Swedish Seafood Safari

Swedish Seafood Safari

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.

Swedish Beach Shack

Swedish Beach Shack

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.

Swedish Fishing Village

Swedish Fishing Village

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.

Swedish Seafood - Smoked Whole Herring

Swedish Seafood – Smoked Whole Herring

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.

Gourmet Getaways

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  1. This sounds like a great ‘safari’ experience Julie. From catching to processing to eating- delicious!

  2. I have a blogging friend who is British but used to live in Paris and has recently moved to Sweden. His last two blog posts have been detailing the 10 worst Swedish dishes and then the 10 best. Fascinating! I’ve always wanted to visit Sweden but only in the summer! xx

    • Lol! I know who you are referring too, Charles from 5 Euros. I have been following along too. The 10 worst dishes were pretty bad!

  3. Alesah Villalon :

    I love seafood and learning from you about seafood safari in Sweden (lots of s’ there, lol) immediately tickled my curiosity. I may not be able to travel this side of the world anytime soon, but when I have the opportunity, I will bear in mind the handy tips you shared in this article for a more enjoyable Swedish escapade! Thanks so much, Julie!

  4. Thanks Julie, I will show to my husband that thinks that swedish food is Ikea food ! I will love travel in there, mus be fantastic! And I love oysters (huîtres) 🙂

  5. I think of ABBA, IKEA and Meatballs when I think of Sweden 🙂
    Those smoked herrings look GREAT!

  6. A seafood expedition and an herring museum. How exciting! I’d love to stay in one of those hotels that would cook my ‘catch’ while I relax. That’s so unique.

  7. As a seafood lover I’d love to try this one day! It sounds fantastic! 😀

  8. I don’t mind getting ‘my hands dirty’ with fish filleting etc. I might even try to overcome my tendency for sea sickness and book one of these tours- they look great!

  9. I never associated Sweden cuisine with seafood. And yeah, the first thing that comes to mind is swedish meatballs and ikea…LOL. Anyway, this seafood safari sounds like quite an adventure! I’d stay away from the lobster, though. 😛

  10. Very interesting, and I love the photos accompanying this post. A Seafood Safari sounds interesting – as well as completely yummy.

  11. This sounds like a little bit of heaven to me. 🙂 I am half Danish and grew up on Scandinavian food. The real Scandinavian cuisine is absolutely scrumptious. 🙂

  12. This is so lovely. I’ve never tried dish from the Scandinavian cuisine before. I love herrings and I wish to visit Sweden

  13. I’m ready for lobster season! I still haven’t made it to Scandinavia but would love to get there one day!

  14. Sweden is definitely on our bucket list! This is my kind of safari!!!

  15. This would be my husband’s dream vacation – he is a huge fan of every sort of fish. I have read so much about the great food in Scandanavian countries – it is a popular scene! Wonderful post – thanks!

  16. Good to see whole fish is being served there (Japanese/Asian are not the only one!) as I don’t see that here in the US. 🙂 I heard about Smoked Whole Herring in Sweden before and I’d love to visit one day and enjoy the authentic Swedish food!

  17. A seafood safari in Sweden! How spectacular! Thanks to Swedish acquaintances, I am very well aware that Scandinavian cuisine is stellar….This is the first time though hearing about a safari for foodies =) Thanks, Julie =)

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