Top 5 Gothenburg Experiences
Just a 1hr 40minute flight from London (who knew?!), Sweden’s second largest city has started to become a go-to destination for those looking for a weekend getaway with a difference.
The self-proclaimed ‘laid back’ younger sibling to Stockholm, Gothenburg isn’t short on craft beers, well-groomed beards and local boutiques, however there is much more to the city than meets the eye.
We spent 2 days exploring the Swedish city discovering some of the best it has to offer - below are our top 5 experiences:
1. Experience an Urban Sauna and Swim
If you ask us, the Swede’s have got it right when it comes to a lot of things and this is confirmed by the country’s love of a good sauna. What’s more, you don’t have to be a member of a fancy health club to get your daily fix of high quality sauna goodness.
And Gothenburg is certainly no exception when it comes to amazing public saunas, with the city boasting one of the most amazingly designed sauna structures you’re ever likely to see. The epic piece of design protruding out of the water above is not a spaceship or bizarre art installation, but in fact a public sauna created by German architects from RaumlaborBerlin. The words ‘public sauna’ may sound a little off-putting as you conjure the image of dozens of sweaty bodies packed into a tiny, sweltering room, gasping for air (just us?!) however it couldn’t be more different. The sauna is beautifully clean and well kept (as everything seems to be in Sweden) and rarely seems to get too busy. What’s more, once you’ve worked up a sweat, you can immediately go and cool off with a dip in the salt water pool which looks out into the river and harbour.
There’s something pretty cool about going for a slow swim out in the open whilst the city continues it’s business around you. What’s more, it very much feels like a local spot - both times we visited we didn’t see another tourist there.
Located along Gothenburg’s Frihamnen Harbour, the best way to visit from central station is by tram. From here you can choose between the 5,6 or 13 and should get off at Frihamnsporten which is a stone’s throw from the facilities.
2. Fika at De Matteo
Fika is to Sweden what a good cuppa is to us Brits and so there’s no doubt it deserves a place on the list. For those of you who are new to the term (we have only recently been enlightened ourselves), Fika most simply means to go for a coffee, however in actual fact it is much more than this. Firstly there are rules:
1) You must have a coffee (another hot drink may suffice but you’re not really Swedish if you don’t like coffee!)
2) This must be accompanied by a snack of some sort - most commonly this would be kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) or something sweet, but savoury is also allowed.
3) You cannot Fika alone. Fika is a social event and requires a minimum of 2 people. Much more than a coffee, Fika is somewhat of a social institution in Sweden and is an important part of daily life.
You won’t be short of Fika options in Gothenburg but our favourite had to be De Matteos at Magasinsgatan. Owner Christopher seriously knows his stuff when it comes to coffee and has spent years finessing the best roasting techniques for different beans and blends which is all done on site. This mixed with freshly baked bread and pastries means that simply inhaling the air in De Matteo is enjoyable. Definitely worth a visit - or 3 if you’re us!
3. Cook Your Own Swedish Feast Surrounded by Nature.
While exploring new cities is always fun, nothing helps us switch off from hectic London life more than getting out in nature and having to ‘fend’ for ourselves for a while.
If you are after a totally different type of Swedish experience than here is a mini Gothenburg adventure for you.
Combining the nation’s love of nature, fresh food and social dining, Visit Sweden has built 13 ‘Nature Tables’ in beautiful locations around the country. They’ve partnered with 4 of the country’s finest Michellin Star Chefs to develop a 9-dish menu based on ingredients you can find in the Swedish wild. Known as The Edible Table, you simply book one of the tables online, and upon arrival you will be given a basket of fresh ingredients and cooking utensils to take with you to the secluded cooking spot. You’ll also be given the recipe along with tips on how to forage for herbs and ingredients that compliment with your dish.
One of these tables is easily accessible from Gothenburg and is just a short walk from Gunnebo House - a beautiful old summer villa built by a rich merchant in the 1700s. We highly recommend making a day of it, exploring the historical gardens, farm and shop before setting off to enjoy a ‘do-it-yourself, gourmet restaurant’ out in the Swedish countryside. Free from phones, laptops and technology, we honestly couldn’t recommend it enough if you want to unwind for a few hours and experience a totally different side to Gothenburg.
Take the 753 from from Heden (Gothenburg) to Helenedal. This should take around 12 minutes, after which there is about a 20 minute walk up a small hill to Gunnebo House.
A taxi from Gothenburg is also an option and should take around 17 mins.
Book a Nature Table.
4. Take a Slow Walk in An Old Neighborhood
Our favourite way to explore any new city is to simply walk and ‘get lost’ and so this is exactly what we did in Gothenburg. Full of quirky neighbourhoods and interesting little alleyways, it’s the perfect sized city to explore on foot.
Haga had to be one of our favourite neighborhoods and is also one of the oldest. The main pedestrian street is lined with traditional Gothenburg-style houses called Landshövdingehus which are now home to numerous boutique shops and cafes selling everything from beautiful Scandianavian home-wear and clothes, local chocolate, antiques and cinnamon buns the size of plates (and we mean full-sized dinner plates!). If anymore manages to eat more than one in a sitting then please let us know and you will forever maintain legendary status in our house.
From Haga you can also get to Skansen Kronan, an old fortress built in the early 18th Century. The climb is short but steep with a fair few steps to climb, however there is a flatter but longer route from the other side if this is more appealing. The view from here is well worth it though and it allows you to see for miles across the city and we are told that it is the perfect sunset spot on a sunny evening.
5. Dinner and Wine Tasting at Wine Mechanics
Self-proclaimed beer fanatics Swedes aren’t traditionally known for their love of wine. However times are changing…
Based in the up-and-coming Slaughterhouse district, Wine Mechanics is Sweden’s first urban winery and was started by ex-professional football player, wine expert and all-round-great-guy Kenneth Gustavsson. The country may be fairly new to wine making, but their wines definitely pack a punch and what they may lack in heritage they make up for by being at the forefront of the industry, using technology to continuously push the wine-making boundaries.
Not only do they create great wines, but everything about the place has been executed with the utmost care and attention… from the delicious French/ Swedish fusion food to the amazingly friendly and helpful staff, the whole experience was excellent and we left full, happy and it’s fair to say a little tipsy!
Our conclusion in a nutshell… how did we not know such an amazing city is under two hours from the UK? With such a short journey time and an awesome array of activities once you arrive, Gothenburg was a genuinely unique 2 day adventure.
Choosing only 5 experiences wasn’t easy and we could happily go on, but whether it’s gourmet food, craft alcohol, city site-seeing or nature you want, Gothenburg’s got it all and is just a stone's throw away. Plotting our return.