Take the train to four garden experiences
Enjoy blooming borders, great food and picturesque accommodation From elegant 19th century parks to innovative green rooms created by top garden designers, peppered with cosy cafes and restaurants celebrating local ingredients, and lovely accommodation in towns or the countryside. Train hop the short stretch between Gothenburg and Alingsås and visit four gorgeous gardens and parks along the Gotaleden.
In and next to the port city of Gothenburg you’ll find many classic gardens and castle parks, contemporary green rooms and lush welcoming oases. We’ve picked out four gardens for you to visit along the short 50 kilometre stretch between Gothenburg and Alingsås.
Photographer: Per Pixel Petersson
You can get to all of them easily, on commuter trains with a short walk from the station. And you’ll experience much more than a garden visit on your journey. We guarantee you’ll also find many lovely places for fika, lunch and dinner, where the focus is usually on local and organic food. You can of course choose to stay the night along the way, and start and finish your journey on public transport wherever you want. Now let’s get going!
The Garden Society of Gothenburg
The classic Garden Society park is a well-loved oasis in the centre of Gothenburg, and one of the best preserved 19th century parks in Europe, which with its heritage plants, beautiful borders and historic buildings takes you back to the golden age of gardening. Each summer thousands of roses, consisting of 1200 different species and cultivars, flower in the Rosarium, and in the tropical heat of the elegant glass Palm House you’ll find lots of exotic plants, including, of course, palms.
Wander along the gravel paths with their gently curved lines and enjoy the magnificent colours and the lush greenery. When you’re ready for a rest the shady park benches or lovely sunny lawns beckon. And if you’re hungry or thirsty the Rosenkafeet in one of the Garden Society’s oldest buildings, from 1874, or the cosy Grindstugan, are perfect for a coffee and something to eat.
Because the Garden Society is right in the centre of Gothenburg it’s easy to get there on public transport or if you prefer, on foot or by bike. If you want to start or finish with a night in Gothenburg you’ll find masses of lovely places to stay.
The train from Gothenburg Central Station to the old mill town of Jonsered takes about ten minutes. Here you’ll find the beautiful, award winning Jonsered Gardens in the grounds of the historic mansion of the same name. The park gardens proudly pay homage to their 19th century heritage, with everything from authentic summer flowers and perennials to privet hedges and arbours of beautifully scented roses. Decorative urns and rockeries are naturally at home here, as are the organic beds of kitchen vegetables and herbs.
You’ll also find inspiring themed gardens including a Formal Garden, Kitchen Garden, English Rose Garden and Show Garden. Keep an eye out for one of the many events held here all year round – and don’t forget to visit the garden shop which sells organic plants and lovely second hand items.
Lunch or fika is available at the garden café. If you fancy something sweet there’s a great selection of buns and cakes, and if you are a bit more hungry you’ll find an assortment of sandwiches, salads and light lunch dishes. Most of the food is cooked from scratch, using locally produced and organic seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Another tip is to visit the local Poppels Brewery just a short walk from the train station, where you can eat in the brewery restaurant and of course try out exciting and delicious drinks.
Växtrum in Lerum
Ten kilometres east of Jonsered lies Lerum, where since 2015 the council has worked with Swedish professional gardeners and interested locals to create ten green spaces, called collectively Växtrum (which literally means plant rooms in Swedish). The idea is to showcase inspiring gardens and at the same time provide a platform for discussions and views about social, economic and organic sustainability. A beautiful destination which is also an important source of pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, bumble bees and other pollinators.
All the gardens can be found along a lovely trail around the centre of Lerum. The trail is 3.6 kilometres long and winds through the lush and varied scenery of the Säveån river valley with its fast flowing waters. You can explore it on your own or with a guide.
A good place to start from is the Aludden Prôvidore restaurant where you can also pick up maps and an information sheet. It’s also a great place to eat when you get back, and you might want to try the restaurant’s exciting selection of Swedish wines. If you feel like staying overnight you can do so at Aspenäs Herrgård, set in lovely natural surroundings, where you can enjoy dinner in the manor restaurant with a magnificent view of Lake Aspen.
You can also get off the train in Floda, just east of Lerum. In Floda you’ll find Jernbruket, where food is made over an open fire, and Nääs Castle, with accommodation, restaurant and a café.
An experience in a category of its own is Nääs Fabriker, which in the 19th century was a cotton mill and is now a hotel and restaurant in a lovely setting by Lake Sävelången. There are some spectacular rooms here with a ceiling height of over five metres, and others with roof terraces with a lake view.
Nolhaga Park in Alingsås
Time to take the train from Lerum for the 15 minute ride to Alingsås. Nolhaga Park is by Lake Mjörn, within walking distance of the centre. There’s a historic landscape park here laid by the potato king Jonas Alströmer in the 18th century, with Sweden’s northernmost beech forest, allotments and a nature reserve. At the top of Nolhaga Berg hill there’s also a second world war anti-aircraft tower which you can now walk to and enjoy the view of the town and lake.
Don’t miss a visit to Nolhaga Castle, a stately Italian Neo-renaissance style mansion in the middle of the park. The castle, designed by architect Adrian Peterson, was built in 1879-1880. You can go to art exhibitions there and treat yourself to an ice cream in the popular ice cream cafe.
If you’re ready for a fika our top tip is to head to the town centre – you are after all in what’s known as Cafe Town Alingsås. To pick a few of the many fine examples, let’s start with Ekstedts Bakery and Café, dating back to 1886, with its own coffee roastery. Hollanders Ice Cream is a small scale producer handcrafting their own gourmet Italian influenced ice cream, made with carefully chosen ingredients. Nygrens Cafe is a lovely cosy café in an 18th century warehouse with its own sunny courtyard. Right next to Alingsås, on an old farm in beautiful countryside, lies Nolbygård Ekobageri, an organic bakery whre everything is hand made from scratch.
Finish or start your journey with a night in the historic Grand Hotel in Alingsås, built in 1911. In the restaurant a mix of international cuisine and Swedish classics made from seasonal ingredients is served. Maybe a beer from the local brewery in Alingsås would be the perfect accompaniment. Not far away is Öijared Resort, on a scenic peninsula in between lakes Mjörn and Sävelången. The hotel was designed by the famous Gothenburg architect Gert Wingårdh and has won awards for its fantastic design.
A hike for all the senses
An alternative to train hopping is to walk to these four gardens along the Gotaleden. It’s one of West Sweden’s most popular trails with 9 stages and a total of 71 kilometres of lovely hiking. Along the way you can drink in the beautiful natural surroundings and inspiring garden experiences, discover West Swedish flavours from local artisan food and drink manufacturers, and sleep well at hotels with a personal touch. A journey appealing to all your senses!