Gothenburg was not one of the places on my travel ‘to do’ list, but it should have been.
My partner Harry surprised me for my birthday the day before our travels so I could at least look up the weather and pack accordingly. We travelled to Gothenburg on the weekend 15 – 17 April, 2016.
Here’s a summary of what to do and see:
- the city and historical boat making area from the comfort of a Paddan sightseeing boat
- lunch or dinner at Feskekorka (fish market) in operation since 1874
- one of the many Archipelago islands
- brave the many stairs up to Skansen Kronan fort for a beautiful view
- hang out in the trendy part of town called Haga
- drink a ‘flaming galah’ cocktail at the Down Under Bar (Aussie bar)
- try one of the many beers at Jerntorgets Brygghus (if you like passionfruit, try the West Coast Golden Ale)
Liseberg amusement park was not yet open (1 week shy of opening day on 23 April!) so please promise me that you will visit the park, try all the rides and let me know how it is so that we can decide whether to go back or not!
Friday – flight to Gothenburg
It was my birthday at work and being surrounded by lovely people meant ‘happy birthday’ banners, pretzels and presents. I love Snyder’s pretzels so much I was given 3 packets for my birthday. Try the Jalapeno pretzels! They – are – amazing. After a celebratory champagne it was time to make my way to Liverpool St and onto London Stansted airport.
Tip – allow minimum 1.5 hours between arriving at Stansted airport and getting through security, even if you’ve already checked in and have carry-on baggage. Our experience was stressful!
Once we arrived in Gothenburg we caught an Uber (it was 230kr with Uber or 210kr using public transport) with a very friendly driver to our hotel boat called Astoria. You can find it by searching for Good Morning Hotels in Gothenburg. It is a beautiful old boat originally built in Germany and never had a motor! It was transported to Gothenburg and seems to have changed hotel owners quite a few times. It is beautiful on the inside and when you look outside the window of your room, the view is mostly water. The area is really quiet and with the very comfortable beds, your sleep is guaranteed to be peaceful!
We arrived quite late so enjoyed a late night snack menu of a pizza slice and cheese and ham toastie with salad on the side. The finale of my birthday involved a cheers with the champagne that Harry had sweetly arranged to have delivered to our room. Happy birthday to me!
Saturday – Paddan sightseeing boat tour, fish market, fort and Haga
Breakfast was included in our hotel stay so that was activity number one for the morning. We had a mix of hot and cold breakfast, coffee and juices.
Our hotel receptionist told us the night before that the Stromma boats were going to Archipelago islands today and due to low season we wouldn’t need to book. On our way we saw a sunken boat – poor Crosby. Unfortunately once we arrived at the main boat departure area there didn’t seem to be ANY Stromma boats going out today! One of the downsides of off-peak travel. We were so excited by the idea of a prawn and salmon cruise! But in the end it forced us to discover a cheaper and more convenient way of travelling to Archipelago (see Sunday).
Instead we walked towards Gothenburg city and found a science festival. Sounds boring but it was very interactive with workstations for children and adults to experiment with all kinds of science! Computer science, music engineering, hair and hat pieces made of all sorts of material and contraptions built to hold and continuously move a ball around its course made of straw.
We found another boat tour with Paddan Sightseeing (departs from the city) that takes you through the city and out into the ocean to see the boat manufacturing area. During the tour we learnt that Gothenburg was the number one location for building boats for some time during the war period. Our tour guide was impressive with her commentary switching between Swedish and English all the way through the 50 minute journey. One of the most memorable parts of the boat sightseeing journey was the very low bridges that depending on how tall you are, on at least one occasion you will need to duck.
The fish market was pointed out during our boat tour and we decided to try it for lunch. It was a short walk no more than 10 minutes, along the banks of the river from the end point of our boat tour. The fish market, otherwise known as feskekorka, has been in operation since 1874 and was constructed on request of the fishermen who needed somewhere undercover to sell their catch. The difference now is there are two restaurants inside to enjoy the fresh seafood in comfort. Of course you can choose to have takeaway if you wish and in summer I would highly recommend this! There are beautiful parks nearby. Our lunch was delicious however quite expensive (around 550kr which is equivalent to approximately 50gbp).We did enjoy a local beer and funnily enough a New Zealand wine with our salmon (raw) and creamed potatoes and herring and mashed potato. So, for such fresh and great quality food it was probably reasonably priced. Not our usual travel meal!
After lunch we made our way to the fort called Skansen Kronan on the top of the hill. There are two of these in the city, one in the west and one in the east. It is actually now used for events which we discovered after venturing upstairs inside before being ushered back out of the building due to an event taking place that evening.
It is worth the many stairs up to the fort, even if just to see the view of Gothenburg city. There are so many colourful houses! Our tour guide on the boat told us that the architecture is heavily influenced by the Dutch which we had guessed when we arrived!
As per our usual weekend holiday routine, it was time for a nap so we could make it through the night activities. We slept through our alarm thanks to me setting it for AM instead of PM! But thankfully we only slept for 30 minutes past the alarm time. We freshened up and because of the rain and delay in getting out, we ordered an Uber. Our Uber driver was called Lars and he told us he had been to Australia 150 times and played guitar with Tommy Emmanuel who he knew personally. For any of our Australian friends, you’ll know how big this is.
We arrived at Hemma Hos, a restaurant and bar in the trendy part of town called Haga. It had a really nice vibe and decor but unfortunately was not serving food at 9:30pm (fair enough!). The bartender was really friendly and helped us by telling us which way to walk to find a place still serving food. There were also two very beautiful dogs there that we said hello to for a few minutes before leaving.
A short stroll up the road and we found Jerntorgets Brygghus. Full of locals with only two spare seats left in the whole place. Still serving food – perfect! I had a very generous portion of pork schnitzel covered in a delicious sauce. It was even cheaper than the places we had found on Google earlier (about 150kr)! And, if you like beer, this is the place for you. So many to choose from! Harry had a West Coast Golden Ale that had a subtle passionfruit flavour.
In the brewhouse we had a window view of the streets below. There were ladies with head scarves, colourful socks and sandals, all with cups asking people for money. At one stage there were 4 of them at the doorway of the 7 Eleven store. In 15 minutes around 10:30pm we only saw one person give them money. But they spread out and were not always in our vision. When we left to move onto the next place, we came across them every 20 or so metres! They were even at the airport the next day! Part of a bigger operation but no doubt out of desperation.
We saw a sign for the Down Under Bar and couldn’t resist seeing their take on Australian culture. They had boomerangs on the wall, steak pies for sale (96kr aka almost 20 bucks!), a koala pillow on the couch and a ‘flaming galah’ cocktail on the menu. The quote of the trip has to be Harry saying ‘coulda had dinner ere!’ All the bartenders were Australian and there were a few familiar Australian accents throughout the bar. On our way out, Harry was taking a photo of me with the sign when a few Swedish girls and an Aussie guy decided to join in!
It was tempting to keep the pub crawl going but with our plan for Archipelago in the morning we decided to head home. Ahh comfy bed and peace and quiet. Getting – old. It took us about 30 minutes to walk home and Harry had to try some rock climbing along the way.
Sunday – Archipelago finally!
Yep, glad we stopped drinking when we did. It was hard enough to get up this morning!
After breakfast we checked the tram times with the hotel receptionist and he advised that we needed to get the 10:24am Tram number 11 to Saltholmen to connect with the ferry. We walked to central station and purchased a day travel card each (85kr equivalent to around 8 pounds). This covers your travel on both the tram and ferry. We met a lovely lady, her son and her dog called Molly. Notice how I know her dog’s name but not her son’s name (#animallover) She reassured us that the ferry would wait for us as the tram is usually a bit delayed.
She was right, the ferry was waiting for us. They were travelling to another Archipelago island so we thanked them and headed towards ferry boat number 282. During our conversation with the lady, I was sure she had said that Styrso Bratten (one of the Archipelago islands) had: nothing to eat; was picturesque; only had wheelbarrows and she would love to own a house there. So I thought okay we should go to Kopstadso. Turns out that was the place she described. But it was still worth the visit! There really was a wheelbarrow for each person on the island upon exiting the ferry for them to carry their things to their houses. There are no cars and the pathways are sometimes only big enough for the wheelbarrow! The houses are quaint and colourful and there are a couple of tennis courts, a soccer ground and fishing and swimming area. Very peaceful. We lasted all of around 45 minutes before catching the next ferry over to Styrso Bratten which was much more popular.
It was well past lunch time at this point so we didn’t get past Obergska Cafe on Styrso Bratten island. We were the only people there to begin with but eventually there were a few more tables full of people. We shared a burger and hummus plate followed by the best ice cream I’ve had in my whole life. And I like icecream.
You really need a full day to comfortably explore the Archipelago islands that you’re interested in seeing. There are lots of them! The drop off and pick up ferry service is quick and as per the schedule.
It was soon time to start making our way back to Gothenburg city for our afternoon flight with RyanAir. The ferry was busy and the available seats happened to be near the same lady, son and dog we had met earlier! We talked to them all the way back to Saltholmen and found out that her husband is a train driver and was driving a train to Stockholm that day. She also said that she used to be a conductor and her son works in catering on the trains. For all my ex-railway colleagues, you’ll know that I found this conversation quite interesting! We also got to pat Molly who we learned is an Italian truffle hunter dog. She has beautiful brown eyes!
After the ferry we were lucky enough to sit next to a friendly French bulldog on the tram. Once we arrived back at central station we strolled back to the boat to collect our bags and catch an uber back to the airport!
Is Gothenburg now on your travel ‘to-do’ list?