Where the Swede's Summer | Bohuslän Coast, Sweden
When I was a freshman in college I volunteered for a month at a summer camp along with 40 or so other college students. Of the many available jobs ranging from kitchen staff (waking up at 5am!), boat driver (also included pulling lake weeds), and grounds crew (backbreaking manual labor), I was assigned to the camp store with two other girls. Our hardest tasks involved taking inventory and cleaning up a broken shelf after we overloaded it with too many books. We sat in the air conditioning all day getting to know each other and seeing how many rings we could fit on our fingers while others sweated out their jobs in the 90 degree heat and 90% humidity. The store provided the perfect bonding atmosphere and Julia, Natalie, and I became close friends.
Fast forward 10 years and I'm scrolling through Julia's Instagram feed fascinated by pictures of the "west coast". People are cliff jumping into powder blue water, the sun is setting softly behind a glass of white wine, and piles of freshly picked wild berries are in Julia's hands. After a short Insta convo, I learn that this is the Bohuslän coast, Julia's favorite place in the world. Julia is from Sweden, and now lives in Stockholm, but her family has a cabin on the west coast and spend part of their summer on this relaxed, cozy bit of coast. She sent us some of her favorite spots.
The Bohulsan coast runs from Sweden's border with Norway in the north to the city of Gothenburg in the south. City dwellers flock here from Stockholm in the summer months for sun, sea, and relaxation with their families. People come here to eat seafood, play yard games, and read good books. Think colorful white trimmed cabins - mostly in blues, yellows, and reds - and quiet coastline. The rocks have been worn round from years of wind, the relatively shallowness of the water means the ocean is surprisingly smooth between islands.
This is where the Swede's come to summer.
Suggested Itinerary | 4 Days
KOSTER ISLANDS/salto | 2 nights
Salto and the Koster Islands lie on the northern most part of the Bohulsan Coast and they are by far the most relaxed. The closer you get to Gothenburg, the more people you run into, and while the restaurant options and hotels are more hip, there's something rejuvenating and pure about the Koster Islands and nature being the #1 attraction.
The Koster Islands can only be reached by boat, so make sure to plan accordingly if you are staying on the islands. Alternatively, Salto, a part of Kosterhavet National Park, but accessible by car, provides the beauty of the Koster Islands without having to worry about ferry schedules.
Recommended activity: Kayaking.
FJALLBACKA | 1 night
Drive down the coast and stay in Fjallbacka, Ingrid Bergman's favorite summer hangout. For an epic view of this charming, primary colored painted fishing town, take a quick hike up to King's Cliff. The hike starts at the port, weaves underneath giant boulders, and spits you out above this charming coastal town.
Recommended activity: Hiking.
SMOGEN | 1 night
A day trip from Fjallbacka or Grebbestad or a one night stay on its own, Smogen is the place to go for a fish sandwich, some white wine, and a row of red, blue, white, and yellow painted fishing cabins (that are still in use today!). This is where wealthy Norwegians and Swedes bring their yachts in the summer months, so you're guaranteed great shopping and restaurant options. We loved biking here from our stay at Villa Akravellen.
Recommended activity: Biking.
NORDISKA AKVARELLMUSEET, TJORN
Set in a little fishing village on the island of Tjorn, the Nordic Watercolor Museum offers city-class architecture and style with beautifully curated exhibits. Their seaside cafe looks out to their artist cabins.
Recommended activity: Painting.
Where to Stay
The Bohuslän coast starts just south of Sweden's border with Norway and continues to the metropolitan area of Gothenburg. The closer you get to Gothenburg, the more developed the towns become. While there is no bad area to stay in along the Bohuslän coast, we preferred the area closer to the Koster Islands due to the peacefulness of the landscape. Better restaurant options live closer to Gothenburg, but the Koster Islands nourished our souls. Regardless of where you stay, we recommend renting a car and road tripping the whole stretch.
listed from north to south:
Cozy Log House with Kayaks Airbnb | Tanum Municipality, near Grebbestad
Charming log cabin with a hot tub and hammock on the porch for relaxing, and two kayaks included for exploring the archipelago. The perfect place to get away from it all, yet have all the amenities you need to enjoy your surroundings.
TanumStrand | Grebbestad
Rent a seaside cabin in the town of Grebbestad. These little red units with front porches are perfect for soaking up summer.
Stora Hotellet Bryggan | Fjallbacka
A hotel right on the water with a great restaurant.
Villa Akvarellen | Gerlesborg
A traditional B&B with bikes available to leisurely explore the countryside. Simply and tastefully decorated rooms with a very nice host!
Salt & Sill | Tjörn
A floating hotel with a rooftop hot tub.
Where to Eat
- Grebys Hotel & Restaurant | Grebbestad // White walls and worn wooden chairs create a cozy atmosphere near the water with yummy dishes.
- Skaret | Smogen // "Where the rukmacka was born in 1931." What's rackmacka? Loads of shrimp piled high on a piece of flatbread with a yummy mayo based sauce. Come here for the rackmacka, the fish sandwich, or the adorable decor. This modern farmhouse styled cafe (white subway tiled walls, farmhouse lamps, and black and white striped blankets draped over leather stools for cooler days) and bar sits right on the Smogen boardwalk - charming patio included.
- Stora Hotellet Bryggan | Fjallbacka // This is the place to enjoy a sunset - Stora Hotellet Bryggan bustles on a summer's eve with activity. Good for both a hotel stay or simply pizza at the port.