Gothenburg is Sweden’s second city and the pearl of the Nordic country’s stunning west coast. Gothenburgers lovingly refer to their city as “Little London” as many British and Scottish immigrants industrialized and influenced the city’s identity as trading took place across the North Sea in the 19th century. The quaintness and architecture with its characteristic brown-brick buildings here have an English air about them making it a very different experience to the capital Stockholm despite it being just three hours away by train.
Gothenburg is a port city surrounded by an archipelago made out of rocky islands, and you can practically feel the salty ocean breeze as you stroll its cobbled, windy streets. Navigate the city by foot or with the help of the signature blue trams to move from hip areas such as Majorna and Vasastan and everywhere in between to discover a city that is sure to win you over.
Being a coastal city, Gothenburg is a haven for seafood and if this is up your alley, historical Feskekörka (translates to Fish Church) is a must-see. Housed in a building resembling a neo-gothic church, hence its name, with Sweden’s widest range of fresh fish and shellfish produce on offer this indoor fish market and restaurant has quite literally been a mecca for seafood lovers since opening in 1874.
For a more classic restaurant experience, head to Levantine that oozes French sophistication with its arched doors, tiled floors and black bistro chairs. The menu is a treat for every Francophile with oysters, escargot and bleak roe for starters then mains such as the bouillabaisse, a tomato and white wine based fish stew with shrimps, mussels, croutons and rouille cream. During summer months enjoy eating at their lush terrace garden adorned with white parasols and trees illuminated by light bulbs.
For a laidback vibe for all ages, check out Oizo that offers pizza, natural wines and locally brewed beer from neighbouring Kålltorp. They’re also known for their fantastic bread and offer organic baked goods perfect for “fika”. Enjoy all this in a rustic interior with walls, floor and ceiling all made out of white tiles and minimalist yet retro furnishing with round tables and arched wooden chairs.
Lastly, end an evening at popular Bar Normal, a neo-bistro that offers superb Asian salads, deli, raw food and grilled sandwiches. And great tipples of course! Sample a glass of Parfait with punch, lingonberry, licorice dreams, dulche de leche as you admire the white-tiled bar and Scandi-chic interior of simple yet stylish wooden furniture and art-clad walls for a laidback yet chic eve.
Stockholm may be known for its open-air museum Skansen, but if Nordic wildlife intrigues you head to the enormous city-park Slottsskogen where you can get close-up to giant mooses and chubby gray seals splashing around in a pond for free at one of the oldest zoos in the country. For more nature kicks, jump on a ferry or tram to nearby idyllic island Brännö and enjoy a few hours among wooden boats and oil barrels at this wild and rugged yet jaw-dropping place.
Gothenburg’s biggest attraction, both for summer, Halloween and Christmas, is undeniably the top-rated amusement park Liseberg. A green rabbit mascots this beloved fair which boasts a lush parkland with 42 top-of-the-line rides and attractions. It’s been amusing visitors since 1923 and offers shows from huge artists as well as daily musical performances (legends such as Bob Marley and the Rolling Stones have played here).
Lunch and a movie, anyone? Sometimes there’s nothing more luxurious than a day-time matine after a weekend lunch. Luckily, the independent cinema Hagabion offers both in a scenic and cozy environment. Enjoy a fresh vegetarian menu that gets renewed daily. After the movie has finished, stay on to mingle with other culture-lovers in the cinema’s bar, Bar Kino to discuss the film and sample beer from the cinema’s own brewery. If you’re visiting during summer months the bar extends to a buzzing terrace that lights up the brown brick building.
You’d be excused for thinking you walked into a Wes Anderson movie when entering the lobby with its patterned stone floors, Art Nouveau staircase with hand-forged bannisters, and painted glass ceiling. Hotel Royale is the oldest hotel in the city, dating back to 1852 giving it a regal yet cozy flair. Grab some homemade cakes and hot drinks by the reception as you check in to one of the 75 uniquely styled rooms furnished with antique-looking furniture, patterned-fabric curtains, and Persian rugs. Most of the city’s main attractions are within a 10-minute walk of the hotel and if you need a break from the city sounds you’ll find a peaceful inner courtyard to relax in here.
Hotel Pigalle in Gothenburg offers a boutique-hotel experience out of the ordinary. This opulent stay is housed in an 18th-century building but with an Art Deco flair to all its decorations. There’s plenty of colorful and bright rooms with carpeted floors and marble bathrooms to choose from, all lovingly decorated in different designer fabrics. The hotel also offers a rooftop bar and Restaurant Atelier serving carefully selected local produce in the converted attic for a romantic atmosphere for all occasions under slanted ceilings. Snuggle up with a glass of red in front of the roaring fireplace and enjoy a stay you won’t soon forget.