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Gothenburg’s archipelago

THE SKERRIES

When Icelandic seafarers came to Gothenburg many years ago, they gave the islands there the name “Älvaskären”, the skerries at the mouth of the river. It is not just fishermen, sailors and shipowners who inhabit the islands these days. Over the years, the population has swollen with people moving out of the city in search of natural beauty and wide ocean views. The major attraction for day visitors is, of course, swimming in the clear, salty water. But even on a cold winter’s day, a trip to the islands is a fantastic experience.

THE ISLANDS TODAY

There are no privately owned cars on the islands in the southern part of the archipelago. There are about 4500 year-round residents and the archipelago’s population doubles during the summer months. Apart from Styrsö, the other islands with a year-round ferry service are Asperö, Brännö, Donsö, Köpstadsö, Vargö and Vrångö. The bridge that links Donsö and Styrsö allows easy access between these islands on foot or bike.

DISCOVER THE ISLANDS ON YOUR OWN

On a bike it’s easy to explore the islands’ many beauty spots and reach all the places of interest. The hiking trails on Styrsö and Donsö guide you to the ends of the islands and to viewing points high above the sea. When the winters are cold enough, the bays freeze over and it’s possible to skate between the small islands. In the summer, there’s a wide choice of lovely bathing spots and plenty of secluded rocks if you want to swim and sunbathe undisturbed.

Activities during the summer months include tennis and sailing lessons, painting courses and you can also rent kayaks. Musical evenings, concerts and exhibitions are often advertised on notice boards. At Easter and Advent, the islanders usually organise local markets and, on Midsummer Eve, there are always traditional Swedish celebrations at Styrsö Bratten.

If you’re travelling as a group, we’d be pleased to arrange fishing and sailing trips for you. Please ask at the guest house for more information. The guest house has bicycles that its overnight guests may borrow.

Visiting the Islands

The ferry to Styrsö stops at Köpstadsö, a small island with narrow paths. On this island, it is forbidden to bike or use a moped. Instead, each household has a wheelbarrow to transport luggage and grocery bags. Donsö and Styrsö are the two largest islands in the southern archipelago, linked by a bridge which facilitates interaction between the islands’ communities today. Styrsö has a health centre, dentist, high school and two grocery stores. At the beginning of the last century, Styrsö became a popular bathing resort and spa for the well-to-do residents of Gothenburg who sought relaxation and escape from city life.

STYRSÖ – AN ISLAND WITH A HERITAGE

In terms of population and area, Styrsö is the largest of the islands in the southern part of the archipelago. Woods, barren rocks and shoreline meadows compose a varied natural scenery and the island offers plenty of options for swimming in the sea and walks in the beautiful unspoiled landscape. The well-preserved buildings and narrow, winding roads between Tången and Bratten provide an historical insight into the islands. The houses in the fishing village on the island of Tången are nestled so closely together that it’s easy to see into your neighbour’s kitchen. Many of the houses date from the 1800s when Styrsö Tången was home to half the island’s population. In those days, people made a living from small-scale farming and fishing and sold their catch in Gothenburg.

As time passed, the old fishing harbour was replaced with a modern facility to accommodate larger trawlers. Uttervik, close to Tången, is one of the island’s best bathing spots and as you head towards Salskärsudde you’ll discover even more, beautiful rocky outcrops perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

The numerous fashionable houses with their splendid glass verandahs that line the road between the church and Bratten are a reminder of a time when Styrsö Bratten was a popular summer resort for the socialites of Gothenburg in the 1850th. It used to be popular on Sundays for people from Gothenburg to take the steam ferry to the sea-bathing pavilion, restaurant and guest house on Styrsö.

Donsö – The Island of the boats

Donsö is the island of boats. The shipping companies’ massive vessels are usually far out at sea transporting oil, but back home on Donsö there’s a vibrant harbour with lots of fishing boats. With a bit of luck, you can get hold of fresh mackerel and shellfish. Most of Donsö’s population comprises year-round residents and, thanks to their enterprising skills and aptitudes, many earn their livings on the island.

Like other islands in the archipelago, there are no cars on Donsö, but mopeds with trailers and golf carts are popular modes of transport. In the summer months, the fishing harbour teems with life with its small shops and cafés. Winding roads leading away from the harbour take us through the oldest parts of the village centre past beautiful houses adorned with intricately carved features.

DISCOVER THE ISLANDS ON YOUR OWN

VISITING THE ISLANDS
The ferry to Styrsö stops at Köpstadsö, a small island with narrow paths. On this island, it is forbidden to bike or use a moped. Instead, each household has a wheelbarrow to transport luggage and grocery bags. Donsö and Styrsö are the two largest islands in the southern archipelago, linked by a bridge which facilitates interaction between the islands’ communities today. Styrsö has a health centre, dentist, high school and two grocery stores.

At the beginning of the last century, Styrsö became a popular bathing resort and spa for the well-to-do residents of Gothenburg who sought relaxation and escape from city life. The choice of restaurants and entertainment increased with the advent of a steam ferry service and Styrsö continues to be a popular summer retreat even today. There has always been a strong spirit of enterprise on the island of Donsö, which has developed into a shipping community. The old fishing harbour is home to several small, charming shops and the impressive restaurant Isbolaget at the end of the pier offers a variety of dining choices.