Midnight sun, chilled out vibes, cool summer hangouts, and one of Sweden's most exciting dining scenes: when it comes to summer city breaks with an edge, Gothenburg is the place to be. Coralie Modschiedler heads up north with bmi regional to uncover the highlights of Sweden's emerging cultural and culinary hotspot: Gothenburg.
Foodie hotspots & café culture
Voted Food Capital of Sweden in 2012, Gothenburg is fast becoming one of Scandinavia’s top foodie destinations, and it’s not hard to see why. The pretty Swedish city by the sea is brimming with excellent fine dining restaurants, exciting pop-ups, delicious street food and gorgeous cake shops. Imaginative chefs with a passion for local produce have helped the city rack up no less than five Michelin stars. Best of the lot is one-Michelin-star Kock & Vin, Victoriagatan 12 (tel: (031) 701 7979). With no written menu and only seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, the food here is fresh, inventive and delicious.
For the opposite experience – cheap and cheerful fare but just as delicious – don’t miss the Strömmingsluckan food truck on Magasinsgatan. The speciality is the fried herring served with creamy mashed potatoes and lingonberries. Perfect if you’re on a budget! Another must-see for foodies and visitors alike is the Feskekörka fish market hall. Gothenburg’s proximity to the sea means top-quality, fresh fish and seafood abound and this is the place to see and buy it – or taste it upstairs at Restaurang Gabriel just above the market (tel: (031) 139 051).
Food in Gothenburg is not limited to fish and seafood though. The café culture is big in Sweden – they’ve even coined a term for it: Fika, which means having coffee and cake with friends, an important part of Swedish lifestyle. And there are some excellent cafés to embrace the Fika culture in Gothenburg, including Café Husaren, Haga Nygata 28 (tel: (031) 136 378), where you must try the enormous cinnamon buns (they’re the size of a plate, I kid you not), and Da Matteo, Magasinsgatan 17A (tel: (031) 130 515), which has all sorts of tempting cakes and sweet treats.
Summer hangouts & festivals
A cross between Berlin and a Spanish holiday resort, Gothenburg is effortlessly cool. The chilled out, summery vibe is the first thing you notice when you arrive in the city. Make the most of the summery atmosphere and lovely weather by checking out the city’s coolest alfresco hangouts. The Gothenburg Opera by the harbour opens its terrace in summer (usually until mid-August) – a perfect spot for seaside drinks with occasional free entertainment.
Another great spot for sundowners in summer is the open-air Bar Himmel, Götaplatsen 1, by the Gothenburg Museum of Art. For something a bit fancier, Champagne bar Forssén Öberg, Kyrkogatan 13 (tel: (031) 309 9969), is a real locals’ favourite and during the day also runs a juice bar and arts and crafts shop.
If you’re into music, time your visit with the Way Out West outdoor music festival (8-10 August), or for culture don’t miss the Gothenburg Culture Festival (13-18 August) and its free street party featuring local bands and food from around the world.
Day trip to the Southern Archipelago
When you need a break from all the chilling out and partying, locals will tell you Gothenburg’s best hidden secret is its archipelago. Literally just a tram ride and short ferry journey away, the Southern Archipelago in particular is beautifully peaceful. It’s completely car-free and eerily quiet, but that’s the beauty of it.
Hire a bike on Styrsö (Café Öbergska rents out bicycles for the day; 10.30am-6pm daily in summer only) and explore the island at your own rhythm. You can bring food with you from the mainland and picnic somewhere by the water, or alternatively, eat at the lovely Café Båtebacken on the west side of the island. They serve a mean prawn pie as well as delicious prawn sandwiches and other typically Swedish lunch staples. Most shops are closed in Sweden on a Sunday so a day trip to the islands is the perfect way to do as the locals do and take in the beautiful scenery. Did I mention the islands also have beautiful beaches? What more could you need.
NEED TO KNOW
Getting there: bmi regional operates six daily flights (except on Saturdays) from Birmingham to Gothenburg with return fares starting from £108 per person, including taxes, complimentary food and drinks onboard and 20kg hold luggage.
Where to stay: A great base for exploring the city is the Avalon Hotel, Kungstorget 9 (tel: (031) 751 0200), a contemporary design hotel right in the centre of town featuring cool art throughout (including a Picasso), a buzzing bar with outdoor terrace and a very cool rooftop pool with great views of the city. If you have a keen eye for art and design and fancy a treat, book a room at the eccentric Dorsia Hotel & Restaurant, Trädgårdsgatan 6 (tel: (031) 790 1000), a new luxury boutique hotel you won’t forget.
Getting around: The Gothenburg Pass (Göteborgspasset), available from the tourist office and hotels, gives access to all public transport in the city, including trams, ferries and buses – a great buy, especially if you’re planning to visit the archipelago. If you prefer discovering the city on foot, Gothenburg is very walkable, or you can always hire a bike.