As an ancient Chinese temple makes it way by boat to Sweden’s west coast – Pilane Sculpture Park 2012 looks set to showcase its most eclectic art yet…

Sculpture at Pilane

Sculpture at Pilane

Set on Tjörn Island on Sweden’s west coast, an hour’s drive north of Gothenburg, Pilane – Sweden’s coolest sculpture park – is currently a hive of activity as it opened for the season on 17 May. The creator of Pilane, Peter Lennby, was originally living a hectic life as a city dweller, but has now transformed into a rural sheep breeder who uses a chainsaw to reshape the local landscape. Situated in an ancient graveyard on the island of Tjörn, his sculpture park now attracts 60,000 visitors each year. Click “Read the rest of this entry” for his insight into this year’s showcase.

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Lysekil – a Picturesque 19th Century Seaside Resort in the Heart of the Archipelago

Emilia Björk from VisitSweden in New York is sharing her favorite spots around Lysekil – a place where she used to spend her childhood summers and still returns to every year.

Photo: Jonas Ingman

Lysekil, the quaint little seaside resort is a gem in the west coast archipelago, for foodies and nature lovers alike. During the 16th century, Lysekil was a fishing community, flourishing because of the Swedish herring boom. During the 17th and 18th century it prospered and became one of Sweden’s five major fishing ports. In the end of the 19th century, the little town got an upswing when Swedish king Oscar II decided to use it as a seaside resort and let the cream of society build their summer houses in the area. Yet, the signs of Lysekil as a fishing community are still very much present; the town is placed between stone slabs and islets, with the deep Skagerrak ocean just alongside. Its white, red and yellow painted fishing cottages are competing for space between the rocks, making a beautiful setting against the light blue sky and the sparse green vegetation. For a first time visitor in Lysekil, it will probably be satisfying enough to stroll along the wooden piers between the ocean and the fishing cottages, to breath in the fresh ocean air and to sit down at one of the many fish eateries. Choose between a simple but genuine seafood kiosk at the pier or, for instance, the cozy Old House Inn Restaurant, located in one of Sweden’s most ancient and historical hotels; Grand Hotel Lysekil. 

Photo: Lisa Nestorson

Considering that Lysekil is located at the outfall of Sweden’s only real fjord, Gullmarsfjorden, with Sweden’s cleanest water and most varied marine life, a visit to Havets Hus is a must. Here, you can see and touch around 100 species, many of them unique for the fjord area, possessing species that you otherwise only can find in the deepest areas of the Atlantic Ocean. During the 19th century, the fjord reached world fame as a marine biological goldmine, and still, many marine biological research centers are located here. Another way to experience the treasures of the ocean is to join a fishing boat and catch your own mussels and oysters, or why not join a seal safari  – and if you wouldn’t spot the seals in the ocean, you are almost guaranteed to see them leaping sun on one of the small skerries.

If you don’t feel like catching your own dinner, you can always savor it on a classic archipelago boat, while spotting seals and zigzagging between the islets. If you’re exceptionally lucky, you might even spot a whale due to the plentiful marine food supply. While you’re out at the water, you should definitely make a stop at Fiskebäckskil, located just across the inlet from Lysekil, which, if possible is an even more picturesque fishing society.

As a sailing enthusiast, I love watching Lysekil’s women’s sailing match race  every summer. It is a great sailing event easy to watch from one of the many islets or skerries, just a stone’s throw from the center of the town, and entirely free. The north-south water-way is running just outside Lysekil, so even when the event is not running, sitting at one of the small islands with fresh-off-the-boatshrimps or a picnic basket in the sunset is an unbeatable way to finish off your day.

Even after spending weeks around Lysekil and Gullmarsfjorden, I am craving for more archipelago, seafood and fishing towns. So if you’d be lucky enough to visit the area, Lysekil is located perfectly in the middle of Bohuslän, with 50 miles fantastic archipelago in both directions along the coast – waiting to be explored.

Photo: Jonas Ingman

For more information about Lysekil, visit


Eco-life in Sweden. River rafting, a recycling challenge and 10 kilos of organic meat.

Nature, needless to say, is a reason for many people to visit Sweden. Getting a first-hand experience of stunning landscapes is one of the main attractions of going to Sweden and local entrepreneurs have been quick to realize this. There is now a plethora of trip organizers profiting from this latest trend in eco-tourism, not only giving you a chance to see nature itself but also the creatures inhabiting it – lobsters, wolves, bears and so on. Thanks to a portal, there is now a single place where you can plan and book your nature trip – all over Sweden!

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Bohus Fortress

sturdy history in amazing environmentThe Fortress is open for visitors every days during September. Guided tours in Swedish by our medieval dressed guides Sundays at 1.00 pm all September. Guided tours in English is available any other times.
For booking please call: +46 303 239203 (mon-fri 09.00 am-1.00 pm)

A Lobster Safari in Western Sweden

As seen in Intermezzo Magazine, story by Jessica Mueller

Jessica Mueller from Intermezzo Magazine, toured the seas of West Sweden on a lobster safari excursion. Read the story of her incredible adventure here as told in her own words:

“Thursday didn’t seem like a good day for a “lobster safari.” Sheets of rain made for bad driving from my guesthouse in Ljungskile to the fishing village of Grönemad, and a boat ride seemed impossible. But, as the morning wore on, the rain eased up, the clouds parted, and the “yellow house by the sea” I’d been told to look for popped obvious and bright through the mist. There were no signs and no parking lot—just a friendly-looking guy in a wool cap, coming up the weed-lined walkway to meet me. In soft-spoken, perfect-but-cautious English, he introduced himself as Per Karlsson.

As seen in Intermezzo Magazine, story by Jessica MuellerI followed Per into the tidy fishing cottage. But the prettiest part was just outside the sliding glass door. Grönemad is located on the Bohuslän coast, in the province of the same name, just north of Gothenburg. The waters are dotted with about 8,000 islands—some inhabited, others little more than hunks of rock.

Also outside, tied up to the dock, was the lobstering boat—all twenty-eight feet of it. Before boarding, Per instructed me to put on a gigantic, waterproof, buoyant bodysuit. It was black and orange and very ugly, but very comforting. I couldn’t have drowned if I tried.

I climbed onto the boat, named Tuffa and built in 1952, and we set off. Per’s brother Lars is at the rear, steering. The brothers own the boat and the house, and operate the whole coastal experience—collectively, the business is called Everts Sjöbod (“Evert’s boathouse”).

At first, the water was pretty smooth. But after we rounded a big island the conditions became, by my standards, rocky. Between reassurances that the boat would definitely not capsize, Per told me about this gorgeous slice of coastline. Bohuslän is a big vacation spot for Swedes, and in the summer these waters are chock full of recreational watercraft.

But we were after the lobster. Beginning the first Monday after the twentieth of September and running until April 30, Swedish waters are open to the lobster harvest. The rest of the year, Per and Lars take visitors out for mackerel fishing, crab harvesting or just swimming and island-hopping.

Jessica MuellerAfter about twenty minutes, we came to our first lobster trap (there are twenty-eight in all), identified by a bobbing red buoy. Hand over hand, Per hauled it up, and success! Inside the trap was a black lobster, speckled with red around its tail and claws. Per took it out and let it (actually, her) walk around on the seat cushions and snap at his gloves while I took scores of pictures. But before he could officially harvest this lobster, Per needed to measure her. The requirement is eight centimeters from about the lobster’s roving, bulbous eye down to the end of its head, and Per had a special ruler for making the calculation. Our lobster passed the size test.

At our next stop, Per told me I would be hauling up the trapho. About two seconds into this endeavor I handed back the rope and informed him that the trap was caught on the bottom, and what would we do to untangle it? He smiled, shook his head no, and handed me the rope. I tried again, and it was like playing tug-of-war with an elephant. Per insisted that was just the strength of the mighty ocean and that eventually the crate would come up. It did, but not before my arms were like jelly.

But we got another lobster! Per and Lars talked to each other in rapid Swedish—apparently, it’s pretty uncommon to get two in a row.

We checked a few more traps but found nothing but crabs, all of which we tossed back. By law, we could have taken them, but there was just no need. Lars and Per are in the tourism industry, and they don’t actually sell anything they catch.

Instead, they cook it for guests like me. Back at the cottage they boiled our lobster (the female) and split it in half to reveal bright white flesh. There was lemon and butter but mostly I ate it plain, as the meat was too sweet and pure to mess with. There was also a pasty, greenish-beige “something” up in the abdominal area that Per told me was the “best part,” though I was skeptical. It turned out to be the tomalley, part of the lobster’s digestive system. Our lobster also had abundant bright orange roe, another delicacy. I tried a little of both, but was happiest by far with my white meat.

Food definitely tastes better when you grow it or catch it yourself. And though I’m thankful I personally wasn’t the one who had to drop our lady lobster into the pot of boiling water, this ocean-to-table experience is undoubtedly the best way to taste the west of Sweden.”

Recipe: Lobster Pot au Feu with Hake, Serves 4

For cooking lobster:
1 live lobster, about 10 to 14 ounces
4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dill seeds

For lobster sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 teaspoon dill seeds
Roasted lobster shell
3/4 cup white wine
Water, as needed
1 cup cream, or to taste
Splash brandy (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

For finished soup:
1 1/3 pounds hake, cod, or other firm white fish
Meat from 1 lobster
2 carrots
2 parsnips
1 kohlrabi
2 cups lobster sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill, finely chopped (to taste)

Lobster soup1. Prepare lobster. Combine water, salt and dill and bring to a boil. Put live lobster head first into boiling water, cover and boil 20 minutes. Remove lobster and cool.

2. When cool enough to handle, remove all flesh and set aside. Reserve shell.

3. Preheat oven to 450°F.

4. Place shell on a baking sheet and place in oven. Roast about 15 minutes, tossing and stirring a few times. Remove and cool.

5. Prepare lobster sauce. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.

6. Add tomato purée and dill seeds and stir to combine. Add lobster shell and wine and cook for 2 minutes, then add enough water to cover shell. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.

7. Remove and discard shells. Simmer until stock is reduced by half. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean pot. Add cream and brandy (if using). Briefly return to a boil, then remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

8. Prepare soup. Cut hake into 1-inch cubes. Chop or shred lobster into slightly smaller chunks.

9. Peel and finely mince or julienne carrots, parsnips and kohlrabi.

10. Preheat oven to 350°.

11. Place fish, lobster and vegetables in an ovenproof dish and pour sauce over. Bake about 10 minutes, until fish is cooked through. Season to taste, garnish with dill and serve.

As seen in Intermezzo Magazine, story by Jessica Mueller.

Exploring West Sweden’s Islands

Photo: Mikael Almse/West Sweden Tourist Board

Photo: Mikael Almse/West Sweden Tourist Board

Follow in the footsteps of Alistair Wearmouth from as he is coasting through West Sweden’s Koster Islands.

The Koster Islands are Sweden’s most westerly inhabited islands and have long been a summer haven for Swedes. Here you’ll find small fishing villages, surrounded by an amazing marine landscape. The waters around these islands are the most biodiverse in Sweden, therefore the Koster Sea has been recognized as the nation’s first marine national park. Here you’ll also find lobster, a Koster Islands’ delicacy. Read more about Alistair’s adventures in this breathtakingly beautiful maritime world here.

Celebrate Midsummer with Swedes

On Midsummer eve the Swedes pick flowers and make wreaths to decorate the maypole and young girls wear flower wreaths in their hair. Photo: Conny Fridh, Image Bank Sweden

People pick flowers and make wreaths to decorate the maypole and young girls wear flower wreaths in their hair. Photo: Conny Fridh, Image Bank Sweden

Are you curious about how the Swedes celebrate Midsummer? Visitors can now take part in this very Swedish tradition, which hasn’t been as accessible in the past. Join Swedes in Gothenburg as they celebrate the longest day of the year with singing and dancing around the maypole, whilst indulging in a delicious and typical summer Smorgasbord!

GOT TOURS have created a Midsummer Special that is new for 2011 and held on June 24 at the magnificent Gunnebo House and Gardens.

Read more here

Retreat to your own Swedish island

Dalsland - Photo by LisaNestorson

Dalsland - Photo by LisaNestorson

Dixe Wills on Henriksholm in West Sweden in The Guardian April 9

Henriksholm is a beautiful three-mile-long island on a lake in Dalsland, West Sweden and is home to a wonderfully remote manor, which takes the concept of getting away from it all, to a new level. Guests can bask in the great outdoors surrounding this gorgeous retreat; swimming, walking and canoeing, whilst admiring the surrounding wildlife. Dixe Wills from The Guardian recently enjoyed a visit to Henriksholm, documenting his exploration of this unique island getaway…

Read the full story here

Seafood and Sightseeing

Bohuslän. Photo: Jonas Ingman

Bohuslän. Photo: Jonas Ingman

The West Sweden port of Fjallbacka, on the Swedish west coast, north of Gothenburg, is a popular vacation spot. It is not only a quaint fishing village dating back to the 1600s, but also the setting of the best-selling author Camilla Läckberg’s novels, which have been successful all over Europe. Kenneth Kiesnoski from Travel Weekly, headed to West Sweden to explore Fjallbacka and other places worthwhile a visit.

Read the full story here