In a week’s time I’ll be off for a long weekend in Gothenburg – I’m hoping to eat my way through the Christmas markets, bask in the lights and seasonal cheer (if not the chilly temperatures of a Gothenburg winter) and explore all that’s on offer in Sweden’s second largest city.
To get me in the mood and work out what we might like to see in the three days that we are there, I’ve asked around the internet for tips and advice on fun things to do in Gothenburg in December and what to see and here’s what you came up with;
Fun things to do in Gothenburg in winter
Fika – coffee and cinnamon buns
Apparently the Swedes are great consumers of coffee (the alcohol being rather expensive) and they love nothing better than to meet with friends for a gossip over coffee and perhaps a cake or cinnamon bun, a pastime known as Fika. Sounds like a great way to get out of the icy winds that sweep off the sea in a cosy cafe in Haga, the picturesque, old-town neighbourhood. On Hospitality Club, Linnea from Gothenburg recommended Café da Matteo (where she used to work) for their amazing coffee and Café Kanold who are known for their chocolate drinks and cakes.
A couple of articles I found will fill you in on the joys of Fika in Gothenburg;
The Christmas market at Liseberg
Set in the amusement park that’s open all year round, at Christmas Liseberg is home to Sweden’s largest Christmas markets, lit by 5 million lights, with Christmas food and a funfair. There are a number of other Christmas markets around Gothenburg in December such as the one at Nordstan Shopping Centre and the smaller markets in neighbourhoods around the city – you can find a list of all the Christmas markets with dates and opening times on Goteborg.com. On Twitter @KarenBryan especially enjoyed the Liseberg Christmas market when she visited Gothenburg for a winter break – you can read her article;
Gothenburg Highlights from Europe a la Carte
On her trip to Gothenburg in December Karen considered a ferry trip out to one of the nearby islands, found a Viking longboat in the City museum , visited the fish market and the Universeum science discovery centre as well as enjoying the sparkling lights at the Liseburg Christmas Market.
Christmas buffet or Julbord
At Christmas time, many restaurants offer the Julbord or “Christmas table” which is a buffet of traditional things eaten for Christmas. The spread is focussed on the preserved food that you’d need to get you through the winter months, such as smoked, dried or pickled dishes and variations of port. The old tradition is to slaughter a pig for Christmas.
My Hospitality Club friends, Thomas and Lisa recommended two restaurants where they enjoy Julbord – Sjömagasinet, situated at the mouth of Gothenburg harbour and Salt & Sill which is 40km north of Gothenburg, so this would be one to try if you have a car or are touring West Sweden. The Julbord buffets are not cheap but the atmosphere is guaranteed to put you in a festive mood and are very popular so they need to be booked ahead.
Another Swedish tradition at Christmas dinner is to drink different flavours of Snaps (flavoured vodka) and an old traditional variation from Gothenburg is O P Anderson Aquavit. If you are going for a traditional Julbord on your trip you should definitely try some “snaps”.
Life is a Prawn Sandwich
The coast of West Sweden is known for its seafood, as the North Sea waters are a haven for lobster, oysters, prawns and fish of all kinds. There’s even a saying here; “Life is a Prawn sandwich” which translates as, this is as good as it gets! Prawn sandwiches are apparently a speciality at Heaven 23, recommended by Linnea on Hospitality club – a restaurant situated in one of Gothenburg’s few sky-scrapers with beautiful views over the city and she also recommends Sjöbaren for their amazing seafood. Thomas and Lisa on Hospitality Club also recommended that we try the pickled herring or Inlagd sill which is very typical of the West Coast of Sweden and comes in many different flavours. I’m hoping to visit the Feskekörka or fish market which literally means ‘Fish church’ and take a look at all this glorious seafood, as well as possibly trying some of the seafood at either of the two fish restaurants situated there; Gabriel or Kajutan.
Fun Things to do in Gothenburg
Gothenburg is full of great places to eat, so I wasn’t short of food recommendations – a good place to get ideas is the local tourism site, Goteborg.com as recommended to me by @WestSwedenTB. There are no less than 5 Michelin star restaurants in Gothenburg and we’re hoping to enjoy a meal at Basement, as recommended by food blogger @eatlikeagirl, the only one of the five with a lady chef, Camilla Parkner. One of the other Michelin star establishments, Kock & Vin also has some more informal places to eat in their group, such as Familjen, inspired by the traditional Swedish kitchen, that was recommended by both @eatlikeagirl and Linnea from Hospitality Club. Bjorn’s bar, is in the basement of Kock & Vin, and is a wine bar where they serve cheeses, pates, hams and oysters which was recommended by @PollyEJHolidays who also suggested the main street of Kungsportavenyn as a good place to find nice restaurants. For some ethnic tastes, @LolaAkinmade who lives in Sweden also recommended the Nepalese Restaurang Himalaya.
My Hospitality friend, Anna also gave me plenty of recommendations for inexpensive restaurants and cafes in the neighbourhood of Linné where she lives – her suggestions include; Karlson’s garage – a cosy restaurant and pub serving both traditional Swedish and international food; Kalimera – for tasty Greek food; Bellini – one of five Italian restaurants on the same street with good food and they are very quick to prepare it; Istället – perhaps slighly more expensive but very tasty Swedish food; Café Mums (Linné) – the second floor is the nicest; and for breakfast she recommends Ethels where you get a “three-floor plate” of scones, sandwiches, and muffins with eggs and bacon or yoghurt with berries. Yum!
The article below is a good overview of Gothenburg’s gourmet scene;
West Sweden – a delightful Detox from Sunvil Discovery Blog
A five day trip to Gothenburg and along Sweden’s West coast, sampling Göteborg winter hot chocolate, coffee and cinamon buns and the Feskekörka or fish market, meaning ‘Fish church’.
Exploring the coast of West Sweden
Although I don’t think we’ll have time to venture outside Gothenburg in December, as we only have 3 days for our visit, I’ve read plenty to indicate that West Sweden is a great place to take a road trip along the coast, stopping at different small towns along the way. @MBYouth suggested that if we had a spare day, we should drive north of Gothenburg to Stromstad and sample some seafood. Stromstad is a great base to explore the archipeligo of the Koster islands and the Kosterhavet National Marine Park. You’ll find some blog articles below that put me in the mood for exploring more of the West Swedish Coast;
Highlights of West Sweden from Sunvil Discovery Blog
The Highlights of West Sweden include visiting the many islands close to the coast such as the Koster Islands where you can hire bikes and the Weather Islands where you can visit the seal colonies. In Gothenburg, it was more Fika or coffee and cinnamon buns and a number of interesting museums such as the Konstmuseum with historic art-works and the Volvo museum for motor lovers.
West Sweden recently hosted a group of food bloggers to try out the best seafood on offer – mussels, lobsters and oysters galore – read about it here
Visitor Information for Gothenburg or Göteborg
– The local tourism site Göteborg.com is full of information on the best things to see and do
– For information on West Sweden visit the West Sweden Tourism site or follow them on Twitter @WestSwedenTB and you will find their blog at ExploreWestSweden.com
– Another useful site for all things Gothenburg is I Love Göteborg
– During our long weekend in Gothenburg, we will be staying at the lovely 5 star hotel, Elite Plaza Hotel which is right in the centre of town. Check for the best hotel prices in Gothenburg and book here.
– We are flying to Gothenburg from London Heathrow with SAS, Scandanavian airlines, who have 2 flights a day to Gothenburg from London.
You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey