Lifestyle à la West Sweden
The West Swedish are an active lot, who love to be outdoors – whatever the weather. But in spring and summer it becomes even more important to catch the sun’s rays and spend time together, preferably in combination with an outdoor activity, and good food.
Make like a west coast Swede and fill your free time with a tour combining the beautiful west coast with its salty breezes, deep forests, lovely inland plains, and the pulsing beat of the city in Gothenburg.
Stroll along the cobbled streets, shop, or visit a museum, all on the same day. Take the opportunity to go on a sea fishing expedition, have a go at canoeing on a shimmering lake, or enjoy a day out exploring the archipelago. Distances are short and you can easily get from the streets full of cafes and city sights, to the shoreline or the leafy forest groves, on public transport.
NEW! Now you can even explore West Sweden with a local. Hang out with a native and get secret tips on their favourite places and activities. Read more here.
Locals’ top 10 must dos in Gothenburg and West Sweden
Top 5 in Gothenburg:
1. Bike, bike, bike.
Gothenburgers love to cycle, and it’s easy to hire a bike for the day. A popular route is along the quayside in the harbour. The end point is Röda Sten Konsthall which is both a cultural hotspot and a great restaurant running meat free Sundays, right under the Älvsborg Bridge. Another bike ride that lots of people enjoy is cycling round the city checking out cool street art on the building facades.
Photographer: Jennie Smith/Göteborg
2. Green oases in the middle of the city
In Gothenburg the big city buzz is teamed with calm green oases. Just a stones’ throw from Central Station is Trädgårdsföreningen – one of the best preserved 19th century parks in Europe, with a rose garden containing over 25 000 varieties, and a cafe and restaurant. Gothenburgers themselves will happily pack a picnic basket and spend the day relaxing on the lawns while the kids run around the lovely play areas. You can also visit Botaniska Trädgården (the Botanical Gardens), with its fantastic specialist collection of plants, and Slottsskogen which is perfect for a run, a glass of wine in the sun, a stroll around the park zoo or a stop at the biggest playpark in the city, Plikta. And it’s all free too.
Photographer: Frida Winter/Göteborg & Co
During the weekend the centre of Gothenburg is full of people strolling around the shops, especially the design boutiques. The area around Magasinsgatan is like a lavish smörgåsbord for design and home décor aficionados. Start by having a look in Artilleriet on Magasinsgatan 19. Just a few metres away is its sister shop Artilleriet Kitchen, with everything you need for the kitchen and dining room. Norrgavel on Magasinsgatan 22 is a well stocked furniture shop with a great choice of exclusive interior design and decor. Vallgatan crosses Magasinsgatan, and you’ll find Grandpa on Vallgatan 3, a trendy boutique with accessories, homeware, books and fashion, both new and vintage. It’s nice to pepper your shopping expedition with stops to eat, and in Gothenburg food trucks are all the rage right now. A lot of people’s favourite choice is Strömmingsluckan on Magasinsgatan, serving traditional fried herring.
Photographer: Frida Winter / Göteborg & Co
4. Experience the city by the sea
Gothenburgers love the sea and its closeness to everything they do. You can hop on a ferry and get to the smaller islands and picturesque fishing villages in less than an hour. Everyone has their favourite island and swimming spot, and there are plenty of nice cafes and restaurants around. A cherished local tradition is the summer dance evenings on the jetty, on Brännö island. If you want to stay in the city but still get onto the water, take a sightseeing tour on the Paddan boats, and end up at the Feskekörka fish market to buy some fresh shellfish.
5. Lots of everything
Even Gothenburgers have started to explore their city with their mobiles. Download the Gothenburg Guides – an exciting and easy way to be guided around the city. The app features two round trips of about 10 and 14 km, which at gentle cycle speed will take you around 1.5 – 2.5 hours to do. The shorter tour pinpoints 12, and the longer 15, places to stop, with a short three minute description and an excellent map and route planner that tells you exactly where to go next. The app is free and can be downloaded on Android and iPhone.
Top 5 in West Sweden:
1. Explore Bohuslän and its archipelago
In Bohuslän there are around 8000 islands, many of which are car free, which makes them ideal for cycling and walking. Find your own favourite spot on a bike ride and do as the locals do – pack a picnic basket, explore the picturesque fishing villages and find your own rock to enjoy the fantastic view from. Don’t forget to visit some of Bohusläns best and most interesting visitor attractions during your stay.
Photographer: Roger Borgelid
2. Smögen – a real gem
The seafood from the coast of Bohuslän is among the best in the world, which of course has its effect on the local food culture and how West Swedes eat. You’ll see locals eating fresh prawns out on the rocks, children fishing for crabs from the jetties, and fishing boats chugging past on their way out to sea. Visit Smögen and treat yourself to a true Swedish speciality – a prawn sandwich - at one of the many restaurants along the 1 km long Smögen boardwalk, or enjoy a fresh mussel dish at the newly opened Kleven Mussel Bar.
Photographer: Åsa Dahlgren
3. Göta Canal
The Göta canal is one of Sweden’s best known tourist attractions and has been named Swedish Construction of the Millenium. Along this 190 km long canal there are 58 locks, and lots of museums, restaurants, lock cafes and places to stay. Experience the canal by passenger boat, by bike or on foot.
Photographer: Åsa Dahlgren
4. Fika and explore Porcelain Town Lidköping
Swedes love to fika and do it just as much in their free time as at work. The Porcelain Town of Lidköping, near Läckö Castle, is renowned for its excellent cafes and gorgeous pastries. Enjoy a famous Läckökringla pastry at the Rådhuskonditoriet, or a Rörstrands cake served on contemporary Rörstrands china at the Rörstrands Museum Café. A guided tour of the museum will transport you through 290 years of the history of Swedish porcelain, from everyday homeware to decorative showpieces. You can also have a go at pottery throwing yourself while you are in Sweden’s Porcelain Town.
Photographer: Jonas Ingman
5. Celebrate Midsummer or eat Crayfish with a Local
Locals like to get away from the city when they aren’t working, usually to their summer houses in the country. Nearer to the coast the houses are often white or lighter coloured, whereas inland summer houses are more often painted in the traditional Falu red colour. While they’re there they go mushroom or berry picking, and use them to cook with or preserve them to have over the winter. In the evening they’ll light the bonfire, and gather together to play games. Friends are often invited out to the summerhouse to meet up, chill out and celebrate the important traditions like midsummer, crayfish parties and Christmas together. You can also celebrate midsummer or experience a genuine crayfish party on the Weather Islands, just like a local.
Photographer: Jonas Ingman