Taking it back to nature in the most peaceful and rawest forms, we hired bikes and started a six day cycle and bivvy between the two great lakes Vänern and Vättern, and along the Göta Canal. With the Swedish camping laws allowing you to camp anywhere, the Lantmäteriet (O.S. map) becomes your ‘Best of BnBs’ guide. Look out for the patches of land marked ‘Open Land’ next to the lakes (avoiding Sankmark [Marsh]!), and surrounded by forests and you’ve found Eden. Your home for the night looks out onto lakes feeling as endless as the sea, you’ll fall asleep to the gentle slosh-slosh of the waves with no fear of rising tides, and the sun slowly setting, and in the morning you can take a wonderful swim in your own private ocean. Don’t expect anyone to bring you a cocktail at the side of the pool, this holiday is not for the faint-hearted, but for those looking for the true beauty of Scandinavia, this is the way to find it. And the best time of year is as close to June 21st as you can get, finding your camp spot at 10pm, cooking at 11pm, and eating as the sun (almost) sets at midnight. Bliss.
The Haga district in Gothenburg is like stepping into a fairytale town. Having explored Kungsportavenyn (the Avenue) and the inner city area of Gothenburg, I was starting to get tourist fatigue. Craving some greenery, we headed for Slottsskogen, a vast and beautiful open space littered with open-air zoos, restaurants, and grand oak trees. It was on our walk there that we inadvertently stumbled across the Haga district. It was like walking straight into a fairytale; cobbled lanes with secrets to tell, tired looking shop fronts dripping with vintage nick-nacks, and row after row of delicious coffee shops. Far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, the Haga district emanates calmness and coolness, welcoming both tourists and locals alike. It felt like I'd wandered into the heart of a local Swedish tow, and was being welcomed as a regular, rather than just another visitor. Besides soaking up the atmosphere of the Haga district, it implores you to engage in the serious business of 'fika', right beside the locals. Fika, the Swedish practice of taking a break usually with coffee and cake, is best enjoyed in Cafe Husaren where they offer great coffee and the biggest, most generous cinnamon rolls. They were literally bigger than my head - not for the faint hearted. Although, after exploring the many cute cobbled streets and shabby chic shops, it's a well-deserved break. The attitude of this place offers a really unique edge to the city of Gothenburg, I would strongly recommend a visit, no matter how brief your trip.
Haga Nygata 28, 411 22 Gbg
+46(0)31 136 378
Google map: bit.ly/rstpLh
Gothenburg's Southern Archipelago is a cluster of eight verdant islands not dissimilar to the Isles of Scilly. But whereas the Scillonian ferry costs around £100, the boat to Brännö, the island we stopped at, cost the equivalent of £1.20. Situated a gorgeous cycle ride down residential Gothenburg's clapboard-clad coast toward Salthomen, the island has around 380 inhabitants (though where they were on this gorgeous Saturday afternoon is anyone's guess), a fleet of curious bicycles with huge loading pallets mounted on the front, and a crystal clear, unfettered coastline. There are designated beach areas, but if you want to escape the maddening crowd of the 15 people sunning themselves there, a little adventurous initiative takes you around the island's coastline to vast green spaces, and craggy, rocky lagoons of opalescent, crystal clear (if cool) water. It's like a mini personal paradise.
In the summer season several boat excursions depart from Lilla Bommen harbour in the city center. Tickets and information: Göteborg's Tourist Information Centres + 46 31 61 25 00 or at Kungsportsplatsen and in Nordstan Shopping Centre (taken from goteborg.se)
Or, cycle down the clearly signposted coast to Salthomen and catch the ferry from there. We went in September, and the boats were running fairly regularly.
A wonderful cottage in the remote forest of Vastergotland, 100kms east of Gothenburg close to Ulricehamn. The cottage has two bedrooms, a living room with views of the nearby lake and a wonderful garden full of wild fruits and mushrooms, and complete with a wood burning hot tub for perfect relaxation. We loved it!
Slottsskogens Vandrarhem is the greatest youth hostel I've ever been to. It's pretty much central to Gothenburg, and it's immaculately clean - from the huge, friendly communal kitchen to the airy, wood-furnished bedrooms. The staff are an absolute pleasure (and handily all speak perfect English), there's free internet and free bike hire, perfect for exploring the city and its glorious coastline. Although we didn't try it, there was a spectacular looking traditional Swedish breakfast on offer for a few Kronor. The atmosphere inside was brilliant too - we went as two girls just visiting for fun, and we met Erasmus students waiting for term to start, people backpacking across the world, and most days and nights we ended up doing stuff with them too. Honestly, I can't recommend it enough. It's also really near the Haga district of the city, the traditional old beautiful town with gorgeous cafes, and it's across the road from a frequent main tram line.
For an authentic rural Swedish getaway drive one hour east of Gothenburg and stay at this charming forest cottage with views over the local lake. Use this as a base to explore the very pleasant local area including the local town of Ulricehamn on the shores of Asunden lake. The cottage is well equipped with facilities but can still be the perfect getaway. We particularly enjoyed looking for chantarelle mushrooms in the surrounding forest.
It's some sort of cafe and a meeting place for businessmen and entrepeneurs, but I think anyone is welcomed. I just wanted to check my mail and drink a cup of coffee with an icecream.
The atmosphere is an experience and the staff are helpful with questions.
Gothenburg, Vegagatan 1
Gothenburg is on the west coast of Sweden. Don't be put off by tales of how expensive it is in Scandanavia. I found Gothenburg to be reasonably priced, with loads to do inside and outside. It is a very clean, civilised and vibrant city. It would be good for families as there is the Lisberg Amusement Park and the Universeum hands on science museum.
In the spring, summer or autumn, go to Liseberg - Sweden's largest amusement park which is unusually tasteful and un-tacky. Make sure you try 'Balder', Scandinavia's biggest wooden rollercoaster. In the winter go to the Christmas markets at Liseberg.
One of the nicest places I have ever been. Fantastic laid-back atmosphere with great parks to relax in and pretty districts to stroll around. Universeum, a natural history museum of a kind, is great for kids and kids-at-heart and there are plenty of other attractions for those who feel they need to see things. But the real pleasure of the place is in simply soaking up the atmosphere.
Universeum, Sodra Vagen 50,
(00 46) 31 335 64 50
The Gothenburg English Speaking Theatre (GEST) is a new professional theatre company whose aim is to produce the finest contemporary plays in the English language for the city of Gothenburg. They employ professional actors and directors from the UK and USA. Their opening production of After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber was completely sold out and recieved stunning reviews in the press.
The Gothenburg English Speaking Theatre (GEST), Erik Dahlbersgatan 34, 41126 Gothenburg.
Tel : 031 713 6474
web site. www.gest.se
I spent a highly enjoyable two weeks cycling in Sweden this year. Starting in Gothenburg, I rode up around the edge of Lake Vanern, via the Gota Canal to Lake Vattern, down to the coast and back up again.
The countryside is perfect for cycling; rolling and studded with beautiful lakes.
Swedish campsites are also some of the best I've been to. They are clean, have good facilities and are generally no more than £8-£10 a night (and yes, you can camp anywhere in Sweden, but a hot shower is always nice).
Highly recommended for any cyclists out there.
My route: www.flickr.com/photos/toretz/172556356/
Whatever you do, remember that Sweden operates a state-run alcohol retail outlet - Systembolaget. This has very precise opening times so make sure you know them, otherwise you will be very frustrated. The good news is that booze bought at the Systembolaget is far cheaper than at bars. There is also a fantastic choice of wine.
Systembolagets are in most towns and have a very distinctive logo.
Haga is an older part of town with wooden houses, once for the poorer inhabitants of Gothenburg and now an uber-fashionable place to live. With many trendy shops there is one particular cafe along Haga Nygata (the main street). The cafe is called Cafeva and serves home-made food and soups, excellent coffees, teas and hot chocolates. The decor is homely and it has a very friendly atmosphere. A must for any visitor to Gothenburg.
Haga Nygata, tram stop Jarntorget or Hagakyrkan.
Lovely youth hostel near the coast on the island of Orust. Good accommodation, shared or family rooms (largest about 5 people) in old buildings, or hytter in the garden. Summer restaurant.
Walk down the garden to the sea, or into the village nearby to buy fresh fish, crab or lobster. Alternatively cross the road into the coastal woodland.
There are excellent public transport links to local towns (Ellos, Mollusund and Henan), and ferries to the islands of Gulholmen and Karingdon for swimming, sunbathing, walking and people watching or eating fresh Dublin Bay prawns.
Accessible from Goteborg by public tranport (bus stop 50m). If you arrive late (by car), they will leave your key to collect in the porch. It may be worth getting YHA/HI membership as the supplement for non-members is 45 SEK (£3.50) per night.
Midsummer is the longest day and I spent one of the most beautiful nights ever on a beach watching the light not fade. And, if you like seafood, chardonnay and vodka, the crayfish festival is the best way to round off the summer. I lived in Gothenburg for five years and to me it is the heart of Sweden. If you go to Sweden, go to Gothenburg.
The annual crayfish parties are held throughout Sweden on Midsummer's Eve in June.
It is beautiful and easy to get to. You reach car-free islands on cheap public transport, getting a nice boat trip into the bargain. Bathing waters are very clean and often very shallow and calm due to virtually no tides, waves or currents, making them ideal for families with babies and toddlers. Water temperatures often reach 21C in July.
The northern archipelago can be reached by car ferry from Hjuvik and Hisingen. For the southern archipelago take the ferry from Saltholmen. With the Gothenburg Pass it is free, or without one it costs the same as a tram ride.
Im sure thousands of people will think of Liseberg but no recommendation could do justice to the sheer fun of the place.
Reasonable prices, the official best wooden rollercoaster in the world and from a teenage perspective, a great place to get a feel for the city and integrate with young, friendly Swedes.
To find the park walk southeast from Götaplatsen for several minutes.
Liseberg Amusement Park, Korsvagen, Gothenburg.
Tel : 00 46 31 40 01 00
If you are looking for a place to get away from it all then Sweden is the place to go. This is where I grew up and it's my getaway from a busy London. Rent a cottage by the lake and enjoy the clean air, quietness and crystal clear lakes. Go fishing in the sunset or pick blueberries in the forest. You will come back feeling like a new person.
www.bengtsfors.se/page/403/english.htm, where you can also rent cottages online. Two hours drive north from Gothenburg.
An amusement park, with all the fun of the fair and none of the associated gang violence (at least, it didn't feel that way). Lots of rollercoasters. You can also win enormous bars of Marabou, the world's best chocolate.
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