Gothenburg Guide

Sweden's second city is our new favourite escape

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Words by Sara D'Souza  

The best way to get to grips with new city? Ask some cool locals. 

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Song:  Lykke Li "I Follow Rivers (Magician Remix)" available on itunes.

Directed by: Susan Ward Davies & Lara Ferros.

In the film: Clarion Hotel Post (Drottningtorget 10), Grandpa (Vallgatan 3, 411 16, grandpa.se), Kale’I (Kyrkogatan 13, kaleikaffebar.se), Röhsska Museum for Fashion Design and Decorative Arts (Vasagatan 37-39, Gothenburg, rohsska.se), Koka (Viktoriagatan 12, restaurangkoka.se), Hotel Pigalle (Södra Hamngatan 2a, hotelpigalle.se)

CITY GUIDE:

Where to Stay in Gothenburg:

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Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city; it’s filled with quaint canals, cobbled streets, lush green spaces and some very good hotels indeed. Our pick of the bunch has got to be  Hotel Pigalle – a vintage -Parisian –style bolthole with rooms imagined as a rich old Aunt’s country retreat – and a buzzy bar and restaurant/ - now our favourite Swedish hideaway (Södra Hamngatan 2a, 411 06 Gothenburg, hotelpigalle.se/en/)

The stylish Clarion Post (Drottningtorget, 10, SE 41103) is  a former post office building and retains many of its original features, from decorative ceilings to oak pillars, and also sports a bijou but very inviting rooftop swimming pool, with some of the best views of the city.

Another hotel that fits squarely into the design category is the luxurious Avalon Hotel in the vibrant Kungsportsplatsen district (Kungstorget 9, 411 17). It’s all jutting angles, white-washed walls and design-led furniture. If you’re heading just out of the city, then floating hotel Salt and Sill (471 51 Kladesholmen, Tjorn) is a more under-the-radar choice that’s well worth booking into.

Where to Eat in Gothenburg:

Gothenburg has been voted the culinary capital of Sweden - with very good reason. Its archipelago geography lends itself to the freshest of fish dishes and some very innovative cuisine, there’s also a great cafe and afternoon tea culture.

For the former the best place to start is the 19th-century fish market hall (Rosenlundsgatan, 41120), where a fresh catch is brought in every day and it’s the perfect place to eat huge king prawns on the harbour. The former Michelin-starred Kock and Vin has morphed into the new Koka. Still owned by Bjorn Persson, they serve an ever- changing  seasonal  menu  of modern west Sweden food (Viktoriagatan 12, 411 25 Gothenborg, Sweden, restaurangkoka.se)

Persson also runs the laid-back Restaurant Familjen (Arkivgatan 7, 411 34) , another  must-visit, with its focus on local produce with a modern twist.

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If you’re not really a fish fan, don’t worry, there are plenty of places that serve up Sweden’s speciality: meatballs. For the best of the best in town head to Kungstorget (Kungstorget 7, 411 17) for traditional meatballs, creamy mash and tart lingonberries.

For afternoon pottering and coffee and cake shops, try Froken Olssons Kafe (Ostra Larmgatan 14, 41107) with its cosy courtyard, Bar Centro (Kyrkogatan, 31) to drink your coffee Gothenburg-style, leaning outside against a wall in the sunshine.

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Over in the historic Haga district (the city’s oldest suburb), head to Café Husaren (Haga Nygata 28, 411 22) and tuck into delicious, giant cinnamon rolls. Nearby, there’s Cafe Kringlan (Haga Nygata 13, 41301) with homemade pastries and some tempting lunch options. The rich smells of Da Matteo (Sodra Larmgatan 14, 411 16, damatteo.se) are enough to draw in all but the most steely-willed. With its incredible sour-dough bakery and its own coffee roastery, it’s also nigh-on impossible to leave without trying something.

Where to Go Out in Gothenburg:

Given its two universities, Gothenburg is a city filled with the young, the beautiful and the seriously stylish. Needless, to say its nightlife is hot. Puta Madre (Magasingatan 3, 411 18) is best not translated but is known all over the city for its sultry, dark burlesque interiors, its hearty South American cuisine and the fact they shake a pretty mean cocktail (fishbowls of Margaritas are a must). Across the street there's great music, dancing and a cool outdoor courtyard at Magnus & Magnus (Magasinsgatan 8, 411 18).

Every year Gothenburg gears up for its biggest party, which comes in the form of the brilliant Way Out West festival (Wayoutwest.se) that’s held from August 9th-11th. Plus, this year is set to be even more brilliant than usual, with Blur, Florence and the Machine and the Black Keys, Bon Iver, Feist and Hot Chip headlining.

Where to Shop in Gothenburg:

Gothenburg is an absolute hot bed of creativity, from its media to its architecture to its design. It’s produced some world-class companies over the years, such as Hasselblad and counts Nudie (Vallgatan 15) and Monki (Sodra Larmgaten 11) among its better-known clothing brands. For more home-grown talent check out the charming Emma och Malena (Vallgaten 4, 411 16); the store itself is beautiful and you’ll probably leave wanting one of everything. Super stylish boutique Grandpa (Vallgatan 3, 411 16 Gothenborg, grandpa.se) Is a must-browse for Scandi-cool menswear, womenswear and accessories, with a focus on home-grown labels.

Twist & Tango has simple, impeccably made pieces (Vallgatan 28); if it's too expensive, try its outlet store at (Haga Ostergata 4, 413 01). For an interiors shop that may convince you to up sticks and move to Gothenburg, check out Artillerriet (Magasinsgatan 19, 411 18). Just be prepared with your credit card.

Round the corner, through an archway in a cobbled courtyard Floramor & Krukatos (Kasentorget 8, 411 18) is run by a mother and daughter and is all rough, exposed brick walls, beautiful handmade ceramic and fragrant flowers. If it’s vintage you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. Myronra (Jarntorgsgatan 10) is four floors of endless rails and boxes to rummage through. Back in the Haga (Haga Nygrata, 10) there’s an eclectic mix at The Charleston, while weekends see an enormous flea market, Kommersen (Forsta Langgatan, 27), that's worth checking out.

What to Wear in Gothenburg:

All the cobbled streets mean it’s probably best to leave the heels at home. With such good shopping, you’ll definitely want to ditch all the clothes you’ve brought and flaunt your latest purchases.

Don’t Leave Gothenburg Without:

Checking out the Röhsska Museum for Fashion, Design and Decorative Arts (Vasagatan 39, 411 37 Gothenborg, rohsska.se) and its 50, 000 beautifully curated exhibits from Nordic jewellery to handicrafts, to vintage fashion pieces.  Don't leave without stocking up with cool stationery in the museum shop.

Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Gothenburg:

For the best spa in the city, head to the Skonhetsfabriken at the Clarion Post (Drottningtorget, 10, SE 41103). It's made up of 1,200 square metres dedicated to pampering, fitness and relaxing in its inviting swimming pool and saunas.

For further information on Gothenburg, go to Visitsweden.com.

ELLE took a sneak peek into Gothenburg with American Express, getting insider tips  for the best places to shop, eat, drink and sleep. Watch more travel videos, sharing insider knowledge from other European destinations here.

Compiled by Sara D'Souza and Kasia Hastings.

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