June 5, 2015 | West Sweden
Sweden’s beautiful west coast is at its most vibrant during the approach of summer solstice. After the chilly winter months, people are itching to make the most of the lengthening days, culminating in one of the most traditional Swedish celebrations – Midsummer’s Eve (on Friday 19 June this year).
And what better way to join the locals this summer than along the stunning, scattered archipelago that stretches up towards Norway? Alternatively, why not head inland to the countryside, with its thick forests and pristine lakes?
The gateway to the region, Gothenburg, superbly located on the West Sweden coastline, is a lusciously green city in the summer, with extensive parkland, stylish shopping, top-notch cuisine and a lively cultural scene to rival that of Stockholm.
Here are the top 10 must-do’s in Gothenburg and West Sweden this summer:
During Midsummer, maypoles are raised in villages throughout West Sweden and everyone tucks into a traditional feast, including delicious pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream, red onion, fresh strawberries and plenty of schnapps! One of the best places to spend Midsummer’a Eve is at the delightful coastal guesthouse Villa Sjötorp, in Ljungskile; it’s a serious contender for one of the most peaceful spots in Sweden. Devour fresh strawberries on the terrace, take a short stroll along the nearby shore to watch the Maypole dance at Victoriaparken in Lyckorna and then indulge in a gourmet three-course Midsummer dinner. Arriving Friday 19 June, B&B and a Midsummer dinners costs £138 pp (two sharing).
West Sweden is blessed with a coastline crammed with idyllic islands; in fact, there are no less than 8,000 islands along the coast between Gothenburg and the Norwegian border. There is a wealth of traditional fishing villages, rocky landscapes, nature reserves, inlets for swimming, picnic spots, seafood restaurants and attractive hotels and cottages to explore. This summer, a new three-day island-hopping cruise has been introduced from Gothenburg to Strömstad – the boat stops at Marstrand, the former summer home to Swedish royalty; don’t miss the Ingrid Bergman exhibition at Strandverket (6 July – 27 September).
Some of the biggest names in music will take to the stage at one of Europe’s leading festivals – Way Out West – held in Gothenburg’s centrally-located Slottskogen Park from 13 – 15 August. The line-up includes Florence and The Machine, Ellie Goulding, Alt-J, Beck, Patti Smith, Bell & Sebastian and The War On Drugs. Way Out West is not only about great music; it is also renowned for its film, art and design. It’s also an environmentally-conscious festival that only serves vegetarian food to reduce its carbon footprint. Additionally, there are eclectic ‘Stay Out West’ performances at clubs and culture hubs around the city. A three-day festival ticket costs £153 pp, including access to all Stay Out West gigs.
Crayfish parties are one of Sweden’s most fabulous traditions, where Swedes celebrate the summer that’s almost past. They are usually rather private events…until now. Join in the crayfish celebrations at Väderöarnas guesthouse on the Weather Islands – West Sweden’s most westerly, windy and warm islands. Its party idea gives guests the chance to catch seafood delicacies fresh from the ocean before a big crayfish feast is cooked up in a beautifully-decorated boathouse, accompanied with schnapps, party hats and traditional drinking songs. One night’s B&B costs from £264 pp (two sharing) including access to the sauna and hot tubs by the sea, boat transfers to the islands from Fjällbacka, lunch and a crayfish party. Available for stays between 18 August and 23 September with Väderöarnas Värdhus guesthouse.
Be sure to plan a visit to Liseberg (Scandinavia’s biggest amusement park) and combine it with a world-class concert the same day. This summer, numerous concerts are taking place, including Taubescenen and Stora Scenen which will feature some of the world’s best rock, pop, jazz and classical artists from now until the middle of September. Both line-ups consist of a great mix of international and Swedish artists, including Wyclef Jean, Måns Zelmerlöv, Status Quo, The Cardigans and At the Gates.
Sweden’s biggest Lake District is an awe-inspiring setting for paddling – with its labyrinth of glittering rivers and deep forest perimeters, it provides the perfect location for watersports. The water is so pure that you can drink it and, after the challenge of the Dalsland Canoe Marathon, gulping fresh, clean lake water is probably essential! Sweden’s largest canoe event starts on 8 August, and competitors have to complete the 55km route in three days. Registration costs from £55 pp for adults and £16 pp for juniors (12 – 18 year olds). Alternatively, enjoy the stunning waterways at your own leisurely pace in the Open Water category.
If you’re a massive fan of boats and sailing, then June is definitely the time to visit Gothenburg. The Volvo Ocean Race is an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavour, and takes place every three years. On 27 June, the competitors race to the finishing line in Gothenburg, following more than six months of arduous sailing around the world. Spectators can witness the exciting finale from the harbour in the city centre, which will be buzzing with events, concerts and food trucks.
Connected to the two largest lakes in the country – Lake Vänern and Lake Vättern – and running from Gothenburg to Stockholm, the Göta Canal is an extremely important part of Sweden’s history and is Sweden’s third most popular tourist attraction. Explore the Göta Canal and its 58 locks on foot or by bike and perhaps take a picnic or indulge in a delicious Swedish meal at the stunning Norrqvarn hotel. There are numerous boat trips available along the canal, including M/S Bellevue.
Walking in West Sweden is an absolute treat for lovers of enchanting natural beauty, wildlife and peaceful, friendly villages. There are many well-marked trails, and maps available, and visitors can combine hiking trips with tours of the fishing villages. Excellent walking trails can be found throughout numerous nature reserves in Bohuslän, including the car-free Koster islands in Kosterhavet’s Marine National Park, and Marstrand, which is also known for fascinating cultural history, charming buildings and sailing. There are numerous packages available including Inntravel’s six-night self-guided holiday.
For the second year running, Hotel Clarion Post is proud to have bartender Dosa Ivanov showing off his talents. Dosa won the ‘Best Bartender’ competition in 2015. Guests can try his cocktail creations at The Post Bar, located on the first floor of the hotel. Be sure not to miss the large outdoor terrace on a sunny day – a perfect place to enjoy the summer city at its best.
For an insider’s guide to events and experiences in West Sweden, follow the latest blogs at www.explorewestsweden.com.
Holidays to West Sweden are available through numerous specialist tour operators, including Best Served Scandinavia, Black Tomato, Discover the World, Inntravel, Nature Travels, Off The Map Travel, Original Travel, Seasoned Travel, Simply Sweden, Sunvil Discovery and Taber Holidays.
West Sweden can be reached by a short (two-hour) direct flight to Gothenburg with British Airways (Heathrow), Ryanair (Stansted and Edinburgh), SAS (Heathrow), Norwegian (Gatwick), British Airways/Sun-Air of Scandinavia (Manchester) and bmi regional (Birmingham).