Hooray for Trollywood and artistic pursuits

Scandinavia's largest port is the gateway to fairy-tale castles, tranquil islands and the beating heart of Sweden's movie-making industry.

Scandinavia's largest port is the gateway to fairy-tale castles, tranquil islands and the beating heart of Sweden's movie-making industry.

Nordic Watercolour Museum

In the village of Skarhamn, on the stunning Swedish west coast, the museum features both Nordic and international contemporary artists. You can take part in colour experiments and there are plenty of courses on offer for both adults and children. The gallery restaurant dishes up delicious homemade fare and there are terrific views of nearby islands. The museum is open all year.

By car: E6 north, then route 169, follow signs; journey time approx one hour.

Marstrand Island

This delightful island in the Gothenburg archipelago buzzes and swells with summer activity. Well-heeled visitors and locals alike flock here at weekends to sail, soak up the sun and to tour the historical and impressive fortress, Carlstens Fastning, which dates back to 1660. Expect pretty wooden houses, narrow cobbled streets and a bustling old harbour.

By car: E6 north, then route 168 west, then take the ferry; journey time approx one hour.

Southern archipelago

Branno, Styrso, Donso, Vrango and Kopstadso are the stunning main islands. They have become popular with wealthy Gothenburg commuters but the islands are still unspoilt, with plenty of nature reserves and secluded coves and beaches. There are no cars on the islands and the methods of transport range from bizarre mopeds with trays to large wheelbarrows, which you will see neatly parked by the quay on Kopstadso.

By tram and ferry: tram 11 to Satlholmen, then frequent year-round ferry; journey time 50 mins.

Lacko Castle

For a fairy-tale castle by Sweden's largest lake, you cannot beat this creamy white Baroque fantasy, complete with turrets, towers and cupolas. The castle dates back to 1290 but was modified and reconstructed by Count Magnus de la Gardie in 1615.

By car: route 45, then 444 and follow signs; journey time one hour plus.

Gunnebo Palace

This delightful wooden palace is one of Sweden's best and stylistically purest examples of neoclassical architecture. Seek out Gunnebo Coffee House and Restaurant, which serves home-baked delicacies and a variety of exquisite dishes, using ecologically grown vegetables from their own kitchen garden. You can then work off your food by strolling around the formal classical French park, the style of which was dominant one during the 17th and 18th centuries. Major musical performances take place in the grounds during summer and there is also a year-round programme of theatre, opera and dance.

By car: E6 south and follow signs; journey time approx 30 mins.

Trollhattan, also known as Trollywood

West Sweden has become a popular destination for the Scandinavian film industry, and international films including Together and Show Me Love have been shot in the area. The latest Lars von Triers picture, Dogville, starring Nicole Kidman, was shot in studios in Trollhattan, known locally as Trollywood, last year. Trollhattan is also known for its impressive canal locks, which bypass a 32m high waterfall. The area is beautifully located between the royal elk-hunting grounds of Halleberg and Hunneberg.

By car: route 45 north and follow signs; journey time approx one hour.

City Vacations (0870 242 0241; www.cityvacations.co.uk) offers a three-night b&b break at the three-star Rica City Hotel from £239 per person, including return flights from Heathrow. Europcar (0870 607 5000; www.europcar.com) offers weekend car hire in Gothenburg from £105. Further information from the Swedish Tourist Board (00 800 3080 3080; www.visit-sweden.com).