A day at the lakes in Gothenburg

See the picture above? That’s the magnificent Stora Delsjön lake and you can be stood here just 20 minutes' cycle from Gothenburg city centre. In this city, stunning nature is more than “on your doorstep”: it’s sat right in your front room. The lakes in Gothenburg are a must see and, they’re so convenient, you have zero excuse not to!


It’s the time of the season

You can enjoy the lakes and nature of Delsjöområdet nature reserve year-round. In fact, witnessing the dramatic changes in scenery from season-to-season is pretty magical. The lakes make great places to swim in the summer, while in the depths of winter, swap your swimming costume for a pair of ice skates! 

Within reason, you can play frisbee golf, kayak, fish, mountain bike, horse ride and go for long walks year-round. Whether you will enjoy these activities in January or July depends on your clothing and attitude to the weather. Which brings me to a famous Swedish saying: “Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder” (There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes). Well said, Sweden.

Take your pick

From the many lakes on offer, I’d recommend the following three: Stora Delsjön, Härlanda Tjärn and Västra Långvattnet.

Stora Delsjon lake in Gothenburg

Stora Delsjön – the top lake in town that gives the nature reserve its name. It’s the largest of all and has an incredible view from the grass bank where most people tend to base themselves. This bank is ideal for families as it’s right by a car park, has swings, beach volleyball and reassuring views of what your little monsters are doing in the water. However, if you want privacy there are literally hundreds of spots around the lake to choose from. And what I love about all lakes, is that a new position brings a fresh perspective... it's like being at a new lake!

Here/Near: cafes, kayak rental, fishing, horse riding, mountain biking 

Frisbee golf in Autumn, near Harlanda Tjarn Gothenburg

Härlanda Tjärn – much smaller than Stora Delsjön, this is another favourite for families thanks to its car park, play area and sandy beaches. Since it is smaller and so accessible, on particularly warm summer days it can feel quite crowded here and so it’s harder to enjoy the feeling of being lost in nature. It’s not got the wow-factor of Delsjön (living in Gothenburg inevitably makes you a “lake snob”) but it is beautiful.

Here/Near: Frisbee golf, fishing, mountain biking

lake jump.jpg

Västra Långvattnet – if you want to escape the world, this is the lake to do it at! Very few people make the effort to come here and that’s why it’s so worth it. But you get much more than peace and quiet; you get rock jumps too! There are 5, 6, 8, 12 and 15 m jumps. Kind / stupid / brave people have painted on the rock where each jumping position is. Head to the the large rock at the end of this narrow but very deep lake, if you fancy jumping in. The rock is also a popular place for sun worshipers as this side of the lake basks in the sun well into the evening (plus it gets lovely and warm, just what you need after a dip in the cold lake!). I've done the 5 and 6 m jumps myself and survived to write this! Please be careful though, it’s a lot of fun but obviously has its risks.

Here/Near: fishing, mountain biking 


There are so many places to take a seat and relax by a lake. From tables and benches to wooden huts complete with large barbeques to get your cook on (if you get there first!). This makes the do-it-yourself approach to lakeside refreshments, very easy. There are also fire pits dotted about the place to sit by and stay warm long after the sun has disappeared. For some people, me included, there’s something special about DIY cooking in the forest.

However, if you want to keep it simple, there are two great cafes: Kaffestugan Lyckan and Bertilssons Stuga. Lyckan can be found by Stora Delsjön (between the car park and large grass bank). Its got a pretty garden with resident goats and rabbits for kids (or adults!) to feed. If you are in interested in a walk, Bertilssons is a long (but very beautiful) walk away at the far end of the lake. In my opinion, Bertilssons is the more beautiful of the two cafes and, if walking distances is an issue, you could take the bus to Analysvägen, walk straight through the business estate and follow signs for the cafe once you hit the forest (15 mins walk).

In the summer months, small refreshment kiosks open at Härlanda Tjärn and Stora Delsjön. Public toilets are at all three lakes, look out for small wooden huts (surprisingly unsmelly and clean) scattered throughout the forest. 

Get me there!

The question is: where in the expanse of Delsjöområdet nature reserve do you want to go? The number 17 bus to Spåntorget takes you within a 5 minute walk of Härlanda Tjärn, while the number 5 tram to Topelsgatan is a 15 minute walk to Stora Delsjön. Both these lakes have large car parks too. Västra Långvattnet is not so accessible, found in between Härlanda and Delsjön. It's a comfortable cycle but can be a tiring walk on the way home, though you might be fitter than me!

Banner Image: Frida Winter/Göteborg & Co


This Is Gothenburg [2019]