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Whilst enjoying a winter city break in Gothenburg we travelled out to the southern archipelago. It takes only twenty minutes on the tram from central Gothenburg to get to the port of Salthomen which is the gateway to the southern Gothenburg archipelago. Gothenburg’s archipelago has 5,000 permanent residents and another 6,000 residents during the summer months. All the islands are strictly car free but that doesn’t mean you won’t see any vehicles; the residents of Gothenburg’s archipelago rely on golf buggies to get them from one end of the island to the other!
If you’re visiting Gothenburg and looking for things to do in Gothenburg I’d highly recommend taking the ferry out to the islands. It’s a great addition to any Gothenburg city break whatever the season! Here’s how to add a Gothenburg archipelago tour for your Gothenburg travel itinerary.
About the Gothenburg Archipelago
The Gothenburg archipelago is made up of more than 20 islands. It stretches along the western Swedish coast and isn’t far from the city of Gothenburg making it the perfect addition to any city break to Gothenburg. In the archipelago, you’ll find charming fishing villages, beautiful nature and beaches, seals, fishing and more.
The archipelago is split a northern collection of islands and a southern part. We visited the southern part which is known for being carfree. The islands in the southern archipelago are; Asperö Ostra, Köpstadsö, Styrsö Bratten, Styrsö Skäret, Donsö, Sjumansholmen, Kårholmen and Vrångö.
Map of Gothenburg South Archipelago islands
Here’s a map of the ferry routes and the names of the islands in Gothenburg’s southern archipelago.
How to get to the archipelago from Gothenburg centre
Getting to Gothenburg’s southern archipelago couldn’t be simpler.
From Gothenburg take the #11 tram (or number 9 in the summer) or bus 114 (destination Ö-snabben) to Salthomen. Both take around 30 minutes from downtown Gothenburg.
The port of Salthomen is in western Gothenburg and is where you’ll catch the ferry to the islands. The ferries are run by the same company as the trams, so if you’ve bought a tram pass you can use it on the ferries too! A day pass for the ferries costs about 85SEK ($10US).
Ferries to and from the islands vary time wise but it’s roughly every hour to the bigger islands (Asperö, Brännö, Köpstadsö, Styrsö, Donsö and Vrångö). During peak season the boats depart a bit more often and there are also boats to the smaller islands Knarrholmen and Stora Fotö. You can see the full schedule here.
The ferries out to the island are listed below, you can see a map of the southern Gothenburg archipelago just above to get your bearings.
- 281 (Saltholmen–Vrångö)
- 282 (Saltholmen–Brännö Husvik)
- 283 (Saltholmen–Brännö Rödsten)
Since the islands that make up the Gothenburg Archipelago are car-free, these aren’t car ferries. You can’t bring your car on to them and everyone will embark as foot passengers.
Where to stay in Gothenburg
We stayed at an Airbnb which is no longer available (see other Gothenburg Airbnbs here!) whilst in Gothenburg which I absolutely loved. It was close to transport links and just super cosy.
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, here are a few of my budget-friendly top picks for where to stay in Gothenburg.
Islands in the Gothenburg Archipelago that we visited
We didn’t visit all the islands in the southern Gothenburg Archipelago but we did manage to see quite a few on a short, cold winter’s day!
Our first stop was Styrsö one of the larger islands. Styrsö is located in the middle of the southern islands and has about 1,400 people living on it all year round, with a much larger number come the summer! It can be considered the hub of the southern archipelago.
On Styrsö there are a few cafés, guesthouses and restaurants. There plenty of places to swim and lots of small ports with sailing boats. The ferry from mainland Gothenburg only takes about 20 minutes and taking a stroll around Styrsö and over to Donsö is well worth it!
Donsö is an important fishing and ship-owning community and the harbour is at the heart of the island. Surrounded by fishing facilities and fishermen huts, this port was pretty much the only place we saw other human beings (apart from on the ferry) all day!
We were after a hot chocolate but unfortunately, the only café we could find was closed. So, with that, we headed over to the next island for more adventuring!
When the wind got too much and we lost the feeling in our fingers, we headed back to the ferry and the mainland of Gothenburg.
From Donsö we took a second ferry further south into the archipelago towards Vrångö; the most southerly island in the archipelago. Just 380 people live here the whole year round with a big population increase in the summer months. As with the other islands in the archipelago, fishing plays an important role in the island.
We headed to the shore on the far side of the island from the port and climbed over the rocks as the sun began to set.