Gothenburg's Southern Archipelago is a cluster of eight verdant islands not dissimilar to the Isles of Scilly. But whereas the Scillonian ferry costs around £100, the boat to Brännö, the island we stopped at, cost the equivalent of £1.20. Situated a gorgeous cycle ride down residential Gothenburg's clapboard-clad coast toward Salthomen, the island has around 380 inhabitants (though where they were on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon is anyone's guess), a fleet of curious bicycles with huge loading pallets mounted on the front, and a crystal clear, unfettered coastline. There are designated beach areas, but if you want to escape the maddening crowd of the 15 people sunning themselves there, a little adventurous initiative takes you around the island's coastline to vast green spaces, and craggy, rocky lagoons of opalescent, crystal clear (if cool) water. It's like a mini personal paradise.
In the summer season several boat excursions depart from Lilla Bommen harbour in the city center. Tickets and information: Göteborg's Tourist Information Centres + 46 31 61 25 00 or at Kungsportsplatsen and in Nordstan Shopping Centre (taken from goteborg.se)
Or, cycle down the clearly signposted coast to Salthomen and catch the ferry from there. We went in September, and the boats were running fairly regularly.
Slottsskogens Vandrarhem is the greatest youth hostel I've ever been to. It's pretty much central to Gothenburg, and it's immaculately clean - from the huge, friendly communal kitchen to the airy, wood-furnished bedrooms. The staff are an absolute pleasure (and handily all speak perfect English), there's free internet and free bike hire, perfect for exploring the city and its glorious coastline. Although we didn't try it, there was a spectacular looking traditional Swedish breakfast on offer for a few Kronor. The atmosphere inside was brilliant too - we went as two girls just visiting for fun, and we met Erasmus students waiting for term to start, people backpacking across the world, and most days and nights we ended up doing stuff with them too. Honestly, I can't recommend it enough. It's also really near the Haga district of the city, the traditional old beautiful town with gorgeous cafes, and it's across the road from a frequent main tram line.
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