The resounding question that I’ve been asked when I said I had just got back from Sweden was, “oh, did you go to Stockholm?”
No! (Although I have been to Stockholm before.) There is more to Sweden than just Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city, is definitely a place that deserves more visitors!
Gothenburg, or Göteborg (yur-te-borry) in Swedish, is a city of delicious food, buzzing café culture and a love of microbreweries and craft beer. While not as “glamorous” as it’s big sister Stockholm, the industrial port city of Gothenburg is definitely a place that a visitor to Sweden shouldn’t miss.
Disclaimer: I received a free stay at Slottsskogens Vandrarhem & Hostell in return for an honest review on my blog. Some of the links in the article are affiliate links, helping me keep this blog running at now cost to you! All opinions are my own.
getting to GOTHENBURG
Flights to Gothenburg from the UK can be as cheap as £2 return (I found a Ryanair special deal!) and are currently at £14 return from London or £37 return from Edinburgh. Click on the following links for cheap flight deals to Gothenburg:
So, why should you visit Gothenburg?
Gothenburg is a foodie’s paradise and should definitely be on any food blogger’s (or food lover’s) bucket list. In the 18th century, the fishing industry was Gothenburg’s biggest industry and still plays a main role in the city today. Early in the morning, you can still see fishing boats unloading their day’s catch in the harbour and you can head to many a restaurant to try the local delicacies.
Disclaimer: I received a free stay at Slottsskogens Vandrarhem & Hostell in return for an honest review on my blog. All opinions are my own!
Restaurants and Pubs
Feskekörka or “fish church” (so called as it bears a resemblance to a Gothic church) dates back to 1874. It is an indoor fish market and you can buy a huge amount of different fish from the vendors, purchase meals to take away (such as fish soup) or enjoy the fresh catch at one of the three restaurants inside the hall.
I decided to have my lunch at Restaurang Gabriel after checking the prices and seeing it was slightly cheaper than the others on the type of dishes I wanted to try.
I ordered fried herring on crispbread but I think I had a bit of a lost-in-translation moment with the waiter as I ended up getting the more expensive herring platter (not that I’m complaining much, it was delicious). The main meals varied from 165kr to 320kr (the most expensive dishes being the lemon sole, fried plaice and poached halibut with shrimp) and drinks ranging from 32kr for a soda to 85kr for a large beer.
The herring platter set me back 175kr (around £15) but was well worth it. The platter included three types of herring served with crisp-bread – pickled herring, herring in a mustard sauce (my favourite) and herring in a sauce that reminded me of Marie Rose sauce, as well as boiled potatoes in salt, chives and parsley.
When I got the platter I thought I’d still be hungry after as it wasn’t that big… I was so wrong! It was so filling and was just the right amount. I definitely want to go back and sample more of the dishes there!
A meal for one at Restaurang Gabriel in Feskekörka will cost about 200-350kr (£17 – £30) depending on the dish and drinks. They also serve a dessert of the day and their catch of the day is always priced at 169kr.
Ölstugan 1892 Tullen
Known to everyone as simply “Ölstugan”, this pub has a few locations around the city. Translating literally as “beer house” (automatically sounds like a good place, really), Ölstugan has an impressive range of Swedish beer and also does great food. Ölstugan was recommended to me by the receptionist at my hostel when I asked for somewhere that served Swedish food – a great recommendation! I then had it recommended to me again the next day, it’s definitely a popular place among the locals! The pub was pretty much full when I went on a Wednesday night and when I walked past on Thursday it was packed once again.
They have a ridiculous amount of bottled beers as well as a great selection of hand pumps. I’m a big fan of dark beers so I asked the bartender what she recommended (bonus: they have great staff!) and she told me that she thinks I’d like the BarlindBeer oatmeal stout and gave me some to try. It was good and I got a large glass of it (68kr). Delicious!
Some of you may know that I’m lactose intolerant (guys, I really really miss cheese), although sometimes I do take lactase pills I prefer not to since they’re fairly expensive and the ones that work best for me I can only find in Austria! I asked the bartender if they served anything that was dairy free, and they only had one dish on the menu I could have so (shockingly) I chose that.
A few minutes later she came back and said that the coleslaw the meal came with wasn’t dairy free – was it okay if it came without it? I said it wasn’t a problem at all (secret: I don’t like coleslaw anyway) and my food arrived pretty quickly after. It was so good! The ribs were tasty and the homemade barbecue sauce that they were served it was really tangy and a little spicy (but not too much) and the potatoes were cooked to perfection in rosemary. The ribs were served on a bed of rocket with a tomato (a lone tomato, for colour?) and it only cost 100kr, which for Sweden isn’t bad.
After finishing my meal and assuring the bartender that yes, it was excellent, I stayed for a while to finish my beer and – since I was alone – read some of my book (by one of my favourite authors, the Icelandic novelist Yrsa Sigurdardottir). Apparently if you’re a girl on your own in a bar and are reading a book, you are prime for random guys coming up and trying to chat you up, bonus points when they are over 40…
A meal for one at Ölstugan will set you back 140-200kr (£12 – £17), depending on the meal and the beer (or other beverage) you choose. My large oatmeal stout and ribs cost me a total of 168kr (about £14 – 100kr for the meal and 68kr for the beer).
Vegans and those who can’t have dairy – rejoice! Kelly’s is a great (with a very interesting and mixed crowd) pub just a short walk from Ölstugan and serves a large amount of pizza and burgers… including vegan pizza and burgers! It’s also a cheap place for a bite and a drink and does deals on Sundays and Mondays, I think one deal they had was 69kr (£6) for a burger (vegan or otherwise) with fries on a Monday, which would be pretty cheap in the UK too!
I got a pint of the cheapest lager (Pripps, now owned by Carlsberg – good if you like fizzy lager, I wasn’t a huge fan though) as I was feeling indecisive and ordered a vegan tofu pizza. While waiting, I did a little people watching. Kelly’s has an interesting crowd, varying from office workers, retirees, students, and other people my age with a large amount of piercings. There was actually a pub quiz going on while I was there, and the quizmaster was a man who looked about 70, with white hair and a big white beard (he’d get through all auditions to be Santa) and using a walking frame.
The pizza was excellent (a good thin base but without being burnt OR too soggy) and had a tomato pizza sauce, tofu, green olives and onion. It was a pretty big pizza and I could only eat about 2/3 of it before getting full, but unfortunately they didn’t have any carryout boxes to take with me. If I go back to Gothenburg, Kelly’s can expect to see me again!
A meal for one at Kelly’s will cost about 69kr – 150kr (£6 – £13) depending on the day, the meal and the drink chosen. A great spot for those on a budget!
Now, anyone that knows me will agree that I LOVE cafés. Especially fairly quaint ones with nice interior design and that serve a good soy latte. For any coffee aficionado – YOU CANNOT MISS GOTHENBURG. The coffee culture reminds me of Vienna or many cities in Italy – they even have a word in Swedish (“fika“) which is where you have a coffee and a sweet treat with friends or colleagues.
In short, coffee is an important item in the life of a Swede and Gothenburg loves its coffee. There are literally coffee shops everywhere. In the Haga (pronounced more like haw-yah) neighbourhood you can’t walk more than a few steps before finding another café!
Cigarren is one of those cafés that has its regulars who come in every single day and they know the barista by name and he knows them too. A fairly small café located in Järntorget, Cigarren (shockingly) sells cigars and also does excellent coffee. The café was recommended on my Triposo app and outside it said they had sojamjölk (soy milk) – score!
I went inside and immediately liked the cosy atmosphere. I ordered a cafe latte vanilla med sojamjölk and the barista immediately replied back to me in (very British) English. At least it wasn’t asking me “sorry, what did you order?”, which is always awkward.
I ended up spending longer than originally planned there as I ended up having a long chat with the barista, Anders, who spent most of his younger years in a town in Berkshire, which is about an hour from my home town in Hampshire. He recommended me some places to visit (including Ölstugan, see above) and I told him about a nice bar I’d visited. It turned out he’d not heard of it, so he asked me if I wanted to join him there for a drink in the evening. I agreed – insider insights into the city AND I wouldn’t be sitting alone in a bar reading my book and getting hit on by random old guys again, perfect!
My vanilla latte at Cigarren cost me 45kr (£3.80) and coffees ranged in price from 25kr-50kr (£2 – £4) and tea cost 33kr (£2.80).
After walking around and seeing the sights of Gothenburg (more on those below!) I decided it was time for coffee and cake (and my feet and the two blisters that came with them demanded I take a break from walking). I had walked past Café Brulé on my way to the cathedral and since it was about 30 seconds away I decided it was definitely the place to go.
I asked the waitress at the counter “har du sojamjölk?” The answer was “ja” so everything was going well. I ordered a soy latte and a slice of the blåbärspaj (bilberry crumble) served with vanilla sauce. It was absolutely delicious and I could definitely have eaten more than one slice!
My coffee and cake at Café Brulé cost me 74kr (about £6.20 – 35kr for the latte and 39kr for the cake). They do a special offer of a coffee and a crème brûlée for only 59kr – perfect for those with a sweet tooth!
Le Petit Café
It was pretty chilly on my way from Café Brulé to Kelly’s for dinner… so while walking through Haga I decided it was time to stop for a cup of tea (how very British). I remembered I had seen Le Petit Café recommended on Triposo and so concluded it would be a perfect location to grab a cuppa.
I ordered a mint tea (actual tea leaves rather than a tea bag) and admired the look of the café. It was – as one of my friends would say – very Instagram-esque. A lovely cosy café and also the cakes looked so good. I was very tempted but since I was on my way to get dinner I had to miss out on the delicious treats they had to offer. Next time, Le Petit Café, next time!
A cup of tea in Le Petit Café costs 30kr (about £2.50) and coffee ranges from 35kr – 40kr (around £3). They also offer gluten free cakes.
Gothenburg has a very respectable beer culture, and when I say that I mean they do damn good beer. All beer aficionados should definitely put Gothenburg on their bucket list. Like, now.
(Ölstugan could also fit in this category! But since I got a meal there you can check it out under restaurants.)
Brewers Beer Bar
This is the aforementioned bar that I visited on my first night in Gothenburg and subsequently recommended to Anders. On my first visit, I enjoyed a small (20cl) glass of Black is Back, a black IPA from Sahtipaja, a brewery based in nearby Sätila. BBB also offers an extensive bottled beer menu, as well as a great food menu, including vegan sourdough pizzas. I had just eaten at Ölstugan so just ordered a vegan chocolate truffle to accompany my beer. 5/5 for both!
On my next visit with Anders, I had planned on trying the Göteporter, but they had sold out. I tried the Unsecret Ingredient (APA from All In Brewing) but eventually settled on the Hefenator Weizenbock by Bearded Rabbit Brewery. Anders had the Äppelpaj mead from Sahtipaja (although apparently he wasn’t amazed by it) and also Same Same, an APA also from Sahtipaja.
Beers on pump at Brewers Beer Bar range from 33kr – 55kr for 20cl (£3 – £5) and double the price for 40cl. Bottled beers can be anywhere from 50kr – 300kr (£4 – £25), with the majority at around 100kr (£8). Pizzas cost 95kr – 150kr (£8 – £13) and they also serve cold cuts at 135kr (£11) and salads at around 100kr (£13), including a vegan salad. Desserts include a “birramisu” (tiramisu made with beer) at 55kr (£5), the vegan chocolate truffle I had for 25kr (£2) and a dark chocolate mousse at 45kr (£4). They also have bar snacks for sale (peanuts, crisps, etc) for 25kr – 35kr (£2 – £3). BBB is a CARD ONLY zone.
After trying out my bar recommendation, Anders took me to one of his favourite bars – the cheap (for Sweden) and popular Jerntorgets Brygghus. Having had enough of craft beer for one night (also, most dark beers were ranging around 7%+ alcohol volume) I opted for a very British choice of cider. I can’t help it, guys, I live in Somerset.
However, Jerntorgets did have a pretty extensive beer selection! Their bottled beers were from a variety of places, including London Pride, Paulaner (Munich), Duvel (Netherlands) and more. They seemed to have a lot available on hand pump but a combination of a lot of people at the bar and me being only 5’3″ meant that I didn’t really manage to see what they had.
Two ciders (one large and one small) came to a neat 100kr (around £8.50) at Jerntorgets Brygghus. You can find their drinks and food menus online, and beers range from 35kr (£3) for their cheapest on pump (40cl) to 169kr (£14) for their most expensive bottled beer (75cl).
What to See & Do in Gothenburg
I only had one full day in Gothenburg and didn’t want to be rushing around, which meant that I didn’t get to do everything I had originally wanted to do when planning. Below I will mention the sights I did see and then note what else I had been recommended!
Even if you don’t have a meal in Feskekörka, I definitely recommend giving it a visit! It’s a pretty cool slice of history, too. (I do recommend that you eat there as well, but I know that not everyone is a fan of fish…)
The current cathedral dates back to 1815, although there were two cathedrals on the place where the current one stands. The first dates back to 1624 but burnt down in 1721. The walls, however, were still standing, which meant that it could be quickly rebuilt. The second cathedral burnt down in 1802.
The cathedral is free to visit, but do check first when services are!
Gothenburg City Museum
The city museum tells the story of the people and the city from the Viking era up to the modern day. The museum is located in the historic East India Shipping Company building from the 18th century and they also have a shop, restaurant and a café.
I’ve never been much of a museum person myself, but I did find the city museum pretty interesting. They also had a very interesting temporary exhibition (until September 2016) on eugenics in Sweden.
The museum is free if are the under 25, 40kr otherwise.
Gothenburg Botanical Garden
I didn’t get a chance to visit the botanical garden but it has been recommended to me, especially if you visit in the warmer months!
The Gothenburg Botanical Garden takes up an area of some 430 acres, most of it a nature reserve. There are 40 acres of gardens, with a mind-boggling 16,000 plants and cultivars. If you can’t get your head around the acreage, let’s just say it’s very large and you might not see everything. But you should try.
There is a voluntary admission fee of 20kr.
Universeum is the largest science centre in the Nordic region and when a friend of mine heard I was in Gothenburg he told he I HAD to go. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to visit, but it looks amazing!
At Universeum every day is an adventure. Our big building in the heart of Gothenburg brings together animals, nature, technology and masses of experiments. In just one day you can go on safari in the rainforest, head out into space, dive into the depths of the world’s oceans and walk through the Swedish wilderness.
During peak season (6th June – 30th August) tickets are 235kr for adults and 175kr for under 16s. The rest of the year tickets are 175kr and 120kr respectively.
Where to Sleep
Of course, visiting Gothenburg would be a little inconvenient without a place to sleep but, being the lovely person I am, I’ve got details on that for you too!
Slottsskogens Vandrarhem & Hostell
Hostel and hotel Slottsskogen is located on Vegagatan, just a short walk away from the Haga area and the area where Ölstugan, Kelly’s and Brewers Beer Bar are located. If arriving from the airport, you just need to take the Flygbussarna (airport bus, 195kr return, 185kr if bought online) into the city centre and get off at Korsvägen, before getting the number 6 tram to Olivedalsgatan.
I stayed in the 12-bed female dorm for two nights and can thoroughly recommend it! The dormitories are on the first floor of the backpackers’ building (the hotel is separate) and each bed has its own plug sockets (two), reading light, security box underneath the bed (padlock not provided but available at reception for a fee) and also a curtain for privacy.
The bed was comfy and the linen was good quality, although your linen and towel come at a 65kr surcharge (£5.50). The rooms connect to the same WiFi as the rest of the hostel, which is quick and also easy to connect to (password access – located in the dorms and in reception).
The common area is fairly spacious and has tables and chairs for socialising or for working (or, like me, waiting up before heading to the airport at 5am…) and is connected to the kitchen, where you can cook your own food or make tea and coffee etc. There are lots of toilets and shower rooms (each cubicle has a toilet and a shower) so you don’t have to wait for ages to use the bathroom in the morning!
They also have an eco-marked breakfast in the morning (70kr, just under £6) which is super good value, especially when you can go to a nearby café and a coffee is over half that price!
We get compliments everyday for our big and tasty eco-marked breakfast buffet. When you’re travelling, don’t miss the chance to start your day with a hearty breakfast in peace and quiet. Our breakfasts have become well-known all over the world and a number of foreign guidebooks have praised them.
Breakfast is served on weekdays between 7 and 10 a.m. and on weekends and national holidays between 8 and 11 a.m.
Our breakfast buffet includes:
- Different types of yogurt, milk
- Muesli and various breakfast cereals
- Coffee, different types of tea, hot chocolate, orange juice, apple juice
- Home-made bread, rolls, bread for toasting, crisp bread, rusks
- Cheese, ham, liver paste, turkey breast, sausage, butter
- Various types of stewed fruit and soups
- Eggs, herring
- Tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumber, orange wedges
- Sunflower seeds, raisins, banana chips
- Various types of marmalade, jam, applesauce
- And so on, and so on…
If you are allergic to gluten or lactose, just let us know when you make your reservation and we’ll fix a special breakfast for you. (via Slottsskogens Hostell)
A bed in the dormitory (like I had) costs 195kr per night (around £16) and is the cheapest available in all of Gothenburg! They also have other rooms available for those who aren’t fans of dorm rooms or who have a little more money to splurge!
Rooms in the hotel are available and breakfast (plus linen and cleaning etc) are included. A single room is 550kr and a double room 795kr, with 50kr extra per person for a room with private toilet and shower.
I’ll definitely stay at Slottsskogens if I go back to Gothenburg – the staff were great and gave me some great recommendations!