West Sweden - Background information

Natural history
People and culture


800-500BC Rock carvings made in present-day Bohuslän

1266 Statesman Birger Jarl dies in Västergötland

1298 Building begins on predecessor of Läckö slott

1621 Gothenburg founded

1637 Expedition sails from Gothenburg to found New Sweden on Delaware River

1658 Sweden gains Bohuslän from Denmark and Norway

1731 Swedish East India Company founded

1775 Carlstens Fortress in Marstrand declared a free port

1810 Göta canal begun

1822 Marstrand begins as bathing resort

1841 First shipyard founded in Gothenburg

1856 Train line reaches Gothenburg

1868 Dalsland canal opens

1902 Trams begin running in Gothenburg

1915 Swedish–America line takes immigrants directly to the United States

1923 Liseberg amusement park opens

1927 Volvo produces first car in Gothenburg

1939 Götaälvsbron bridge opens

1962 Gothenburg-based Stena Line founded

1968 Tingstad tunnel under Göta river opens

1970 Skandiahamnen container begins operations

1994 Gothenburg opera inaugurated

           Rock carvings at Tanum included on the UNESCO World Heritage list

1998 Region of Västra Götaland (West Sweden) created

2001 Ryanair begins flying to Säve airport

2009 Inauguration of Sweden's only marine national park, Koster Sea

2011 Camilla Läckberg becomes Sweden’s best-selling author

2021 Gothenburg will celebrate its 400th anniversary

Natural history


Roe deer West Sweden Europe by Tobyphotos ShutterstockRoe deer © Tobyphotos, Shutterstock

Sooner or later in west Sweden, you’ll spot roe deer – they number around a million – and frequent fields and even private gardens. More elusive is the elk, which is also present in vast numbers – dawn and dusk are the best times for spotting them when they brave the open to feed. Note there are no bears or reindeer in this part of Sweden. Of the region’s birds, look out for cranes in early April which pair and dance at Hornborgasjön lake, whilst on the coast eider ducks, oystercatchers and Arctic tern are all common and easy to spot. In the forests of Dalsland, you may be lucky enough to see a Eurasian eagle owl – one of the biggest owls in the world.

Cranes in Hornborgasjön, Sweden © Jonas Ingman

Cranes at Hornborgasjön lake perform an elaborate dance as part of their annual mating rituals © Jonas Ingman, West Sweden Tourist Board

Roughly 5km south of Varnhem, Hornborgasjön lake is the scene of a remarkable natural spectacle every spring. Some time between mid March to the end of April, thousands of cranes (generally around 18,000 birds) arrive here from Spain to pair ahead of the mating season. They remain here for two or three weeks before continuing to northern Sweden for the summer. As part of their pairing ritual, the birds perform an elaborate dance around each other which attracts thousands of spectators every year. The 'crane dance', as it's known, is best viewed from the car parks at the southern end of the lake, off Road 184 between Falköping and Skara, and there's a visitor centre and viewing tower on the eastern side of the lake. The birds return, albeit in smaller numbers, from the middle of August onwards as they begin their migration south for the winter. For more details see www.visithornborgasjon.se. Skövde and Falköping are both gateways to the area with excellent links to Gothenburg.

People and culture

Swedes, in general, and the people of the west in particular, are polite and helpful. People in this part of the country tend to be more open and talkative than in other regions. Honesty is greatly cherished in Sweden and people mean what they say. Timekeeping is extremely important throughout the country as well – a meeting at 11.00 means just that – and arriving late is frowned upon and considered a sign of unreliability. On greeting people of either sex, you should shake hands whilst saying your name. If you’re invited to someone’s home for dinner, you should take a bottle of wine or some flowers. 

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