CREATIVE HUBS: GOTHENBURG
How’s this for a fact: Gothenburg is the most sociable city in the world. According to a 2017 study of global sociability, the place came up trumps thanks to its openness, the frequency with which residents socialise and an ominous third category called propensity to party…
Mind you, Gothenburg has got reason to smile. The Scandinavian hotspot has gone from strength to strength in recent years. It’s music that really put it on the map – José González, Little Dragon and Goat among the city’s greatest artistic outputs (notwithstanding its strong contingent of heavy metal). And every June, the Way out West Festival draws crowds from across the world. (Everyone is well-dressed and really, really good looking.)
The city’s eclectic taste for music transfers to lively nightlife, a good amount of which takes place along the Långgatorna, or “the long streets”. It is areas like this – packed with bars selling experimental cocktails and craft beers – that have earned the city the misnomer of ‘Little London’. Meanwhile, the area of Haga, once rundown and rowdy, has been renovated and today hosts cosy cafés along its cobbled streets.
Gothenburg’s status as a city of culture became clear with the Biennial opened back in 2001. But there’s a number of more countercultural examples of creativity too. Known as Artscape, Scandinavia’s biggest street art festival reached Gothenburg last year and oversaw the exhibition of large-scale urban works across all ten of Gothenburg’s districts. Meanwhile, housed in a former boiling house, Roda Sten Konsthall is a contemporary space that hosts numerous workshops and installations.
Thanks to Gothenburg’s coastal location, seafood is life here. Fishing was originally one of the city’s most important industries and the Feskekorka, which translates to ‘fish church’, has been functioning as a fish market since 1847. Word is spreading – there are now six Michelin-starred restaurants in the city and critics are flocking to the fishing villages that dot the coast.
Gothenburg is a lively city with a creativity that is all-encompassing – spanning music, design, art and food. Like your overachieving friend, we can hardly believe our luck that it’s friendly too.
WHERE TO STAY
Elite Plaza Hotel
Housed in a regal 19th-century building, the Elite Plaza hotel retains historical details such as Italian marble stucco and a mosaic floor in the lobby. It’s a member of the Design Hotels portfolio, and rooms feature sumptuous velvet furnishing offset by burnished copper tables.
Set on board a ship that dates back to 1907, this hotel is just about as close to seafaring Scandinavia as it gets. Rooms are maritime through and through – with wood-panelled walls hung with seascapes. Ahoy, there.
With swathes of silk, touches of velvet and details in gold brocade, this boutique hotel looks as though it’s been plucked right out of Paris – it’s the opposite of pared-back Scandi chic. One for the lovers, the lifts let out a giggle when you reach your floor.
WHAT TO SEE
Fika in Haga
Independent coffee shops are the name of the game in Gothenburg (there’s only one Starbucks in the entire city). Make for Haga for some of the best roasters in town – we love Café Husaren for its mix-and-match wallpaper and giant cinnamon buns.
Escape the city – by ferry or a 30-minute tram – and take a day-trip to Gothenburg’s southern archipelago. In the warmer months it’s enough to wile away the time by jumping off rocks into the cooling water, while in the winter you can get your bearings by walking or cycling.
Margate eat your heart out – Liseberg is the biggest amusement park in Scandinavia and also Sweden’s oldest. High-octane hits include a vintage wooden roller coaster called Balder, while those who want to keep things calm might make for the carousel castle instead.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Make for the fishmarket and spend some time admiring the fresh catch – rows of prawns, oysters and lobster – before hopping upstairs to Restaurant Gabriel’s to order a glass of champagne and a plate of buttery lemon sole.
This veggie hotspot is housed within the lobby of an arts theatre and specialises in small sharing plates and natural wines. Feast on the likes of butter-baked cauliflower and fried ginger, and be sure to plan your visit over the weekend for the chance of live music and DJ sets.
Dating back to 1892, this pub can get packed to the rafters. In the summer months, escape the crowds and join the throng outside. Alongside a healthy selection of craft beers and wine, Ölstugan also serves up Swedish comfort food (read: meatballs).