Explore the Ocean’s Bounty on a Swedish Seafood Safari.
Most people do not think of Sweden — or Scandinavia in general — when considering the top culinary destinations in the world. The five-star restaurants of Paris or the rolling hills of Tuscany are far more likely to spring to mind.
Yet the west coast of Sweden, particularly the city of Gothenburg, has in recent years become a foodie paradise. Forget the images of bland Swedish meatballs and pickled herring that might dominate your perception of Swedish cuisine. Thanks to the abundance of fresh, local seafood combined with creative chefs and a relaxed atmosphere, a holiday in Gothenburg and the surrounding region will delight even the most discriminating palate.
While enjoying a scrumptious dinner of freshly harvested mussels or a lobster right off the boat might be a highlight of the visit, for many visitors to Gothenburg ordering from a menu is only the beginning. To provide visitors with the absolute freshest bounty possible, while also offering insight into the culture of the region, the seafood safari has become one of the most popular activities in the region.
Not Your Typical Safari
The definition of a safari is a journey or expedition for the purposes of hunting, exploration or investigation. When you embark on a seafood safari in Sweden, you combine all of those aspects into one unforgettable trip.
Capitalising on the abundance of sea life in the waters surrounding the thousands of tiny islands that comprise the western coast of Sweden, everyone from hotels to private boat owners have begun offering safari-type seafood voyages to visitors eager to experience fresh seafood. For example, the Handelsman Flink hotel, located on the island of Flatön, offers a package that begins with a gourmet lunch followed by a boat voyage in which guests take turns pulling lobster traps from the water. Anything the guests “catch” is brought back to the hotel and prepared for dinner by the hotel chefs, while the guests relax (and warm up) in the sauna.
If you prefer shellfish to crustaceans, make the two hour drive north of Gothenburg to Lysekil, where you can enjoy an Oyster and Mussel tour. You’ll board an authentic fishing vessel in Lysekil’s picturesque harbor and journey to the mussel farm to learn more about how mussels are raised — and harvest a few for a later meal. The tour then moves on to the oyster beds. Many experts consider Swedish oysters to be some of the best in the world — and the best way to enjoy them is fresh from the sea.
While most visitors opt for a day trip or afternoon excursion to explore Sweden’s seafood industry, for the true seafood-lover, a multi-day immersive experience is also possible. The island of Grebbestad, for example, is home to several tour operators who offer lobster and shellfish safaris that include several boat trips and long days at sea. Of course, landlubbers aren’t left out — try renting a car and driving along the coast from Gothenburg to Fjällbacka, visiting fishing villages along the way and enjoying meals at the many cafes and restaurants.
A Swedish Seafood Safari – What to Know Before You Go
Before you arrive in western Sweden, fork in hand and ready to dig in to a seafood feast, there are a few things to keep in mind while planning your trip.
- The peak of holiday season in Sweden is June, when the oysters and mussels are most plentiful.
- Lobster season is mid-September through December.
- It’s not unusual to capture other types of seafood on safaris, particularly crabs and shrimp, which can also be eaten.
- Lobsters can be dangerous creatures. The powerful front claws can easily sever a human finger, so if you’re lucky enough to snag one, the professional guides will quickly secure the claws before allowing guests to handle the crustaceans.
- Lobsters, oysters and mussels are not the only seafood varieties in abundance on the west coast of Sweden. Herring might well be considered the official food of this Nordic land, as you’ll find the fish in every possible permutation on nearly every dinner table.
- You can join a fishing expedition to see how the fish are caught or check out a processing plant in Klädesholmen, the herring capital of Sweden, where there is even a herring museum. If you’d rather just taste the mainstay of the Swedish diet, visit nearly any restaurant, where you’ll find it featured prominently on the menu.
Whether you limit your seafood exploration to the many fine restaurants of Gothenburg or venture out into the frigid waters of the Baltic Sea, you cannot visit western Sweden without experiencing at least some of the ocean’s treasures. Even if you don’t consider yourself a foodie before you go, you may return with a whole new appreciation for fresh fish and lobster.