If Stockholm is the big sister, Gothenburg is every bit the carefree younger sibling it was destined to be. When you step from the pale blue tram car on to the cobblestone streets of the Haga neighborhood expects to see patios packed with young people. Let the fresh sea air hit your face as you wander along the canals browsing shops and eating a shrimp sandwich.
Gothenburg is thriving with creativity and ambition. You’ll quickly recognize there is a distinctively European flair not found in many other Scandinavian cities. Do not allow yourself to skip over Sweden’s “second city”. Visit Gothenburg, it will change your perspective if you let it.
Getting to Gothenburg
Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg is located in the western part of the country. This beautiful city is located just under 4 hours by train from Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen. We caught the train in Stockholm for an incredibly comfortable 4-hour ride. Previously, I had not spent much time in Europe so train travel was a new concept. I’m not a great flier but kinda loved the comfort and convenience of traveling by train.
Where to Stay in Gothenburg
The perfect romantic getaway in Gothenburg starts at Hotel Pigalle. This centrally located hotel in downtown Gothenburg is the perfect home base. It is located only a few minutes walk from the train station so you won’t lose much time in transit.
The hotel itself is dripping in sexy elegance. Every detail from the boldly carved wood check-in desk to marble bathrooms feel luxury. The fabrics are rich bold colors that give off a distinctly burlesque vibe. It has the perfect balance of old world vibes and modern amenities. My absolute favorite part was the emerald green tufted couch in the lobby. Every time I walked through I wanted a cigar and a glass of great scotch.
Where to Shop in Gothenburg
Clothing Stores in Gothenburg
What immediately caught my attention while shopping in Gothenburg is the clear attention paid to detail. You see it in everything, the quality of fabrics used, sturdy construction and thoughtfully sourced materials. As an American, fast fashion was the accepted norm for much of my life. When we worked with Brave Gentleman on my wedding suit the owner, Joshua Katcher gave us a brief overview of truly quality sourced materials. The information we gathered from him really stuck with us, certainly impacting purchasing decisions.
As we shopped in Gothenburg we flashed back to those conversations. It felt as if we were experiencing large-scale examples of the lessons Brave Gentleman introduced us to. Not only do you feel better about the ethics of purchases but let me tell you the quality (hands to the sky emoji) is so much better.
Stores like Nudie Jeans and Thrive are on the cutting edge. Nudie Jeans are organic, fair trade and free repairs for life. I’ve been patiently waiting to grab my first pair as a Christmas gift to myself. Everything at Thrive is always fair made and always vegan. They are a true leader in conscious fashion. Everything in the store is beautiful but the real takeaway comes from staying stylish while still caring about people, animals, and the planet. Some of my other favorites for clothing shopping were:
Grampa: featuring all things Scandinavian lifestyle products. Coffee table books, great bedding decorations and of course a well-curated selection of clothing.
Caliroot: after leaving this spot we jotted down the words “think Yeezy, gender-neutral streetwear”. That the exact description that fits, the place is just cool.
Nic & Mel: Super high quality, mainly leather accessories. Tons of the products are gender neutral.
Myrorna: Is an absolutely massive four-story consignment shop. Gothenburg is a stylish city, making this one of the best second-hand shops I’ve seen. All of the proceeds from your purchases go to charity.
It is important to mention that many of these brands also have gender neutral options. We found more gender neutral clothing in Gothenburg than any other place.
Interior Design Stores in Gothenburg
Of course in this part of the world, of course, it’s not all about clothing shopping. Scandinavian design shops are reason enough to travel here in my opinion. You will see all the same attention spent on quality materials and design. These modern, fresh, bright designs blow my mind. Every time I’m in the part of the world I plan my dream house over and over again. The focus on natural materials, neutral colors and clean lines make it a design style that’s never going out of style. Some of my favorite stores were:
Rum for Paper: A stationary store packed with quality paper, notebooks and pens. Meg and I could easily have lost an afternoon in here.
Raw Interiors: Beautiful interior design shop. The light fixtures are truly amazing, we flirted with the idea of shipping one home.
Regnbagen: Here you’ll find an incredible selection of healing crystals. You’ll also find incense and tarot cards.
Places to Eat in Gothenburg
The creative energy of Gothenburg seems into every detail of life here. That creativity certainly extends into the kitchen. The budding food city is on the verge of something incredible. Much in the same way, there is meticulous attention paid to every step of the clothing making process that same attention is obvious in food. There are two major food trends in the city right now, each of them based on intentional consumption. One push is on consuming the whole animal rather than just choice cuts. That means chefs are reaching back to their roots and breathing new life into old dishes. Some of my favorite food spots included:
Saluhallen Market Hall: I’ll tell anyone willing to listen, to truly understand a countries food culture you have to visit its market. Rows of market stalls are filled with treats like cheese, fruit and of course coffee. There’s also plenty of food with international flavor.
Bee Bar: First and foremost this spot is delicious. Straightforward food with some of the freshest ingredients. It is also an incredibly LGBT friendly restaurant in an already LGBT friendly city.
Barabicu: Located on the canals just a few steps from the famous fish market, it’s no surprise the focus here is on seafood. This spot is super popular with locals for their grilled meats and amazing cocktails. Meg and I popped in for lunch and were pumped about there three option lunch menu, with a complimentary dessert.
Familjen: Focuses on elevating traditional West Swedish food with the freshest ingredients. Everything you taste at this contemporary spot has is locally sourced. We enjoyed an evening meal on the outdoor terrace. It was absolutely one of the most interesting meals I’ve ever consumed. The flavor profile of each dish was completely new to my taste palette.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Gothenburg
The flipside of that coin is the boom in popularity of vegetarian and vegan food. The demand for veggie based food has taken off and the restaurant industry has grown to meet that need. This diet change is driven by concern of the environmental impact of the meat industry as much as it is the treatment of animals themselves.
Do not settle for a lukewarm veggie burger during your Gothenburg holiday. The city has high-quality vegetarian food to accommodate various taste palettes. I highly encourage you to visit some of these spots even if you are not eating for a specific diet.
Blackbird: Everything on the menu here is completely vegan. Both the vegan cheese and the tempeh are made from scratch in-house. The menu includes a remix of some classic favorite classics such as, seitan wings.
Folk: Small plates and great wines are found at this Gothenburg vegetarian favorite. The food is great but the extensive wine list is to die for. They also host a Queer party, Bby one Wednesday a month.
Brewers Beer Bar: This place is cool, trendy cool with fantastic beer and sourdough pizza. It’s the kind of place to chill with a pint and the best vegan pizza in Gothenburg.