Planning a Road Trip Through West Sweden

Go West! Planning a Road Trip Through West Sweden

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My days living in Scandinavia were some of my favorite memories to date—not just because that’s when I met my now-husband, but also because the area is rife in outdoor wonders, places like Sweden that might not be the first place your average American would travel abroad. During those eight months, I flitted back and forth from Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula to southern Sweden, hitting up Malmö, Blekinge and other small towns in the region. But it wasn’t until this fall that I got to see more of Sweden’s rugged west coast.

A Volvo Road Trip Around West Sweden

GETTING TO GOTHENBURG

SVV and I started our journey from Newark where we got to fly one of my favorite international airlines, SAS, for the first time in years. We were booked in the new class, SAS Plus, which is somewhere between economy and business, and that gave us access to the SAS Lounge (a godsend given our lengthy layover and meetings immediately following our arrival).

Flying SAS Plus to Sweden

When we got on the flight, we were blown away with all that legroom—a novelty when flying in 2017—and the size of our TV screens. Both were essential given that we had an eight-hour flight ahead of us and I’m not one who can sleep on planes. So instead, I caught up on my movies and downed a couple craft beers while I did so. How cool that SAS has two specialty beers brewed just for its airline guests?!

AFTER ARRIVING IN SWEDEN

We were partnering with West Sweden and Volvo on this particular trip, so upon arriving, we got the full Volvo Overseas Delivery treatment. Americans who purchase a Volvo not only get one of the world’s best cars—seriously, after a few days driving an XC60, I’m already thinking of the day when I trade in my Jeep—but also a vacation. When you buy a Volvo, U.S. buyers get two round-trip tickets to Scandinavia on SAS, a night’s stay at the Clarion Hotel Post in Gothenburg and home shipment services for the vehicle you’ve purchased.

The Volvo Factory in Gothenburg, Sweden

So we pretended we were so lucky, headed to the Volvo factory, got the full tour (unfortunately, no cameras were allowed) then went on our merry way: a road trip along the West Coast.

A Volvo Road Trip Around West Sweden

Looking to recreate our trip to Sweden? Here’s an overview of what we did and how we did it.

DAY 1: GOTHENBURG

Once we had our loaner car, we drove into Gothenburg and checked into our digs: the Clarion Hotel Post. We got our bearings by meeting up with a local travel blogger, Kattis Lundin, who took us for a quick city tour followed by cocktails at The Gothenburg Museum of Art.

Dorsia Hotel Lounge in Gothenburg, Sweden

Then, we headed back to the Clarion Post Hotel for a delicious three-course tasting dinner at the on-site restaurant, Norda Bar & Grill, which is also included in the Volvo Overseas Delivery program.

Dinner at Norda at the Clarion Post Hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden

At this point, we’d been up a solid 34 hours, so we hit the bed hard and rested up for our forthcoming road trip (after a beer, that is).

Clarion Post Hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden

DAY 2: THE WEATHER ISLANDS

Up and at ‘em early! We got a full seven hours of sleep and were ready to go at 7am. We had breakfast at the Clarion Post Hotel before checking out and picking up our Volvo at the valet stand, then were off!

Clarion Post Hotel in Gothenburg, Sweden

SVV and I have now rented cars in countries across five continents together for some epic road trips, but this one was particularly nostalgic: It felt like the ultimate throwback to our early adventures together some 12 years ago.

Road Trip Through West Sweden

It’s so easy to drive in Sweden—everyone is so orderly! They follow the rules! They drive on the right side of the road!—and we quickly became obsessed with our loaner vehicle when we learned that it actually drove for us. Anytime SVV started to veer off course, it would correct his path; it also would automatically slow down if we got too close to the car in front of us and match speeds while on cruise control. On our factory tour the previous day, we learned that Volvo’s ultimate mission is for zero fatalities in their new vehicles by the year 2020. Ambitious and awesome.

A Volvo Road Trip Around West Sweden

Because we got a bit of an early start, we detoured to Smögen upon the recommendation of our server in Gothenburg. This picture-perfect town was lined with colorful houses and boats flanking harbors and marinas; it’s one of the more charming places I’ve ever seen and absolutely empty following the high season.

Smogen: A Road Trip Through West Sweden

We had an hour to poke around and fly the drone before we needed to get back on the road. If your schedule is more flexible, I suggest allowing a half a day (minimum) for exploring all the cute towns that hug the West Sweden coastline.

A Road Trip to the Weather Islands in Sweden

From Smögen, it was another 45 minutes up the coast to Hamburgsund, where a ferry was waiting to transport us and our luggage to the Weather Islands. This archipelago of 365 small isles might just be the most peaceful spot in Europe; only one of them is inhabited, and the entire island chain was designated a marine nature reserve in 2001.

A Road Trip to the Weather Islands in Sweden

We occupied one of the 16 rooms on the island upon arrival, went on a seafood safari, soaked in the hot tub and enjoyed the relative solitude of this little slice of remote paradise, free from TV and technology but adorned with with candles, Scandinavian luxuries and all the comforts of home.

A Road Trip to the Weather Islands in Sweden

DAY 3: ORUST ISLAND

We had a few hours to ourselves in the morning, but it was too windy and wet to do any hiking. I cozied up with a cup of coffee in the main house while watching the waves crash against Väderöarna and the boat captain prepare our ferry for transit.

A Road Trip to the Weather Islands in Sweden

After our 45-minute ride back to the mainland, we had another 90 minutes in the car to our next destination on Orust Island. A former fish crate factory, Lådfabriken on the cliffs of Bohuslän is now a four-bedroom bed and breakfast with the most charming of owners, Johan and Marcel. Within minutes, we felt like we had known them for ages. They took us around the area to the fish market and to forage for mushrooms, and we settled in that evening for a Michelin-worthy, multi-course dinner with their other guests.

Ladfabriken in Orust Island | A Road Trip Around West Sweden

We only had one day in Lådfabriken, but I wished we had several. This is definitely the kind of place you can check in to check out if you know what I mean; the weather wasn’t great while we were there, but this area of Sweden is known as the Sun Coast, and there are so many outdoor adventures to be had—from hiking to fishing to kayaking out around all the small islands. The region is absolutely stunning in cleanliness and natural beauty.

A Road Trip Around West Sweden

DAY 4: RETURN TO GOTHENBURG

The following morning was still gray and glooming, so kayaking was out—though we had a brief intermission from the rain during which we were able to get an aerial view of the islands via the drone. A feeling of sadness swept over me as I said good-bye to our new friends at Lådfabriken; this was definitely one of my most memorable stays in recent years, if not ever, and I hope we find our way back there someday. But we had a deadline to meet—a walking tour to make in Gothenburg—so we loaded the car up and drove the hour back to the city.

Street Art in Gothenburg

The final leg of our trip had us in Gothenburg for three nights at Hotel Pigalle. While there, we explored the city’s food and drink culture, as well as walked many miles each day—through botanical gardens, cobblestone streets and to rooftop spas. It was nice being back in such a cosmopolitan European city for a long weekend with no real agenda.

Stay tuned for more snapshots and stories from West Sweden!

This post is part of a campaign with Travel Mindset and partners Visit Sweden, West Sweden, Gothenburg & Co., SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Volvo Cars USA.

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A Road Trip from Gothenburg through West Sweden
A Road Trip from Gothenburg through West Sweden
A Road Trip from Gothenburg through West Sweden
COMMENTS
  • October 4, 2017

    I thought you guys had met in the Netherlands! I love Sweden! I’ve only been to a few places there, but I wouldn’t mind returning to visit more of the country. Gothenburg is my favourite city of Sweden so far!

    • October 7, 2017

      We met in the Netherlands, first kissed in Belgium, then took a month-long road trip to East Europe (Hungary, Romania, then Austria) then moved in together in Denmark! All within a four-month period, ha. So Holland and Denmark will always be “our places.” I hope to go back to both within the next year!

  • October 4, 2017

    Looks so beautiful, but also so laid back. I have not been to Sweden but when read about visiting or when I see pictures of travel in Sweden it looks so casual and calm.

    • October 7, 2017

      It really is! One of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been.

  • October 5, 2017
    Ris

    I was blown away by Gothenburg. It hadn’t been on my radar at all until my husband had a work conference there and I figured I’d tag along and find *something* to do. Man, I wish we’d had more time! That and a day trip to Marstrand were true highlights. I’m already plotting a trip back and will definitely borrow from your itinerary!

    • October 7, 2017

      I still can’t believe you were there right before us! What are the odds? I didn’t make it to Marstrand, but I’m not kidding—I really want to buy a Volvo and make that trip back, ha!

  • October 7, 2017

    Great post and awesome pics! I’ve only been to Stockholm, but now I definitely wanna explore more! 😀

    • October 7, 2017

      Stockholm is also lovely! The west coast, however, has a very different vibe…much like the east and west coasts of the US, I’d say =)

  • October 7, 2017

    My soul is drawn to little marina towns!! I feel like my heart ❤️ toured this with you!! Thanks

    • October 7, 2017

      So much of it reminded me of New England!

  • October 7, 2017

    I love the colors. I’m already sold with going to Sweden, its on my bucket list 🙂

    • October 7, 2017

      As it should be! I love the east coast, but the west coast of Sweden now has my whole heart.

  • October 7, 2017

    I had no idea Volvo did that for Americans. What a neat way to encourage sales! Sounds like you were able to see lots of cute places on your road trip!

    • October 7, 2017

      Me neither! How crazy is that? And how much does it make you want to buy a Volvo?!

  • October 7, 2017
    Eva

    This was the first post I read regarding the Volvo Overseas Delivery program. I actually only learned about it quite recently. How cool is that? It looks like you had a great adventure!

    • October 7, 2017

      As did I, Eva! I feel like they need to really promote that hard over in the US. That would make or break the kind of car I bought if the price was the same!

  • October 7, 2017

    Sweden has been on my bucket list for so long! This makes me want to go even more. Those photos are gorgeous!

    • October 7, 2017

      Thanks, Jessie! It was definitely a dramatically different scene than the other parts of Sweden I’d explored. Obsessed!

  • October 7, 2017
    Kristen

    Wow, these scenes and your photos are so stunning! I’ve never been to this part of Sweden, but now I’m itching to go. I cannot believe how beautiful it is. Thanks for sharing!

    • October 12, 2017

      Right?! I was blown away by the rugged beauty, too!

  • October 7, 2017
    jin

    What a delightful post! This is something I wish to do in Sweden one day – roadtrip through the countryside and various cities and see more of this wonderful country outside Stockholm. Thank you for fueling my wanderlust for the next time I go back to Sweden!

    • October 12, 2017

      You’re most welcome, Jin! I hope you make it there someday really soon =)

  • October 7, 2017

    Would love to visit Sweden! Looks so cold, but so beautiful! Love the natural scenery.

    • October 12, 2017

      When we were there (September), it felt a lot like San Francisco does year-round! It’s pretty temperate on the west coast, so you need a light/medium jacket, but it never gets *too* cold.

  • October 8, 2017

    Such an inspiration ! I LOVED Stockholm and I didn’t know where in Sweden to go next – well now I know 🙂 such beautiful rugged landscapes! Scandinavia rocks.

    • October 12, 2017

      Stockholm is so dreamy, isn’t it? The west coast is a totally different vibe from that, but I love the east, too!

  • October 8, 2017

    I’ve been wanting to do a road tour of West Sweden for many years — as a child, I visited Lidkoping regularly as my father used to work in the hospital there during his off time from the hospital he worked in at home. I’m bookmarking this for the ideas!

    • October 12, 2017

      I’ve never even heard of Lidkoping! But it sounds magical just like the rest of the country I’ve seen so far =)

  • October 8, 2017

    A whole year of one-a-day islands? That sounds wonderful, and I can feel a really chilled vibe throughout your writing. It just shows that you don’t need beautiful weather for the spectacular places.

    • October 12, 2017

      Right? You could have SO many adventures there!

  • October 8, 2017
    Taiwo

    Oh my goodness!! The pictures are GORGEOUSSS!! Sweden’s always been on my list but then something “overtakes” it… but after this post… I might need to raise it up in the ranks!

    • October 12, 2017

      Definitely needs to be boosted to the top of that list!

  • October 10, 2017

    wow..
    sweden is a beautiful country.superb post and awesome pics! Thanks for sharing this information

  • October 10, 2017

    So beautiful! I went to Sweden a few years ago and loved it, but was mostly there to visit friends, and didn’t get out to the coast too much. Still, everything I did see was absolutely beautiful.

    • October 12, 2017

      Well, hopefully your friends still live there and you can use that as an excuse for a return trip 😉

  • October 11, 2017

    Absolutely fantastic!

    We went to Sweden for the first time in June, and loved it! I can happily see myself going back sooner rather than later! ‘Love the photography. Yay!

    • October 12, 2017

      Ahhhh I totally missed that trip on your blog! Must go back and compare notes =)

  • October 13, 2017
  • October 16, 2017

    Everything looks so beautiful and clean. The Scandinavian countries are so different compared to the Balkans, for example. I want to feel the cold in Sweden (I know it sounds a bit strange) and to see the White Nights, to meet and talk to locals there.
    When is the best time for visiting?

    • October 26, 2017

      I totally know what you mean, Yoanna! It would feel weird to be hot and sweaty in Sweden 😉

      I think spring and fall are great, because it’s not expensive then and you’re guaranteed chilly weather but not TOO cold. West Sweden is pretty temperate, though, so I don’t think it gets bad no matter when you go.

  • October 24, 2017

    It’s such a shame you didn’t get to kayak. The archipelago around Fjällbacka is an absolute must for your next visit.

    • October 26, 2017

      I know, Darren! We were really bummed, too, that the weather didn’t cooperate. Next time, though =)

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