REVEALED: The best kept secrets of western Sweden
REVEALED: The best kept secrets of western Sweden
How much do you know about Sweden’s west? Whether you’re seeking gorgeous natural spaces to explore, or looking for tangible traces of the past, the best way to experience it this autumn is with a local.
For several years, the West Sweden Tourist Board has paired interested visitors with passionate locals, who are ready to share their favourite places throughout the west of Sweden – and often for free.
Through the website, Meet the Locals, visitors can contact a local that shares their interests, and organise a day full of unforgettable experiences. There are many to choose from, including helping out on a working farm on the island of Tjörn to cruising around Låstad in an Oldsmobile.
To find out more about the programme, we meet two locals, Maria and Alf, and learn what they believe makes their corner of West Sweden so special.
Cycle the Göta Canal with Alf, and learn its history
Alf Mölleryd is one of those people who knows everything going on in his community – he’s usually on the organising committee!
The 70-year-old cycling fanatic is intensely proud of his corner of West Sweden surrounding Sjötorp, on the shores of Lake Vänern.
“This is a very beautiful region to explore, especially by bike. Many people like to come here to enjoy the natural surroundings but also relax in the excellent cafés and restaurants that we have here.
“It’s a historic area. It used to be a big ship-building area, once the 200km Göta Canal was constructed, and you can still explore the docks and the locks along the length of the canal. I also like to show visitors the Oskar II, the traditional sloop I help manage.”
One of Alf’s favourite things to do is to take visitors on day trips along the canal, or through the woods in the region on a crisp autumn day.
“Depending on the time of year people visit, they can also be a part of one of the many festivals we have here.”
Reaching Alf isn’t a problem either – Sjötorp is easily reachable by car, or by public transport for those who wish to watch the landscape pass by.
“I really look forward to meeting people through ‘Meet The Locals‘, as I love meeting new people and enjoy learning about where they’re from.”
Uncover the vibrant life within a historic churchyard with Maria
Maria Björk’s passion for biodiversity is evident the moment you step into the churchyard at Härryda.The historic graves that she tends, on behalf of the local pastorate, are alive with wildflowers, specifically chosen to attract and provide food and shelter for local wildlife.
“We have many species of bee and butterfly that make these flowers their home, and the plants also feed deer, hedgehogs and other creatures”, she tells us.
“Biodiversity is incredibly important to me, and I’m so pleased that I have the job of bringing local wildlife into the cemetery. I love showing people what I’ve planted, and how they are not only beautiful but feed wildlife and help the ecosystem.”
Maria, who has decades of experience as a garden technician, takes visitors around the churchyard and shows visitors some of the unique species that live there, such as the sand bees that create their own sand castle-like hives.
Depending on the time of year, tours take in a constantly changing variety of plants and animals – every visit brings a different experience.
Andrea Belamaric, a Croatian student of molecular biology, visited Maria during the summer of 2022 and was enthusiastic about her day with Maria.
“It was so interesting visiting with Maria, as biology is my subject. She showed how she decides what to plant based on what kind of wildlife is passing through. She knows so much!
“I also learned about what she has to do over the year to maintain the churchyard, so it’s welcoming for people and the animals who live there.”
A day with Maria isn’t a long trek. As Maria tells us: “Härryda is only about 30km from Gothenburg, and there is excellent public transport. In fact, if you’re taking the bus, it stops right outside the church!”
Maria is only one of a number of ‘Locals’ who offer activities based in, or around gardens – whether you’re a keen gardener, or just enjoy admiring the flowers, there’s a ‘Local‘ that matches your interest level.
This autumn, there’s more of West Sweden to explore
Some say West Sweden is at its best in the autumn, with milder weather and the leaves changing colour creating unfogettable sights.
Maria and Alf are just two of the many ‘Locals‘ ready to show visitors around their corner of West Sweden as the weather gets cooler.
You could be shown around Gothenburg, learning about the city’s long history, or picking apples on an idyllic Swedish farm. Whatever you enjoy doing, there’s someone with something wonderful to show you.
Activities with Meet the Locals are designed to be affordable, and all are reachable by public transport. You can also meet people via the partnership with Citypolarna, a social activity website where local residents arrange meet-ups for fika, hiking, cinema visits, and a host of other social get togethers in Gothenburg and other major cities in Sweden.
Perhaps you have something beautiful in your part of West Sweden to share? You might consider signing up to become a ‘local’ yourself.
Header Photo: Melanie Haas/westsweden.com