A must-try culinary treat in Gothenburg, Sweden, is local crayfish. // © 2015 Lena Katz
Feature image (above): While at the Tradgardsforeningen botanical garden, stop at the Rose Cafe for some rest and pastries. // © 2015 Lena Katz
When summer arrives in West Sweden, people and nature instantly blossom and take on a sunlit sheen. The whole city hums with well-being, and anyone who can manage it skips out of work and heads to the nearest park, beach or summer cottage.
Though formerly an industrial port city, Gothenburg in Sweden has become known in recent years for its design, festivals, galleries and — when weather permits — for its green spaces and many outdoor activities. Foremost among the green spaces is the Tradgardsforeningen (Garden Society of Gothenburg) — one of Europe’s biggest botanical gardens.
Though you can explore the botanical gardens for hours, the visual high point when in bloom is its collection of some 2,000 roses. Or, depending on your aesthetic, maybe it’s the hothouse with about 1,500 species of orchids. Either way, take a pause at the Rose Cafe — and pick a frosted cake and tea to enjoy on the terrace.
For cruise ship passengers, the question is how to sightsee the most in a single day. There are a few excellent options including a bicycle tour, a photographic walking tour or a Paddan boat tour of the canals.
Luxury hotels in the city center often strive to offer a taste of the city’s more stylish, design-minded side. No place does it in quite such lavish extremes as the Dorsia, a Belle Epoque dream decked out in rich fabrics and brilliant colors, plush armchairs and lavish flower arrangements. If Marie Antoinette were to visit modern Sweden, this is where she’d want to stay. Your most affluent, art-loving clients will love it, too.
For travelers staying in the city a few days, enjoy the summer like a local: A day trip to one of the quaint islands in the southern archipelago is easy to manage on public transit. Take a tram from the inner city to Saltholmen and catch a ferry. This is a trip to a simpler lifestyle altogether, with no cars, a few small inns and shops and families enjoying summer traditions such as crayfishing.
Speaking of crayfish — the ocean here is home to one of the tastiest, biggest crayfish in the world. They taste like lobster, only sweeter. They’re a delicacy, a tradition and somewhat of a sport. Setting traps is a time-consuming process, and a trap will usually pull up only a couple of the crustaceans. So, many people buy theirs either at a fish market or directly from one of the local fishermen who set up tiny shops on the dock.
Fall switches to lobster season, with “lobster safaris” as one of the more popular tour options for adventurous foodie tourists. Several companies offer these organized tours within varying distances to the north of Gothenburg.
There are a lot of places to buy fresh seafood around Gothenburg, if pulling it up from the deep doesn’t appeal to your clients. The fish auction at the harbor is best, but it starts at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday. From mid-morning onward, Fish Church (a fish market with small seafood restaurants) is a great place to visit, compare the catch of the day at different stalls and then go upstairs for fresh oysters on the half shell and a few beers. This is a popular activity with cruise passengers and other visitors.
Other than seafood, there’s another thing this part of Sweden does really well: sweet stuff. Cakes, chocolate and superlative pastries vie for your attention and indulgence. Cafe Husaren offers cinnamon rolls with the circumference of a dinner plate and are well worth all of the extra calories.