With more than 20 small islands dotted along the Kattegat sea coast, the southern archipelago is a fashionable retreat for Gothenburg locals, as well as a popular choice for boat cruises and day trips. The car-free islands offer a change of pace to mainland life, with traditional fishing villages, scenic footpaths, and picturesque landscapes.
The only way to reach the islands is by boat, and there are a number of options for guided day cruises and island-hopping tours. The largest and most visited islands are Branno and Styrso, each served by a cluster of guesthouses and restaurants. Equally appealing are the tranquil beaches and sleepy villages of Donso and Aspero. Additional highlights of a boat cruise around the archipelago include the nature reserve of Vargo; the small isle of Kopstadso, where wheelbarrows are famously used as transport; and military-controlled Kanso island.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Bring cash in local currency (krona)—not all of the island’s cafes and shops accept credit cards.
- All of the islands are car-free, and the only way to get around is on foot, by bike, or by taking a golf buggy-taxi.
- Most ferries are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance.
How to Get to There
The islands of the southern archipelago are reachable only by boat, and regular ferries run to Styrso, Donso, Branno, Kopstadso, and Vrango, taking up to 1.5 hours. Ferries leave from either the Stenpiren Travel Centre in downtown Gothenburg or Saltholmen port, an around 30-minute tram ride from the city center. Frequent ferries run from the larger islands to the surrounding smaller islands.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit the Southern Archipelago is during summer, so book well in advance for July and August. Ferries run in winter, and a trip to the southern archipelago can be a great way to escape the crowds, as few tourists visit in the off–season.
Things to Do on the Islands
Walking, cycling, and kayaking are the most popular activities on the islands, but there are also a number of beaches where you can swim in summer. Donso island has great hiking paths. You can climb to the Valen Hill viewpoint on Aspero Island, or walk all the way from Branno island to the uninhabited isle of Galtero. Vargo island is a prime spot for bird–watching, while Branno hosts parties along the waterfront on summer Saturday nights.