Christmas Cruise To Gothenburg
Stockholm may be the iconic beauty but Gothenburg is her spirited younger sister. Christmas, with its magical markets, is celebrated in style in Gothenburg – the reason it's popular with major cruise lines such as Cunard and P&O. Cruise lines as diverse as Royal Caribbean, Saga and Windstar Cruises also favour this delightful city, while bigger ships can take advantage of the cruise terminal in Arendal, a 20-minute shuttle or cab ride from the city centre.
Frihamnen, the Swedish city’s inner harbour, sweeps you straight into Gothenburg’s seafaring heart, where shipyards give way to the impressive Opera House, inspired by sails, hulls and gulls’ wings. Moored alongside is a restored 1907 windjammer, which has been transformed into the hotel Liseberg Barken Viking.
Most sights are accessible from Avenyn, the city’s central boulevard, where you can begin your exploration and get a taste of the city’s cafe culture and shops.
Frihamnen, the largest harbour in Scandinavia, is reminiscent of London’s Docklands. Built by the Dutch in the 17th Century, it was also settled by German, Scottish and English merchants – indeed, by the 1800s the city was dubbed Little London. Beyond the waterfront, the giant Wheel of Liseberg is slowly turning under the first snowflakes of winter.
Yet the canals evoke a Scandinavian Amsterdam, softened by cosy cafes that could almost be in Vienna. Only when you tuck into seafood, served by mostly statuesque blondes, do you remember you’re in Sweden.
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Every December, a three-kilometre Lane of Light runs from the inner harbour through the city to Liseberg, Scandinavia’s largest Christmas market. En route, it illuminates chic, cafe-lined Avenyn, and picks out facades, bridges and trees decked in fairy lights.
You can also reach Liseberg on a Paddan canal boat tour, which starts halfway up Avenyn and sweeps under 20 bridges, including Osthyveln, the 'cheese-slicer' bridge so low you have to lie flat to pass underneath it. Rugs are provided, along with gingerbread biscuits and steaming glogg (mulled wine).
Normally a surprisingly tasteful amusement park, Liseberg goes overboard at Christmas, with 700 fir trees festooned in decorations, outshone only by a cavalcade of carol singers, choirs and big bands. The Christmas fair is a riot of gingerbread men, marzipan pigs and toasted hazelnuts, as well as Swedish meatballs, marinated herrings and a julbord (festive smorgasbord).
Stalls sell roasted reindeer meat from Lapland, with eclectic crafts, figurines and carved toys also vying for attention. To enjoy sweeping views of the city, hop on the Wheel of Liseberg, bedecked with lights.
Coffee & Cake
Haga, the bohemian old town, also hosts a Christmas market, and makes a good stop for its vintage stores and pastry shops. Fika − coffee and cake − is a year-round ritual indulgence, with Cafe Husaren on Haga Nygata and nearby Cafe Kringlan the places to head for a kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) and a coffee.
Food Halls & Fish
Hopefully sated, leave Haga’s cobblestoned charm for neighbouring Kungstorget and the buzzing Saluhallen indoor market. If you’re able to resist the Swedish charcuterie and the aroma of freshly baked walnut bread, buy some tangy chocolates from Flickorna Kanold, flavoured with salt harvested from the waters around Vrango, Gothenburg’s southern archipelago. Next door to the market is the stylish Avalon Restaurang & Bar, with a terrace that is ideal for people-watching.
From here, follow the canal down to the Feskekorka, a vaulted indoor market dedicated to fish, on the canalside at Rosenlundsgatan, where you can feast your eyes on the day’s catch. Perched above the action is Restaurang Gabriel, where oysters, lemon sole and sauteed mushrooms are on the menu (lunch only).
Dining In Style
With five Michelin-starred eateries, Gothenburg vies with Stockholm for Sweden’s 'culinary capital' crown. At the end of Avenyn, and near the Museum of Art, is Fond, where seasonal dishes with a Nordic twist are served up by chef and proprietor Stefan in suitably chic glass-and-blonde wood environs.
Thornstroms Kok, on Teknologgatan, is more in the classic Michelin-starred mould despite the chef’s Swedish devotion to speciality breads. And from the inner harbour, the city ferry zigzags its way across to Klippans and the seafood temple of Sjomagasinet. Set in a former customs house, it has the best harbour views in town.
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This article was written by Lisa Gerard-Sharp from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.