WEST COAST SWEDEN: The loudest sound I picked up during a bike-ride back home from an evening meal was a couple of dark birds performing a final late song as I passed by one of four spirey churches on the island of Hörnö. Otherwise, it was totally quiet and just about dusky on the island charmingly located as one of ten in the archipelago north of Gothenburg.
At Hörnö both tourists and locals alike go to bed early, even on a warm summer evening. I guess lots of activities, cycling and the sea-air make them all a bit dreamy in the evening. In return, next morning we all are early birds.
Silence is Golden. It struck me that this friendly and calm setting could be a spot-on location for another classic Swedish crime drama set here on the islands. A coastal area with just 10,000 inhabitants, small boats and harbours next to the wild sea – perfect for a murder and a realistic TV-drama among locals who are curious and talkative but looks like they have elements of sober mystery. In addition, the nearest police to be found one-hour boat ride away.
Island Hopping. You don´t have to go far out of Gothenburg to find the escape. A ferry will deliver you in direction north of the city to Hönö in 50 minutes on the west coast with fresh air, some excellent restaurants and ten islands perfect for picnic on gilded granite rocks and perfect for island hopping. These are perfect for fishing, watching glittering waves, create your own mussels and experience the complete freedom. Cycling is the way forward to visit the islands with its own character and charm – and the ever-present blue sea.
Click big photos Coast for Active Holiday
Very Ferry. Many of the islands are so small you don´t need car. Just step out of the ferry and explore all on foot, by cycling from island to island or jump on another ferry to visit a nearby island. Every day is perfect for family adventure, go kayaking, fishing crabs direct from the rocks or join a historic guided boat trip with Hönö Boat Trips. I suggest a visit to Vinga Island, the Lighthouse on the western outpost. Don´t forget to talk with the locals, they are very friendly and have a story to tell or simply ask for advice.
Life of freedom. Boat trips to the outer islands combine with cycling and ferry from one island to another is the Swedish life of freedom, in particular if you are living a busy life in a big city and your children believe milk originals from the supermarket and not from cows. The summer months from June to August with long sunny days are always the best time to visit Sweden, but September/October are delightful times in West Sweden.
Lovely locals. Sweden is by some means lost on Europe´s northern border. For many Europeans a remote, cold and expensive place. Well, the summer temperature in Gothenburg is much the same as in England and the prices to visit nearby Norway is much higher. What makes West Sweden so special is the coastline which runs 150km from Gothenburg all the way to the Norwegian boarder, a coast with thousands of islands.
On the ten islands of granite rocks just north of Gothenburg, you will find some lovely and friendly locals. Some lived here all life, other has been away before a return to their island. People are more talkative than in other regions. If you´re invited to someone´s home for dinner, don´t forget to bring a bottle of wine or some flowers.
On Källö-Knippla I met three elder locals chatting outside the one and only shop. They were all keen on the idea of making the islands a perfect location for another Swedish crime drama – included murder. However, they remind me about the last big crime took place here 13 years ago – when a bank robbery became the real story. The bank robbers are still on the loose!
Here is a relevant Bicycle Map
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: BA fly daily from Heathrow to Gothenburg, Norwegian from Gatwick and Ryanair from Edinburgh and Stanstead. The easiest way to get around the coast is by car, bus and ferries. Landvetter airport is 23km east of the city and is linked to the main bus terminal. All timetables to islands at Vasttrafik.se Gothenburg are linked to Germany and Denmark by ferries.
Stay: If you are travelling with the family, Havskatten Hotel & Hostel on Hönö and Nimbus Öckerö on the next island Öckerö are good options.
Eat: The best meal West Sweden has to offer is related to the sea and fish is the traditional food. Tullhuset is open all year and offers freshly caught fish and shellfish. Or try the charming Lilling Cottage serving Swedish and South-European cuisine. Both restaurants are located at the harbour of Hönö. Beer from local breweries awaits you.
Play: Fiskemuseet, the Fishing Museum, is a popular destination for all ages, you can see what boats looked like before, and how people fished in the past. If you want to try your luck at fishing, there are several trips on offer from Hönö Klåva. In summer Kastor Boat Trips go out daily on seal safaris and catching Crabs.
Mini Guide: From Gothenburg it's easy to get to the island of Hönö with ferry from the Stenpiren terminal in Gothenburg. Bicycles can be brought onboard, for a fee, as long as there is space. Hönö offers cute shops and a large selection of cafés and restaurants. Rent a bike at Paoloscykel.com which also has children´s bikes and bike trailers. You can go on a boat trip from Hönö Klåva to Vinga, a small island with a museum featuring the life of Swedish poet Evert Taube and visit the top of Vinga Lighthouse by walking 125 steps to the top.