Whenever I have the pleasure of taking guests to show them my city I wonder: will they be happy to see things from the outside or would they rather go inside? This might sound like a weird question to you, but allow me to explain. One of the most frequent things I do is walking tours. I pick up my guests at their hotel and we go for a walk where I show them the beauty of Gothenburg.
Would you like to go inside?
There are so many great things to see in a city, but when you have a limited amount of time, we tend to simply scratch the surface. We walk past some of the most amazing buildings but don’t go in. We point out “here’s this museum, and this is City Hall, and over there is where the local parliament resides, and it’s a beautiful building.” We never go inside which is a shame.
There are two main reasons why: a) most buildings aren’t open to visitors, which is a shame. Our local stock exchange is one of the most impressive places we have to show, but it’s only open once every blue moon at specific times, which never suits visitors from abroad. I can tell them that their president or prime minister had dinner here with our king, but I can’t show them.
The second reason is time. Even if the building were open, if you have four hours for a walking tour, there’s not time to spend one or two hours in just one building.
You need a reason to come back…
This is my MO for every place I visit: I miss something important, simply because I’d like to come back. And on a second visit, I may not have to do the “usual” again, but I can dive deeper. I’ve been to Venice countless times since I was a child, and while I have my “have to’s”, e.g. to drink a glass of Prosecco on St. Mark’s Square after dark and listen to live music, these days, my visits to this amazing city allow me to visit places most first-time visitors don’t see.
As a tour guide here in Gothenburg, I kind of see it as my responsibility to water my guests’ mouths, to make them want to come back for more. It’s a delicate balance and I always make sure to learn about hteir interests ahead of time, to make sure they experience exactly what they want, whether it’s walking past a building or going in (if possible.)
Gothenburg is a heavenly destination for foodies. I’ve always known that. Well, maybe it hasn’t always been, but the chefs here in town have a thing or two for fish and seafood and in the past decade or so, plenty of amazing restaurants serve superb food.
I recently came across this article on National Geographic where they point out Gothenburg as a top destination in 2019 to visit if you love food. Who am I to argue with National Geographic?
They particularly point to “Salt & Sill”, a restaurant about 90 minutes north of Gothenburg on the small island of Klädesholmen. I was there just last week and can confirm that it’s still an amazing place. I reviewed it on my TripAdvisor account.
But that’s not the only great place in the region
There are so many more great places to eat, even in the city itself. Some I’ve written about in my DIY-guide which you can purchase right here on the site. But let me just mention one of my personal favorites. Expensive, but amazing food: Sjömagasinet.
I was there last week and the food is superb. Below’s what my dessert looked like. And it was as delicious as it looks. So come visit Gothenburg, from food trucks to the best experimental cuisine, we’ve got you covered!
This week, my dad is visiting us. I still remember the first time he came to see me here in Sweden. To show him my new home town is always an honor, and slightly scary. Will he approve? We’ve just spent two days on the West Coast, and he liked it, despite the cold and windy weather, something even the best guide isn’t able to influence.
Nobody’s as honest and critical as family
If you think that guiding your family is easier than clients? Think again. And to think you get any favors? No sir. Guiding family (and friends) is not a grateful job, but it provides great opportunities to learn and grow, not to mention test new things, try new restaurants (or make sure known ones are still up to par), etc.
A trip to the West Coast
Dad has been here many times over the years, and yesterday and today, I took him back to some of the places he’d been to before, although it’s been many years. He’d mostly forgotten and this time the weather was better.
We covered Marstrand yesterday, a small island city off the coast about 40′ drive north of Gothenburg, and today we drove even further, although we ended up just a good 15′ boat ride north of Marstrand, on the island of Tjörn and its outlying isles of Klädesholmen, Åstol, and Dyrön.
Good food and amazing nature to round off a successful day
Our first stop for today was Skärhamn, a coastal town on the island of Tjörn. It is famous for it’sarts museum, focusing on aquarelle paintings. But it also sports a beautiful harbor and a smiling church.
After a quick coffee (it was cold) we took the ferry from Rönnäng on a short trip around to Åstol (beautiful on a sunny, calm summer’s day), and Dyrön. Afterward, I drove us back to Klädesholmen for lunch at Salt & Sill. That little islet is famous for herring canneries and boy, their lunch is good. Six varieties of herring as an appetizer, followed by a fish burger with mashed potatoes and pees. Yummy!
Enjoy some pictures of today’s trip:
To visit Marstrand from Gothenburg (incl. Carlsten fortress) you’ll need about five hours, two of which you’ll spend getting to and fro the city. In the summer, with a lot of tourist traffic, you may need to allocate more time as parking is scarce and you may need to walk longer from the parking lots to the ferry.
Tjörn and its islands are also a good hour and fifteen minutes away from Gothenburg, further north, but there’s more time on the freeway, so you cover more ground. Again, summer traffic will add time, particularly as you cross the bridge over to Tjörn. We’ve literally spent hours in queues. Parking is a thing, too and you may need to leave your car up to a kilometer or more from ferries, harbors, etc. The town roads are very narrow and you share the space with walking visitors and locals. Be mindful and patient. Five to six hours is recommended. If you visit Åstol or Dyrön, be mindful of the ferry timetable. Summertime (June-Aug) you might find an open café or restaurant, but off season, expect to eat on Tjörn or simply bring your own lunch.
What I can promise you though is the unexpected. Something you might not have thought about, or even considered with regards to my town. Yeah, I claim total bragging rights here, I know.
Let your soul dangle for a bit
When people think about Gothenburg, associations vary. Most people probably haven’t heard of our fair city, that we are home of the world’s largest truck manufacturing company, AB Volvo, or that we were once a sneeze away from becoming the capital of all Nordic countries. It’s a long story…
We are a great many things, and we have much to offer. I’m sure you’ll have seen that Gothenburg sits right on the ocean’s edge, on Sweden’s west coast. But did you also know that we are one of the greenest cities on the planet? There are parks, forests, and meadows surrounding the city and permeating it everywhere.
That greenery can also be found on our islands. On Styrsö, where I live, we have some twenty plus kilometers of official hiking trails along beaches, through our villages and the forest. You’d never know you’re on an island. Today, I was out walking and stopped to just listen to the birds singing. It’s a 360º view of what I say, just so I could capture the song. Don’t get dizzy. Close your eyes and let that soul of yours dangle for sixty-one seconds:
No matter what it is you expect to see in Gothenburg, expect the unexpected.
That’s a promise! Feel free to contact us today for a personal quote for your tour of our fair city. We’ll make sure to meet your expectations, and yeah, surpass those…
It includes over 100 tips for places to see and things to do.
I’ve lived here since 1992 and having moved here highly interested in this country and the region, I travel a lot, and I’ve been to a great many places. I’ve helped visitors discover Gothenburg and the west coast ever since. I know a thing or two about the area. While my speciality is to guide people with very distinct tastes and the highest demands, I understand that there is a market for other types of tours, from walking tours of an hour or two, to hop-on-hop-off tours etc. All good.
“I’m a backpacker…” or “I just don’t need a guide”
I hear you. I’m not unlike you. I love to discover places on my own. Not always, but sometimes. A couple of years ago, heading to Madeira, we got in touch with a local guide who’d put together a list of his fifty personal favorites. With that list we were able to prepare for an amazing vacation, all by ourselves.
I figured, why not provide a list of my personal favorites as well. And not just include sights, but also include a couple of personal favorites when it comes to hotels, restaurants, cultural places, even sporting arenas. And I’ve been to each and everyone, so I know what I’m getting you into… Although, with sports, there’s no guarantee your team will win!
100+ places, and it’s yours if you want it.
In this first edition, there are over one hundred places listed. Some you’ll see in five or ten minutes, others might take you weeks. Some are within the city, some are almost 200 km away. Still West Sweden. It’s a large country.
Some are expensive, some are dirt cheap, free even. I think there’s plenty for most people. And here’s how it works. Send me a donation of your choice and you’ll automatically be sent to a page where you can download the twenty-five-page document. Super easy and convenient. And you don’t need a PayPal account for this to work. Any credit card will do.
So why would anyone still need a guide?
Easy! A lot of people don’t want to sieve through a ton of information, read tourist guides, etc. Also, they want to be able to ask questions, learn details about each site. Sometimes I don’t know the answer, but I know where and how to find it, in a timely fashion, while the guest enjoys their stay.
Most of my guests will simply tell me about their interests, likes, and dislikes and they trust me to prepare a tour that will satisfy those expectations and hopefully exceed them. To prepare for every guest individually takes time, and that time needs to be paid for somehow, hence a higher cost than for an off-the-rack tour which requires no preparation, as it’s the same, every time.
I hope you’ll enjoy this guide. As always, if you have questions, don’t hesitate to call me.
Last week, I had the privilege of guiding a group of VIP travelers for a couple of days. Distinguished individuals, well educated and widely traveled, they were asking for a tour guide to show them Gothenburg the way an official guide never could: 100% flexible, with the ability to hold a conversation not just about historical details of a particular building or a king’s birthday, but also talk about the big political trends, socio-economic trends and things happening elsewhere in the world. Today’s global travelers expect nothing less.
Being a great guide isn’t enough…
While I pride myself in my work and can see how pleased my guests are with the service and the attention they get, entirely customized on their needs, my services have limits. I require partners to work with. I’m no restaurant (and even if I were, I’d just be one), I’m no limo or bus, no museum and I’m certainly no yacht. To provide my guests with a seamless experience, I need help, and last week was exemplary.
Arranged by their hotel, Sweden’s finest, the Upper House, the guests also had access to a driver for their time here and on Saturday, we took a tour of my home turf, the archipelago, in a beautiful yacht.
The best partners are the ones you don’t notice…
For a guest, the best partners a guide can have are the ones that go unnoticed. To be a driver means to take the guest from A to B as comfortably and safely as possible. It was a delight to work with Gothia Transfer. Our driver was probably the best one I’ve ever experienced. As a guide, sitting in the front passenger seat of comfortable and perfectly clean luxury vehicle, with my neck turned back to my guests, I didn’t even notice how we were crossing town, or what way our driver took. Suddenly we were there. Perfect. And the communication between ourselves to make the experience for our clients as smooth as possible couldn’t have been better. Highly recommended and I hope to work with them again soon. I’ll most certainly recommend my clients to work with Gothia Transfer from now on.
The company we used on Saturday, the Sealife, is a truly magnificent vessel. Clean, in perfect shape and a skipper family completely dedicated to their guests. They take the best possible care of their clients and just like I had with Gothia Transfer, to work with Gothenburg Coast Charter was a pleasure and perfectly seamless. Our guests were really happy with their tour.
Restaurants, museums, etc.
Guests need to eat, they want to see museums, and nobody knows their collections better than the curators who created them. I was really pleased to see how the people I worked with were welcoming us and did their utmost to be flexible and help me make sure the clients were happy. In my own travel, I’ve had far too many experiences when you end up at the guide’s cousin’s husband’s restaurant, making me wonder if we ended up there because it was good or because the guide got a kick-back. My take is different (I have no cousins in Gothenburg…) I will only take my guests to a place I’ve been to myself, where I can vouch for the quality of the food and service.
When can I show you my town and introduce you to some amazing partners? Gothenburg is open and welcomes visitors…
Eiffel Towers, Taj Mahals or Grand Canyons are all great, but sometimes, a sign is all you need to get excited
I live on an island, off the coast of Gothenburg. Administratively, we are part of the political city of Gothenburg. Yet often enough, the city feels far, far away. I walk a lot (part of my health regimen) and my island, Styrsö, offers miles and miles of treks through the forest, along our beautiful beaches, and through our four neighborhoods.
Just yesterday I discovered that the organization who looks after our forest walkways put up a new sign, a small gem. I hadn’t seen it last week. It made me smile. I love focusing on small details like that.
7,000 years of history on a simple wooden plaque
The sign stood below a meadow in the middle of the forest. The meadow is well-known on the island. Open-air festivals and concerts have taken place for a long time. What I didn’t know was that this was the oldest place where we’ve found traces of human habitation on the island. 7,000 years ago, people took boats out to Styrsö to fish (presumably) and they left behind flint.
What surprised me the most is that back then (not a very long time in the grand scheme of Earth’s history) the meadow was a beach. Where I stood, reading the plaque, my feet would’ve been lapped by gentle waves coming ashore. My imagination had been fired up.
Putting the consequences of global warming in a new perspective
When those first (that we know of) humans visited Styrsö, the sea levels were twenty meters above what they are now. That’s a whopping 65.6 ft. I recently read that if all of Greenland’s ice were to melt, global sea levels would rise by seven meters. But there’s not just the ice on Greenland, let’s not forget about Antarctica.
Our house is elevated some eight meters (26 ft) above sea level. By the end of this century, during my son’s lifetime, we might actually lose our house to rising sea levels. That’s a scary prospect. Yes, over time, and that includes the huge shifts in tectonic plates, sea levels have greatly varied, but the changes that we are experiencing now, are unprecedented in terms of speed. The main reason why our islands have emerged from the ocean isn’t due to sinking sea levels, but rising land (as Scandinavia had been pressed into the Earth’s mantle during the last ice age. It is still rising to this very day.) It took 3,000 years for sea levels to sink ten meters, it might take less than 300 for them to rise again… Details on a walk, but mind-boggling in the great scheme of things.
One small plaque had me thinking for hours…
As a tourist, I tend (like most) to focus on the big things that a new destination has to offer. Yet oddly, it is often the small discoveries that will excite you the most. A flower, a tree, a facade or why not a wooden plaque informing you about an unexpected detail of a place’s history, whisking you away to a distant past, igniting your imagination, almost like a great book.
A great tour guide will be able to show you these small places, these details in the shadow of the grand tourist attractions that beckon us from afar. By all means, enjoy the towers, the monuments, but don’t forget to spend some time hunting for the small details. They might prove to be more memorable in the long run.
It’s fall, and according to the Swedish Meteorological Institute (SMHI), winter is on its way south. Sweden is a huge country, and while the northernmost parts are already snow-covered, the south is still, meteorologically, enjoying summer. I don’t know about you, but to me, these definitions are all a bit academic.
The Swedish Met Office’s strange definition of our seasons
In our country, the met office considers it fall if the temperatures over a period of five days have not surpassed ten degrees, but only (this is Sweden after all) if it happens after August 1. Silly, I know. Same with winter. We can’t have “spring” before February 15, no matter how hot it is.
Personally, I find the astronomical definitions more useful using equinoxes and solstices or even just the calendar: September-November is fall, December – February is winter etc. But I can see the value that SMHI’s definition has to their research and the maps they publish of the progress of a season, e.g. fall.
However, it leads to strange events, such as the fact that we currently have two seasons in Gothenburg: fall in the East and North-East and summer in the South and West of the city, due to the warm ocean waters.
Fall is the advent of colors around here (and elsewhere, and a peaceful and quiet time)
I like fall. Not as much as the summer, but it is a season when things calm down around us. Nature gets ready to go back to a slumber where plants and animals alike recuperate and get ready for yet another cycle of life. Humanity doesn’t really do that. For us, fall usually means back to school, back to work, back onto the treadmill.
In the hectics of our busy schedules with work and school, it’s a boon to be able to go out into nature to enjoy the changes in color, see the quiet ocean, pick mushrooms and just be outdoors. Come winter with its rain- and snowstorms, it’ll be too cold and wet to spend a lot of time outside.
Some pictures of what Gothenburg looks like right now…
To give you an impression of what our fair city looks like right now, have a look at these pictures that I’ve taken in the past couple of weeks. Enjoy!
If you have questions, comments or plan to visit Gothenburg, send me a message. We look forward to showing you our town.
When I first moved to Gothenburg, back in 1992, I was shocked after my first visit to a grocery store: strange looking (and tasting) sausages, five types of cheese, tons of cabbage and apart from that, there really wasn’t much to choose from. I’m exaggerating, of course, but this country and its cuisine have changed so much in the years since.
1995, joining the EU, was revolutionizing for Sweden’s food industry
After we joined the EU and importing food from other countries became easier, our grocery shops changed, radically, and the range of supplies increased dramatically. But not only grocery stores, our restaurants changed, too, from serving “classic” cuisine, based on red meats, pork, venison and locally grown vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, and cabbages (we are, after all, a Nordic country, meaning, our climate isn’t ideal for a lot of produce.) and brown sauce and lingonberry jam.
Here on the west coast, people have always eaten fish, often pan-fried, served with potatoes, some vegetable and sauce. And there is something to be said about a delicious home-style cooked classic dish. Sadly, in the past quality was not necessarily something Swedish cuisine was known for.
If you’re interested in learning more about traditional Swedish cuisine, feel free to ask us. From IKEA meatballs to smörgåsbord and “halv special”, we’ve got you covered.
Modern Swedish cuisine is among the best in the world
I say this with pride. Our cuisine is among the top in the world. Our chefs are proud to use fresh ingredients, locally sourced products, and the suppliers are keen on trying out new ideas.
While Sweden may never be a cheese country like my own home country of Switzerland, there are some cheesemakers who produce some amazing cheese these days, a far cry from the industrialized and tasteless, wax-covered stuff you get in your next-door grocery store. For some, like my husband, a cheese plate for dessert is the highlight of a meal.
Fish, seafood and then some
Last night, I served my family a fillet of cod. Just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Delicious. You should see what a real chef can do with cod. One of my favorite fish. Or a catfish… Mouthwatering!
Definitively a favorite of mine is salmon, which you can catch right here in Gothenburg, in our moats. Swedes eat a lot of salmon! Most of it comes from farms in Norway where salmon are kept in huge basins in their deep fjords. Environmentally not without question marks, but things are getting better. If you go to a quality seafood store here in Sweden you’ll have a choice between Norwegian salmon and wild salmon, caught either in Sweden or abroad.
Salmon can be served in many different ways…
It’s a very versatile fish. I’m having a bit of a love story with warm smoked salmon right now. It is pink in flesh, very tender, moist and tasty that I could eat it daily. But that wouldn’t be good. Salmon is a very fatty fish, healthy fat mind you, but still. Lots of calories, and besides, if you eat something as good as salmon every day, you grow tired of it… There’s also cold smoked salmon, which I’m sure we all know, that orange thin slice you find on smørrebrød or canapés around the world. Here in Sweden we also eat cured salmon, which is available year-round, but particularly popular on our smörgåsbord and for Christmas.
Salmon is also easy to fry fresh or from the over. One amazing way to cook your salmon is to cover it entirely in salt and to cook the entire fish in the oven.
Seafood isn’t just shrimp
Shrimp are a staple food and Friday night favorite not just in our house, but all over the West Coast of Sweden. It’s a quickly prepared meal with a good baguette and aioli, paired with a dry, fruity white wine. Great when you have friends over. You can take your time and eat slowly.
But did you know that we have amazing oysters right here on the West Coast? And we also have amazing clams and scallops that are grown here? We even grow our own seaweed for Japanese inspired seaweed salad.
Crayfish or “scampi” is also a Swedish delicacy and while most of Sweden prefers sweetwater crayfish, cooked in dill, the West Coast prefers their ocean-dwelling cousins, bigger, cooked in salt water and with a pink/orange color. Needless to say that we’re about to begin our lobster season, and while our local lobsters may be smaller than what most people remember, properly prepared (which isn’t easy!), they’re an amazing dish.
Where to go? Where to eat?
Luckily, these days, there are few places where you will not eat well here in Gothenburg, whether it’s Swedish or international cuisine. There is a case to be made that you’re more likely to eat well when you eat local cuisine because it’s easier to get fresh ingredients. And more difficult to find a chef who truly knows how to prepare e.g. Szechuan, Salvadorian or Angolan dishes… Having said that, there are people from over 190 countries living in Gothenburg, and they all like to taste a meal from their ancestral home every now and then. You’ll find a lot of international restaurants in town, not just pizza and kebabs.
Welcome to Gothenburg. Enjoy your meal!
PS: Don’t eat meat? We have some excellent choices for vegetarians and vegans, too. Ask us!