Thursday 29 September 2016

PHOTO DIARY: Gothenburg, Sweden, June 2016

A few months ago Steve and I visited Gothenburg for a long weekend. I'd been wanting to visit Sweden's second city for absolutely years so we booked flights early in order to snag a great deal. Gothenburg has a reputation for being an alternative, cool city so I was determined to live like a local and immerse myself into plenty of fika. We booked an absolutely amazing apartment in Majorna in the west of the city so as to be close to plenty of record shops and bars

Whilst Gothenburg is quite small and very accessible on foot, it also has a great network of trams which we utilised fully thanks to our 3-day Gothenburg City Cards. The cards give you free access to public transport across the city (including the ferries around the archipelago) as well as offering free entry into the majority of museums in Gothenburg. You can even get free entry for amusement park Lisberg which is great if you want to walk around the park but aren't that interested in many of rides.

As Steve and I are big fans of sightseeing the card saved us quite a lot of money, especially as we bought them online before our trip, saving us an additional 10%. Once the cards were paid for we only really needed to spend money on food, drinking and shopping which really helped with budgeting. Definitely consider getting yourself a card if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing. 

Day 1:

We left London after work on a Thursday so arrived in Gothenburg pretty late. We caught the airport bus into the town centre and hopped on a tram where we met our lovely Airbnb host, SaraBeata. She showed us around her stunning apartment which was decked out in vintage finds. The place was wonderful and without a doubt the coolest apartment I've stayed in. It didn't have wifi but it didn't matter because we had records to spin and trinkets to admire. 

We popped out for a quick drink at local bar Oceanen but it was already closing. We made a mental note to visit another time and instead headed to a nearby kebab shop for some falafel wraps. Gothenburg has a huge vegetarian and vegan community so we decided to join in. We headed back to the apartment to catch some sleep before out first big day of sightseeing.

Day 2:

We popped into Café. Kultur which was next to our apartment for breakfast. Want to keep things simple we decided to share a sandwich. As simple as it looks it was very nice plus the cafe felt like a real local hangout. We then hoped on the tram for the 5 minute journey into the town centre to begin some sightseeing.

We picked up our city cards from the central Tourist Office and made our way over to the Gothenburg City Museum. There was an exhibition on about local music which was really interesting, especially as some of our favourite musicians like Jens Lekman, José González, and The Knife got a mention. The original Viking boat exhibition was fascinating as well.

After the museum we strolled around the corner to visit Kronhuuset, Gothenburg's oldest secular building. Across the courtyard, Kronhusbodarna houses workshops including the an incredible chocolate shop. Grab a slice of the milk chocolate an cashew nuts, you won't regret it.

Because we'd only had a small breakfast it was soon time for lunch. The one place I really wanted to visit was Gourmet Korv for hotdogs. My sausage was infused with cheese and tasted absolutely wonderful. Served with mash, sauerkraut, and a huge range of condiments this is a must visit lunch time destination.

After lunch we went for a stroll around the Garden Society of Gothenburg and visited the palm house. The collection of 2m wide lilypads is quite incredible. I'm a big fan of green houses, I find them incredibly serene and tranquil.

We visited The Röhsska Museum which is Sweden's only design museum. I was really looking forward to the museum but I found the entire place quite underwhelming. The isn't much of a focus on Swedish design, something I wanted to see, instead there was a nice collection of international 20th Century designs. 

I always love visiting libraries when I'm abroad. They're normally quite fascinating buildings and the one in Gothenburg is no exception. It's full of beautiful Nordic furniture and the atmosphere is minimalist yet inviting, the perfect place to spend a few hours reading. We found a big screen and watched (on mute) a little bit of Swedish football from Euro 2016.

Next door to the library is the Gothenburg Museum of Art. They have a great collection of French impressionists as well as some Nordic masters such as Edvard Munch. The building is lovely, very spacious and contemporary, it was just what you'd expect a Nordic art gallery to look like.

In front of the gallery you'll find a controversial Poseidon statue. Apparently, when the statue was unveiled the locals complained about the large penis size so much that it had to be reduced. How prudish of those Swedes!

Our final museum stop of the day was Universeum and boy was it worth the wait. I wasn't actually planning on visit this museum as my guidebook implied it was mainly for kids. Had it not been for my friends who had visited a few years previously I wouldn't have discovered how incredible this place is! I would definitely describe this place as a natural history museum. You catch a funicular to the 7th floor which takes you back in time to the origins of Sweden. You make your way through an incredible aquarium section before emerging into an actual rainforest that spans the 7 floors of the museum, it is incredible. Birds fly around, you can climb up tress, and really feel like your in the Amazon. If I ever make it back to Gothenburg I will 100% visit this museum again.

We spent the early evening hours in my favourite (Steve's least favourite) place of the weekend, Liseberg Amusement Park. I love rollercoasters but Steve isn't much of a fan so I embarked upon 4 death defying rides on my lonesome. I didn't mind, there were no queues and these rides only tend to last a minute long but I had a great time nevertheless. The rollercoasters here were like none I've ever been on before. They were genuinely terrifying and felt much longer in comparison to those I've been on in America. The park was free to enter with out city passes but you need to pay for the rides separately. You can buy a wristband that lets you on everything for no additional fee or you can pay for the individual rides. I knew I didn't want to go on that many so I paid for everything separately. Steve and I both went on the water rapids which were great and the Ferris wheel which gave us great views over the city.

After the adrenaline rush from Lisberg we headed over to Haga, a cool area in the west of the city, for dinner. Strolling along the main road Haga Nygata at night was lovely. Whilst the area is much busier during the day, thanks to all the cafes, there a relaxed and friendly vibe in the evening. There's lots of bars and vegetarian restaurant along here so there's definitely something to suit everyone's taste.

I'd wanted to visit Tacos and Tequila for dinner but the queue was huge so we settled on the traditional fish restaurant Sjobaren instead. I had a lovely starter of pickled herring, a Nordic special, followed by mussels. If you like seafood this place is a must visit.

Day 3:

We were up bright and early on the Saturday morning to have a traditional Swedish brunch at Café Kringlan in Haga. Brunch works like a buffet where you can help yourself to loads of eggs, seeds, nuts, fruit, bread, and pancakes. You're also given cheese, yogurt, juice and a choice of hot drink. Unfortunately the amazing looking pastries aren't included in the deal so you need to pay extra for those. There were lots of locals enjoying the brunch and because it was a nice day lots of people were enjoying their food outside. Looking around at the other groups it felt like the Swedes approach their weekend brunch very sociably. Large groups gathered to catch up, whittling the hours away over a spot of fika.

After brunch we spent a decent amount of time shopping. Our original plan was to visit the islands but it started to rain so we changed things up. Gothenburg as a pretty impressive music scene which means there's a ton of record shops to explore. I really liked Dirty Records for it's half cafe, half record shop vibes. We managed to snag a rare Joy Division 12" for £15 which wasn't too bad. Around the corner you'll find Pustervik and Andra Långgatans Skivhandel which are much smaller but still full of gems. We picked up a couple of 7" for less than £1 which was nice. The second hand record trade is booming in Gothenburg so if you're a fan of vinyl then I definitely recommend putting as side a few hours (and kroner) for some shopping.

After a few hours of shopping we headed over to the Fish Church aka Feskekörka. I was hoping to grab a spot of food but we were still full from brunch so we strolled through checking out all the local delights on sale. People come to this market to buy fish to cook at home as well as enjoying the seafood themed cafes inside. The market is quite small so even if you're not a huge fish fun it's still interesting to spend 5 minutes inside checking out the local specialities.

We hopped on the tram and made our way further visit to visit contemporary art gallery Röda Sten. The gallery is covered in colourful graffiti and hosts regular exhibitions inside. I found the building more interesting than the art inside but it's definitely worth visiting for a photo or two. The gallery has a lovely cafe inside which apparently does an amazing vegetarian brunch on a Sunday.

After the gallery we headed to Majorna where our apartment was based to check out some more record shops. Bengans is a small chain with a bigger branch in the city centre. It reminded me of Fopp in London and given its status everything was pretty expensive. Mynt & Musik was a nice second hand music shop nearby with Armadillo Records further down the road selling a small curated selection of music.

We headed over to The Dubliner to watch one of the Irish Euro games and enjoy a plate of chips. As Irish pubs go it wasn't that awful, however the beer prices would make you cry.

Annoyingly the shops close quite early on Saturdays in Gothenburg so by the time we headed into the city centre everything was closed. Nevertheless we enjoyed a stroll through town and even ventured down to the docks. We walked through Nordstan, Scandanavia's biggest shopping mall and even visited the central station because who doesn't love a bit of training spotting.

We went back to Haga and enjoyed a drink at Bar Kino which is a lovely spot next to the cinema. The bar serves amazing looking vegetarian food which I would have liked to try but alas we were eating meatballs that evening. Apparently Kino is a hangout spot of local musicians but unfortunately we didn't spot Jens.

For our last dinner in Gothenburg it had to be Swedish meatballs. I'd read that Smaka does a great portion so I made a reservation and eagerly awaited our meal. We had a pickled herring sharing tower to begin with which was pretty spectacular and utterly delicious. Neither of us realised how big this would be so we ended up struggling to finish our meatballs which was a shame because they were absolutely delicious. Served with mash and ladles of gravy this was my favourite meal of the weekend.

After dinner we enjoyed a few local brews at craft beer joint Brewers Beer Bar. Apparently they serve great pizzas but we were of course full to the brim on meatballs. We made it back to Oceanen which was situated around the corner from out apartment. The bar had the most gorgeous interior, full of mid century furniture, I wanted to steal a chair to bring back to London. Before we knew it, it was time to call it a night and head back to the apartment for a last sleep in our comfortable round bed.

Day 4:

Out last day was spent island hopping around Gothenburg's archipelago. Unfortunately the weather hadn't improved from the previous day so we had to out up with grey skies. The tram to the harbour and ferry fee were covered in our city cards so we didn't have to spend any extra on this little day trip. We caught the 11am ferry to Asperö which is a tiny island. We walked around and checked out the little museum in the harbour which might as well have been a glorified garden shed. We stopped at the local shop to buy some freshly baked cinnamon buns and enjoyed looking at the cute, colourful houses. Car aren't allowed on Asperö so the local get around on crazy looking motorised wheelbarrows for want of a better word.

At 12:30 we caught the ferry from Asperö to Brännö which is a much bigger island. We only had an hour to spend on the island before our ferry back to the mainland so we stopped at Brännö Värdshus for a prawn sandwich. It was soon time to head back to the harbour to catch the ferry back to Gothenburg and hop on the tram back to our apartment.

Our final stop before heading to the airport was to visit Masthuggskyrkan. The church was situated at the top of a hill right next to out apartment. The views stretched to the west of the city making the climb worthwhile, even on a grey day.

Steve and I had a lovely weekend in Gothenburg but I must admit there was something about the city that didn't quite take me. I had been looking forward to this trip for so long. I love Scandinavia and having already visited a couple of places in Sweden, including Stockholm, I knew I loved the country. I don't know if it was due to the weather being a bit miserable or the fact we'd had an unexpectedly brilliant time in Porto the weekend previously but I just didn't love Gothenburg as much as I had hoped. I certainly didn't hate the city and there were a lot of things I really enjoyed about our weekend but I it may have been a case of hyping the city up to much before our visit. Nevertheless I would like to visit again as I'm quite keen to check out Way Out West one day.

We visited the week after midsummer which meant the days were super long and the weather mild. Whilst I'm not particularly fond of baking hot temperatures, especially on a city break, I know that blue skies would have helped make me love this city a little more.

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  1. I'm definitely bookmarking your recommendations for a future visit! It's funny how sometimes a place just doesn't gel...


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