Choosing a holiday destination can be a troublesome task, especially if you’re travelling in a group. If one person is looking to spend a week relaxing by the sea, another is seeking to soak up some culture and another wants to let loose and party hard, finding a suitable compromise can be more than a little tricky. If only there were somewhere that could provide abundant opportunities for all tastes while remaining relatively affordable and not too far from home. As I discovered this month, such a place does exist, and its name is Gothenburg, also known as Sweden’s second city.
With its gorgeous Scandinavian architecture, large stretches of greenery and located on the Gothia River, Gothenburg is an absolute delight, somehow managing to be both a large, metropolitan space while retaining an air of quaintness, lending it a quiet charm that can be seen all over the sprawling city. For every supermarket is a little bookshop tucked away down a quiet side-street, and for every large fashion outlet is an independent shop selling items you won’t find on the rails at H&M.
While Sweden may not be your first choice for an escape from the UK’s notoriously grey weather, Gothenburg’s climate is surprisingly pleasant, with temperatures routinely climbing into the late twenties during the summer months. During my visit, the weather was warm but not stifling, the cool breeze from the nearby sea providing a welcome respite from the August heat. If sun-worshipping is your thing however, there are plenty of places to soak up the rays, from the multitude of parks scattered across the city to the spots across the river where you can kick back and enjoy the Scandinavian sun.
If culture is more your bag, Gothenburg offers a wide range of places to explore. From the Gothenburg Museum of Art to the aircraft museum, theatre and old concert hall, the city plays host to many venues that will delight any dedicated culture vulture. If you’re more of a thrill-seeker than a museum goer, there’s the Liseberg amusement park, located smack-bang in the centre of the city. The largest theme park in Scandinavia and chosen by Forbes magazine as one of the best in the world, Liseberg is a must-see for anyone looking to add some high octane action to their Swedish vacation.
But what of the people of Gothenburg? To put it bluntly, they are the nicest people you will ever meet. Helpful almost to a fault, so polite that at times you wonder whether they’re being sarcastic and so beautiful that you’ll think they were hand-crafted by God Himself, the people of Gothenburg are surely among the best in the world. If you like to be treated like an A-list celeb by people ten times more gorgeous than you, then Gothenburg should be top of your list of places to visit.
Fine dining is commonplace in Gothenburg, with five of the city’s restaurants having received Michelin stars. The city offers a wide range of food, from Italian cuisine at the charming Bellora restaurant, to a number of Asian outlets dotted around the city. If you’re not feeling adventurous however, then fear not, as the city also features several British pubs and eateries where you can tuck into traditional British food. Once you’ve eaten, you may choose to head out to one of the city’s many cocktail bars or head to a club to enjoy Gothenburg’s vibrant music scene. Though prices can be expensive, you won’t feel short-changed.
Walking around Gothenburg’s winding streets, strolling past cafés and independent shops, it’s impossible not to feel content. Visit the Moomin shop and relive your childhood through Moomin-themed tea towels and wet wipes. Walk around the old churches and gaze at the spires, like something from a Hans Christian Andersen story. Take a boat ride on the river and admire the unique Scandinavian architecture. Getting around the city is easy thanks to the network of trams, buses and ferries, meaning there’s no excuse not to soak up every inch of this wonderful, utterly enthralling, immaculately clean and hugely welcoming city. Whether you’re in it for the culture, the scenery or just some time away from the gloom of the UK, with cheap flights available from RyanAir, Gothenburg really is the perfect holiday destination for everyone.
More about Gothenburg at www.gothenburg.com