A HIKING ADVENTURE ALONG WEST SWEDEN’S BOHUSLÄN COAST WITH MACS ADVENTURE
Macs Adventure create tempting self-guided walking itineraries everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to New Zealand’s volcanic landscapes and the pilgrim trails of Japan, but I think one of their very best adventures for hiking lovers is in one of my own favourite corners of the planet – West Sweden. If you like the idea of woodland wanders, following trails through picturesque coastal villages and stopping for plenty of refreshing sea swims along the way, come along with me for a walk on West Sweden’s wilder side.
Macs’ The Best of West Sweden Short Break lands you first in the buzzy city of Gothenburg. With a mostly car-free, relaxed centre where locals whizz about by bike or by tram and stop for fika (the Swedish ritual of coffee and cake) at sunny outdoor cafes, Gothenburg always feels to me like a city that knows how to live the good life. It’s also the gateway to West Sweden’s gorgeous Bohuslän coastal region, and an archipelago where you can go island-hopping, sea swimming and exploring long-distance hiking trails through pristine woodland, not to mention refuelling on some of the most delicious fresh shellfish in the world as you explore.
So how does a Macs Adventure trip work? While you’ll go solo or travel with friends or family rather than a guide and a group on a Macs trip, you’re armed with detailed trip notes and a handy app complete with live mapping, which makes it really simple to navigate both in the city and on the trail. Macs book accommodation and suggest public transport options and places to check out for dinner. My walk in West Sweden was an inn-to-inn itinerary, and each evening after a day of following trails I arrived at welcoming, cosy homes-from-home where I could chill out and refuel on local treats. As someone who usually camps on multi-day hikes, this was real luxury – I may never take a tent out hiking again!
Macs have hit upon an easy way to explore the best of West Sweden’s coastline in just a few days – by following the Soteleden – Kuststigen trail. Nine signposted stages of this hiking route wind through sun-dapped woodland and then hug the coast, passing traditional red-painted cabins and tempting swimming spots and even encircling an island – Ramsvik, a nature reserve known as the ‘kingdom of rocks’ for its smooth granite boulders, which turn a soft pink at sunset.
I hiked three stages of roughly 10 miles a day through surprisingly varied terrain – I didn’t see another soul on the first day as I walked through shady, pine-scented woodland, while day two the trail meandered alongside the crystal-clear ocean past the fishing towns of Bovallstrand and Hunnesbostrand. My Macs app and the bright blue trail markers made the Soteleden relaxingly easy to follow all the way to my final stop in Smögen. One of West Sweden’s most popular seaside villages for its long wooden pier, rainbow-hued summer cabins and laid-back boating life, Smögen is a great hiking base. I stayed at Smögens Hafvsbad hotel, which makes for a a serious treat after covering so many miles thanks to a spa and sauna, a terrace restaurant where you can watch the sun set over the water and best of all, an amazing swim spot just metres from your room where you can dive in off the rocks.
This is also the perfect trip if you fancy making your next walking adventure more sustainable. As well as travelling on foot or via Sweden’s (impressively efficient) public transport, you can stop at accommodation and places to eat that are part of the area’s new initiative, Stepping up Sustainability. Launched in November 2021, the scheme includes over 500 local businesses who are committed to reducing their environmental impact. And Gothenburg wasn’t named the world’s most sustainable city for six years in a row for nothing – think sustainable local transport, restaurants focused on local, seasonal ingredients and environmental guidelines for hotels and other businesses. Locals still know how to have fun, though – I ended up back in Gothenburg just in time to join the city’s 400 year celebrations under the (almost) midnight sun, with live alfresco music across the city (and a locally-brewed beer or two) proving the perfect tonic after four days of exploring in the great outdoors.