Grandiose winter settings, brilliant markets, warm traditions and outdoor activities ... The Gothenburg region and the west coast of Sweden offer an idyllic setting to fully experience the magic of Christmas, with no less than two months of festivities. 2 hours by plane from France, this is a magical and invigorating getaway, in one of the most beautiful regions of the country. Something to fill your eyes with and warm your heart!
One of the most beautiful regions in Sweden
Installed on the west coast of the country, Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city, has no shortage of assets: museums, canals, trendy neighborhoods and shops, gourmet restaurants, cool bars, intense nightlife and nature at the gates of the city, with a archipelago easily accessible by tram and boat.
The city takes on its finery for the holiday season, which begins in mid-November and ends on Saint-Knut on January 13. For two months, the fairyland reigns in Gothenburg, with illuminations, Christmas markets, traditional song choirs, fir trees and even reindeer!
Gothenburg is also the gateway to one of the most beautiful regions of Sweden: the Western coast, and more particularly the Bohuslän, with its rugged landscapes where granite blocks alternate with expanses of heather. All along the coast, adorable little harbors, where the Swedes like to come and relax, are home to picturesque fishermen's houses.
Inland, the Dalsland Lake District deploys postcard landscapes, between frozen lakes and coniferous forests. The Västergötland, meanwhile, offers a real leap into the past with its many immaculate mansions and historic sites set in pretty country settings.
And if, luckily, snow has covered the landscape with its white coat, the winter scenery becomes downright idyllic. When we know that Gothenburg is only 2 hour flight from Paris, we say to ourselves that it would be a shame not to taste the magic of Swedish Christmas.
Sweden has the Christmas spirit
In Sweden, we celebrate Christmas on December 24, but it's much earlier that we get in the mood: the holidays officially begin the first Sunday of Advent, on November 29 this year. On this day, Advent candlesticks and star-shaped lamps are placed in the windows.
Families come together and raise their glögg glass, spicy mulled wine with almonds and raisins, traditionally served with saffron cupcakes and ginger and cinnamon cookies. Specialties that can be found on the many marchés de Noël.
During the Advent period, many concerts are organized, especially for the Saint Lucia, which takes place on December 13. On this day, to celebrate the “queen of light”, songs are raised in churches and young girls in white dresses parade, lighting up the Swedish night with their candles.
We can also see processions of children, who distribute saffron buns while singing the melodies of Saint Lucia, disguised as gingerbread men, fairies and elves. Did you say magic?
Two months of celebrations in Gothenburg
Gothenburg gets in tune with the Christmas spirit very early on: on November 20, the first lights are lit in the Liseberg amusement park.
Then, from December 4 to January 10, un light path (Lane of Lights) crosses the whole city for more than 3 km, making the streets, buildings and trees shine with a thousand lights, all the way to the port, via the great avenue Avenyn. This year, the theme chosen is passion, which explains the predominance of the color red and the heart-shaped decorations.
From mid-November, many restaurants in Gothenburg offer, as in the rest of Sweden, the traditional julbord, the christmas buffet, which features herring, salmon, cooked ham marinated in mustard and Jansons frestelse, a potato and anchovy gratin. Small peculiarity of the west coast: fish and seafood occupy a prominent place in the menu.
In terms of musical celebrations, concerts are held in almost all churches on the occasion of Saint Lucia, on December 12 and 13. During the Advent period, you can also listen to the Christmas choir on Drottningtorget, in front of the station, and a children's choir singing in different parts of the city.
Finally, this year the ice show which is played on the ice rink in Liseberg Park features the story of Hansel and Gretel, which may perhaps discourage the little gourmets tempted to rob the candy stalls of the Christmas market!
Christmas markets for all tastes
Other wonders of the end of the year, the famous Swedish Christmas markets. From November 20, Gothenburg will host several across the city. That of Liseberg, which has 80 stands, is the largest in Sweden. There are candles, gnomes (tomtar), crafts and design objects, not to mention gastronomic specialties!
In the Liseberg amusement park, where some 700 Christmas trees are installed, you can also enjoy a few slides on the open-air ice rink or a reindeer sleigh ride, just to really get into the winter atmosphere. The ride aboard the paddan barge, which connects the city center to the park, is also nice.
To discover Gothenburg's most traditional Christmas market, head to Haga, the old working-class district that has become the trendy corner, with its cobbled streets, small wooden houses, cafes and restaurants. The Kronhuset market It also perpetuates the tradition, its exhibitors not hesitating to welcome visitors in period costume.
If you prefer design and designer items, three ephemeral markets take place before Christmas: the one at the HDK design school (Dec. 4-6), the one at the Röda Sten contemporary art center (Dec. 11-13), and À la London, located in the Auktionsverket and inspired by the London atmosphere (21-22 Nov).
Finally, a quarter of an hour's drive from the city center (or half an hour by tram), a Christmas market is set up in the gunnebo castle (Nov. 27-29), a large neoclassical mansion. There, you can stock up on organic products and let yourself be tempted by local crafts. Before heading back to Gothenburg, an invigorating stop at the ecological Christmas buffet made with products grown and produced on site is highly recommended!
Beautiful getaways in the region
From Gothenburg, just hop on a ferry to reach one of the region's gems, a archipelago composed of a myriad of islands and granite islets. A small maritime paradise accessible in 30 minutes, where cars are not allowed, which is full of charm, even in winter.
To combine a breath of fresh air with a good meal, the inhabitants of Gothenburg appreciate the escapade on Styrsö Island. The Christmas buffet served by the charming pension Styrsö Skäret is particularly famous. A very nice gourmet getaway… You can also opt to experience a Swedish Christmas in a castle, such as Thorskogslott ou Bjertorpslott.
On Bohuslän coast or in the region of Dalsland lakes, the atmosphere is particularly relaxing and inspiring for travelers looking for wide open spaces and winter wonderland. Cozy hotels, rustic Christmas markets and outdoor activities, such as cross-country skiing, ice skating or hiking… You will be spoiled for choice.
Among the unusual experiences, a paddle trip in the archipelago from Lysekil, with the Nautopp agency, will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable memories. Covered with a wetsuit protecting you from the cold and the humidity, you will discover a preserved maritime landscape, where you might come across a seal.
Another beautiful moment to live, a ice skating trip on the frozen sea off Grebbestad with Skärgårdsidyllen: a two-day skating tour through the region's archipelago, to see sublime snow-covered landscapes!
Beyond, the whole region around Gothenburg offers the opportunity to experience the majesty of winter. Go, for example, on Marstrand Island for a visit to the “vintersalong” exhibition (winter fair) at Strandverket museum then a relaxing Christmas buffet / spa / hot tub at the Martsands Havshotell. Or in the villages of Fiskebäcksil, Grebbestad ou Fjällbacka, made famous by crime fiction writer Camilla Läckberg or Ingrid Bergman. The ideal place to immerse yourself in a typically Swedish atmosphere, warm and cozy, snugly nestled in the immaculate whiteness of winter ...
More about VisitSweden, the website of the Swedish Tourist Board
Christmas City in Gothenburg in the Routard agenda
How to get there ?
Direct flights Paris CDG-Gothenburg with SAS and Air France. Find your plane ticket to Gothenburg.
Or sleep ?
- Villa Sjötorp : a charming art deco style hotel, located on the heights and enjoying a magnificent view of the sea, in Ljungskile, 65 km from Gothenburg. Accommodation with breakfast, mulled wine and dinner: SEK 1 per person (795 euros), from 192/20 to 11/22
- Gullmarsstrand : hotel by the sea, in the picturesque town of Fiskebäckskil, 110 km from Göteborg. Night with breakfast, entry to the natural marine spa, mulled wine and dinner: SEK 1395 (150 euros) per person, from 26/11 to 19/12
Gothenburg City Guide 2015/16
Christmas in Gothenburg on the Gothenburg Tourist Office website (in English)
Christmas in West Sweden, on the official West Sweden tourism website (in English)