Ödsmål, Sweden, Exploring the West Coast of Sweden

Ödsmål, Sweden – Exploring the West Coast of Sweden

Today we will continue to look back at our travels last year. Our summer vacation in 2021 did include some interesting surprises. Not even the pandemic or a fire in our neighbor’s apartment could keep us from traveling. Exploring the West Coast of Sweden became our main objective, all the while we were enjoying the sunshine, new sights, and a lot of free time. This one-week vacation to Ödsmål in the western part of Sweden turned out to be one of the highlights of the summer, so let us have a look at our Midsummer week of 2021. Joining us, as usual, was our daughter Little A, four years old at the time of this trip.

Vacation of 2021: A Week in Ödsmål

Last summer did look quite dark when our neighbor’s apartment was on fire on a Saturday morning in early May. We were not at home, but our apartment and belongings were damaged and we were forced to spend the summer away from home. That, in addition to the pandemic delaying our plans for the summer, meant that we started the summer with no planned trips. It really looked like we would be stuck at my parent’s house in Vagnhärad.

Shortly before Midsummer, there was a change of plans. It was a colleague of mine who would save our summer plans. His parents’ summer cottage in Ödsmål was available for the summer and we jumped at the possibility to spend the Midsummer week exploring the west coast of Sweden.

Exploring the West Coast of Sweden

Exploring the West Coast of Sweden started in Vagnhärad and took us initially to the town of Gränna, located along the shores of Lake Vättern. Here we enjoyed the sunshine and some lunch, and Little A got some of the local candy. Gränna is famous for the “polkagris”, a candy that has become one of the most symbolic Swedish sweets. The drive from here took us past cities such as Jönköping and Gothenburg before reaching Ödsmål. Our base for the week was actually in Kycklingedalen, on the outskirt of Ödsmål.

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Day 1: Kycklingedalen & Talbo

We met my colleague at the house in Kycklingedalen in the early hours of the afternoon. We had traveled quite far and it was nice to settle down and relax for the evening. I headed out to explore by myself while Little A and Susann rested. The walk took me along countryside roads on the outskirt of Ödsmål. I walked through parts of Kycklingedalen and all the way to the beach in Talbo. No, I did not swim. Instead, I enjoyed the view of the lake and even more so of the surrounding nature. The tranquility when walking all by myself with no one around is something I need from time to time. Especially after the stress with the apartment. There would be more walks like that during the summer and afterward.

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Day 2: Marstrand & Kungälv

We actually spent a lot of our time here exploring the west coast of Sweden. Sitting still is something I usually am unable to do. So, on our first full day, we were soon on our way to explore a few sights that I have wanted to see for a very long time. The particular sights were two old castles, the Carlsten Fortress in Marstrand and the Bohus Fortress in Kungälv.

Our day began with the drive from Ödsmål to Marstrand, a 45-minute drive to the south. This is where our adventures for the day started. Marstrand is split into two parts separated by a small strait. One of these parts is on an island with a road connection to the mainland, the other is on the island with the famous fortress. To get to the fortress we took the ferry across the small strait and began our walk up towards the fortress. This is a 17th-century fortress that has survived many conflicts and eras of Swedish history. Entering the fortress, walking along its enormous walls, watching out over the archipelago, and learning more about its history really made at least my day. This is one of those sights that are a must-see for any Swedish history nerds.

We continued from Marstrand back towards Ödsmål, but not without a stop at Kungsälv. This is the location of another fortress, the Bohus Fortress. Once more we focused on the fortress itself and entered it. Bohus Fortress is today mostly a large ruin, with several activities for kids spread out around the area. we took a walk along its walls before ending up at a bouncing castle where Little A got stuck. Stuck in the way that she did not want to leave. Needless to say that we were quite tired once we got back to the house in Ödsmål. But combining these two fortresses during a day trip is something we can recommend.

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Day 3: Fjällbacka & Smögen

Our third vacation day was spent on a road trip heading north along the coast. Our target was the town of Fjällbacka, a place that has been in the news a few times in recent pre-covid years due to the large number of Chinese tour buses that made a stop there. It is a former fishing village that has been made famous by two more modern cultural classics. This is the location of many of Camilla Läckberg’s crime novels and was also the location for a few scenes from the movies about Ronia, the Astrid Lindgren character.

The highlight of the visit turned out to be Kungsklyftan, the gorge where Ronia was filmed. This 200-meter-long gorge was quite challenging to walk along the many stones, but Little A was happy to climb around and enjoyed the challenge. The very picturesque fishing village itself wasn’t something that Little A was impressed by. So after some pizza for lunch, we were back in the car and Little A was soon asleep.

This meant that we were in no hurry to reach our next stop of the day, Smögen. Instead, we made some short stops. The first of these was Hunnebostrand where I enjoyed a walk through the town. This is another of the many fishing villages along Sweden’s western coast. Yes, the fortresses from day 2 had been replaced by fishing villages during day 3. After Hunnebostrand we reached Sotekanalen, a waterway canal that dates back to the 1930s. We stopped at the small bridge across the canal and were greeted by a bridge opening when M/S Soten was passing by.

We eventually reached Smögen, the third fishing village of the day. Smögen is famous in many ways and is one of the main tourist attractions in this part of Sweden. This results in large amounts of tourists during the summer months. We took a walk around the small center but couldn’t find so much to see. Well, Little A was far from impressed and was satisfied with the visit first after we had found a café for ice cream. We were soon on our way back across the strait to the mainland. Here we made a short stop in the town of Kungshamn, which was really sleepy in comparison to Smögen. Kungshamn marked the end of our explorations, at least for our third day.

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Day 4: Tjörn & Ödsmål

We were getting closer to Midsummer’s Eve, which is always on a Friday. Our fourth day was actually Wednesday before Midsummer and the day before the main traffic mayhem that usually occurs on Thursday before Midsummer. Our plan for the day was to explore the island of Tjörn, the seventh-largest island in Sweden. We started our day by heading as far out on the island as possible, to the village of Rönnäng. Here we climbed up the small mountain of Tjörnehuvud for a picnic. The view from here was great, we could actually see the Carlsten Fortress in Marstrand on the horizon. Little A then got to walk along the small sandy beach before we headed towards Klädesholmen to find some lunch.

Klädesholmen is famous for caviar and pickled herring. It is a fishing village located on two small islands and it has developed into a popular tourist destination. Our walk through the village led us to what seemed to be the only restaurant on the island and we were soon on our way back to the car to try our luck in Skärhamn instead.

Skärhamn is the main town of Tjörn and is the home of the smiling church tower. Here we found what we were looking for – LUNCH. At a street food stand right next to the water we found fish and chips and could enjoy it in the sunshine looking out over the very large marina. It was possible to see that Skärhamn was waking up for Midsummer, with boats and cars starting to arrive in large numbers. Due to this, we decided to head back to Ödsmål after lunch so that we would not get stuck in traffic. Driving back, it was possible to get a feeling of how popular this part of the Swedish coast is during Midsummer.

Once back in Ödsmål we headed to the beach so that Little A could swim at Söskär Beach. It was followed by a relaxing evening in the sunshine at the house.

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Day 5: Trollhättan, Vänersborg & Uddevalla

Thursday, the day before Midsummer’s Eve, and heading out along the coast is no option. The traffic was about to increase so instead of getting stuck along the coast we decided to go inland toward Trollhättan.

On our way inland along the smaller countryside roads, we stopped at the locality of Lilla Edet, right at the border between the provinces of Bohuslän and Västra Götaland. Lilla Edet had a lot more than we had expected. It was never on our list of places to visit. Instead, this was a positive surprise with the hydroelectric power station, the canal, the oldest canal lock in Sweden, and the castle in Ström on the other side of the river.

An even more positive surprise was Trollhättan, an industrial town that is famous for the production of the Saab automobile. This turned out to be more than the normal grey industrial town that we have plenty of in Sweden. Instead, we found our way to the green areas along the river. The canal runs parallel to the river, with locks and bridges and along the river, there is the large hydroelectric power plant creating an impressive scenery. Even Little A enjoyed exploring the many paths along the river. Well, at least until she started to get tired. Once Little A was tired we decided that it was time to find a beach for some swimming.

Our next stop was the nearby Vänersborg, right on the shores of Lake Vänern. This is where we hoped to find a beach, but we didn’t really know where. As Little A didn’t feel like walking around, we instead opted for a safer option. We left Vänersborg and headed to Ursand, a large camping resort along the shores of the lake. Here we found our sandy beach and Little A got to enjoy an afternoon of playing and swimming.

The road back to Ödsmål took us by the town of Uddevalla. Here we stopped for me to take an evening walk and for us all to find some fast food for dinner. We eventually ended up along the river enjoying a kebab from one of the street food cars.

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Day 6: Stenungsund & Midsummer’s Eve

Waking up on the morning of Midsummer’s Eve with the feeling that it will be a sunny day. That is not too common for Midsummer, as many of you might know. Midsummer’s Eve is notorious here in Sweden for always bringing rain. We started the day by heading to nearby Stenungsund and enjoying some sightseeing along the waterfront. We topped it off with some ice cream before we purchased some strawberries and headed back to the house to enjoy a very sunny Midsummer’s Eve on our own. It was really relaxing with good food and playing games on the large lawn.

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Day 7: Lysekil & Orust

After one day of relaxing, we were looking at a new road trip. We decided to head to Lysekil, another of the famous tourist hot spots along the coast. It turned out to be the biggest tourist mayhem that I have seen in Sweden. Not even event cancellations due to the pandemic meant that this town was calm. We can only guess that the town during normal years is even more chaotic during the summer.

We began our visit with a walk along the waterfront enjoying the sunny weather. Midsummer’s Day is a time of the year when there is usually an event here for antique cars. Even with the cancellations, there were still plenty of old cars along the streets of Lysekil.

After lunch, we continued towards the island of Orust. This is the fourth largest island in Sweden and home to many smaller localities popular for tourists. Our target was Mollösund, but on the way, we had shorter stops in Henån and Edshultshall. The sunshine from Lysekil disappeared when we closed in on Mollösund. Upon our arrival, it had been replaced by short periods of rain showers. Little A still got the ice cream that we had promised her, but she was quite willing to continue to the car afterward.

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Day 8: Ljungskile

Our last full day exploring the West Coast of Sweden was a day of relaxing. Well, that and cleaning up after ourselves before leaving the house the next day. I headed to nearby Ljungskile while Susann and Little A took a nap and enjoyed a walk around the small soccer-crazy locality. The most interesting thing I did find there was Corona Street (“Coronavägen”). Interesting name considering the then ongoing pandemic.

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Day 9: Return Back Home

It eventually was time to head back home and we had decided to take quite a detour. I had at the time still three provinces in Sweden that I had never been to. These were Blekinge, Dalsland, and Hälsingland. Our return trip would take us through Dalsland, as well as Värmland, Närke, and Södermanland.

We made our first stop in Mellerud, a small locality where we planned where to go. We didn’t know much about Dalsland and it was first here that we read about Dalsland Canal and the tourist spot at Håverud. In Håverud we had some ice cream and enjoyed the sight of the canal ferry as it made its way up along the locks. It is an impressive sight that you should not miss in case you happen to be one of the few that pass through the area. From Håverud our journey continued to the town of Åmål. A stop that was mostly meant for lunch, but after a pizza, this town surprised us by actually being quite nice. A bit different from the view portrayed in the movie from the 1990s, “Fucking Åmål”.

The driving distance from Ödsmål to Vagnhärad is usually around 460 kilometers. Our little detour was instead around 520 kilometers with a bit more limited speed limit. So the few extra hours meant that it would take some time to get back home after our small exploration of Dalsland. Once we entered the province of Värmland, we had a few hours of driving before getting back home. I also needed a few stops to stretch especially my legs so that we would get all the way home.

These stops included Säffle, with a walk along the canal and enjoying the sunshine. Säffle was followed by Karlskoga, the former home of Alfred Nobel. It’s a fairly boring industrial town that is still a must-see for anyone interested in scientific and industrial history. We were soon back in our home province of Södermanland and took the opportunity to see two of the more historical towns along the shores of Lake Mälaren. These towns were Kungsör and Torshälla, two places that we have previously forgotten in our explorations of the area in our vicinity.

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An End of Exploring the West Coast of Sweden

Our week of exploring the West Coast of Sweden had eventually come to an end. We do hope to return one day as there is so much more to see. One thing is certain – you can drive along the coast for hours and still come to new amazing places. The sea is always close by and there are places to stop and just enjoy the view are sometimes just a few hundred meters in between. We are grateful that we found a destination for our 2021 summer vacation. Luckily the pandemic panic has decreased worldwide and 2022 saw several new adventures that we will write more about going forward. Have a great day, keep exploring, and have happy travels.

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