September 3, 2015 | West Sweden
Outdoor adventures in West Sweden and Gothenburg this autumn
West Sweden is a wonderful setting for outdoor activities, with its rocky coastline of 8,000 islands, thick forests, a lake district in Dalsland and one of the region’s key landmarks, the Göta Canal – all of which provide varied land and waterscapes for adventurers. Visitors can enjoy numerous activities, including sea kayaking, canoeing, hiking, horse-riding, cycling and mountain biking.
Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that summer is the only time to experience the region’s outdoor adventures. Autumn is perfect for exploring West Sweden – and it’s also the season to enjoy the delicious annual Shellfish Journey. The only question is: do you want your adventure wet, or dry?
On dry land
For soft adventure…
If you’re more of a landlubber, then head to Ramsvikslandet Nature Reserve, the ‘kingdom of the rocks’, to ramble across the stunning Ice Age rock formations. Hear the waves lap the shore on a walking tour that includes a one night’s stay in a fisherman’s cabin by the sea, breakfast, packed lunch, maps, dinner and even a sauna to revive you after a day’s hiking.
Walkers are spoiled for attractions to visit in the area. Discover Bronze Age tombs, walk through the narrow geological attraction, Hunnebo Klova, or spend the day admiring the wildlife of Norden’s Ark, where you can see staff feeding the zoo’s snow leopards or lemurs.
Alternatively, why not explore the region by bike? Salt & Sill offers a lovely biking experience where you’ll get to explore nearby Skärhamn and the mud – vaunted Nordic Watercolour Museum. You’ll stay at Salt & Sill’s quirky floating hotel and enjoy the restaurant’s delicious food, particularly known for its fresh seafood. The one-night’s break costs £133 pp (two sharing) and includes bicycle hire for one day, a three-course dinner, accommodation, breakfast and entry to the Nordic Watercolour Museum.
For the more adventurous type…
This year sees the second Icebug Experience (from 4 – 6 September), a 75km walking/running event along the rugged coastline of Bohuslän. Spread over three days, on day one you’ll cover 27km along narrow coastal paths, into forests and through fishing villages, then cover 25km over red granite rocks to Smögen on day two, passing through ancient quarries on the final 22km on day three. You can also do the course at your own pace anytime during autumn. Guests can choose between three short breaks, ranging from £142 pp to £491 pp, including accommodation. Flights extra. Call Icebug Xperience on 00 46 031 81 70 90 (www.icebugx.com).
On the water
West Sweden faces the water, and its twisting coastline and archipelago of islands are the ideal jumping-off point for numerous water-based activities.
For soft adventure…
Head out to the Weather Islands (a 30-minute boat trip away) and visit this remote, warm and windy archipelago where you can genuinely switch off. Embark on kayaking adventures where you’ll often spot seals, tuck into fresh seafood and relax in an outdoor hot tub by the shore. Stay at Väderöarnas Värdhus guesthouse, featuring a Taste of West Sweden-accredited restaurant.
Very different waters are found inland, where the Dalsland Canal provides some of Europe’s finest canoeing waters where you can stay at lovely cabins along the way, including Stenebynäs. There are few places as unspoiled – you’ll hardly see anyone else around and the water is also drinkable. Whilst you’re there, don’t miss the outdoor activities and elk at Dalslands Aktiviteter.
For the more adventurous type…
Sea kayaking is one of the best ways to explore West Sweden’s captivating coastline during the late summer and autumn months – the water is warm, the trees have turned a stunning mix of colour and you can, of course, combine your kayaking trip with a seafood safari! There is paddling for all levels of experience – calm, sheltered waters for people who have never tried kayaking before, and exposed deep-sea stretches for the more experienced adventurer.
West Sweden’s unique coastline, with its islands, islets and rocks, offers perfect conditions for sea kayaking. Popular kayaking locations include the Koster Islands, but with no shortage of islands to choose from, paddlers can even enjoy camping on their own private island along the way.
Sample a sea kayaking adventure – go paddling in Kosterhavet Marine National Park: Explore Sweden’s only marine national park and experience its true serenity. Kosterhavet is Sweden’s first marine national park, opened just six years ago. There are more than 12,000 species living in this protected area, half of which are under the water’s surface. The guides love to share their knowledge of the marine life and the national park’s nature, wildlife and history. A four-hour guided kayaking tour of the national park costs from £19 pp including use of the kayak and a life jacket. Call Skärgårdsidyllen on +46 702 66 70 80 (http://www.skargardsidyllen.se/en).
The Shellfish Journey
West Sweden’s famous Shellfish Journey will once again take centre stage this autumn. The lobster premier kicks off on the first Monday after 20 September every year – so this year it’s 21 September, where you can set out to sea on lobster safaris to haul up the pots of black gold with the help of an expert local fisherman.
The range of shellfish in West Sweden is amongst the tastiest in the world – especially during the autumn season, when the water is cooler and the delicacies come closer to shore. As well as eating your way through the ‘big five’ of the seafood world – lobster, mussels, oysters, crayfish and prawns – learn how to catch, cook and eat them on an exhilarating seafood safari.
There are plenty of different seafood safari trips to book, including these taste-filled options:
Lobster catching in Fjällbacka’s archipelago
Head out to the deep waters off Fjällbacka – inspiration and home to the Swedish crime novel author, Camilla Läckberg – to catch the black gold of the ocean with Captain Ingemar on his fishing boat, the Mira. You’ll be served a hearty fish and shellfish stew for lunch before heading out on a fascinating lobster safari, where Captain Ingemar will show you everything you need to know about the delicacies. Back on dry land, you’ll prepare your catch of the day, glass of wine in hand, in the warmth of the restaurant. Then an aperitif and four-course lobster dinner await! Running every Saturday from 26 September until early November, the trip costs from £210 pp (two sharing) including one night’s B&B at Stora Hotellet Bryggan, lunch, lobster fishing trip with picnic basket, a lobster preparing lesson with a glass of wine, aperitif, and a well-deserved four-course lobster dinner. Call Stora Hotellet Bryggan on +46 525 31003 (www.storahotelletbryggan.se).
Roe experience on Sweden’s largest lake – just three dates await…
Learn all about the delicacy that is fish roe – Sweden’s caviar – in the idyllic setting of Lake Vänern, Sweden’s biggest lake (two hours’ drive north of Gothenburg). This guided experience includes a fish roe lunch at Restaurant Sjöboden, in Spikens fishing port, a fishing boat tour of Lake Vänern, a visit to the fish stalls at Ullis Fish Delicacies where participants can squeeze the roe and watch the amazing craftsmanship required to prepare roe, plus a roe-inspired dinner at Restaurant Hvita Hjorten or Pirum Restaurant and Wine Bar. Stay at the modern Victoria Huset, set on the shores of the lake and offering views of fairytale-like Läckö Castle. The trip costs from £167 pp (two sharing) including one night’s B&B at the Victoria Huset and all the meals and activity described above; it’s only bookable for 7, 14 and 21 November 2015. Call Läckö-Kinnekulle on +46 510 20020 (www.lackokinnekulle.se).
Oyster shucking in Grebbestad
Perfect your oyster-opening skills in the fishing village of Grebbestad, the home of Sweden’s oysters and host to the Nordic Championships in Oyster Opening. Everts Sjöbod offers oyster safaris at a wonderfully-restored 19th century boathouse, which features a natural oyster bed beneath. Learn how to gather and shuck the oysters and then taste the delicacies with Grebbestad’s own beer, Carnegie Porter. A two-hour oyster safari costs £60 pp. Everts Sjöbod has also expanded its accommodation, opening three incredibly quaint boathouses last year. Each boathouse features a double bedroom plus kitchen and bathroom, treating you to soothing ocean views. B&B at the new boathouses costs from £112 pp (two sharing) including a two-hour oyster safari, an oyster tasting session and breakfast. Call Everts Sjöbod on +46 525 14242 (www.evertssjobod.se).
Adventures in Gothenburg
Gothenburg, the gateway to west Sweden, also has an array of outdoorsy activities to experience this autumn:
Prepare for the ultimate ride – mountain biking in Gothenburg:
Get ready to explore Gothenburg’s vast network of mountain trails with Hillside Cycling. Try a half-day, whole-day or whole week of exciting guided tours off the beaten track. Fuel up with homemade energy bars and set off with Leo and Nataja, Gothenburg’s dedicated and experienced cycling enthusiasts. Follow the Kinnekulle trail for spectacular views over Lake Vänern, or hop on the ferry to sample the new tour on Marstrand Island, discovering the Carlstens Fortress. A half-day cycling tour costs from £72 pp and includes an energy bar, afternoon tea and smoothie. Call Hillside Cycling on +46 709 729431 (http://www.hillsidecycling.com)
Go your own way – explore Gothenburg city from the water:
Experience Gothenburg with an alternative guided tour: kayaking though the canals. A fun activity for all, kayaking can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike, of all ages. Paddle around ‘The Moat’ – the zigzagged canal encircling the city – for the ultimate glimpse of Gothenburg’s street scenes. A city paddle tour includes life-jacket, route guide, kayak cover and paddle. Call Point 65 Kayak Center on +46 311 50103 (http://www.goteborg.com/en/point-65-kayak-center/).
For an insider’s guide to events and experiences in West Sweden, follow the latest blogs at www.explorewestsweden.com.