Smögen is probably one of the most famous fishing harbors along the western coast of Sweden. The locality spreads out over four islands: Smögen, Kleven, Sandön, and Hasselön. During the summers the population of the islands, almost 1.300 inhabitants, is dwarfed by the hordes of tourists. Fishing might have declined compared to the past, but is still significant for the islands. It is especially important for preserving their image and the attractiveness of the locally fished shrimps.
A Short History of Smögen
It has a name whose origins will probably never be confirmed, but a few theories sound more probable than others. Smögen has a long and fishy history. The name is likely to come from the surrounding natural features and is the name for the main island. Smögen has since it was inhabited in the 17th century grown to cover most of the surrounding small islands.
For centuries the island’s life has focused on fishing, especially during the periods when the herring comes around in huge numbers. The last known period of this occurred at the end of the 19th century and meant a large upswing for the community on the islands. The century would, however, end with another new industry starting to take hold. Tourism was here to stay.
A pilot station was established here in 1878, to assist ships and vessels navigate the water passages. The station was manned until 1869 when it was moved to Lysekil.
There should have been around 325 active fishermen on Smögen in 1939, supporting 85% of the population. The same year saw about 900 external visitors to the island. With a ferry connection to the mainland established in 1958, the island’s development took additional speed and had around 30.000 visitors in 1963. A bridge replaced the ferry in 1970.
Things to Do and See in Smögen
With a lot of visitors each summer, many will most likely first worry about where to park the car before it is time to consider what to do once you have everything in order. Smögen is famous for fishing and many restaurants serve dishes that especially make use of the local shrimps. Prices tend to be higher than average compared to many other Swedish towns, but that is common for popular summer destinations. There are a few sights of interest on these small islands and don’t forget to enjoy the view of the sea.
Smögenbryggan is a wharf or walkway stretching almost a kilometers along the waterfront. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the province of Bohuslän. It offers both shopping and dining options in addition to the views of the water.
The peninsula of Sandö is a protected nature reserve covering around 134 hectares. There is around 1.5 kilometers of walking to reach the tip. The area also includes a beach.
Vallevik is one of the most popular spots for swimming during the summers. It is located close to Smögenbryggan and mostly consists of cliffs.
Another well-known place for swimming can be found at the bay Makrillviken. This bay did originally offer separate swimming areas for men and women, but the cliffs are today a bit less conservative.
Smögens Hembygdsmuseum is a local heritage museum that offers an insight into the old way of living on the island. It is split into two parts, “Fiskarstugan” which shows how the family of a fisherman lived at the end of the 19th century, and “Sjöbodsmuseet” which exhibits a large collection of old fishing gear.
The bridge that connects Smögen with the mainland is known as Smögenbron. With a length of almost 400 meters and a height of 35 meters, it is an impressive sight by itself. It was completed in 1970 and for visitors, it is mainly the rest stop next to the bridge on the mainland that will be of interest. The view on offer here is impressive and includes both Smögen and the nearby town of Kungshamn.
How to Get to Smögen
- Flights: There are domestic and international routes to and from Göteborg Landvetter Airport (GOT), which is 155 kilometers away.
- Car: Smögen is almost at the end of road 174, close to Kungshamn.
- Bus: Local and regional buses connect Smögen with the surrounding region.
The driving distance from 5 major Swedish cities, according to Google Maps:
- Stockholm – 505 kilometers (5h 51min)
- Gothenburg – 133 kilometers (1h 32min)
- Malmö – 402 kilometers (4h 28min)
- Linköping – 366 kilometers (4h 27min)
- Kiruna – 1602 kilometers (19h 2min)
Find out more about other destinations in Sweden by visiting our page Exploring Sweden