Boats and ships as far as the eye can see. After visiting Skärhamn on a sunny summer day, many would probably believe that the boats outnumber the around 3.700 inhabitants. The legacy of the fishing and shipping industries of the past is still visible and a few remnants are still around in the form of a few fishermen and smaller shipping companies. Watching over this coastal town is the smiling church tower, a sight that especially greets visitors arriving from the sea. Welcome to the island of TJörn, the seventh-largest island in Sweden. The whole island is a municipality of its own, with Skärhamn at its center for the local government.
A Short History of Skärhamn
It is believed that about 20 families lived in Skärhamn during the second half of the 18th century. The population development at the time was closely connected with the ongoing herring period, a few decades when huge stims of herring wander close to the shores. Three producers of fish oil established themselves here during this time and there were several more along the coast and on smaller islands and islets. The fish oil was mostly used in the lamps of the era.
The herring period ended in 1808 and a long period of poverty and starvation followed. But the community would rise and continue its development. That was especially true during the second half of the 19th century when several new families moved to Skärhamn. The community did at the time have neither a harbor nor even a road connecting it with the rest of the world. This changed in 1908 when the road arrived. The harbor was built in 1939.
It was thanks to the shipping and fishing industries that Skärhamn grew even more. Skärhamn became the largest home harbor for smaller shipping vessels during the first half of the 20th century. In the 1950s, the smaller wooden ships were mostly replaced by larger iron ships. Skärhamn was at the time the home base for several shipping companies.
Things to Do and See
The island of Tjörn has several places of interest and Skärhamn is one of these. With its harbor, it is a popular destination for many boat tourists traveling along the coast of Bohuslän. Except for restaurants and shops, there are a few sights that might interest both visitors arriving from the land and sea.
Skärhamn Guest Harbor
The guest harbor is right at the center of Skärhamn and for any visitor not arriving by boat, this is a perfect spot to dream of the sea.
Nordiska Akvarellmuseet, or the Nordic Watercolouring Museum in English, exhibits art from around the world. They also have workshops and other events.
It is hard not to add a smiling church tower to a list of sights. It was inaugurated in 1932. The smile of the church is only visible from May to August, a tradition that started in 1996.
Skärhamnsvandringen is the local hiking trail. It takes you along most of the historical areas of Skärhamn for an around 5 kilometers long hike. White signs with starfishes mark the trail.
The Seafaring Monument
Bosse Anås created the seafaring monument in Skärhamn in 1987. Its name is “De seglade för Tjörn“, which would translate to They sailed for Tjörn. It is in the northern harbor.
The Maritime Museum, Sjöfartsmuséet in Swedish, is housed in a building known as “Cherlinska huset” (the Cherlin House). It was built in 1872 and its name comes from the oldest son in its original family. In addition to showcasing the house, the museum also exhibits old fishing and navigating memoria.
How to Get to Skärhamn
Flights: There are domestic and international routes to and from Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT), which is 89 kilometers away.
Car: Skärhamn is close to road 169, almost at its end in Rönnäng. The road connects with the E6 via road 160 at Stenungsund.
Bus: Local and regional buses from Västtrafik connect Skärhamn with the surrounding region.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
Stockholm – 488 kilometers (5h 51min) Gothenburg – 67 kilometers (57min) Malmö – 340 kilometers (3h 40min) Linköping – 338 kilometers (3h 44min) Kiruna – 1585 kilometers (19h 8min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden