Gothenburg’s #1 Best Day Trip: The Gothenburg Archipelago

Gothenburg Archipelago

-A Day Trip to Gothenburg Archipelago-

If you’re looking for information about the Gothenburg archipelago (Göteborgs skärgård, in Swedish!), you’re in the right place! If you’re visiting Gothenburg and can spare the time, a visit to the archipelago is a must – it’s one of the best day trips from Gothenburg!

20220730 Gothenburg Archipelago 022

Gothenburg Archipelago

Gothenburg archipelago is located off the west coast of Sweden, in the North Sea, and more specifically, the Kattegat, a 30,000 km² expansive waterway between Sweden and Denmark. It’s home to around 5,000 residents that swells to over 10,000 when the holidaymakers turn up in summer (about 6000 of them!). The Swedish love a staycation!

The Gothenburg archipelago consists of two parts – the northern archipelago and the southern archipelago. If you want to visit on foot and are short on time, the southern islands are the place to go because they are generally quicker to get to and are car-free.

20220730 Gothenburg Archipelago 023

How to Get To Gothenburg Archipelago

Let’s look at how to get to the northern and southern Gothenburg archipelagos.

How to get to Gothenburg Northern Archipelago

To get to the northern archipelago, a car is your best option. Lilla Varholmen is an island in the northern archipelago accessible by road from the mainland (it’s pretty much connected!). From there, you can catch a car ferry to the islands of Hönö and Björkö. From Hönö, you can reach the islands of Öckerö, Fotö, Hälsö. From Hälsö, there is a ferry to Hyppeln and Rörö. You can’t reach any other islands by car from Björkö.

How to get to Gothenburg Southern Archipelago

Because of the excellent public transport and cycle networks in Gothenburg, getting to Gothenburg’s southern archipelago couldn’t be simpler. The southern archipelago is car-free. The ferry is open to foot passengers only! To get to the Gothenburg archipelago, we recommend you use the Västtrafik To Go app. Scroll down for more information on the app and links to download on Android and iOS.

Tip: when searching for stops in Västtrafik’s To Go trip planner – search for ‘Saltholmen’s bridge’ for boats and buses from Saltholmen, and search for ‘Saltholmen’ for trams.

20220730 Gothenburg Archipelago 004

Getting to Salthomen Ferry Terminal

By Bike

You are not recommended to take your bike on board because the southern archipelago is only serviced by boats with limited bicycle capacity. They can only be stored on the front deck of the ferry. There is a possibility you might not be able to get it back! Plus, the islands aren’t that big, and some paths are only suitable on foot once you are there. Getting to the Salthomen ferry terminal by bike is easy because of the excellent cycle network in Gothenburg. There is a superb bike park at the ferry terminal with ample parking for your bike. From there, jump on the passenger ferry.

By Tram & Bus

Public transport to the Gothenburg archipelago is an excellent option because it’s easy and cheap. You can get one ticket for 35 SEK that lasts 90 minutes, which is long enough to get from the city to one of the islands. It’s mind-blowingly cheap when you consider you are using a tram or bus and a ferry! You can buy two single journey tickets or a day ticket for 115 SEK. Note: you only need Zone A!

You’re looking for tram #11 or tram #9 (which runs in summer) and bus #114. Allow approximately 30 minutes for either journey from central Gothenburg. Below are the tram and bus routes, respectively.

Gothenburg Archipelago Ferry

Saltholmen ferry terminal is where you will catch the ferry to take you to the southern archipelago. You can catch a ferry to the bigger islands roughly every hour. During peak season, the boats run a little more frequently. You will find some islands have direct ferries, so check the Gothenburg Archipelago ferry timetable for up-to-date information. You can use the Västtrafik To Go app to buy your tickets. Alternatively, you can purchase single tickets on board by card.

For a brief overview, below are the ferry numbers that run all year and the islands they visit:

  • 281 Stenpiren–Saltholmen–Köpstadsö–Styrsö Bratten–Donsö–Vrångö
  • 282 Stenpiren–Saltholmen–Köpstadsö–Styrsö Bratten–Styrsö Tången–Brännö Husvik
  • 283 Saltholmen–Asperö–Brännö Rödsten
  • 284 Saltholmen–Knarrholmen–Stora Förö–Saltholmen
20220730 Gothenburg Archipelago 025

Gothenburg Archipelago Islands

Gothenburg archipelago has two separate areas – the northern archipelago and the southern archipelago. Below is the list of islands in each archipelago.

The northern islands of the Gothenburg archipelago are; Björkö, Fotö, Grötö, Hyppeln, Hälsö, Hönö, Kalvsund, Källö-knippla, Rörö, and Öckerö.

The southern islands of Gothenburg archipelago are; Asperö, Brännö, Donsö, Knarrholmen, Kårholmen och Sjumansholmen, Köpstadsö, Stora Förö, Styrsö, Vargö, Vinga and Vrångö.

20220730 Gothenburg Archipelago 006

Gothenburg Archipelago Map

Gothenburg Archipelago
Gothenburg Archipalego map

Västtrafik To Go App

The Västtrafik To Go app is the best option for public transport journeys in Gothenburg. Usually, we plan trips using Google Maps, but the Västtrafik To Go app has two benefits over Google Maps when navigating around Gothenburg. Firstly, it tells you which stop or jetty your transport is leaving, and secondly, it enables you to buy your tickets right in the app using a credit card. There are other benefits, but these are the most defining advantages over Google Maps. The Västtrafick To Go app is available on Android and iOS.

20220729 Gothenburg Archipelago 028

Things to Do on the Gothenburg Archipelago

So, you’ve finally reached the archipelago, but what do you do?! There are a few things to do to occupy you for a few hours, listed below:

  • Go swimming – there are almost endless opportunities to swim around the archipelago, including a few child-friendly spots where the water is shallow, such as Utterviksbadet in Vrångö.
  • Go paddling – If you want to experience the archipelago more adventurously, kayaking or canoeing is a good option. You can hire a kayak or even take a tour to explore.
  • Enjoy Swedish Fika – There are plenty of places around the archipelago where you can stop for coffee, cake and a bite to eat!
  • Go walking – For those fancying a stroll around the islands, there are plenty of places for you to wander, including a few nature reserves like Ersdalen Nature Reserve in western Hönö.
  • Take a boat excursion – if you fancy seeing more of the sea, a boat trip is for you! Head o a sea safari to find grey-spotted seals or go fishing for lobster and crab. Boat trips run from Hönö Klåva harbour to Vinga.
20220731 Gothenburg Archipelago 002


What is an archipelago?

An archipelago is a name given to a group of scattered islands located close to one another, surrounded by a body of water. Usually, an archipelago is in the sea or ocean, but it can also be found in lakes or rivers.

Where is Gothenburg archipelago?

Right next to Gothenburg is the short answer! The longer answer is Gothenburg archipelago is located just a few miles off the coast of Gothenburg in the North Sea and is accessible by ferry and car. A ferry takes passengers to the car-free southern archipelago, and a car and car ferry can get you to the northern archipelago.

How do I get to Gothenburg archipelago?

The easiest way to get to Gothenburg archipelago from Gothenburg centre is to take public transport. The tram or bus will take you directly to Salthomen. From there, jump on the ferry you need to take you to the island you want. It’s that simple! To help you get to Gothenburg archipelago by public transport, use the Västtrafik To Go app to plan your journey and buy your tickets. Alternatively, you can cycle to Salthomen port and leave your bike at the terminal in the ample bike storage.

Which island to visit in Gothenburg?

Vrångö, Donso, Brännö and Styrsö are all good options; they are the largest of the southern archipelago islands and easy to access by ferry. We’d recommend you visit the southern islands of Gothenburg archipelago because they are closer and are car-free. You will experience the peaceful surroundings of the islands where the ambient noise isn’t that of cars and roads but that of the natural world around you.

How many islands does Gothenburg archipelago have?

The Gothenburg archipelago has over 20 islands. The islands spread across two areas: the northern archipelago and the southern archipelago. The southern islands are car-free and very peaceful. The only noise of motorised vehicles you will hear is the ferries and the odd motorised scooter the locals use to move things around, like firewood and shopping! You might even see the odd golf buggy or tractor, but vehicles are few and far between either way!

20220730 Gothenburg Archipelago 020

Gothenburg Archipelago

-Visiting the Gothenburg Archipelago-

If you want to keep up with our travels, please subscribe to our mailing list. We won’t spam you; we’ll only contact you with exciting news and new stuff! Enter your email in the box below and hit subscribe!

20200417 Web Scans 6

1 thought on “Gothenburg’s #1 Best Day Trip: The Gothenburg Archipelago

  1. Pingback: The 15 Best Things to Do in Gothenburg, Sweden | The Bumper Crew

Leave a Reply