Last week we headed to Gothenburg for some much needed downtime. I’d never been to Sweden before and other than some chic Scandi interiors, I honestly had no idea what to expect but it certainly didn’t disappoint. We had a heck load of fun and although there may have been some dancing queen’s – mainly me, after far too much wine – thankfully there was absolutely no Abba.
The view as we flew in to land blew me away. Mother Nature really stepped it up here; dreamy lakes dotted throughout the mile upon mile of forest. It’s a bit bloody wonderful, actually.
Gothenburg’s centre is cosy, with a relaxed vibe and not that big either, which made it really easy to find our bearings. It may be a small city but Gothenburg is bursting with everyday distractions. There’s a buzzing café culture and tonnes of quirky hangouts and live music venues. Like the city itself these have managed to remain under the radar and free from the vibe killing flock of tourists you tend to find in most other European cities, which made a refreshing change. The city also boasts 17th century canals, really beautiful architecture and picturesque cobbled streets. It truly does have it all.
The trip was actually very sporadic as Darren had work over there but I’m so glad I’ve had the chance to visit because I’d have probably overlooked it otherwise.
What to Do
Haga District is an old district with lots of character and traditional 19th century wooden houses. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon wandering the little cobbled streets that are jam packed with antique, homeware and craft shops, or you can just snuggle in for coffee at one of the numerous little cafés.
Linne District Cool kid central: think incredible street style, second hand shops and secret little drinking haunts.
Waterfront – there’s a whole variety of bars and restaurants clustered around the waterfront but it’s such a pretty area that it also makes a nice detour whilst exploring the city.
If the weather is playing ball, go island hopping in the South Archipelago, where you’ll find picturesque houses, sandy beaches and lovely little rock pools. The islands are car free and only accessible by ferry from Saltholmen boat terminal. Tram 11 from central Gothenburg (or tram 9 during summer) takes you to the terminal in about 35 minutes.
The Rohsska museum showcases Sweden’s fashion and design history throughout the last 150 years. I’d seriously recommend checking this out if fashion or interior design is your thing. There’s currently an awesome exhibition from fashion illustrator Tonie Lewenhaupt displaying 27 pieces that represent the development of Swedish fashion. Absolute sass!
This may be the most perfect city for cycling I’ve ever visited. The roads are almost completely flat and cycle lanes have been included in the layout of nearly every road. Just watch out for the trams as they appear from no where.
If you want to be bowled over by nature, make your way to the botanical gardens. Beautiful flowers, palm trees and a variety of cacti are just some of the species growing here. If nothing else the benches hidden beneath the overflowing greenery are a really tranquil place to relax, away from the city for a while.
View from above
Seeing it from above really puts a city into perspective. I love finding panoramic viewing spots whenever I’m in a new place and Gothenburg isn’t short of them either. Gothia Towers skyline restaurant offers an albeit pricey drinks menu but the view is priceless. Alternatively, the big wheel at Liseberg amusement park is a fun way to see the city from the air.
Where to Eat
Fika (meaning: to drink) is basically a Swedish coffee break. Ahhhh, a nation after my own heart.
Many of the locals that I spoke with recommended Café Husan as the ultimate fika experience and boy oh boy, were they right?! The corner café in Haga has a stunning antique interior with glass cabinets offering a variety of Swedish confectionery. Their speciality is the hagabullar, a gigantic cinnamon bun – just look at that beast! Two of us couldn’t even scratch the surface but it was super tasty and surprisingly not too sweet.
Dirty Records/Santo Domingo cafe
Santo Domingo cafe is nestled inside this record store and is the best place to quench that coffee craving. The relaxed vibe, combined with the LP artwork scattered across the walls, makes it the perfect spot for music lovers. On Friday nights this venue plays host to live musicians, free of charge. Coffee, anyone?
Fancy a pick-me-up or midday snack? Head to the city’s food hall which houses 40 independent food stalls in a grand 18th Century building. You’ll find freshly baked bread, cheeses, craft beer and traditional Swedish delicacies.
Pop up street food vans are scattered all across the city, serving everything from mackerel to vegan specialities.
One to look out for is Wakal (the black and white van below) that serves organic Mexican dishes for super reasonable prices.
Clarion Hotel Post Restaurant
For a spot of fine dining, wander on over to the restaurant at the Clarion Hotel Post. The food is pretty damn tasty and the plates come out looking like an abstract piece of art, rather than a plate of food.
Where to Drink
This indie cinema showcases art-house movies, documentaries and short stories from around the world. The venue also includes a vegan/vegetarian diner and cool cellar bar, that in summer spills out into the courtyard.