South West Sweden Road Trip: Epic discoveries along the coast

Difficulty

750+ km

Distance

8+

Recom. Days

Culture, Family

Trip type

Cora Harrison

Freelance writer for Indie Campers, currently trying to find herself in Indonesia but without much luck. Enjoys exploring weird and wonderful world cuisine — the less identifiable, the better.

South West Sweden Road Trip Itinerary: Gothenburg Round-Trip

Set off in your campervan on this south west Sweden road trip. Begin with Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-city, before heading up the coast, popping into Norway, and then inland to Europe’s largest lake.

Fun fact: ö means island in Swedish. And on this itinerary, you’ll explore a coastline with 8,000 of them. Combine that with a pinch of contemporary cool in two of Scandinavia's best cities, along with a huge great lake, and you have yourself a fantastic family getaway.

Enjoy parks and museums in Gothenburg. Next up, beachside bliss in the pretty fishing village of Strömstad. Pop into Norway to see how Oslo mixes epic nature with cutting-edge culture. And top it all off with some relaxation time in Karlstad and Lake Vänern.

Feeling the call of sandy beaches? Fancy some spectacular seafood too? Looking for a bit of city sophistication thrown? Get ready for this and more on Indie’s south west Sweden itinerary.

Pick-up in
Gothenburg Depot
1

Get into the holiday groove in Gothenburg

Capital cities tend to be heavy on the tourists and tradition. But second cities? They’re something else. Just like Gothenburg, the first stop on your south west Sweden road trip.

The perfect combination of easygoing and outgoing, with its canals, parks, and creative edge, Gothenburg has it all. This trendy destination offers cosmopolitan vibes and a friendly face for visitors. It’s also far more affordable than Stockholm, making it a great choice for families.

Park up the campervan and start by taking in the beautiful architecture and food markets of the old town. Visit the Stadmuseum to learn about the city. Follow up with the floating maritime museum — which includes a submarine. And the Konstmuseum will please parents yearning for some high-culture.

Relax in Kungsparken or Trädgårdsföreningen or check out the boutiques and fancy bistros on Avenyn boulevard. But only once you’ve checked out the Liseberg, Scandinavia's largest amusement park.

Visiting

Gothenburg

2

Recom. Days

Main route

15km

from Gothenburg depot

20min

drive

Visit

Liseberg

Scandinavia's largest amusement park.

Universeum

Science museum with rainforest zone, great for kids.

Smögen

Lively summer resort on the way to Strömstad.

Eat at

Auktionsverket

€€€

Old auction house with wine bar and gallery.

Moon Thai

€€

Family-friendly with colourful interior.

Koka

€€€

Casual dining with a Michelin star.

Parking

Göteborgs Stad Trafikkontoret 18

€€€

Uncovered parking near centre.

Stay at

Lisebergs camping Askim Strand

€€€

40 mins from centre on public transport.

2

Time to slow down in Strömstad

Heading out of Gothenburg, trade urban cool for seaside charm in the sweet fishing harbour of Strömstad. Formerly one of the most fashionable spa towns in Sweden, today it’s a lively resort and the perfect place to stop on your south west Sweden road trip.

With its wooden buildings and granite cliffs, the next stop on your itinerary has more than a passing resemblance to nearby Norway. In fact, it’s a popular holiday spot for Norwegians who come here to enjoy beach time on the islands Blötebogen and Öddö, or further up the coast in Capri.

Part of a marine national park, the Koster Islands are a car-free paradise. They’re also perfect for swimming and snorkelling as the clear waters are some of the warmest in Sweden.

Explore hiking trails and cycling paths, or sunbathe in secluded sandy bays. Nordkoster is a great choice, taking only 2 hours to explore on foot. Oh, and be sure to make the most of the seafood. This stop is known for its shrimps and lobster.

Visiting

Strömstad

2

Recom. Days

Main route

165km

from Gothenburg

1h50min

drive

Visit

Koster Islands

Stunning marine park.

Fredrikstad

Charming Renaissance city.

Stone-Ship Settings

Ancient archeological site.

Eat at

Rökeri i Strömstad

€€

Big bowls of freshly caught fish.

Lexö på Resö

€€€

Delicious food and great views.

Kosters Trädgårdar

€€€

Organic farm-restaurant on the island of Sydkoster.

Parking

Parkeringsplats Badhusgatan

€€

Uncovered parking by the waterfront.

Stay at

Lagunen Camping & Stugor

€€€

Short drive from town.

3

Oslo: city thrills and spectacular nature

In Oslo, boundary-pushing modern culture meets some of Europe’s most striking nature. The result? A lively and vibrant city with a love for the unique and a big imagination. It’s also the next waypoint on your south west Sweden road trip. 

The ideal stop on a family road trip, Oslo is located in between the waterways and islands of Oslofjord and the green forests and hills of Nordmarka. The birthplace of Edvard Munch, it enjoys a thriving contemporary art scene and is also one of the most eco-friendly cities in Europe.

Explore the centre with its neoclassical buildings and squares. Check out the art in the Nasjonalgalleriet. Explore military history in the Hjemmefrontmuseum. Finally, head over to the Viking Ship Museum — sure to be a hit with the kids.

Then hop on a train inland into Normarka. Up in these rocky hills, you’ll feel a million miles from the city. There’s even a ski resort nearby. Or, if you’re feeling hungry, you’ve got a choice of Michelin-starred restaurants or authentic local cuisine like shrimp and hot dogs.

Visiting

Oslo

2

Recom. Days

Main route

130km

from Strömstad

1h30min

drive

Visit

Bygdøy Peninsula

Museums and hiking trails.

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Large bizarre outdoor sculpture park of naked human figures.

Hovedøya

Small island off the coast of Oslo with forests and beaches.

Eat at

Lille Tøyen Kolonial

€€€

Family-friendly, serving local organic food.

Sentralen

€€

Nordic cuisine with a contemporary twist.

Engebret Café

€€€

The oldest restaurant in Oslo.

Parking

Apcoa Parking

Free

Free parking a short walk from centre.

Stay at

Sjølyst Marina

€€€

Waterfront parking a short bike ride from city-centre.

4

Discover Sweden’s largest lake in Karlstad

The last stop on your south west Sweden road trip takes you inland to Karlstad, a riverside town on the edge of the enormous Lake Vänern, and the perfect end to your Scandanavian adventure.

The city is charming and lively with a friendly student population and some good bars. Begin with the market square, Stortorget, then check out the Östra bron. The largest arched stone bridge in Sweden is also worth a glance.

But Karlstad’s main attractions are beyond the perimeters of the town. This area of Sweden is known for enjoying more hours of sunshine than the rest of the country and so this stop on your south west Sweden itinerary is the ideal place to soak up some rays.

And that’s to say nothing of Karlstad’s showrunner, Lake Vänern. Stretching out to 140km in length, it’s almost like being beside the ocean.

These calm waters are home to several species of marine life left over from the last Ice Age, and rarely found in freshwater lakes. But maybe don’t think about that when you’re out there swimming.

Visiting

Karlstad

2

Recom. Days

Main route

220km

from Oslo

2h40min

drive

Visit

Värmlands Museum

Covering the history and culture of this part of Sweden.

Vänern

The largest lake in Sweden and the EU.

Stadsträdgården

English-style gardens, perfect for a picnic.

Eat at

Bröder Olssons Elektriska

€€

Historic building, cosy vibe, local food.

Carli

€€

Cafe and ice cream shop and hand-made chocolate.

Ristorante Alfie

€€

Pizza with option to take-away.

Stay at

Mariebergsskogen

Campervan parking 10 minutes on bus from Karlstad.

Drop-off in
Gothenburg Depot

250km

From Karlstad

3h

drive