HAGA CHRISTMAS MARKET
We started our trip in the beautiful city of Gothenburg, where we were spoilt for choice for Christmas Markets. One of the first we went to was the Haga Christmas market which is open on weekends during the festive period. We spent a few hours walking down the cobbled streets sampling plenty of locally produced Christmas foods and ALL of the gluten! As well as the food on offer there were plenty of antiques and small boutiques selling locally made clothing and gifts to bring home. I picked up a few small glass Christmas tree decorations for a fraction of what you would pay back in the UK, not to mention that they would also be quite difficult to find. I love that about travelling – that you can pick up little souvenirs that will always remind you of a destination.
Opening information: Open Saturday (10:00 – 16:00) and Sunday (11:00 – 16:00) between 25 November – 17 December.
SALUHALLEN FOOD MARKET
Saluhallen Food Market is a permanent fixture year round in Gothenburg. But during the festive season, you’ll find a selection of traditional foods such as the famous marzipan pig. I’m a huge lover of marzipan so it’s safe to say that I tried many of the different varieties on offer. Saluhallen has plenty of shops and eateries in the market, around 40, and it’s definitely worth taking your time to explore.
Opening information: Open Monday – Friday 09:00 – 18:00, Saturday 09:00 – 16:00.
KRONHUSET CHRISTMAS MARKET
Kronhuset Christmas Market is one of the smaller markets but still worth a visit. The market is situated in Gothenburg’s oldest house where you will find an array of handmade gifts from local craftsmen. Outside the market is a courtyard with a mix of stalls selling mulled wine, toasted almonds and warm pastries, which of course we tried.
Opening information: Open daily between 2 – 23 December. (Tuesdays – Sundays).
BRUNCH AT NORDA BAR
During our time in Gothenburg the Clarion Post Hotel was our base. The hotel is comfortable and has a modern almost business feel to it. It’s also perfectly located, being in the centre of the City and a stone throw away from Gothenburg Central Station. We spent 2 nights here and enjoyed brunch at one of the restaurants in the hotel called Norda Bar. (Sweden is big on brunch, especially at Christmas time) the food was really good but what really made our experience was the incredible décor. Beautiful pink velvet sofas, huge windows and stunning lighting. Well worth a visit even if you’re not staying at the hotel.
LISEBERG CHRISTMAS MARKET
My favourite part of my time in Gothenburg was Liseberg amusement park. It’s just so beautiful. I visited when it was dark (there’s not much light in Sweden in the winter months anyway) and it was so lovely to see everything lit up so beautifully, it’s actually illuminated with five MILLION Christmas lights. I’d studied the trip itinerary before my visit and this was the main attraction for me during our time in the city so you can only imagine what it was like to see it in real life. Aside from the lights, there are rides and cute shops and plenty of restaurants. Not to mention countless stalls selling hot chocolate, mulled wine and more sweet treats than me or my waistline I care to remember. If you only go to one place during your time in Gothenburg, make it Liseberg, you won’t regret it.
Opening information: Open daily between 17 November – 30 December.
PADDAN BOAT TOUR
The Paddan boat tour was another highlight for me on the trip. The large open-top boat offers tours up and down the canals of Gothenburg and is available all year round, but feels extra special during the run up to Christmas. It also takes a special route up to the Liseberg amusement park, where you can jump off to explore during the festive season. The boat trip itself was freezing, it is open top and December after all! But made so much better by the cosy blankets they provide and the hot Glögg (Sweden’s very sweet version of mulled wine) and Gingerbread biscuits. It’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective, especially in the evenings when everything is all lit up.
CHRISTMAS BUFFET AT SJØMAGASINET
We did so much eating on this trip but one of the most memorable meals for me was the Christmas buffet at Sjömagasinet. The Michelin starred restaurant offers the most incredible buffet, packed with traditional delicacies and has the most welcoming atmosphere. There is a small stall outside of the building where they serve up mulled wine and you can warm yourself on the fire pit outside before you go into the main event. There were so many incredible dishes to try, a mix of new and familiar tastings. I spent a few hours here on my own, as I was getting a flight home a bit later than everyone else and it was the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine and people watch on a full stomach!
Opening information: Between 2-3 sittings per day through to December 23, see www.sjomagasinet.com for more details.
SALT & SILL
After a couple of nights in the city of Gothenburg we made our way towards the Bohuslän Coast, an area known as the Herring Island. Which is where the unique floating hotel and Restaurant Salt & Sill is situated. The hotel is technically a boat and subsequently holds the title of home to the world’s fastest sauna. A pretty cool attribute to have.
We spent the afternoon here making our own pickled herring with the restaurant chef before getting to experience yet another Christmas buffet in the restaurant. The restaurant specialises in local seafood and you guessed it, herring. The buffet offers an assortment of no less than 36 different varieties of pickled herring. There is an open fire in the middle of the restaurant, a cosy bar and a candy room, basically an entire room dedicated to sweets, desserts and cheese. We learnt so much about the culture of Sweden and how different their Christmas festivities our to ours, (they favour Christmas eve over Christmas day, and eat so much fresher than we do, which makes sense when you’re on the doorstep to all the incredible fresh produce.
For more information visit: www.saltosill.se
HALLINS HUS, SLUSSENS PENSIONAT
An hours drive north of Salt & Sill, at the top of Orust is where you will find Slussens Pensionat. A family-run hotel which is well known for its popular music scene during the summer months. The family are trialling a new opening, Hallins Hus, during the winter season, once they close their main hotel until the next summer season begins. Hallins Hus is a really special place, I loved everything about it, although a couple of nights here would be plenty. It’s a very quiet and intimate destination, with meals eaten family style on two long tables. With a roaring open fire in the room, keeping the cosy atmosphere alive.
The food on offer is a set menu, curated and served by the chefs themselves. The food here is some of the best that I’ve tasted. It didn’t hurt that every course (of which there were 12, came with wine pairings, courtesy of the owners’ son Julian, who is also the restaurants sommelier). There is a huge emphasis on culinary experiences at Hallins Hus and with only 24 spaces available – it feels even more special.
The views at Sulssens Pensionat are extraordinary, with sweeping views across the sea. We were lucky enough to experience a really beautiful sunset whilst we were there before being encouraged to do a bit of Winter bathing. Winter bathing is a Swedish tradition where you spend time in the sauna before jumping into the freezing cold sea. I wasn’t keen on the idea to begin with, as we were already cold to the bone after exploring all day. But after 30 mins in the sauna I took the plunge and I can see what all the fuss is about. It really wakes you up and surprisingly makes you feel warmer and was actually really fun!
For more information visit: www.slussenspensionat.se
Sweden is such a beautiful country, one that I’ve completely fallen in love with and I can’t wait to visit again. Thank you to West Sweden for hosting me on this trip. For more information head to the West Sweden website.