Life isn't the days gone by,
but the days you remember
Far out to the west, at the edge of the archipelago where the sea takes over, is where you’ll find Marstrand. Famous for its sailing and swimming, Marstrand is a great favourite among its visitors. Feel the sense of power at Carlstens Fortress, the harbour full of all manner of boats and picturesque neighbourhoods with pedestrian streets. There are many top-class restaurants and cafés in the area, as well as opportunities for sunbathing and swimming in the sea.
Picturesque streets in a historic setting
The coastal town of Marstrand, only 45 minutes north of Gothenburg, is spread over the two islands of Koön and Marstrandsön, the latter being most often referred to. You can reach Marstrandsön by taking a quick ferry over the straits, where you are welcomed by a lively yet historical setting with small alleys, the spectacular fortress and sea views at every turn. The boats are cheek to jowl along the piers in Sweden's largest guest harbour, and during the GKSS Match Cup Sweden, in the first week of July, Marstrand is definitely the sailing centre of the whole country.
Fortress, art, and adventure
Marstrand’s largest attraction is the mighty Carlstens Fortress, dating from the mid-17th century. It was here that the infamous thief Lasse-Maja was imprisoned for 27 years, and if you visit the fortress dungeons you understand very quickly why every fifth prisoner died during the winters here. Marstrand also offers spas and recreation, lively nightlife and many sea-related adventures.
Walk alongside the sea
There are some great walking options in the area. You can stop for a swim at the nudist beach during your walk around the whole of Marstrandsön, or take a shorter walk through Smugglarrännan. Take a break out by Skallens lighthouse and admire the enchanting area where the Skagerrak and Kattegatt meet. On Koön there are well-marked footpaths, with three levels of difficulty and many lovely rest areas and viewpoints.
From fishing village to royal seaside resort
Marstrand was founded in the 13th century by the Norwegian king, Håkon Håkonsson, and did not become Swedish until 1658. It was an important fishing port for many years and by the 16th century it was the centre of the herring industry in Europe. For many centuries, the stocks of herring made the difference between prosperity and poverty for the inhabitants of Marstrand. Seaside resorts became popular in the nineteenth century and Marstrand experienced a new upswing. Both King Oscar II and other genteel guests were attracted to the island by the renowned establishments of Societetshuset and the warm baths in Marstrands Varmbadhus, also known as Kurhotellet – where you will spend the night.
You can still enjoy good food, festivities and bathing here. The legacy from the past is reflected in the well-preserved cobblestone streets, framed by beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings which proudly show off their fine glazed verandas and sublime gingerbread woodwork.
Klädesholmen is the island that lives, breathes and delivers herring and its history. It is home to a herring factory, herring museum and the Salt & Sill restaurant, which carries on the herring tradition by creating gourmet pickled dishes and flavour combinations. Each year on Herring Day a herring dish of the year is selected.
Dependent on herring
Herring ("sill" in Swedish) is he most widespread species of fish on the planet and pickled herring is a very important ingredient in Swedish cuisine - we eat it on our Christmas buffets, Easter buffets and of course at Mid-summer - always along with "snaps" and singing.
Klädesholmen, like many other small communities along our coast, has historically been dominated by the rise and decline of herring stocks and at Klädesholmen, the heritage is proudly continued.
Surrounded by the wild sea, the island has always depended on fishing and the bounty of the sea. It is believed that the island was inhabited as early as the 13th century, and when a Norwegian bishop passed Klädesholmen in 1594, he described it as an old fishing village.
By 1950 there were 25 canning factories on the island., but nowadays the remaining factories have merged to form Klädesholmen Seafood, which is the largest Swedish-owned herring producer, and makes more than half of all pickled herring. The production was transferred to larger factory premises in Rönnäng, on Tjörn, while the factory outlet remained on Klädesholmen.
Klädesholmen is well worth a stroll to admire the traditional white wooden houses that are typical of fishing communities along the coast, and the narrow streets named after the trades of the people who lived there.
You can relax at one of several swimming areas, eat at a restaurant or have coffee at a café, while enjoying the sights, sounds and scents of the sea.
To the west, where the houses give way to the rocky coast, right at the water’s edge, stands Claes Hake’s granite sculpture: Faith, Hope and Love. The sea itself is the source of Klädesholmen’s prosperity and cultural heritage; the shimmering silver herring around which life on the island has revolved through the ages.
Narrow streets with white wooden houses, bustling piers, and swimming from smooth rocks. Käringön is a wonderful, traffic-free island in the Bohuslän archipelago that gives its visitors seaside calm and memorable experiences.
A lively place surrounded by the sea
After about an hour’s boat ride past seal colonies and skerries and through small, picturesque fishing villages like Kyrkesund and Mollösund, the wild and barren island appears with its numerous small wooden houses clinging to the hillsides. There is constant activity along the pier: people buying goods in the well-stocked grocery store, at the fishmonger’s or in the small summer shops. The U-shaped guest harbour is known for its protected position and friendly atmosphere.
There are cafés and eateries on the quayside, including Peterson's Krog that serves seafood delicacies in a genuine Bohuslän setting. You feel like you’ve travelled back in time as you walk through the narrow streets. The silence and calm of nature slowly takes over as you leave the bustling energy of the harbour behind.
Plenty of swimming places and grand views
Once out of the built-up area, the great outdoors welcomes you with its rugged rocks, islets and small paths leading to swimming coves and viewpoints.
Beach life on Käringön caters for all possible tastes. The south side of the island has traditional bathing houses - separate for men and women of course - with small piers, steps into the sea and sheltered sunbathing spots.
The real connoisseur will find a private and secret little bay to lay on the warm rocks and look out over the water towards the horizon. Sometimes the head of a seal will pop up from the surface, otherwise the horizon is uniterrupted all the way to the Shetland islands and Scotland.
Fishing luck and old navigation beacon
Historically, Käringön used to be a fishing community and the island was permanently populated as early as 1596, when some fishing families came here to seek their fortune. The village expanded quickly during the herring epoch in the 18th century, reaching a population of more than 300 inhabitants. This was to double in the 19th century. The island's name probably came from the Swedish word “käring”, which means a small stone tower or cairn used as a navigation beacon, with a torch originally placed on it in the night time. Every house on the island has its own character and story, handed down through the centuries. The houses are lovingly kept up by the summer population, who are in a majority as house-owners on the island. In the middle of the barren island is a church, surrounded by lawns and colourful flowerbeds, fruit trees and shrubs.