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Tanum is a municipality in Bohuslän. It is best known for the numerous bronze age and iron age rock carvings (petroglyphs, Swedish: hällristningar), which were inscribed on the UNESCO cultural heritage list in 1994. In addition, Tanum seaside region is well-known for the small port towns facing a beautiful archipelago, which are popular holiday places.


Tanum consists of several towns, none of which has more than 2,000 inhabitants:

  • 1 Fjällbacka Fjällbacka on Wikipedia - a summer tourist seaside resort; scenes from the movie Ronia, the Robber's Daughter were shot in gap at the King's cliff (Kungsklyftan)
  • 2 Hamburgsund Hamburgsund on Wikipedia - a seaside locality
  • 3 Grebbestad Grebbestad on Wikipedia - a harbour town
  • 4 Kämpersvik Kämpersvik on Wikipedia - a small coastal locality
  • 5 Rabbalshede Rabbalshede on Wikipedia
  • 6 Tanumshede Tanumshede on Wikipedia - around Tanumshede many ancient rock carvings have been found

Tourist offices[edit]

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The closest major airports are Oslo Airport OSL IATA and Landvetter Airport GOT IATA 25 km East of Gothenburg. Trollhättan-Vänersborg Airport THN IATA in Trollhättan serves regional flights.

By train[edit]

There is a direct connection with Västtraffik from Gothenburg to 1 Tanum station several times a day, travel time over 2 hr.

By car[edit]

The E6, one of the main traffic routes on the Swedish west coast and the main north-south link between Sweden and Norway, runs through Tanum. From Gothenburg it is about 135 km to Tanum on the E6, and about 160 km from the Norwegian capital Oslo.

By bike[edit]

Tanum is located along the long-distance EV12 The North Sea Cycle Route.

Get around[edit]


Rock carvings[edit]

The petroglyphs are located where at that time was the seashore. Nowadays, due to post-glacial rebound, the sea level is several meters lower in many parts of Scandinavia. Depicted are mainly ships, people (men are characteristic by erect penises, women by long hair), animals (oxen, horses, deer, birds, dogs, geese, snakes, and even a whale), footprints, weapons and cup marks. Some carvings can be interpreted as scenes, such as hunts, weddings, fights, dances, mournings, celebrations or ceremonials.

Many of the ancient carvings are painted red to highlight the motifs. However, it is not known exactly, whether or not the carvings were highlighted in a similar way at the time of their creation. Experimental archeologists showed, that the fresh rock carvings are lighter than the background rock and contrast sufficiently to be easily spotted and admired. This is not the case for the aged carvings. Those not highlighted by the paint or chalk can be best seen in the morning and evening sun, on a rainy day or at night with artificial illumination from the side. It is damaging for the petroglyphs to touch them or walk on them.

Examples of petroglyphs from Tanum (from left to right and top to bottom, not to scale): "Spear God" from Litsleby, "Bridal Couple" from Vitlycke, a ploughman from Aspeberget and "Sun Horse" from Fossum (not painted).
  • 1 Rock carvings at Vitlycke, only 200 m from the Vitlycke museum. The largest panel contains the "Bridal Couple", one of Bohuslän’s most famous carvings.
  • 2 Rock carvings at Litsleby: the most prominent carving is a 2.3-m tall warrior known as the "Spear God".
  • 3 Rock carving area of Aspeberget: a hill virtually covered with carvings. The main pannel with beautiful and numerous carvings of bulls, warriors and ships, as well as a ploughman, is badly damaged by weathering, and therefore covered in winter. Many other carvings are not highlighted by paint, and therefore more difficult to find.
  • 4 Rock carvings at Fossum: images of people, ships, footprints and animals, as well as cupmarks. Further along the path, at Balken, there are unpainted carvings, including the "Sun Horse".


  • 5 Skräddö (a gateway to the Tanum World Heritage). A restplace along the E6 motorway south of Tanumshede with information about the Tanum UNESCO site and the bronze age landscape.
  • 6 Tanum Museum of Rock Carvings (Tanums Hällristningsmuseum, Underslös), +46 525 295 55. May - Oct 10:00-17:00. This non-fancy museum is a non-commercial institution run by the Scandinavian Society for Prehistoric Art. This is where you can get a very detailed and expert information about the petroglyphs in a wider context, their documentation, registration, protection and preservation. The museum organizes tours, workshops or courses. 30 kr.
  • 7 Vitlycke museum (UNESCO information centre). From Easter to the beginning of November, weekends in April and daily May to November, times depending on the season. Located near the Vitlycke carvings, the small museum contains an audiovisual exposition of the life in Tanum 3000 years ago. The outdoor area includes a reconstruction of a bronze age farm, the way archeologicsts imagine it. A large part of the information center consists of a souvenir shop and a caffeteria with local and organic food and a great view over the Vitlycke site. The information center offers guided tours and bicycle rentals. Free.

Other archaeological sites[edit]

  • 8 Greby grave field. Iron Age grave field. Greby (Q1232149) on Wikidata Greby on Wikipedia







Go next[edit]

  • Gothenburg - The second largest city in Sweden is on the southern edge of Bohuslän. Follow The E6 for about 135 km south.
  • Kungälv - Has Bohus Castle, after which Bohuslän is named. Follow the E6 for 115 km south.
  • Oslo - The capital of Norway. Follow the E6 for 160 km north.
  • Uddevalla - The largest city in Bohuslän. Follow the E6 for 60 km south.
Routes through Tanum
OsloStrömstad  N  S  UddevallaGothenburg

This city travel guide to Tanum is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.