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Visiting Marstrand, Sweden in the winter

Sunday 23 December 2018

In January it will have been 3 years ago that I embarked on a slightly crazy trip to the Artic Circle. In the name of Charity I trekked across the very top of Sweden for 5 days with a motley crew of dogs, no electricity or running water and one night, sleeping in an igloo! Needless to say, my experience of Sweden is probably not your average one! So, with 3 years having passed it was about time see a more normal aide of Sweden and actually experience what Sweden has to offer rather than trying not to freeze to death. 

Rather than visit Stockholm, I headed to the west of Sweden for a little 4 day adventure, starting in the totally unexpectedly beautiful Marstrand. 

The fishing town of Marstrand is only 45 minutes north of Gothenburg, but is actually distributed over two islands- Koön and Marstrandsön. You can get to Marstrandsön by taking a free ferry over the straights which takes about 5 minutes and they come every 15 minutes. I’ll show you more of this amazing island shortly but first, we checked into our hotel on Koön. 

Where to stay 

We stayed at Marstrands Havshotell which is a hotel right on the water front facing the island of Marstrandsön. I have to say I was really impressed with the hotel. It is quintessentially Swedish and the Scandi design is gorgeous (of course if you like that minimalism design).

There's a great restaurant at the hotel which I highly recommend you dine at. They serve traditional west Swedish food that is fresh from the local area. Plus when we went they served a huge Swedish Christmas dinenr buffet for the whole hotel and it was a great, fun social event. 

The rooms are very minimalistic  but done in a very chic Scandi design. Whilst it might not look partially special, first things first the bed was one of the comfiest beds I've ever slept on (although the top spot still goes to Canal House- boy was that bed good, and i have in fact since returned 2 years later and its still so good!) But of course the real gem of these rooms is the view.

Right over the harbour looking across to Marstrandsön. It really is quite a view. One so peaceful, serene and one that will definitely make you reconsider heading back to a busy city. 


The island of Marstrandsön

But of course the whole point of being here is to explore, and so with light not on our side (in winter it gets dark about 3pm) we headed on the ferry to Marstrandsön.


--> Marstrand is a well known summer destination and a retreat for many Swedes. In fact it has been the summer destination of many royals dating back to King Oscar II in the 1880s. However whilst in the winter it is much less busy and many shops are closed or close earlier, there is still plenty to do.

The biggest draw is its natural beauty and hiking routes. I say hiking lightly here. Think sturdy boots but we aren't talking about scaling mountains here. 

The thing that struck me the most about being out here was the air. It might sound slightly cheesy to say but it really did just feel so fresh. Trust me if you are coming from London like I was, you notice the difference immediately. There is something very soothing about the air, the atmosphere and just the general attitude here. It's one of peace, nature and that slowed down pace of life. 

There's a pretty well defined path if you wanted to hike around the circumference of the island which is about a 5km hike or you can wander up and take another route back if you don't fancy the hour plus journey. But please do get up high as the views are beautiful! 

One of the most well known attractions on the island is the Carlstens Fortress, built in the mid 17th century. Did you know it took 200 years to build the entire fortress. It was a prison during it's build and it was actually the prisoners that built is. They literally build their own prison! What a strange torturous punishment.

What to pack

I visited in early December and yes it is cold. Of course noting will ever top -25c in northern Sweden in January, but it's still cold! It was about freezing when I went so make sure to pack warm clothing and like I mentioned take good strong sturdy boots as its very much a walking on the rugged terrain. In fact the island of Marstrandsön is car free.

I took some good, warm but super affordable boots from Quiz and my checkered coat was from there too

Regardless of the weather, Marstrand really is a utterly gorgeous place in the winter and one I highly recommend. 
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  1. I've still never been to Sweden at all! I'd love to go one day.

  2. Sweden is somewhere I've never been but would love to go!

    These photos are lovely!

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