Old soul, new wave: a fresh take on Gothenburg

Buns, boats and boutique hotels

Like one of the ocean liners moored in the Gothenburg harbour, it can take a while for a city to change direction. Over twenty years ago, Gothenburg started to plot its own cosmopolitan course. Now it’s most definitely arrived. Today, Sweden’s  second city is a firm favourite with mini-breakers, mixing historic sights with hip-as-it-gets culture, buzzing nightlife with glamorous boutique hotels. 


Old soul

Founded by the Dutch in 1621, Gothenburg has been a vital port for nearly 400 years. And the city is still dotted with reminders of its maritime past – and trailblazing present.

A trip back in time

Start your day at one of the city’s oldest surviving buildings: the Kronhuset. Dating from 1642-54, it was originally used to store ammunition. These days, it’s loaded with shops selling glassworks, chocolate, furniture, pottery and leather. There’s also a popular café, perfect for your mid-morning Fika (Cinnamon bun) fix.

After fuelling up with coffee and cakes, head for the Liseberg amusement park. Founded in 1923, the park is a magical mash up of old and new; of blissful gardens and heart-stopping thrills. To really experience Gothenburg’s clash of history and innovation, hop aboard the Balder rollercoaster – one of the world’s most famous wooden tracked rollercoasters. Built in 2003, its laser-cut track gives added speed and precision for adrenaline junkies.

Liseberg amusement park

If that sounds a little too hectic, make your way to the Universeum, located just down the road. Part science museum, part rainforest, fully immersive, it’s a great spot for enquiring minds of any age. Opened in 2001, it’s not exactly ancient, but it’s fast become a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.     


The past on a plate

To try traditional Swedish food with a modern scandi twist, head for Sjömagasinet. Recently awarded a Michelin star, this restaurant on the Klippan waterfront is hugely popular – and rightly so. If you fancy some authentic fare on the fly, track down the Strommingsluckan van around trendy Magasinsgaten. Here they serve classic fried herring, creamy mash and lingonberry sauce, open every weekday lunchtime.


New wave

The grungy side of Gothenburg is changing fast with industrial units being transformed into vibrant cultural hubs. Röda Sten is a great example of this clash of old and new. An art gallery, exhibition space, café, bar and club rolled into one, it’s a great spot for relaxing and taking in the city – especially in the summer months.

Similarly, the district of Haga has been completely regenerated. Once rundown and rowdy, these streets are now buzzing with independent stores and cosy cafes. Nearby, you’ll find a hotchpotch of trendy bars and restaurants – just ask your concierge for what’s hitting the headlines right now.


The great outdoors

If you fancy some peace and quiet (and maybe even a spot of sunbathing), make a beeline for the Trädgårdsföreningen. Located just across the river from the sumptuous Dorsia Hotel & Restaurant, it’s one of Europe’s best preserved 19th century parks and home to a lively programme of concerts and events.

Of course, any visit to Gothenburg wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the archipelago. Dotted along the coast are hundreds of tiny islands, populated by quaint summer houses and their sun-loving residents. One of our favourite spots is Styrsö for its traditional villages, sandy beach and incredible views – but the world’s your oyster.


To really experience ‘new wave’ Sweden at its most jet setting, venture 45 minutes up the coast to Marstrand. After exploring the island’s castle, cafes and cinnamon buns, hop aboard a yacht and take to the waves. There are hundreds of impossibly perfect spots to moor up and relax. And, if you’re lucky, you may even catch sight of a seal.


Whether you’ve been day tripping or dancing the night away, Gothenburg has some of Sweden’s best boutique hotels. For a city that effortlessly mixes old and new, Dorsia Hotel & Restaurant seems the perfect fit. Blending original art and antiques with palatial contemporary styling, it’s the perfect way to finish your Gothenburg getaway.