Brace yourselves, summer is coming. The days are getting longer (especially here in northern Europe), the weather’s getting warmer and the schools are ending their year. While residents of Gothenburg are known to love spending their afternoons on terraces when it’s even remotely sunny, there’s one place which is favoured above all others when people want to enjoy a nice summer day. Although it takes some effort to reach, the archipelago just off the coast provides a haven of relaxation and nature, with the island Styrsö being the prime example.Though inhabited, Styrsö feels just as much like a forest as it does like a village. After coming off the ferry from Saltholmen, you’ll pass a few typically Swedish houses before crossing into the woods. The large trees, smooth rocks and small streams provide an excellent backdrop for a walk, whether you’re alone or with someone else. The environment is so tranquil that you feel as if you’ve left all your worries back on the mainland.

Several islands that form the archipelago have a high overlook point, and Styrsö is no exception. Aside from a wooden structure and two metal compass cards embedded in the rock, the overlook also features an amazing view, allowing visitors to see both Styrsö and a few surrounding islands. A few steps away from the structure marking the high point, one can find the Great Cairn, a pile of stones which forms a Bronze Age grave. Styrsö overlook-2

If you’re not in the mood for long walks, however, you can enjoy a drink in the herb garden of the Öbergska café, located near the Skäret ferry stop. The garden’s small tables with bright cloths and many narcissus provide a colourful area where you can easily relax. And should you fancy something to eat as well, I can strongly recommend the café’s ‘kladdkaka’ (chocolate cake), which is absolutely delicious.

Styrsö herb garden

On especially warm and sunny days, you can visit the beach as well. Although the water isn’t very suited for swimming (it’s quite shallow), it’s an ideal spot to cool off. Adventurous people can wade through the water to climb one of the nearby rocky islands. However, be aware it’s easy to sink away in the silt or step on a rock on the bottom in some places: water shoes can work wonders here. In case you don’t feel very brave, you can always just lie down on the sand and get a tan. Or, if you bring a disposable grill with you, enjoy an amazing beach barbecue. Just remember to clean up afterwards.

Styrsö offers many possibilities for people with all kinds of preferences, whether they want to explore, cool down, sunbathe or enjoy something nice to eat and drink. The different views you can get on the island are some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen during my stay in Sweden, and that’s saying a lot. Even if you don’t know what to do on Styrsö, you’ll definitely have a great time there if you’re willing to take the ferry. That’s the secret of the island: if you keep your eyes open, there’s always something new to discover.

Written by Joris van Venrooij