We spent two days in Gothenburg, Sweden as our first port of call on our Scandinavian honeymoon. We were there for 3 nights, which really wasn’t enough given all the things to do and see in Gothenburg – and especially since we were so tired from all that bloody wedding malarkey. But we instantly fell in love with Gothenburg, like we tend to do with wherever we go in Sweden. It’s definitely somewhere we’ll return to.
Here are some of the things we loved about Gothenburg and what to do if you have 2 days or more in this beautiful Swedish city…
Day 1: get to know Gothenburg
Embrace Gothenburg’s beauty by walking the streets
First things first: Gothenburg is absolutely beautiful.
Everywhere is green, buildings are stunning, there’s no litter (what more did you expect from Sweden?!).
It’s somewhere I could see us living in. Also, there are flowers everywhere, especially in Haga (the hipster neighbourhood). I’m a sucker for anywhere crammed with floral touches. If you are too, you’re going to enjoy this blog in general. Hopefully. Ahem. Anyway yes, Gothenburg was very floral – in retrospect probably one of the most flowery cities we’ve been to, maybe second to Kobe, Japan’s flower city.
The other lovely thing that really struck me about Gothenburg is that its atmosphere is calmer than Stockholm but still has that unique Swedish quality of orderliness and the sense that you’re in a people-first society.
Visit the Feskekörka (fish-church market)
One of the first things to do in Gothenburg has to be to visit this bad boy. We used the excellent tram system to get to the Feskekörka indoor fish market, which takes its name (fish church) from the building’s resemblance to a Gothic church. Not because it’s where fish have set up their own religion, although I for one would welcome our new fishy overlords.
Feskekörka is on the Göta älv, or Gothic river. Lots of references to Gothic-ness here, but the sort that doesn’t involve eyeliner.
The market is not very big, but worth going to see. Also, there are some statues outside that are crying out for photo opportunities… Anyone who doesn’t pet the dog statue has to have something wrong with them.
The area around Feskekörka was modern and slick – a contrast to hipster/vintage Haga (see further down this post). There was a boules bar/restaurant and plenty of other hip-looking places to eat and drink. We had a wander around, which was really nice on such a warm day. Like everywhere in Sweden, annoyingly attractive people were everywhere so it was a good area for people watching.
Take in the beautiful views from Skansen Kronan
Skansen Kronan is a fortress on a hill in the Haga district of the city. What better thing to do on a hot day than climb to the top of a hill while sweating profusely with no bottles of water on you? We always seem to end up doing this on holiday. What even is life.
To be fair, the view across Gothenburg was worth the arduous march up Skansen Kronan. There was also a very Instagrammable bike with flowers on it that seemed to be a permanent fixture because, you know, this is Sweden.
Explore Gothenburg’s ‘hipster’ Haga district
We were dead keen to explore the bohemian (alright, hipster) district of Haga, having heard loads about it.
Haga is the oldest district in Gothenburg, which is obvious from all the gorgeous old timber buildings. Like most bohemian areas (the Northern Quarter in Manchester and Bold Street in Liverpool, for example), it was once a run-down part of the city and now it has become the ‘in’ place to be. I’m surprised they let us in.
The main road is Haga Nygata, which is of course pedestrianised, cobbled and lined with independent shops and cafes, including the infamous Cafe Hursaren and their super-sized cinnamon buns. As a self-confessed cinnamon hater, I declined this offer. I know, I know, how can I be so obsessed with all things Swedish and not embrace the buns – soz. If it helps, Chris loves them and eats enough for the both of us.
We spent a whole afternoon taking in the atmosphere in Haga, browsing the shops and eating too much.
I wish we’d noted the names of shops we particularly liked so I could give you a really handy list of the best ones we found, but unfortunately we were too busy walking round gawping and wishing we were Swedish. Pack The Suitcases: not giving you any useful information since 2016.
Where to eat and drink in Gothenburg: the best cafés and restaurants we found
Over our two days in Gothenburg, other than the day in Branno, we managed to eat some of the best food we’ve ever had.
There’s the usual myth that you have to spend a fortune on food in Sweden. To be fair, you can easily do that if you wander into places without planning, but you can also do some research and spend far less. I promise. I’m not a fan of being ripped off, although I don’t mind spending more if it’s excellent quality. We did a mixture of nice, cheap lunches/fika and one posh evening meal too. When on honeymoon and all.
You can’t go wrong with open sandwiches
On day one in Gothenburg, we had lunch at Le Petit Cafe in Haga. Yes, it was open sandwiches. No, I don’t care how predictable that is when in Sweden.
They involved capers. Can’t argue with that. Also, look at this interior. Have you ever seen anything so pretty? This is what I wish our house was like. Only with fewer tables. Probably.
The best fika in Gothenburg: feeding my kladkakka obsession
Kladdkaka, Swedish sticky chocolate cake, is something we’re both obsessed with. I normally hate chocolate cake but it’s not like the usual sponge rubbish. It’s the stickiest, moist(sorry!)est and chocolatiest thing in the world. It’s served with cream and has to be eaten to be believed.
We had two servings of this over our time in Gothenburg (not in one day, I swear) at:
Both were really worth writing home about. Or at least sending your mum a photo on WhatsApp of you pouring the cake into your face (soz mum).
Kladdkaka is my favourite thing to have in the Swedish tradition of fika (a coffee and cake break). Fika is pretty much mandatory when we’re in Sweden and accounts for at least one of the dress sizes I go up on every visit.
A tasting menu of New Nordic fine dining at SK Mat & Människor
Time to get swanky #whenonhoneymoon (how many times can you roll out the honeymoon excuse for spending money? Answers on a postcard).
For our ‘posh’ meal of our lovely city break in Gothenburg, we headed to the Lorensburg district one evening. And I have to say, SK Mat & Människor was probably the best evening meal we had in our whole honeymoon (best daytime meal has to go to the bacon waffle brunch in Stockholm). This is really saying something because we ate a lot of excellent food all week.
SK Mat & Människor served up a fancy 5-course tasting menu, presented in typical Swedish laid-back style. You could watch the chefs preparing the food – always a good sign. One of the best things we had involved cod roe with white asparagus. Amazing.
At about 595 SEK each (£50ish), it wasn’t the cheapest meal out. But for 5 courses, you can pay a lot more for a lot less and a lot worse quality. I thought it was really good value for money compared with other tasting menus we’ve had in Scandinavia. We really have eaten enough tasting menus in Scandinavia to be able to compare them. Yes, I hate me too.
This meal was something we’ll always remember.
Day 2: go on a day trip to Branno, a magical island in Gothenburg archipelago
Gothenburg lies on Sweden’s West Coast archipelago, which is a hugely underrated collection of 13 typically Swedish little islands. If you’ve got time while in Gothenburg and want a day trip somewhere to get out of the city, absolutely go and explore the islands.
Serious moment here. We had an amazing day out on one of the islands, Branno, which we’ve written about in a separate blog because it was that good. Ever since, we’ve repeatedly and consistently looked back at that day as one of our best days in all our years of travel. Have a look at our post to see why, although it’s hard to get across in words. Just go. You will not regret it.
/serious moment over.
Two days in Gothenburg: useful information
How to get there
When we went, there were no direct flights from Manchester airport. This is an OUTRAGE. So we flew to Copenhagen and went from there. You could definitely combine it into some kind of fantastic multi-destinational Scandinavian holiday, to include Malmo and Stockholm too, if you wanted to fly to another airport and change.
Where to stay
As it was our honeymoon, we splashed out and stayed in the exquisite IQ Suites apartments. They had an amazing hot tub and it was all very luxurious. Not the kind of place we normally go for. Very helpfully, they’ve since closed down. Soz. But if we go back, we’ll 100% be renting an apartment in Haga. I’d definitely want to be based near there so we could pretend we lived there.
How to get around
There are fantastic trams for getting about quickly, but a lot of Gothenburg is walkable.
When to go
May was a good time to go to Gothenburg. It was sunny, warm weather and had blossom on the trees. What more do you want? But TBH, we’d love to go back and wouldn’t care what time of year it was. There were plenty of things to do in Gothenburg that were indoors but we didn’t have time to see, so it’d be fine to go back in worse weather. I do have to say though, Branno might be a bit grim on a rough day so if you dream of an archipelago adventure, maybe opt for spring or summer.
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