his father and now running it with his daughters. Underneath the dock the restaurant sits on is where they pull the oysters from, making them some of the freshest ‘Sea Gold’ in the whole of Sweden. What's more on top of the dock sits a hot tub for you to enjoy them in with a glass of Champagne and views overlooking the Swedish sea. This is a very special place.
Sauna at Lotshotellet
We ended our Karingon experience in true Swedish style… with a traditional sauna! Again we did this at Klas’ Lotshotellet and with a glass of cold beer we sat in the sauna looking out over the sea and working up a sweat before jumping in the sea to refresh ourselves. Swedish sauna culture and the way people of all ages indulge in it was a revelation to us and makes us wonder why we don’t do this in the UK more?
Stay at Ladfabriken
That evening we headed back to the mainland, said goodbye to the wonderful Klas and made our way to Ladfabriken.
An old fish box factory, Ladfabriken has been lovingly converted into a brilliantly designed boutique B & B by Swedish Dutch couple Marcel and Johan. With successful careers in marketing and design respectively, the now retired couple have combined their skills to create a fantastically designed space and thoroughly thought out guest experience. Stepping into Ladfabriken you are immediately immersed in a world of colourful bits and bobs, art and furniture furniture from around the world that the couple have collected over the years and arranged with exquisite taste to create a truly unique space. This attention for detail and focus on guest interaction runs seamlessly through to their meal offerings which combine gorgeously cooked fresh ingredients with some of the most beautiful table layouts we have ever seen.
After a breakfast of champions at Ladfabriken we packed up our Volvo and hit the road. A short drive and we arrived at Hamburgsund a small port town 1 hour 20 minute north where we boarded a ferry and headed for The Weather Islands.
The Weather Islands are a westerly archipelago, consisting of a few hundred islands in the Skagerrek Sea and are home to the warmest and windiest climate in the whole of Sweden, making for a beautifully barren landscapes alongside colourful nature in a unique combination. The boat ride took us through the archipelago, across choppy waters, past seals before arriving at our destination, Vaderoarna.
Ferry timings and price.
The only inhabited of the Islands is Vaderoarna a strangely beautiful little island covered in flora and fauna and surrounded by strikingly blue waters. Stepping off the boat we immediately got the feeling that this place was special. The island is remote and there isn’t a whole lot to do, but that is the beauty of it - it’s isolation results in an immediate connection with nature and forces you to slow down and appreciate your surroundings.
A walk around the island is a must. A round trip will take 45 minutes with no breaks but we took a slow, winding route, stopping to take in the views at every opportunity. This is wild, rugged Swedish nature at it’s best.
Dinner and a sunset sauna:
The island’s inn also boasts a restaurant that is open all day, serving traditional Swedish seafood - a cosy little place with extremely friendly staff it is the perfect place to refuel after a day of outdoor exploring.
Once you have finished your food (and digested a little bit) you can make the short walk down to the sea side sauna for what we are reliably informed is the best sauna in Sweden! With views over the water this beautiful little sauna is perfectly located to launch into the sea for a cool down Swedish style.
Stay the Night:
The island historically was home to some of the countries most skilled pilots who lived there with their families. In 2005 a few of the old pilot cottages were converted and the Väderöarnas Värdshus Inn opened. The Inn is now open year round with food and a few rooms in which you can stay the night. This is exactly what we did, allowing us to wave goodbye to the final ferry of the day and experience the island as the sunset silently over the island.
Back to Gothenburg:
After a great nights sleep and a hearty breakfast at the inn we hopped on the ferry back to the mainland and made the hour and a half drive to Gothenburg for our flight home. Very easy.
Two days doesn’t sound like long but given the proximity of the islands and the ease of getting there you can really pack in the adventure. We constantly found ourselves in a state of awe as we explored these gorgeous little islands, meeting some of the nicest local people and discovering a part of Europe we knew hardly anything about.