Oh, I am crushing on Sweden big time! The food, the people, the architecture, the gloomy energy… so here it is, the first part of my Sweden Travel Guide, a take on the country’s second largest city: Gothenburg.
My boyfriend is spending his semester abroad in this gem of a country (I didn’t go for it as it’s too cold for me haha) and we made getting him here a fun little road trip – my favorite way to travel! So he packed his parents car the way other people set high scores in Tetris and we hit the road to Kiel, where the car got a break already as we took an overnight ferry from here. What an adventure! The so-called Stena Line takes off at the harbor in Kiel at around 7 pm and arrives in Gothenburg at around 9 am the next morning. It has a casino, duty-free shopping, several restaurants, and rather cozy rooms. And fortunately, it’s big enough of a ship so you won’t get sea-sick.
Gothenburg’s beauty struck me right away. No, seriously, even driving out of the ferry, seeing the city’s silhouette, the water, the fishing boats and the bridges in the background had me shiver with joy. We stayed in a hotel right at the central station. Or rather IN the central station, which is one of the nicest I have been to so far. It’s on the second floor and the location was a hit for several reasons. For one I could overlook the platforms from the gym at my morning workout and later at breakfast we could gaze at passengers finding their ways from above.
Gothenburg is a city that you can get a hang of in no time! The center is a stone’s throw from the central station – they’re kind of clever divided by a huge shopping center. So let me get started on the hot-spots I discovered this weekend…
Sweden is quasi cash-free
While in Berlin we have the opposite „cash only“ policies to annoy us on a regular basis, the Swedes are about to rid themselves of the filthy paper and coins slowly but surely and become more 1984-transparent by the day. We didn’t even exchange any Euros for Swedish krona and so far got along wonderfully. Most places don’t even take cash anymore.
In Sweden, you have access to free tap-water at any restaurant, cafe or bar.
For us, being used to German cupidity, and me expecially needing three to four liters of liquid daily to feel well this is such a wonderful thing that it just needed mentioning.
Cups are (mostly) bottomless.
At least when it comes to coffee and tea. With the freezing cold outside, why should I ever leave any café again?
And now for my favorite part: the FOOD
We wanted to check out a place that a friend recommended dearly for our first breakfast in town: Le Pain Francaise. It has several locations throughout the city but it doesn’t give off „chain vibes“. The food looked delicious and I would definitely recommend checking out the brunch buffet on a Sunday. Unfortunately, I can only tell you what it looked like and know nothing about the taste, as the place didn’t let dogs come in. Yaey. As we soon found out hardly any place would let us eat inside with Kaia. Luckily enough the Baristas at the Espresso House were more accommodating. And while it may seem odd to recommend yet another chain, I must do so as I was very impressed with their range. In addition to the basic coffee-chain assortment, they had delicious raw vegan chocolate cookies (breakfast pour moi) and an offering of Matcha or Golden Latte (both real, no syrup!) WITH OATMILK. As I react to cow-, almond- and soymilk alike, the Swede’s love for oatmilk is paradise for me! (I’m pretty sure I owe a thank you to Oatly’s Marketing team, the brand just knew how to distribute perfectly!).
If you wander about the streets or do a teensy bit of research, Google should also be helpful to get you to the breakfast spot of your dreams. As we only had one breakfast within the city and one in the hotel I only got to read menus and gaze into windows but let me promise you that every healthy superfood-craving veganista, as well as the traditional hearty breakfast-lover, will get their fair share in this city!
If you’re roaming the city dog-less be sure to check out the Saluhallen (we heard the Vietnamese place here was great) and the Feskekorka – the “Fish-Church”, which is everything it promises. I am not the biggest fish person, but this place is mouthwatering. As Kaia, again, couldn’t come, we took turns in scrolling down the hallway of fresh seafood.
Vegan Heaven // En Deli
A place that unfortunately had a no-dog policy as well but provided us with blankets and radiant heaters has me still in a state of foodgasm as I just think about it: En Deli. Located on the central street of Haga, the 17th-century core of the old town, it serves an awe-mazing assertion of Mediterranean tapas and soups. Everything is vegetarian if not even vegan and every meal comes with free tea or coffee, bread and you can ask for SECONDS. Plus the staff were just darling. Our fave: the Tahini cauliflower, the beans in tomato sauce and the hummus!
Literally the best Burger // The Barn
On Sunday we needed something a little more substantial so – dear vegetarian friends, this is NOT for you – we got delicious burgers with sweet potato fries at The Barn. Burgers with SP-fries are on top of my list of guilty pleasures to keep me sane, so I know a thing or two about a good burger. And let me tell you: this one is in the top five! Oh, and do yourself a favor: try the Truffle Mayo.
If you are not yearning for soul-food of that kind but rather a delicious clean-conscious lunch buffet with a beautiful view I found a special gem for you: Open New Doors is a little glass-building on a bridge with a wonderful view and Instagram-worthy food.
A Swedish tradition one could get used to. It’s probably their version of the British High Tea but, as the pure sound of it gives away, way more chill. Fika is the afternoon coffee break best paired with a traditional “Hagabullen” – a cinnamon bun. I hardly ever eat conventional sweets, sugar or wheat and I am pretty chill about it.
The traditional hotspot // Cafe Husaren
The world-famous cinnamon bun from Café Husaren was my personal little challenge: give it a try! And up until now, I am grateful I did! Again, we needed to stay in outside because of our little dog-princess but we enjoyed sharing while roaming around beautiful Haga just the same.
The cozy choice // Le Petit Café
Another lovely café for Fika or a good-looking, hearty lunch-buffet is Le Petit Café – a place so tacky that it’s cool!
Dinner & Drinks
The place to be // Studio HPKSM
As we had just one night in Gothenburg the place to be needed to be sourced painstaking. My go-to method: ask the locals. And oh how well that paid out! Studio HPKSM is an edgy and seemingly new location, or much rather two. They are located in the same building and share the same name and the same corporate identity but seem to have different kitchens. As the original location was already packed we found a cozy spot in the “new baby”. They don’t have English menus but every single waiter is sweet enough to translate everything the best they can. The music is wonderful, the selection of craft-beer and snaps (another guilty pleasure of mine).
My other favorite part: stories of the sustainable and the vintage
Shoppers seek no further. Gothenburg is amazing for deals on awesome vintage and a pure heaven for conscious shoppers. So let me take you to the places I discovered…
Le Vintage (insert French accent of any Disney movie ever made)
Second Hand with a cause // Myrorna
First stop: Myrorna. I think you can tell from my face what a joy this place is. Don’t be put off by the lower levels, they do seem rather shabby – but that’s vintage after all – and don’t skip them as you make your way to the top. Here the hipster-gems are hidden. Designer jeans in great condition for 220 SEK ( 22€), I found a perfectly fitting flared no-name jean for as little as 8€, a style of skirt that I had fallen in love with at Urban Outfitters (and didn’t buy because of my consciousness) for 9€. No questions asked.
The Army Shop // Broadway and Sons
Our other find was an accidental stroke of luck: Broadway & Sons. We passed by the neon lights in our way home and almost didn’t go inside as the sign on the door said it closed at four – it didn’t, closing time on Saturdays is five, as we were lucky enough to find out. Note to self: always give it a try. The store sells manly old military clothing. Vintage Levi’s, Schott, Carhartt, and Burberry – Vintage as in finds as early as the 1940s. For the fun of it I began to try on the Burberry Trenchcoats – a silly dream I thought I had to wait another twenty years to allow myself. Obvious for a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-Lover, isn’t it? When I found out the price – 150 SEK – and the further reduction of 50%, making it 75€ I knew, this has happened for a reason. So if you now see an utterly happy girl with white hair in a fairly oversized camel hair coat you know: this girl saved herself around 2,000 bucks. And the best part: the 1980s piece keeps me warm as if it was brand new!
The original flea market // Commerce Flea Market
A fun thing to do if you have time on your hands on the weekend is the 2000s commerce flea market. I emphasize the founding year 2000, as inside this colorful building you get a feeling of what flea markets where like before the hipsters took them over!
The doing-everything-right-place // THRIVE
Gothenburg is definitely on top of the sustainability trend that is here to stay. A cool little store is THRIVE in a little side street of Haga, where everything is sustainably produced, vegan and wonderful. Here we also found out that CBD was legal to be sold and consumed in Sweden since the beginning of this year.
The revolutionaries // Klädoteket
We stumbled into another very cool project right as we left Myrorna, namely Klädoteket. The brand is pretty much everything the fashion revolution stands for, giving you options to buy or lease their pieces for varying prices. They work with different designers and manufacturers throughout Sweden and additionally support new immigrants.
The ones trying to get there // twist & tango
The fair fashion shift is getting more tangible by the day. A good instance is the locally founded brand Twist&Tango that opened it’s original store in Haga 25 years ago, as it steadily shifts to having everything produced in a sustainable and ethical manner.
Another more known Swedish go-to for fair – but unfortunately hardly affordable – fashion is ACNE Studios. A brand I will target more intensely after my visit to Stockholm, where their outlet awaits haha.
The one thing I tell anyone who visits a city: WALK. Walk wherever and as much as you can and keep your head up, always. Despite missing some sunshine, Gothenburg is a beautiful city with amazing architecture, lovingly decorated corners and fun street art. As we were with Kaia, we couldn’t make it into any churches or museums but from what I heard there are some great exhibitions going on. As for general walking directions: Haga is an inevitable must, Magasinsgatan is also a pretty hip street. Here a shot of the list I made in preparation for the trip.
Have you ever been to Gothenburg? What did I miss? If you go and this post was helpful in making the best of your stay please let me know!
Much love and glitter