A boat trip around Sweden’s Bohuslän islands

Thousands of islands make up the remote and ‘stunningly beautiful’ Bohuslän archipelago

View of bathers taking a swim in the sea on the coastline of Tjörn
Take a pre-sauna dip in the chilly waters of the island of Tjörn
(Image credit: Peter Adams / Getty Images)

For the 100 miles or so from Gothenburg to the Norwegian border, Sweden’s west coast splinters into more than 8,000 islands and “skerries” of grey and pink granite. This is the Bohuslän archipelago, says Stanley Stewart in the Financial Times – remote, barren and “stunningly beautiful”.

Distant lighthouses and “wind-blown” trees stalk its huge horizons, and scattered among the islands are little communities made up of simple, brightly painted wooden cottages, many owned by the same families for generations. Most visitors travel around by car, but for a more relaxing time, you might charter a boat such as the Granit. Launched this year, this “sturdy, gun-metal grey” vessel runs on fossil-free fuels and carries six people in comfort.

In the 16th century, the island of Marstrand grew rich on herring and became known as the most “depraved” place in Scandinavia. Then the fish left these seas, and Marstrand “went straight”, reinventing itself as a seaside resort in the 19th century. The king came every summer, and the hotel where he stayed – the Kurhotellet – is still open, a “time capsule of Scandi chic” with tall windows overlooking the sea.

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There are lovely places to stay on other islands, too, such as Lådfabriken, an “upmarket” guesthouse in a former factory on Orust, and Salt & Sill, built on floating pontoons off Klädesholmen. And there are excellent places to eat, including the Åstols Smokery on Åstol (one of the prettiest islands), and the Karingo Oyster Bar, which occupies a renovated boat house on Käringön.

You might explore the big island of Tjörn by bike, visiting the Nordic Watercolour Museum, and the Pilane sculpture park, set beside an Iron Age burial site marked by standing stones. And it would be remiss not to try at least one of the islands’ seaside saunas, which is de rigueur after a dip in the chilly waves.

Original Travel (originaltravel.co.uk) has a five-night trip from £3,320pp, including flights.

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