Gothenburg Archipelago, a hidden gem in Sweden

Imagine a place without cars and traffic noise, where one can take a deep breath of fresh sea air and hear the sound of gently lapping waves, an archipelago of small islands with traditional fishermen’s villages and wooden cottages on the rocks. A place where the craggy shores meets leafy nature and sometimes the only mean of transport are wheelbarrows.


Just a stone’s throw away from Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, lies its southern archipelago which is easily accessible by public transport and close enough to visit for a day trip, but still far enough away to have a totally different tempo to the city. Sounds interesting? Stay here then and discover this Sweden’s hidden gem with me.


Gothenburg was covered with mist when we took the morning tram to Saltholmen. We passed the city centre, Järntorget square and the wooden houses in Majorna district and half an hour later we reached the ferry terminal.

Except that the locals told us that it is something really worth seeing we hardly knew anything about the southern archipelago, so we had no idea where to start our trip and what to see first. After a while we just put down the map and got into the first ferry that appeared in the foggy dock.


We passed the islands of Asperö and Köpstadsö and got off the ferry at the last stop in Styrsö Tången, a beautiful fishermen’s village with white houses clustered along the alleys above the quayside. I was totally enchanted by this place.

There was no one except us and the village was covered with white mist, which made this place look even more fabulous. I walked down the winding streets taking some pictures of lovely white houses and quaint architecture details. I always wanted to visit Scandinavia so at that moment I felt really happy and grateful that one of my dreams came true.



They say that the southern archipelago is a miniature version of the entire Bohuslän coastline between Gothenburg and the Norwegian border, so if somebody is looking for a picturesque Scandinavian landscapes and typical Nordic architecture, all of this can be found in Södra Skärgården. So why the islands are not crowded with tourists yet?



The main reason is that Gothenburg is quite underrated place in Sweden. The truth is that most of the tourists visiting this country choose Stockholm as a city break destination and Gothenburg with its archipelago is just too far away for a day trip.


Another thing is that previously the islands were closed off to all non-Swedes because during the Second World War artillery positions and coastal defences were constructed there. This restriction remaining in force until as late as 1997 and only since then it’s possible for foreign tourists to visit the archipelago too.



The nice thing is that you can explore the whole southern archipelago on your tram ticket which makes it an affordable day trip even for budget travelers. So if you for example purchased the 1-day ticket on Gothenburg public transport you can catch the tram 11 to Saltholmen ferry terminal and travel between islands as much as you want. The same is with the Göteborg City Card. Great, isn’t it? Tip: Between June 19th – August 20th instead of going by tram to Saltholmen you can take a ferry from Stepiren terminal in the city center.


In Poland where I come from we haven’t got too many islands not even mention about the whole archipelago so I felt happy like a child that I could travel the whole day from one island to another. Beside the village of Styrsö Tången I really enjoyed the walk around Galterö, a deserted island near Brännö with beautiful sandy beaches, green pastures and rich bird life along the rocks.


The sheep on Galterö weren’t afraid of us at all and they came so close that we could pet them. It was a nice thing to feel the fluffy wool under my hand, what a lovely animals they are! Speaking of the island, I have never been to place like that before. Till then I had only that kind of feeling when I was climbing high in the mountains, you know, just me and the nature itself, wonderful experience!

Top 10 islands to visit in Gothenburg Southern Archipelago:

1. Styrsö – the main island of southern archipelago with post office, school, shops, guesthouses and restaurants.

2. Brännö – an island famous for its traditional summer dances and child-friendly beach.

3. Vrångö – the southernmost inhabited island with a large marina, scenic viewpoints, beautiful sandy beaches and two nature hiking trails.

4. Donsö  an important fishing and ship-owning community with great hiking paths and places to swim.

5. Asperö – a fishermen’s island with scenic viewpoint at the top of Valen hill and a bathing area.

6. Köpstadsö – a small island where wheelbarrows are the only mean of transport.

7. Vargö – an uninhabited island with a nature reserve and shallow lagoon.

8. Galterö – an island with pastureland and rich bird life.

9. Stora Förö – small island with good swim spots mainly visited by summer residents.

10. Knarrholmen – a calm summer island close to the Saltholmen ferry with fine beaches and rocks to relax on.




Top 10 things to do in Gothenburg Southern Archipelago

1. Walk down the narrow streets of Styrsö Tången, a beautiful fishermen’s village with white houses clustered along the alleys above the quayside.

2. Watch the peaceful sea and relax on the salty rocks of Uttervik, a perfect bathing and picnic spot just a few minutes walk from Styrsö Tången.

3. Explore the archipelago nature trails on Styrsö, Vrångö and Donsö.


4. Watch the beautiful panorama from the bridge between Styrsö and Donsö.

5. Hire a kayak on Vrångö for a day trip or just few hours and explore the archipelago from the water line.

6. Take a long walk from Brännö to Galterö, an uninhabited green island with pastureland, rich bird life and beautiful sandy beaches covered with seashells.


7. Take a walk around Gamla Stan, a typical fishing village on Vrångö island with white-painted sheds for boat equipment surrounding the harbor, and climb up to the red pilot house situated on the rock above.

8. Rent a bike on Brännö and explore the island on two wheels.


9. Watch the splendid panorama of Gothenburg harbor from Valen viewpoint on Asperö island.

10. Visit Köpstadsö, a small island with narrow footpaths where wheelbarrows lined up in a row at the ferry pier are the only mean of transport.



During our stay in Gothenburg we visited southern archipelago twice: first day we explored Styrsö, Köpstadsö, Brännö and Galterö. It was lots of walking but the islands were definitely worth it. The next day we took the fast ferry Rivö and spent a relaxing afternoon on Vrångö, wandering around the village and watching the beautiful view of the sea from the red pilot house situated on the rock above the harbor.


I think telling that visiting the Southern Archipelago of Gothenburg is one of the must-dos while there is not enough. Exploring these small charming islands was the best spent two days and actually the most wonderful experience during our stay in the city, something that we will remember for a long time. Our city break in Gothenburg won’t be the same without seeing the archipelago and we hope to come back there one day to visit the other islands. I’m really glad that I had a chance to discover this Sweden’s hidden gem.

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  • Pięknie! Jak nastrojowo!

    • Starałam się oddać klimat tego miejsca. Mam nadzieję, że w jakimś stopniu się udało 🙂

  • Już miałam się położyć spać, a tu takie cudne widoki! Prześliczne zdjęcia 🙂

    • Dziękuję Dorota 🙂

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  • Sheri

    Gothenburg sounds like a wonderful place that is peaceful to visit and of course underrated. Places like this should gain more exposure in order to show the beauty of what Sweden has to offer.

    • Writing about hidden gems like this is what I like most. The archipelago is a place where instead of tourist attractions you can see the real life and meet local people, it’s absolutely wonderful!

  • Rashmi&Chalukya

    Gothenburg is stunning and who wouldnot want to stay away from the hustle bustle and traffic atleast for a day. We had been to one in outskirts of Amsterdam called marken a fishing village it had same characteristics and was covered in mist too when we visited 😉 10 islands did u say? thats awesome, we would love to visit 🙂

    • I have never been to Amsterdam but I’d love to go there and visit the place that you mentioned. Talking about the Archipelago of Gothenburg, this little paradise without traffic noise is so relaxing! I haven’t even expected that silence can sound so wonderful… 🙂

  • Jennifer Morrow

    It looks magical covered in the mist! What a beautiful place and so charming.

    • I agree, the mist adds charm to this place 🙂

  • Blair Villanueva

    I agree with Jennifer, it looks magical and look child-friendly! I would love to explore this place with kids not worrying about the pollutions. And adding those cute sheeps!

    • If I had my own kids I would like to not only visit but to live in a place like this. I suppose everyone knows each other and it’s very safe here. And the fresh air without traffic pollutions is a great benefit.


    Hi there, Ewa! Such a lovely place! Someday, when I found myself traveling on this part of the world, I would heed your advice and rent a bike or take a walk around the coastal village. The photos made me think that any moment, newlyweds, would be part of the frame. Such a romantic feel!

    • These white houses and grey rocks would be a perfect spot for wedding session, indeed!

  • Christine M Leger

    Next summer!! I can’t wait. This looks amazing.

  • Vyjay Rao

    Gothenburg truly looks like a gem of a place. So charming and tranquil. Would love to take a stroll in the village and explore the nature trails.

  • Such beautiful photos. I would love to visit this hidden gem, seems like the perfect get-away.

  • Kat

    I love your photos. I can only imagine what this places looks like in person. The houses and the overall ambiance seem quaint and lovely. 🙂

  • Wow, I loved your photos, it looks like straight out of a movie. My roommate has been living in Gotenburg for 2 years and she talked about this place and the silence, the emptiness and the peacefulness. It’s pretty amazing to find gems like this and to able to enjoy such view and Swedish colors without any traffic or city noises!

  • Subhadrika Sen

    Wow, I didnt know about this place till i read your blog. this looks such an amazing , peaceful and secluded place. Thanks for the share.

  • Those photos are stunning! I love the colorful little houses and the sheep! Amazing to think that until fairly recently, non-Swedes couldn’t go here!

  • Lance Kerwin

    Never heard about this place until you highlighted it with nice pictures. Thanks for sharing this post. It is probably the an idael place to spend a long weekend on a summer.

  • Anamika Ojha

    I wasn’t aware of Gothenburg. It looks splendid! Thanks for sharing this post with us.

  • Tamshuk Saha

    This is such an amazing place. The whole village and those white houses look so beautiful. An absolute hidden gem 🙂

  • Andra

    I had no idea about this place. I love the fact that there are not so many tourists. It’s incredible that they only opened it in 1997.

  • Lucila

    Absolutely stunning! The pictures and the story are wonderful!

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  • Janna Daark

    What a nice post! I live in Gothenburg and have not been to these particular Islands but to Rörö, the last northern island in skärgården and walked on beautiful nature pats with my kids. Marsstrand with it’s yearly victorian days(yes in costume!) is also a nice gem and all the other islands too I am sure.

    • Thank you 🙂 I’ve been only to the southern archipelago but I really would like to visit Gothenburg again and explore the northern islands too. I’ve seen some pictures from Vinga and it looks awesome. Thanks for your tips, I’ll visit Roro and Marsstrand for sure!

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