EVENING IN THE PARK – The Tradgardsforeningen (Garden Society) is a large park off Nya Allen that locals have been taking a turn in since 1842. Full of flowers and tiny cafes, it’s also home to a big rosarium and the gracious 19th-century Palmhuset (Palm House): look out for the camellia collection and two-metre-wide lily pads.
THORNSTROMS KOK – For a lesson in modern Swedish cuisine, splash out for dinner at this Michelin-starred restaurant where chef Hakan Thornstrom presents flawless dishes using local, seasonal ingredients, such as sweetbreads with hazelnut and cured perch with rhubarb. Tasting menus are available, along with a la carte.
NOBA NORDIC BAR – With ye olde maps of Scandinavia on the walls and a glassed-over beer patio with birch tree stumps for stools, this bar takes its Nordic beers very seriously. From Iceland’s Freyja to Denmark’s K:rlek, you name it, this bar’s got it. Free-flowing whiskies liven up the scene on weekends.
CITY BOAT TOUR – Gothenburg’s old moat and canals date back to the 17th century and a boat tour offers a fascinating view of the city. Open-top boats glide under low bridges and then slip out into the harbour amid traditional shipyards. Stromma offers a hop-on hop-off Paddan boat ticket (early Jul-late Aug), valid for 24 hours, and other tours the rest of the year.
MARITIMAN – The world’s largest floating ship museum includes fishing boats, a lightship and a firefighter, all linked by walkways. Shin down into the 69m-long submarine Nordkaparen for a glimpse into underwater warfare. Inside the labyrinthine destroyer Smaland, in service from 1956 to 1979, hunched figures listen to crackling radio messages, and the bunks look just-slept-in.
GOTEBORGS KONSTMUSEUM – Scandinavian masters such as Bruno Lijefors, Edvard Munch, Anders Zorn and Carl Larsson have pride of place in the city’s premier art collection, and the gallery also hosts works by Impressionists, Rubens, Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Picasso. Other highlights include a superb sculpture hall, photography exhibitions and new Nordic art.
BROWSING IN HAGA – The Haga neighbourhood is the city’s oldest suburb, dating from 1648. A hardcore hippie hang-out in the 1960s and 1970s, its cobbled streets and vintage buildings are now a blend of cafes, vintage shops and boutiques. During some summer weekends and at Christmas, store owners set up stalls along the central street of Haga Nygata, turning the district into one big market.
XEMMA HOS – With a smooth black bar and comfortable tables, this Haga restaurant-bar manages to be both urbane and relaxed. Its selection of small plates is decidedly gourmet – slow-cooked pork with apple chutney or goat’s cheese with honey and pine nuts – and there’s good wine by the glass.
RODA STEN – Inside a defunct, graffitied power station beside the Alvsborgsbron – the big bridge across the Gota alv downsteam from the city centre – Roda Sten’s four floors are home to temporary exhibitions from international artists that push boundaries. The indie-style cafe hosts live music, stand-up comedy and even boxing matches.
Goteborg Landvetter Airport is 12 miles east of Gothenburg, and a two-hour flight from Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted with BA (and BA franchise Sun Air), Norwegian and Ryanair. The Flygbuss runs to the city centre every 15-20 minutes and costs US$10 one-way (flygbussarna.se). The most convenient way around town is by tram. Colour-coded lines converge near central Brunnsparken square. Travel is free for Gothenburg Pass holders; one- and three-day travel cards can work out cheaper than buying single-trip tickets.
WHERE TO STAY
IQ Suites offers industrial-chic apartments in a 19th-century brick building. Rooms come with bathrobes, hot tubs and well-equipped kitchens, and outside there’s a lovely garden.
Fabulous Hotel Flora’s 65 individually themed rooms flaunt designer details. Some of them offer river views and those on the top floor have air-con. There’s also a split-level courtyard for those long summer days.
Upper House takes up the top floors of one of the Gothia Towers. The sumptuous decor is pure Scandinavian chic, the spa comes with a hammam and there’s a 19th-floor pool with killer views over the city.