Gothenburg to Marstrand – Discovering West Sweden’s Archipelago

WAVEJourney’s June 2012 Visit to West Sweden
Gothenburg to Marstrand – Discovering West Sweden’s Archipelago

Our day started in Oslo, Norway, but after a comfortable 5-hour train ride we arrived in Gothenburg, West Sweden to a cool and rainy morning. Thankfully, our hotel for the night was just a couple minutes walk once we stepped out of Central Station, and after making a quick dash through the rain we entered the lobby of the deluxe and modern 4-star Clarion Hotel Post, where we were promptly checked-in.

Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg, Sweden

Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg, Sweden

Room at Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg, Sweden

Room at Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg, Sweden

After a quick stop at our room to drop our bags and freshen up we headed back towards Central Station for our next adventure of the day – a trip to the island of Marstrand in West Sweden’s archipelago.

Gothenburg Central Station

Gothenburg Central Station

By noon we were picking up a rental car at the Hertz office next to the railway station. The Volvo XCV70 station wagon that would be our wheels for the afternoon was just like the one Jill owns – except Jill’s is 13 years older and a lot more creaky. Being a Volvo fanatic, Jill insisted that she take care of the driving for our afternoon excursion, and soon we were headed north from Gothenburg towards the island village of Marstrand.

Jill and the Volvo

Jill and the Volvo

As we drove the 45 kilometers out of the city and joined the E6 highway, rain lashed down even heavier. We didn’t care. The liquid sunshine was not going to dampen our spirit of adventure or quell our excitement for finally arriving in Sweden for the very first time.

Ferry between Marstrand and Koön

Ferry between Marstrand and Koön

Within an hour of leaving Gothenburg we arrived in the sleepy Swedish town of Koön where we parked the car and jumped on a ferryboat over to the island of Marstrand. Marstrand with its brightly painted timber buildings is quaint, charming, packed with restaurants, cafes, shops, and is car-free. The ferry runs every 15 minutes to/from Koön, and we were able to purchase round-trip tickets for the 5-minute ride from the shop next to the ferry for a cost of 25 sek (US$3.80).

Marstrand and Carlsten's Fortress

Marstrand and Carlsten’s Fortress

Our first stop on Marstrand was to visit Carlsten’s Fortress (Carlstens Fästning in Swedish) – a huge 17thcentury stone fortress that is clearly visible from the moment you arrive in Koön. The fortress was first constructed on the orders of King Carl X Gustav to protect Bohuslän from attacks (the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians had been fighting over this area for ever), and is a 10-minute stroll up a steep hill from the ferry landing to the entrance.

Walking to Carlsten's Fortress

Walking to Carlsten’s Fortress

At the office we were given a map of the fortress, including a brief overview of what we should see in the limited 90 minutes we had allotted ourselves for exploring the site. Our only disappointment with this visit was that the visibility was so low that we couldn’t see much of the surrounding area, but the fortress itself was extremely interesting to experience.

Carlsten's Fortress

Carlsten’s Fortress

Strolling back towards the area near the ferry we visited a few of the shops. They carried everything from souvenirs to clothing to local arts and crafts.

Marstrands Wärdshus

Marstrands Wärdshus

Feeling chilled and rather damp, and deciding it was time warm up and get out of the wind and rain, we wandered into a restaurant right on the dock, Marstrands Wärdshus.

Marstrands Wärdshus Fish Soup

Marstrands Wärdshus Fish and Shellfish Soup

It was here that we enjoyed the best fish and shellfish soup we’ve ever tasted (white fish, mussels, potatoes, tomatoes, root vegetables, white wine and saffron broth), accompanied by a tasty beer – Goteborgsnya Starkpilsner – from Gothenburg, while we watched sailors coming and going on their yachts. Right there and then we concluded that this island would most certainly be a boater’s paradise!

Gothenburg to Marstrand - Discovering West Sweden's Archipelago

Gothenburg to Marstrand – Discovering West Sweden’s Archipelago

All too soon it was time for us to make our way back towards Gothenburg, and reluctantly (by now Jill had decided she needs a new Volvo) return the rental car to Hertz. We made it back with only a few minutes to spare before our dinner reservations at Norda Grill in the Clarion Hotel Post.

Norda Grill in the Clarion Hotel Post

Norda Grill in the Clarion Hotel Post

The weather hadn’t been on its best behavior, but we had loved every minute of our excursion to Marstrand. Our plan is to return again soon, and next time stay on the island for a few days to truly experience the peace, tranquility and nature that it offers.

Note: Bus 312 runs from Gothenburg Central Station to Marstrand. From May to September it goes every hour and costs approximately 120 sek (US$22) for a bus/ferry combo ticket.

If You Go:

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