Magical in winter, the Sweden perfectly meets the desire for markets, snow and Scandinavian traditions as the end of the year holidays approach. Located two hours from Paris, Gothenburg is an ideal city break to experience the magic of Christmas. From mid-November, this city where life is good takes its finery, with illuminations, Christmas markets and, of course, trees. Gothenburg is also a good base for exploring the coast of Bohuslän, which stretches to Norway. Wild and authentic, it deploys its majestic landscapes covered with a splendid blanket of snow ... Here are five essential spots on the West Coast at Christmas, city side and nature side.
Stroll through the Christmas markets
Gothenburg is full of small contemporary markets where you can find unique jewelry, ceramics, and other handicrafts. You are spoiled for choice between the Kvarnbyn market (November 26-27), that of The School of Design and Craftsmanat (4-6 December) or that of Röda Sten Art Center, located in a former boiler room (December 9 - 11). The more “traditional” will take a Haga Old Town, where you can find local products (Saturday and Sunday from November 26 to December 18) or at Kronhuset (market open from November 26 to December 22).
If you only have to see one, go for the Liseberg market, the most festive of all. Located in the heart of the city, it is adorned with five million twinkling lights, 700 Christmas trees and 70 rustic market stalls. Sample Swedish-style marinated herring and roast reindeer, served by a Lapland reindeer herder in traditional costume. Folklore guaranteed! Children can enjoy the ice rink and the many rides. The market opens from November 18 on weekends, then every day from December 1 to 30, except on 24 and 25. Admission costs around 9,50 euros (free for children under 110 cm tall), but it is free with Gothenburg City Card.
Finally, the surroundings offer more picturesque markets: 40 km south of Gothenburg for example, the Tjolöholm castle welcomes more than 100 exhibitors (11 - 13 November and 16 - 20 November).
Paddleboarding in the province of Bohuslän
For the uninitiated, “stand-up paddle”, literally “paddling upright”, is a trendy activity that consists of standing on a board and moving through the water using a paddle. A mixture of kayaking and surfing, in a way. And it is not only in the Mediterranean that we practice paddle! In the province of Bohuslän, on the west coast of the country, many infrastructures allow you to indulge in this fun sport.
The must in the area? Go paddleboarding between the rocky islands of a deserted and peaceful archipelago. With only companions, if you are lucky, seals and arctic birds. Be aware of the winter light from the far north and any little penguins in the distance.
Rest assured, a dry suit and all the necessary equipment to protect themselves from the cold are provided by paddle rental companies. Among them, Skärgårdsidyllen offers a winter package at 97 euros including a four-hour beginners excursion, lunch and equipment included. The learning takes place first on dry land, before reaching the calm water and the deserted islands.
Attend a concert in honor of Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia, traditional festival of Lights, is a key event in the Swedish calendar. Each year as Christmas approaches, towns and villages across the country organize magical processions, followed by concerts and traditional songs. The churches are packed, everyone comes to listen to the choirs. A bit like in Harlem, New York!
To attend a Christmas concert, we advise you to go to the church in the city center, Domkyrkan, which has four concerts on December 10, 11 and 13. Count around 15 euros for an adult ticket.
Oscar Fredrik Church near Linnaeus also celebrates Lucia with a free concert at 16 p.m. on December 13. Their traditional Christmas concert is also held on the same day, at 18 p.m. and 20:15 p.m. The adult ticket costs around 13,50 euros, 7 euros for children.
Diving in Väderöarna
Take a dip in sea water in winter? An extraordinary experience to live on Väderöarna (the weather islands), reputed to be the sunniest and westernmost islands of Sweden (but also the windiest). They form a magnificent natural reserve endowed with its own archipelago of 365 islands and preserved, since it is an integral part of the Kosterhavet National Marine Park. Very easy to access, the Väder Islands are only 30 minutes by boat from the coastal villages of Fjällbacka and Hamburgsund.
Everything has a story here: the Väderöarnas Värdshus guesthouse is nothing more than a former pilot's property. From November 19 until Christmas Eve, the hotel - which benefits from the “Taste of West Sweden” label - is sumptuously decorated. Its restaurant offers a special Christmas dinner with a five-course menu with a marine identity. You can enjoy the sauna and the whirlpool, both with a view of the sea. The more courageous can take a dip in the sea…. But, don't worry, you don't have to!
Celebrate the New Year with a sea view
How about extending the festivities until New Year's Eve? You will be able to continue exploring the west coast of the country. 80 km north of Gothenburg, in the city ofEdshultshall, hides an atypical Bed & Breakfast. Lådfabriken, which literally means “the fish box factory”, is practically on the waterfront: the establishment is indeed only 30 meters from the Skagerrak Strait.
In the past, crates of fish and wooden boats were made here to serve the local fishing industry. Transformed into a guest house (only four rooms) with an intimate charm, the establishment offers a special New Year's package, with seafood dinner. For this royal meal, it will still cost 155 euros.
Far from everything and in peace, you can indulge serenely in all kinds of activities: zigzagging between islands of the archipelago by boat, take a hike on Orust Island to observe more closely the beauty of the Scandinavian lands or to visit the picturesque island of Käringö.
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