Countless islands, breathtaking scenery, and a city with a foodie scene to rival that of any European capital: if you’re looking for an off the beaten path trip in the Nordics, then be sure to head to the city of Gothenburg. Here’s how to spend three days in West Sweden; a long weekend guide to the best the stunning Swedish coastline has to offer…
Gothenburg and the entirety of the Swedish West Coast has a flavour that is different from that of the ever-so-chic capital on Sweden’s East Coast, Stockholm. While Gothenburg may be the second largest city in Sweden, it seems like worlds apart from Stockholm. Home to enough coffee shops to satisfy your Fika cravings and plenty of Scandi-design stores, the city is easily one of the most underrated destinations in Europe.
Day one: Road trip the Bohuslan Coast
Drive from Gothenburg to the Bohuslän Coast
Gothenburg itself is served with an international airport which flies to plenty of destinations across the continent; Amsterdam, London, and Paris are all within a two-hour flight. Fill up on breakfast and get your fair share of caffeine. Day one of this three days in West Sweden itinerary is absolutely packed with fun and exciting activities, all requiring plenty of energy!
From the city centre, it’s around a forty-five-minute drive to reach Marstrand, a delightful town set across two micro-islands. With this being said, you’ll likely want to set aside some extra time so as to explore several Swedish destinations en route. This area of the world is stunning, and I found myself wishing we had time to stop and take photos around nearly every turn in the road!
Spend the day exploring Marstrand
One of eight thousand islands that dot the Swedish coastline, Marstrand has a population of around five residents, making it one of the smallest ‘cities’ in Sweden. Home to a fortress constructed by prisoners during the 17th-century and plenty of hiking trails, the city was established in the 12th-century.
Marstrand is stretched across two islands (Koön and Marstrandsön.), with a ferry linking the two. While the city once made its fortune from the herring trade, the resort was ‘rediscovered’ as a holiday spot of choice thanks to royalty choosing to bathe there in the 19th-century. During the summer, Marstrand hosts the prestigious Match Cup Sweden sailing competition.
Check in to the Havshotell Marstrand (& enjoy the art of the Swedish Spa)
Incredible design and even more breathtakingly beautiful views: if you’re looking for a true taste of luxury in the Swedish countryside, then you simply must check in to the Havshotell Marstrand. Truth be told, the best element of the Havshotell is not its epic views or excellent dining options.
Instead, the most excellent experience to be had is by heading downstairs to the bottom level of the luxury property. Complete with a fully equipped Swedish-style sauna (think pools of varying temperatures and hot tubs in the open air, underneath a star-filled sky), elsewhere on the property, the food is excellent and local specialities are always on the menu.
Day two: Experience the best of Gothenburg
Drive back to Gothenburg
Wake up early because day two of this long weekend itinerary is packed with adventures and you’ll need time to fit everything in! Your second day in West Sweden is all about experiencing the must-sees of Gothenburg and starting to get a feel for the city. Wear comfortable shoes as you’re going to be on your feet a lot and the city is full of cobbled lanes!
Enjoy lunch at Restaurang Atelier
You’d be forgiven for never having thought of Gothenburg as a foodie city before. I myself made the same mistake. However, upon arrival, you’ll soon discover a plethora of quirky eateries, exquisite dining experiences, and plenty of culinary delights.
One of the best restaurants in the city can be found in the form of Restaurang Atelier, the top-floor restaurant of the French-inspired Hotel Pigalle in Gothenburg’s city centre. Serving all kinds of local dishes with a modern twist, the vegetarian options were pretty tasty too!
Visit the Fish Church
Beautiful and iconic, you can’t visit Gothenburg and miss out on a visit to the Feskekörka. The architecture of this indoor fish market, which was constructed towards the end of the 19th-century, is inspired by a Gothic church and is a true homage to the fishing industry of the West Coast of Sweden.
Today, should you wander into the market during opening hours (Tuesday through to Friday, 10 AM – 6 PM, Saturday 10 AM – 3 PM), you can expect to find all sorts of fish and local seafood for sale. Also located within the ecclesiastically-inspired building is a seafood-inspired restaurant.
Explore the Haga District
What was once an area outside of the city limits has since been incorporated into the fabric of Gothenburg proper. Dominated by the impressive Skansen Kronan fortress, the Haga district is the oldest area of the city and the wooden houses there date all the way back to the 1870s.
Although there are no hotels in the Haga District, there are plenty of quirky coffee shops and shopping spots to be explored. It’s also in Haga where you’ll find one of the best Christmas Markets in Gothenburg, held on an annual basis.
Check in to Hotel Flora
If you love boutique hotels that are, quite literally, in the heart of all the action, then be sure to book yourself into Hotel Flora for a couple of nights. Situated steps away from Gothenburg’s centre, every room in this quirky hotel has a slightly different prominent feature. Truth be told, the real highlight of our stay at Hotel Flora was the buffet breakfast; think fruit juices, coffee, fresh bread, cold cuts, and much more!
Dine at Restaurant Norda
One of the best dining experiences in the city can be found at Restaurant Norda, a culinary journey which I’m sure you’ll love as I did. Located within the ever-so-chic Clarion Hotel Post, Norda operates with sustainability at its core. Influenced by the restaurants of Manhattan, there’s even an outdoor terrace on which to enjoy dinner en plein air during the summer months.
Day three: Gothenburg like a local
Day three of this long weekend in West Sweden is all about getting to know the area on a more local level. Today is about discovering another side to the city that few know about and even fewer take the time to explore.
Experience the art of Fika
You can’t visit Sweden and not partake in the ritual that is Fika. Literally translated into English as ‘coffee break,’ the art of Fika is all about taking your time to enjoy the moment with a coffee and cake, usually shared among friends. For those who are particular about their caffeine, you’ll also be pleased to know that coffee is taken very seriously in Sweden, and all of the coffees I was lucky enough to sample were simply excellent!
Take a self-guided walking tour of Gothenburg
If you’re looking to get to know the city on a more local level, then this free and self-guided walking tour of Gothenburg will take you to all of the must-see spots in the city. Comprising of plenty of historical elements, en route you’ll soon discover the historic part of the city (Haga) as well as where to spend a rainy day and where the best shopping locations are.
Enjoy lunch at Kafé Magasinet
If you’re looking for one of the most ‘Instagrammable’ spots in Gothenburg, then you need to look no further than Kafé Magasinet. Complete with two spaces; an indoor and conservatory area, items on the menu include plenty of vegan options (and even some raw desserts!)
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I visited Gothenburg with Goteborg & Co. and West Sweden. However, all photos, words, and foodie opinions remain my own (as always!). A special thanks to Sofie, Kasja, and Steve for making our visit to Gothenburg in the winter so special!