Brännö island: the best day trip from Gothenburg, Sweden

Brännö island day trip - Gothenburg, Sweden | PACK THE SUITCASES

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Here’s my guide to doing a day trip to Brännö island from Gothenburg, Sweden. I can’t recommend doing this enough. When I did it, it was not only a highlight of our honeymoon, but the best day trip of any holiday I’ve ever been on (and that’s a lot). 

Despite Gothenburg not feeling big or busy and also being very green, it’s still nice to do a day trip out to somewhere more rural. The beautiful island of Brännö, in Gothenburg’s Southern Archipelago, is perfect for this. On the island, cars are banned and there are only around 800 inhabitants.

Brännö was recommended to me by the lady in the ticket office for the ferry. I was open to going to any of the archipelago islands, but Swedish people usually know best so I took her advice… And now that I’ve been, I have to say that if you go to Gothenburg and don’t explore the archipelago, you’ve made a mistake. It’s a dream.

Here’s how to get there and what to do, plus lots of gorgeous Brännö photographs (it’s pronounced Br-eh-nuh, by the way)…

Brännö island day trip - Gothenburg, Sweden | PACK THE SUITCASES

How to do a day trip to Brännö island, Sweden, from Gothenburg

When is best to visit Brännö, Sweden?

Brännö island day trip - Gothenburg, Sweden | PACK THE SUITCASES

I have to say, I was very lucky with the weather during my trip. Spring in Scandinavia is always my favourite time/place combination. It was a lovely spring day in May with clear blue skies and a bit of a breeze. I imagine Brännö would be lovely in summer, too.

If it was cold and raining, you’d not enjoy it as much because the joy of the island is just in wandering around and sitting by the sea. A bit of a grim idea in winter. So I’d probably opt for spring or autumn.

How to get to Brännö island, Sweden

Brännö island day trip - Gothenburg, Sweden | PACK THE SUITCASES

To get to Brännö island, get a delightfully pale blue number 11 tram from Gothenburg city centre to the Saltholmen ferry terminal. In summer, you can also get number 9.

Gothenburg’s public transport system is called Västtrafik (it runs the ferries as well as the trams) so you can use that to plan your times and whatnot. It takes about 30 minutes to get from Gothenburg to Saltholmen. If you’ve not already got a travel pass as part of your Gothenburg trip, you can buy tickets from shops like Pressbyrån or 7-Eleven. If you board within 90 minutes, your tram ticket also covers the ferry. But if not, then there’s a ticket office at Salthomen.

When you get to Salthomen, you need to find your Brännö ferry.

Brännö island actually has two ferry terminals and two ferry options to get there:

  • Ferry 282 to Brännö Husvik (on the south side of Brännö) – this takes 40ish minutes and stops at a few other islands in the archipelago
  • Ferry 283 to Brännö Rödsten, (on the north-east side of Brännö) – this takes just over 20 minutes.

Do ‘enjoy’ the standard gale-force wind that comes free with any journey.

Arriving on Brännö island: a place where no cars go

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When you arrive on Brännö island, you’ll be stunned by how beautiful and quiet it is.

I knew beforehand that it was car-free, but I don’t think I’d actually grasped what a difference that would make. Arcade Fire were really onto something there.

Weirdly, the ferry across can be full but people seem to quickly disperse and vanish.

Wander through the car-free little roads, taking it all in. Completely alone. 

The big sights on Brännö island: a local shop and a cat

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There is, of course, a local shop for local people. It seems to be the only one open on the island. This makes it a hub of activity for residents. The beauty of Brännö is in its calm, serene atmosphere and general lack of hustle and bustle, so when I say ‘hub of activity’, I mean I saw three people going to do their shopping and then cycling home with it. Hardly Shibuya Crossing.

When I visited, I spent a long time sitting outside the shop in the sun, drinking a water and stroking a local cat. I just don’t see the point of leaving the house, let alone getting on an aeroplane, unless you know there’s going to be a cat involved at some point.

What to eat and drink on Brännö island: fresh seafood and local beer

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After more wandering around residential areas ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the beautiful little houses and gardens, you’ll likely be starving. There are only two restaurants, so that should put a stop to any annoying indecision and frantic TripAdvisor-ing. Sometimes very limited choice is the best choice.

I ate at Bränno Värdshus. It’s situated about 5 minutes from the shop and has a lovely sunny courtyard.

It also serves local beer, which is always a plus. The island has its own microbrewery: Brännöl (island beer). Currently, you can only buy their beer on Brännö. The two spots to get it are either from this restaurant (for a full alcohol content version) or from the one supermarket (for a lower alcohol content). Got to love those Swedish alcohol laws.

Food-wise, go for the incredibly cheap day menu (top tip for Swedish holidays: get the lunchtime deals). When I was there, it was fresh mackerel and veg. Delicious.

Exploring further: a hidden harbour

Brännö island day trip - Gothenburg, Sweden | PACK THE SUITCASES

Sitting around in the sun stuffing your face is really hard work, isn’t it? So head to a glorious little harbour to have a sit and watch the water after you’ve eaten. And the best thing? No other people around. Wait no, the best thing is that there will be no cars around. But the solitude is nice too.

After finding this little area, having wandered through rows of gorgeous wooden houses with white fences, I had to keep asking myself: is this real? Do actual human people live in this place? It is real though and very lucky Swedish people do live there. I know. Sickeningly jealous over here.

Exploring further: the Swedish countryside at its best

Brännö island day trip - Gothenburg, Sweden | PACK THE SUITCASES

In spring, the whole of Brännö island is full of fragrant blossoms and beautiful walks. And obviously, the classic Swedish wooden buildings and terracotta rooftops.

In terms of things to do, there’s no particular activity to do or sight to see on Brännö. It’s all about relaxing and wandering (hence my thinking it’d be a bit grim trying to visit in winter). 

If you didn’t want to just sit/eat/drink/wander/relax, Brännö would be good for cyclists or swimmers. Despite watching the Tour de France every year, I never cycle. And neither I nor my OH can swim. So er. Pass. But the Swedes love all that outdoorsy action, so if you really want to pretend to be Swedish (and who doesn’t?), you can get fully involved there.

Luckily, I do like walking so there’s one Swedish outdoorsy thing I will happily get into. It was only 35 minutes or so to stroll from one side of Brännö to the other, so I can say we walked across an entire island. Phew. Strenuous.

Getting back to Gothenburg from Brännö island

Brännö island day trip - Gothenburg, Sweden | PACK THE SUITCASES

I forgot to mention earlier, but the terminal on Brännö is FULL of bicycles and little motorised carts. It makes for an amazing scene of commuter bicycles all waiting for their owners to get back from work on the mainland. So very Sweden.

To get back to Gothenburg, you just get the ferry and the beautiful blue tram back to the centre.

I will be raving about Brännö for years to come. It’s pure escapism and a glimpse of a simpler, quieter way of life. I didn’t want to leave and go back to noisy reality. If you’re visiting Gothenburg, don’t miss a day trip there.

Brännö island day trip from Gothenburg: useful information

How to get there

See the start of this post for a full description of the journey, but in short you can get the number 11 tram from Gothenburg city centre to the ferry/boat terminal. It takes about half an hour. Then get on the ferry and enjoy the gale-force winds en route to Brännö.

How to get around

Cars are banned, as mentioned so it’s all on foot or bicycle: bliss.

When to go

May is a dreamy time to go – sunny, warm weather and blossom on the trees. It might not be so enjoyable on a wet, grey day. But let’s not think about that. Just stick to the warmer months and you’ll be fine.

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  1. My aunt and uncle had their motorboats docked in that very little harbour-they had a large summer house on a cliff overlooking the inlet. They now sold the house but I spent many summer days there with my cousins.

  2. In 2023 going to Brännö is still great advice for a day trip from Gothenburg. The weather was perfect in May – the ferry was part of the fun. Use the Vasttrafik app to get your tramtickets and see the time schedule of the team and ferry.

  3. Pingback: 48 hours in Gothenburg | PACK THE SUITCASES

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