When we first moved to London we decided to make the most of what every Australian living in the UK’s ultimate travel dreams are made of: the European short weekend away. For anyone who’s ever had to fly 23+ hours to get to Europe this concept never gets old, and is one that should be taken advantage of at every possible opportunity (thanks Skyscanner and flash Easyjet / Ryan Air sales!)
On that note, rewind to December 2015 – five months after we’d moved to London and our first winter Christmas together. Tobi basically scored the flight sale of the century when he spotted £32 return flights to Sweden two weeks out from Christmas! Unheard of! Outrageous! Wait, is this real life? Yes, mulled wine and Christmas markets were coming for us, in every layer of warm ski-gear-thermal-level clothing we could fit into our carry on suitcases. The trip also doubled as Alice’s surprise birthday weekend, so extra excitement all round!
S A T U R D A Y 8:45 AM
Early morning flight from Luton Airport – excited about our first European weekend away but not thrilled about venturing out into the cold, dark winter air and waiting for a National Express bus from a bus stop around the corner from Baker Street station. Lesson learnt though, for all budget airline flights add a dose of chill pill to your journey by getting there more than an hour early so you can enjoy a coffee and pick up a nice hot meal for the plane ride (and maybe even a sweet treat) as there sure ain’t any food on the plane when you get there 😐
S A T U R D A Y 11:00 AM
After arriving in Göteborg Airport (very Nordic and like a page out of an Ikea catalogue, if Ikea did transit) we hopped on a bus into the main part of town. Easy to purchase from the automated ticket machines at the airport, and very efficient. The first thing we noticed as we walked to our hotel was that even though it was only just past lunchtime, the sun was already getting quite low in the sky and it felt more like 4pm or 5pm. We know the days are much shorter up this end of the longitude scale, but it was still intriguing to feel like it was late afternoon, when we’d only just left the early, dark, cold morning behind in London.
Our hotel was situated on the other side of the Götaälv (the river that runs through Gothenburg) in a little suburb called Lindholmen, a 7min bus ride from Gothenburg’s main bus terminal. The hotel sat on the water’s edge and had a hipster / meatpacking-district-in-new-york vibe going on, with a beautiful bar downstairs overlooking the river, floor to ceiling glass windows and Instagram-worthy room decor and food counters full of traditional Swedish fare alongside amazing assortments of bread, cheese and olives. Anyway, more on that later.
S A T U R D A Y 3:00 PM
So for our first day in Gothenburg, which by now looked and felt like early evening even though it was only 3pm, we hopped on a bus into town to visit the famous Christmas markets in Liseberg (an amusement park). As our very first European Christmas market experience – one word: B E A U T I F U L! ✨ Think hundreds and thousands of fairy lights, mulled wine (Swedish style), crisp winter air, the thrill of rollercoaster rides in the background, and lots of little market stalls. The photos speak for themselves…
S A T U R D A Y 7:30 PM
Later on in the evening, we headed back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes, followed by a pre-dinner expresso martini in the very cool and snazzy bar downstairs, before a birthday degustation dinner at Michelin starred restaurant Thornstrooms Kok (Teknologgatan 3; 46-31-162-066; thornstromskok.com) – which Tobi had organised as a special birthday treat, our first and very memorable culinary experience in Scandinavian dining.
We opted for the food and wine menu, and it was delicious. Every single dish, and the ambience of the restaurant (small and cosy in a small cottage setting) was just perfect for a chilly winter’s evening in the lead-up to Christmas.
S U N D A Y 10:30 AM
We started the day off with an amazing buffet breakfast in the restaurant downstairs, where the sun streamed through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and cast warm morning light across our faces as we tucked into our breakfast buffet. Note to self, winter morning sun Gothenburg is stunning; low, bright and with a quiet calmness about it.
S U N D A Y 12:00 PM
As we had a few hours spare we decided to do a Sunday morning walk up to nearby Keillers Park, where the rocky heights of Ramberget (87m) offer impressive views of Göteborg across the river (once you make it to the top!) The walk is a combination of pleasant stroll uphill and hiking / clambering over large rocks, but we were lucky enough to do this against a backdrop of crisp blue sky, so it was nice to warm up on our way to the top.
Again, bizarrely even though this was a ‘morning walk’ the sun was already starting to set low in the sky and pretty much gone by the time we got back down to the bottom of the park!
S U N D A Y 3:00 PM
Back at the hotel, we decided to have lunch in the restaurant before heading back to the airport – an amazing array of pickled fish, vegetables, amazing bread and fluffy whipped butter, and other Nordic style dishes spread across three rows of buffet goodness, Scandinavian style. A wonderfully moorish way to wrap up our little weekend in Göteborg (also known as Gothenburg in English speaking countries) and it meant we didn’t have to worry about getting to the airport early for a Pret a Manger fix!
S U N D A Y 5:25 PM
Needless to say, the flight home involved a bit of napping and whilst the late night bus journey back into London from Luton airport at 10pm wasn’t our idea of Sunday night fun, it was worth it for our Christmas and Scandinavian themed food and ambience-filled 36 hours in Göteborg x