When I think of Christmas, I think of twinkling lights, festive songs blaring from shops selling baubles and gifts, and snow blanketing the streets in a dusting of bleached and fluffy powder.
Arriving in Gothenburg, it seemed I was onto a winner. Known as Sweden’s Christmas city, Gothenburg was ablaze with candy coloured lights and the sound of festive frolics – the only thing missing was the snow. Our hotel couldn’t have been better. As my sister and I approached and the familiar melodies of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody grew louder, we looked up to see the Clarion Post Hotel wrapped in a bright red, sparkling bow.
As we’d arrived late in the evening (crashing a works Christmas party as we came!), we did little more than admire the view from our 11th floor suite before snuggling down for bed in preparation for the busy two days ahead.
After a lengthy chat with Emelie over a delicious breakfast, of meats, fruits, breads and pancakes we were set. Our first stop was Kungsportsavenyn (the main shopping avenue) and Saluhallen, the weekend market. Our eyes grew wide at the foods on display, from pigs legs to tripe, nuts to cakes.
Following our map, we made our way through the streets to the start of the lane of lights. On the canal’s edge was the International Christmas Market where we marvelled at the gifts on sale, ate Greek kebabs and sipped on glögg (a sweeter, less alcoholic version of German glühwein, and so much yummier!) to warm our cockles.
Once refreshed, we continued on to Haga, the old district. My favourite part of the city, we were serenaded by the street performers on accordions while the cobbled streets, historic buildings and market stalls made for a quaint and charming walk. Popping into the shops, we bought decorations for our trees at home and enjoyed a ‘fika’ of hot chocolate and meringue cake in the warmth of Café Kringlan.
Wandering further, the temperature dropped, encouraging us to visit the Dirty Records cafe for (yet another) fika. As darkness fell, we left the old district and made our way to Götaplatsen to see the light show on the Concert Hall.
After the show we followed the towering tree of golden lights to the Liseberg Amusement Park. Gaining free entry with our complimentary City Cards we entered the bustling crowds. With nearly 5, 000, 000 lights, the park was a beautiful winter wonderland selling everything from freshly baked donuts to oak pipes and leather bags. All around us were laughing children rushing to the ice-rink or nearby rollercoasters whilst their parents (and us) drank copious amounts of glögg. We saw reindeer, rode the looming Ferris wheel that towered above and nibbled on meats and breads. Exhausted by the excitement, it wasn’t long before our weary feet led us back to our hotel room where we collapsed in a heap on our soft and welcoming beds.
Again making the most of the extensive breakfast, our bellies were filled for another day’s exploration. As we’d walked everywhere the day before, we decided to try out the trams. Hopping on just outside the hotel, we followed the canal back to the Liseberg Market.
Using our City Cards we spent the morning exploring the Universeum’s hot and humid jungle (a nice break from the freezing outdoor air!) alongside free-roaming monkeys, parrots and large, beautiful butterflies. (If you have young kinds, this place cannot be missed!)
Next door we found the Museum of World Culture where we saw a series of photographs depicting ‘A Day in the World’ and an exhibit about the differing types of travel through generations and cultures.
Heading back to Kungsportsavenyn we browsed the shops just as our tummies started to rumble. Having met a local on the plane ride over we’d been told: ‘You must try our pizzas. They’re so much better than yours,” so we put her theory to the test. Finding ourselves a small, seductive pizzeria we gorged on the cheesy cuisine till we could barely move. She was right.
As we left the restaurant, it was clear that my Christmas dream was to be complete; snow had started to fall. Heading back through the falling flakes, our lasting views of Gothenburg’s streets was that of a white and whirling haze crowded by last minute shoppers and the warm glow of the city’s stunning lights; the perfect Christmas city.
I’d just like to add a HUGE thank you to Gothenburg and West Sweden for picking me as their competition winner and taking my sister and I on such a wonderful trip. We had a fantastic time and we’ve well and truly been won over by Gothenburg’s magic – it’s a definitely must-see city. THANK YOU!!!