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