The Gothenburg archipelago consists of over 30 beautiful islands, easily accessible by car or public transport. The archipelago is split into north and south and both with equally stunning and cosy big, or small, islands to explore. The Gothenburg archipelago is my personal favorite thing to do in Gothenburg and over the years of living in the city, I’ve narrowed down the list of islands to the 10 best ones to visit for every type of traveler.
Map of the islands
One of the smallest, coziest islands on the northern Gothenburg archipelago and also my personal favorite. The island is worth the visit in all seasons but is busiest during the summer. My favorite things to do on Fotö are grabbing a summer lunch at Holmbom’s Ark, going for a walk by the harbor, swimming and diving off a pier at Vivik’s badplats (beach) and walking on the stoney archipelago on the West side of the island.
How to get to Fotö
Fotö, as well as the majority of the northern Gothenburg archipelago islands, is accessible by both car and public transport. If you’re traveling by car you’ll drive to the ferry (free transfer) at Lilla Varholmen. The ferry will take you to the bigger island Hönö and then you can drive over the bridge to get to Fotö. The ferry timetable from 1st January to 10th August is here, and the ferry from 10th August to 31 December is here. It will take you roughly an hour to get there from Gothenburg.
The buses take about 1,5 hours, so they are a little less convenient, but still a great option.
If you only have time to visit one island in the northern archipelago, then I suggest you visit this one.
Källö-Knippla used to be two separate islands, but the strait that separated them before is now filled in. The island is small and cozy, and super picturesque. You can easily spend a whole day relaxing, taking a dip in the sea, or walking the trail on the northern part of the island.
How to get to Källo-Knippla
The easiest way to get to this island is by car since you’ll have to take two ferries to get here. The first one will take you from Lilla Varholmen to Hönö, and then you will cross the bridge and drive through Hälsö to Burö Färjeläge. The trip from central Gothenburg will take you at least 1,5 hours and here is the link to the ferry timetable from Burö to Källö-Knippla. Have a look at how to get to Hönö to know the first part of the journey.
Hönö is one of the biggest islands in the Gothenburg archipelago, but still has quite a few cosy corners and beautiful beaches. If you’re arriving with public transport then I recommend you rent a bicycle to explore this island, since it’s a little bigger. If you do this, then you can also cycle over the bridge to Fotö! On Hönö there is a great beach for families called Jungfruviken or Virgin’s Bay. Great access, shallow water and sand.
How to get to Hönö
Hönö is also accessible by both car and public transport. If you’re traveling by car you’ll drive to the ferry (free transfer) at Lilla Varholmen. The ferry will take you to the terminal on the island and from there you can take the bus to the island center. The ferry timetable from 1st January to 10th August is here, and the ferry from 10th August to 31 December is here. It will take you roughly an hour to get there from Gothenburg.
Grötö is a car-free, calm island and a true small summer paradise. Here there might not be a big variety of things to do, but it’s the perfect place to relax, wind down and swim in the ocean. The island is tiny so you’ll be able to walk from one end to another in just 20 minutes.
How to get to Grötö
First, you’ll take the ferry from Lilla Varholmen towards Björkö and then the second ferry from Björkö to Grötö. If you arrive at Björkö by car there is a parking lot by the ferry terminal before getting to Grötö. You’ll need to park your car there since cars are not allowed on this island.
Vinga is Gothenburg’s most western point and a beautiful half-day destination. On Vinga you will see the famous lighthouse and be able to stroll around the entire remote island. Vinga is a little more difficult to get to, but if you have time for a trip out of the city, it’ll definitely be worth the tour! We booked our strip with Strömma and paid $65 USD for 2 adult return tickets.
How to get to Vinga
Vinga is not accessible by car or public transport. You can only access it by your own boat or by booking a tour – see all the details here. Vinga is more worth the visit during the summer months since there are not as many tour providers going out there in the winter, and it will also be much less windy and rainy if you go there from May-August.
Köpstadsö, or Kössö, is my favorite island in the southern Gothenburg archipelago and quite possibly my favorite of all. It’s cosy, car-free and also the smallest island in the archipelago with only about 100 full-time residents. The main way to transport things on this island is with a wheelbarrow, so don’t be surprised when you see a few dozen parked by the ferry terminal.
The island has some of the prettiest houses and quietest beaches you’ll spot on the West Coast. Here you’ll be able to spend a day picnicking (bring your own food since there are no stores on Köpstadsö), taking a dip or even going for a scenic archipelago hike.
If you only have time to visit one island in the southern archipelago, then I suggest you visit this one.
How to get to Köpstadsö
This island is easily accessible via the ferries 281 and 282 from Saltholmen and takes between 10-15 minutes.
Brännö is a much bigger island and a very popular destination for summer concerts and families. I suggest couples skip this island since it does get a little too crowded during the summers. The island has two ferry terminals and if you want to be closer to Brännö Brygga (where the concerts are) then make sure you take the one to Husvik.
On the island, there is also a viewpoint and it’s easily accessible via a short hike from the Rödsten ferry terminal. This island is quite big, so if you want to explore a lot of it I suggest you rent a bicycle at the start or bring your own on the ferry.
There is a cafe called Varvet on the island and I highly recommend you do not eat there. The prices are crazy (small pizza for $20), the service incredibly slow and the food below average. Bring food with you or buy something on the island. It’s an okay place for a drink though since it has plenty of seating available and you’ll get your order right away after you pay by the bar.
How to get to Brännö
This island is easily accessible from Saltholmen via the 20-minute ferry 283 to Brännö Rödsten and the 50-minute ferry 282 to Brännö Husvik. While the second one does take longer, it’s very scenic!
Galterö is a nature reserve island with beautiful archipelago views, popular especially amongst bird watchers and botanists, as well as those who want to peacefully relax.
How to get to Galterö
First, you’ll have to take the 20-minute ferry 283 to Brännö Rödsten and then walk to where the islands meet via a stone arch bridge that connects them.
If nature, sunbathing and complete calmness is more up your alley, then I suggest you visit Vargö! This island was my favorite for quite a few years, or until I gathered the courage to swim in the freezing sea. Once you get off the ferry terminal, you’ll walk through the forest to get to the small beach on the other side. There are no shops on this island, so make sure you bring everything you need with you.
How to get to Vargö
This island is easily accessible via the ferry 282 from Saltholmen and takes 40 minutes.
Vrångö is one of the most popular islands to visit any time of the year and is also the southernmost of the all-year-round inhabited islands in the Gothenburg archipelago. In the summer you’ll be able to pick and choose from sandy or rocky beaches and in the winter you’ll be able to book a table for a traditional Swedish Christmas buffet. There is a lovely viewpoint called Lotutkiken here as well, so make sure you take a bit of time to check that out as well.
How to get to Vrångö
This island is easily accessible via the ferry 281 from Saltholmen and takes 20-40 minutes, depending on if you’re boarding the direct ferry or the one with stops along the way.
Getting to the southern Gothenburg Archipelago
By public transport
It’s actually much easier and hassle-free to get to the southern islands by public transport. You’ll take the trams 9 or 11 from the city and then hop on the ferry for the island you chose.
The islands on the southern archipelago are not accessible via personal cars, so you’ll have to take the ferry from the Saltholmen terminal. You are not able to park your car by the terminal since all of those parking spots are owned by the island inhabitants. Visitors parking spots are 2-3 tram stops away at Vikebacken and Hinsholmskilen (both marked on the map).
In the summer the visitor’s parking spots are packed, so arrive at least 30 minutes before your ferry departs. We ended up missing ours twice before we realized this will always take a long time. The parking is 7 SEK per hour.
After you find a parking spot, take the trams 9 or 11 to Saltholmen and from there you can take a ferry. Your tram ticket will still be valid for the ferry so make sure you buy it on the To Go app once you’re on the tram.
Best time to visit the Gothenburg Archipelago
Summer, from May to August is the best time to visit the Gothenburg archipelago. All the cafés are open, the ferries ride more often and you’ll be able to sunbathe and swim on a new island every day!
If you happen to be in Sweden during any other time of the year, you can of course still visit the islands of the Gothenburg archipelago, but be prepared for the wind and rain. The gorgeous views will still be there though, there is just a little less to do on them.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to my 10 best islands to visit in the Gothenburg archipelago!