If someone finds themselves in Gothenburg, they are likely to also find themselves sampling the seafood!As Sweden’s biggest port, with direct access to the North Sea, Gothenburg has fresh seafood coming in daily. It’s unsurprising then that many of Sweden’s most well-known delicacies come directly from the sea.
Fish and seafood has always been soldin the heart of Gothenburg. From the time of the city’s founding, LillaTorget square, along with a bustling flotilla of boats in the adjoining StoraHamn Canal,served as the fish market for the people of Gothenburg. In the mid-1800s the market was moved to Rosenlund Canal. Later on at this new location a new generation of Gothenburgers were able to buy their fish from the Feskekôrka (“Fish Church”). Purpose-built in 1874 to house the popular fish market, the Feskekôrka was never actually a church. The architect for the city, Victor von Gegerfelt, designed it with Norwegian Stave and Gothic churches in mind (although you might hear the urban legend that a poor woman was selling fish outside this ‘church’ and the kind priests inside invited her in from the cold and from then on let fish be sold inside the building, making it into the marketplace that it is today – a nice story, but an entirely fictional one!).
Today this magnificent building is still the best place to buy seafood in Gothenburg and is popular among locals and visitors alike. If something comes from the sea, you can get it in here. Of course, visitors to the city are unlikely to buy the fresh fish that has come in straight off the boat that morning and cook it themselves, but that doesnot mean that the Feskekôrka is not worth a visit. In fact, it is one of the best places to get lunchor a snack ($) in Gothenburg. You can get wonderfully fresh baguettes overflowing with crayfish and shrimp, and it’s the best place to try a Swedish classic, a räksmörgås/räkmacka, which is a shrimp, egg and salad open sandwich and it probably sweden’s most popular sandwich (in fact, it’s such a culinary favourite that it has found it’s way into daily colloquialisms and you might hear somebody say “glida in påen räkmacka” (glide in on a prawn sandwich), which roughly meansto ride on somebody’s tailcoats).You can get lots of seafood salads too, topped with delicious dressing, usually involving caviar. Seafood pasta salads are also perfect for those looking for a quick take-away lunch. If you are just wanting a snack, it’s almost impossible to go past the trays and trays of hot smoked salmon; you can buy these bite-sized chucks in little tubs, and they come in a whole range of flavours such as chilli, champagne and rose.
For those wanting a hot, sit-down lunch the Feskekôrka also has some great choices. There is a great little café that offers visitors a taste of Sweden’s delicious fish soup, and where you can also get fresh oysters. The loft of the Feskekôrka is home to the popular Gabriel’s Seafood Restaurant ($$$$).Here one can get a fine-dining lunch experience, with a host of mouth-watering Swedish seafood dishes and buffet on offer. The daily fish comes straight off the boat, and you even get to watch the chefs hard at work preparing your food. For those wanting a more lengthy dinner experience Gothenburg has many excellent seafood restaurants. Koka, one of Gothenburg’s six Michelin Star restaurants, has fish and seafood prominently on their menu, and offer wonderful tasting experiences ($$$$$). Sjömagasinet is a renown seafood restaurant who serve lunch and dinner ($$$$$), and even offer a cooking course so you know how to prepare your own seafood when you leave Gothenburg. Sjöbaren has two locations within the city ($$$), so you’ll never be too far from the latest catch that’s just come in from the harbour!
If you want to experience the excitement of buying the daily catch directly from the fishermen themselves, you should head down to the early morning fish auction, which starts at 6:30am on weekdays. Sadly one can only purchase as a wholesaler, but as a visitor you can watch as restaurateurs, chefs and fishmongers buy the morning’s catch and get a glimpse at what it would have been like to buy fish direct from the fisherman in days past.
Fish and seafood have always been integral to life in Gothenburg, butone small fish in particular helped shape the city and surrounding landscape as we know it today: herring. In 1747 herring began to appear in truly enormous quantities, sparking a prosperous industry that shaped the west coast of Sweden around Gothenburg for centuries to come. It was because of the herring that Gothenburg became Sweden’s largest port and fishing harbour.The years between 1747 and 1809 were known as the Great Herring period, and many factories, producing salted herring and fish oilopened along the coast and in the Gothenburg Archipelago.
This prosperous industry was not without difficulties, and both environmental and social concerns arose. The small fishing communities grew rapidly. On the island of Marstrand for example (a wonderful place to visit, and where ABBA’s The Winner Takes It Allmusic video was filmed), thousands of people would come to work in the region during the annual herring seasons and complaints were made about dubious morality and general lawlessness of these new communities. When herring boom ended, many people were left jobless, creating severe poverty. The manufacture of herring products also required significant quantities of firewood, and the nature landscape of the archipelago provided the perfect supply. This meant that the majority of the leafy islands were all but destroyed, and became the bare-but-beautiful landscape characteristic of the west coast islands today. The Archipelago is a wonderful day trip from Gothenburg, and in the summer many people choose to cycle, canoe or kayak around the islands. It’s well worth the effort as it is a beautiful part of Sweden.
In the mid 1800s large factories began to produce herring on a mass scale and pickled herring rapidly found its way onto tables across the world, becoming entrenched as the Swedish culinary stereotype. One historic fishery remains today on Klädesholmen Island and it still produces almost half of all pickled herring in Sweden! At the Feskekôrka you can buy some of the best pickled herring in Gothenburg to sample for yourself! If your feeling particularly adventurous, and it’s the right time of year, do try a bit of surströmming, fermented and soured herring (not for the faint-hearted and certainly not to be opened indoors!), which is considered a Swedish delicacy.Gothenburg’s first food truck, Strömmingsluckan pays homage to herring and is marvellous for a quick and fun lunch on the run ($)!
Another traditional taste direct from the sea is lutfisk, a dried and/or salted whitefish prepared in lye and typically consumed at Christmas. Another Swedish culinary tradition, also regularly consumed at Christmas is JanssonsFrestelse, a delicious warm dish similar to a potato dauphinoise but delicately flavoured with sprats. If you are in Gothenburg in August, you will notice an abundance of crayfish. August is the season for crayfish parties (kräftskiva) in Sweden, and if you are lucky enough to get an invite to one you will be pilled high with crayfish, snaps (a strong spirit) and party hats.
Gothenburg’s oldest suburb, Haga, is one of the most famous districts in the city. Known for its charming setted streets and old wooden houses, the Haga district was established by Queen Kristina in the mid-17th Century. It was originally built outside the Gothenburg city walls in a neighbouring field, and in fact the name Haga comes from the old Swedish word hage, which means ‘field’.
Haga is famous for its unique architectural style – beautiful, often ornately-worked wooden houses known as landshövdingehus, or Governor Houses. The houses are generally three stories high, with the first level built of stone. This was because of building restrictions that were imposed because of the numerous fires that had decimated Haga (and Gothenburg) throughout its history. The regulations decreed that wooden buildings could only be two stories high. By having a third, lower story built of stone, the inhabitants of Haga cleverly got around this technicality! In the mid 1800s, when Gothenburg was establishing itself as an industrial centre, Haga became a workers’ district in response to housing demand from the growing number of workers moving to Gothenburg for work. In 1879 Hagabadet spa was opened, and today you can enjoy a little bit of luxury and still bath in the same pools as when it first opened.
By the 1920s, Haga was primarily a residential zone, but one that had developed something of a bad reputation. In the 1960s the city decided that the district was to be demolished and redeveloped. The Gothenburgers were having none of it however, and a society, the Haga Group, was established in 1970 to ensure the preservation of this historically and architecturally important district. Although some buildings were still torn down, restoration of many houses was undertaken, and some replicas were also built to replace older buildings, keeping the historical feel of the district. By the late 1990s the Haga district became highly gentrified and its population declined from around 15,000 in the 1800s to around 4,000. The district is in fact a parish in its own right, and it is the smallest parish in Sweden in terms of its land area (Hagakyrkan, the parish church, stands at the entrance to Haga).
Today, the area is a flurry of activity, filled with boutiques shops and cafes, especially on the main through-road,Haga Nygatan. If you are after modern Swedish design try Tell me More concept store Market 29. If you are in the mood for some fantastic kitsch check out Unicorn and Sons, who have a fantastic range of Rice products and a whole bunch of things you never knew you needed. If shopping for a treat for little ones have a look at Kawaii and Millefiori (which also sells wonderful jewellery making accessories). In HagaTrätoffelfabrik you can buy traditional Swedish wooden clogs, and Haga Interior is home to a wonderful selection of unique gift ideas, and in Tvåla&Tvaga you can buy handmade soaps from Gothenburg, one of which is even named after Haga itself! If you love antiques, Haga has several wonderful antique shops, such as FåfänganAntik and Bebop Antik, where you are sure to find something special and absolutely unique. If you are after sustainable fashion, Thrive is the place for you. This store sells clothes made from recycled and sustainable materials, from coats made from recycled plastic bottles (you’d never know!) and stockings made of recycled nylon.
In Haga it is always fika (coffee and cake) time, and HagaNygatan in particular plays host to some great places to break up the shopping adventures. Le Petit Café has the most amazing homemade cakes and baguettes, and Husaren is home to the biggest cinnamon bun in Gothenburg, the Hagabulla. En Deli is an amazing place to stop for some of the best salads in Gothenburg, and offers free food refills. At the eastern end of Haga near Järntorget, you will find the two of the Långatorna streets, AndraLångatan and TredjeLångatan, which are home to a plethora of wonderful restaurants and bars (AndraLångatan tends to be a little cheaper ($-$$) than TredjeLångatan ($$$-$$$$)). If you want to take home a little bit of the taste of Gothenburg, stop in at Bräutigams on Haga Nygatan for some of Gothenburg’s very own marzipan.
It’s not just the shops and cafes that make Haga a fun place to visit. The district has a truly unique atmosphere that makes it a great place to spend some time. At Christmas and Easter time you can wander along and browse the outside market stalls that line the streets, and the lampposts and street signs are always festively decorated. On some sunny days if you look closely you might even spot some welcoming boutiques for the local mice! Standing sentinel and proud over the roofs of Haga is the SkansenKronan , a fortress built in the late 1600s to protect the city from Danish invasion. So are you wondering what to do when you visit Gothenburg? Take a walk up the stairs to the top and you will be treated to one of the best views of the city!
Gothenburg, Sweden's second biggest city, is a vibrant city with many wonderful things to see, expeirence and try. The city is a fabulous fusion of old-world charm and modern flair, with an incredibly friendly, industrial vibe. It’s less hectic than the capital, so you can relax while exploring the road-less-travelled. Here we have gathered tips from our local guides who know Gothenburg like the back of their hand.
The beautiful and often wild-landscaped islands of the Gothenburg Archipelago are a delight to explore in the warmer months and a personal favourite of our local guides is Marstrand, whose waterlily ponds, beautiful wooden houses, and winding costal paths never fail to enchant them.
One of our local guide's favorite is definitely the Stadsmuseum (Museum of Gothenburg). It tells the story of Gothenburg through objects and it has a Viking ship on display. The fabulous gift shop that sells beautiful replicas of traditional Swedish objects and gifts that will delight family and friends back home.
Liseberg theme park is not to be missed and in addition to offering plenty of fun for thrill seekers, it does a series of concerts in the warm summer evenings, a fabulous array of haunted houses (and a staggering quantity of pumpkins) at Halloween, and a truly magical Christmas market.
For a delicious and more sustainable dining experience, we highly recommend Folk. Folk is situated in the foyer of Folkteatern and offers mainly vegetarian and seafood choices with flavour combinations that are out of this world, paired with a fabulous selection of wine.
Fika is the practice of taking a break with a beverage and is widely accepted as central to Swedish life. Fika means 'coffee break' and a pastry will usually make the perfect Fika combo. We recommend trying a favorite in Sweden; kardemumma bulle (cardamom bun)!
The district of Haga is just magical with beautiful streets, incredible wooden architecture or the Skansen Kronan that stands sentinel over it (make the trek up to it to get the best view of Gothenburg).
We hope you get to try some of the things we have recommended here, please let us know what you think!! If you want to get bett knowledge of Gothenburg's history and buildings, join our 3-hpur walking tour here.
When Amber, our Gothenburg Destination Manager, first moved to Sweden she was immediately enchanted by the incredible number of flowers and nature she found in Gothenburg, even in the depths of Swedish winter. Here, she writes about why everyone should make the urban nature trail part of their visit to this beautiful city.
When I first arrived in Gothenburg, on a cold January day back in 2016, the last thing I expected to see, as I walked through the bracing wind tunnels of the city centre, were the unexpected but near-constant explosions of colour and abundant green. That anything could live in this cold northern country seemed, to this out-of-her-element Australian, somewhat unbelievable. But live things did, and my first impression of Gothenburg was that I’d never seen so many flower shops. There seemed to be one everywhere I looked! In fact, the first shop I ventured into on my first day in the city was the flower shop La Fleuriste. As soon as I walked through its doors, my nose was filled with a warm floral scent that, to this day, I relish every time I venture into one of these delightful, bright and welcoming shops. I soon realised that flower shops were common throughout Sweden, but since Gothenburg was the first city I visited, it will forever be associated with flower shops for me. I also quickly learned that in addition to the beautiful flower shops nestled in amongst the city street, this Swedish city was also home to parks, green houses and nature galore. Even in the depths of winter in Gothenburg, you can still find the promise of spring.
But to first return to the flower shops. In some ways, I don’t think it’s even really fair to call these little rooms of beauty something as straight forward as “flower shops”. It sounds a little mundane, and belies the levels of artistry that one can find behind their doors. Simple flower shops are usually filled with bucket after bucket of cut stems, but in Gothenburg, while the cut stems remain, you can also find bonsaied worlds, often with delightfully kitsch accoutrements, such as a mushroom or a troll. Or little pots full of carefully selected bulbs, all with hints of the colours that will spring forth in just a few days. Wreaths for hanging on doors are for every season, not just Christmas, and I recently watched a heart wreath being made from ivy, pink roses and eucalyptus. At Easter, birch branches, which are about to burst into green bud and are decorated with vibrantly coloured feathers, make one feel as though one is in a candy store. This is a typical Easter decoration in Sweden, and if timed correctly, the birch leaves will come out in time for Easter, symbolising the regeneration of life associated with the coming of spring and the resurrection of Christ. In the lead up to Christmas, red berries delight the eyes just as much as the smell of pine delights the nose. Little bags of moss are packaged up, and box, pine and fir wreaths beckon you to buy them. At Midsommar (Midsummer, arguably Sweden’s biggest annual celebration), you can barely fight your way to the counter to get the perfect petals for your floral crown that you must wear as you dance around the maypole singing the (in)famous frog song.
After I got over my delight at the sheer artistry that goes on in these often tiny and crowed shops, I started to wonder why. Why were there so many? Surely with so many flower shops, the market would soon be flooded with sad, droopy buds, with no one to buy them? Not so. The only drooping buds I’ve ever seen were beautifully and purposefully arranged, with a beauty to their melancholy that only a true artist could achieve (if I tried this effect at home I would achieve something suitable only to line the halls of the Adams Family mansion). It turns out that in the winter months in particular, having fresh cut flowers, little posies, or petite bulbs artistically arranged in little trays and artificially hurried along to hasten the arrival of spring (which is usually a very long time coming naturally), are what fills the benches, tables and desks in many a Swedish household. Flowers are brought in to remind us that even in the bleak mid-winter, the warmth of spring is not too far off. I myself was delighted the other day, when I found a tiny posy at Blom Blom in Haga, which I lovingly carried around all day until I got home (and that I would guarantee would cheer up even the most bleak hotel room)! It’s also standard practice to give flowers or a potted display when you have been invited over to someone’s house, and in Gothenburg you are spoilt for choice in what floral delight you may choose to give!
Visitors to Gothenburg might not at first think of venturing into flower shops, as flowers are not something a traveller often buys. However, the Gothenburg flower shops are an attraction in themselves, worthy of a detour and rivalling even the biggest tourist attractions. If you’re so inclined, you can even join a floral arranging class at Blom Blom! Also, many of these stores double as a wonderful design and gift shops, where you can find wonderful and thoughtful gifts for friends and family back home. My personal favourite for this is Floramor & Krukatös, where you can find everything from beautiful botanical soaps, to amazingly tall tapered candles, to tea-light holders, to limited edition prints, to curio objects, and to beautiful handmade ceramics.
If you love the idea of walking a flower trail around Gothenburg, you’re in for a treat. A wonderful thing about Gothenburg’s flower shops is their location. So many are off the beaten track, down cosy passageways and within hidden internal courtyards (so far this month I’ve taken no less than six people into the hidden courtyard of Floramor & Krukatös, and I think I have more photos of that courtyard on my iPhone than I do my dog…well, that’s probably an exaggeration, but only just)! This makes discovering them an adventure in itself, and allows you to see an entirely different side of Gothenburg. The yellow wattle and citrus that one day spilled out of Blom Rum and into Torgpassagen looked like the physical manifestation of sunshine, even though the streets outside were lined with snow. Bunches in Victoriaspassagen similarly excels at drawing your eye and inviting you in.
Gothenburg also has a host of beautiful parks (and thus flowers!) to enjoy. Trägårdsföreningen (the Garden Society of Gothenburg) is open all year round. In June, it plays host to the biggest collection of roses in Northern Europe, with some 2500 species spilling out over the boarders of the rose garden. Even in the depths of winter, the palm house comes alive with colour in February with the camellia festival. If discovering different climes in palm houses and greenhouses is your thing, then you should also head over to the Gothenburg Botanic Gardens, which have some amazing greenhouses. If you’re in town at the right time, check out their fantastic pumpkin festival. In early spring, if you take a stroll through Kungsparken, you need to play hopscotch through the crocuses, which are so abundant that even with the best of intentions you can often clumsily trample. A real treat is walking among the azaleas and rhododendrons during the summer months in Slottsskogen. Slottsskogen at anytime of year is a real treat, and as the largest recreational park in Gothenburg, it is popular with locals and visitors alike. You can wander along the pathways that wind through the grounds, and enjoy the waterways and cycle paths. If you want a bit of indoors time after strolling around Slottskogen you will also find the Natural History Museum and the Observatory (planetarium) nearby. If you are in Gothenburg for a while in the spring time, do take the time to go out of the city to Delsjön, a wonderful place for any nature lover, which in the spring is littered with sippar, little blue and white star-like flowers that cover the ground with colour and truly herald the arrival of spring in Sweden.
Walking a flower trail through Gothenburg may not seem like an obvious choice for a visitor, but along the way, not only will you be treated with spectacular floral visions, but you’ll also get to see a lot of the city that you might otherwise miss. I recommend following the lead of the Swedish and immersing yourself in the wonderful world of flowers and nature!
Everyone should spend New Year’s Eve in Scandinavia at least once. The cold crisp air, and the lingering of Christmas lights twinkling in the dark make the frozen North an enchanting place to countdown to New Year’s (and since Scandinavia is known as a nature and health hub, it’s probably a good place to kick-start your new year’s resolutions!)
Sometimes visitors to Scandinavia have difficulties distinguishing between the Scandic countries, owing to their many shared cultural and linguistic similarities. On New Year’s you can spot these although each country still has their distinct traditions too.
All across Scandinavian, they love their New Year fireworks as much as most countries do (actually, now that we’re thinking about it, where does the ‘fireworks at New Year’ tradition come from?!), and in most cities across the region you will be able to venture out into the cold night and watch the sky sparkle and explode with colour at midnight. In fact, the locals love getting out into the fresh air for New Year’s and will certainly not stay copped up inside for the evening just because of the cold. Join the fun, but just make sure you dress up warmly, as your beer-jackets won’t really do the trick when the temperatures are well into the minuses! Just remember that there is a saying in the north: there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes! So rug up!
In Finland, Helsinki’s Senate Square is where all the firework action will be, and it will certainly be a sight to see, especially against the backdrop of one of the most magnificent settings in the capital. In Sweden, it’s actually Gothenburg, the second largest city, where the best firework action is considered to be. Head down to the river for a true visual feast, or to Götaplatsen which is known for it’s wild and friendly festivities. In Stockholm, one of the biggest events of the early evening is concert at Storkyrkan in Gamla Stan and at midnight the big tradition is the reading of Tennyson’s ‘Ring out Wilds Bells’ at the Skansen. In Oslo you’ll want to head to the Town Hall and in Copenhagen the Town Hall is also where all the action will be, although it has big competition with Tivoli. Be careful though because even though the setting off fireworks in banned in many public spots, at the peak of merriment the locals can often forget this and set of fireworks haphazardly around the adjoining streets.
One quite big distinction between the Scandic countries at New year is that in Norway the focus is on spending the evening with family. In Finland and Sweden however, it is mainly spent with friends (since Christmas was dominated by family and thus NYE is a chance to get away from Uncle Bob’s appalling jokes and awkward conversation!) and many will hold big parties and invite all their friends to celebrate with them. In Denmark, it’s a bit of both. Interestingly, Denmark has quite the set of rituals to follow before the clock strikes midnight. The Queen’s televised speech to the nation earlier in the evening is something that most people will watch, and many will cluster around Amalienborg to watch the Royal Guard Parade. After that the jokes begin, and there is a bit of a Halloween theme as the Danes play pranks on their neighbours and friends, coating trees in toilet paper and smashing china plates on doorsteps! Norway also has a slight Halloween twist on New Years! In Finland, one of the best traditions of the evening is fortune telling! To celebrate the general theme of new opportunities in the new year, the Finns try to predict the future by interpreting shapes formed by molten tin. Of course, the shapes and their fortunes are always positive and you are bound to have a great coming year!
Food is also a pretty important component of New Years, alongside the warming (both physically and metaphorically) beverages consumed. Each country has their own set of dishes that are traditional New Year’s fodder! In Sweden’s Jansson’s Temptation (Janssons frestelse) is a solid favourite. Also popular at the Christmas table, this is a creamy potato dish which takes most of its flavour from cheese and anchovies. It’s delicious, even if its description sounds a little dubious! It’s also super popular in Finland, although there it is called Janssoninkiusaus. Cold cuts are also popular in Finland at this time of year, and so you’ll probably find offerings of cold-smoked reindeer and roast beef all around. In Demark cod is the favourite dish of the evening, but this should also be accompanied by a marzipan ring cake (Kransekage), which is so delicious that it will have any marzipan lover begging for seconds (and thirds, and fourths). In Norway, rice pudding is a favourite treat to see in the new year, and similar to a Christmas plum pudding, they bake it with a hidden silver penny. The idea is that the person who gets the silver penny in their helping will have fantastic luck for the coming year.
After the New Year’s countdown, for those wanting to extend the festivities into the early hours, all across Scandinavia you will be able to find clubs, restaurants and bars that will keep the party going. Make sure you have a look at what’s on offer and book a place, as these parties can get pretty busy. If you’re really in the partying mood, you can even enjoy double New Year! The towns of Haparandra in Sweden and Tornio in Finland and only 5 minutes drive from each other, but they are in different timezones, so celebrate an hour apart. So, you can celebrate first time around in Finland and then an hour later celebrate all over again in Sweden!
We absolutely recommend that you spend New Year’s Eve at least once in your lifetime in Scandinavia. It’ll be something you remember forever! If you need a good outdoors activity to help you recover the next day, our tours run across our Scandinavian cities on the 1st of January! Finally, you’ll need to be able to wish everyone around you a Happy New Year when the clock strikes midnight and we’ve got you covered for that too!
How to wish people a Happy New Year in Scandinavia. These are the sayings:
Finnish: Hyvää uutta vuotta!
Swedish: Gott nytt år!
Danish: Godt nytår
Norwegian: Godt nytt år
Here we‘ll offer a few YouTube videos on some of the most popular Christmas songs in our destinations. They might be a bit different from what you're used to but we‘re sure you‘ll enjoy them all the same. We‘ll give you a little introduction to the origin of the languages, some of them might be hard to learn whereas others might be easier. It depends on where you come from and how quick you are to pick up these exotic new words. Let‘s see if you can learn the lyrics and sing along, loud and clear for all to hear!
Finnish, or Suomi, is spoken by the majority of the people of Finland and about five million people speak the language, most of them reside in Finland. FInnish is a member of the Finnic group, that is part of the Uralic family of languages. Included in the Finnic group is Estonia (see below) and other Baltic countries. The language is believed to be originally a Proto-Uralic language from the boreal forest belt around the Ural Mountains region or the end of the middle Volga. This is thought to be the case because there are many similarities in the structure and the grammar.
Have a listen to this wonderful Christmas song. It is sung by Katri Helena, one on Finland’s best-selling female soloists.
Merry Christmas: Hyvää joulua!
Swedish is a North Germanic language and it is the official language of Sweden. There are around 9.6 million people that speak the language natively and it is very similar to Norwegian, and to some extent with Danish. The North Germanic language is part of the Indo-European language group and is the most spoken language out of the North Germanic languages. The origin of Swedish can be traced to Old Norse, from the Viking Era. The Old Norse evolved into two similar dialects: Old West Norse and Old East Norse. The Old East Norse covered Sweden and Denmark.
Today, Swedish has many traces of the English language, so if you speak English you might be able to catch some of the words that are being sung in this popular Christmas song; Mer Jul. The song is written and sung by the band Adolphson & Falk.
Merry Christmas: God Jul!
Danish is, like Swedish, a North Germanic language and is a descendant of Old Norse. Dansih is the official language of Denmark and around six million people speak the language, it is also spoken widely in Greenland and the Faroe Islands due to the fact that the two countries are an autonomous constituent of Denmark. Well into the 17th century, German and Latin were the most important written languages in Denmark and that is why traditional Danish dialects have almost disappeared completely. The language has changed between generations and today it only has remnants of a former case system. Danish is often considered a difficult language to learn because of the vowels, difficult prosody and “weakly” pronounced consonants. We encourage you to try out some of their pronunciations.
This video is a private recording of the Danish folk star Lars Lilholt - a master of the Danish language :-)
Merry Christmas: Glædelig jul!
Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language but it’s no longer certain that it is a valid group for Hungarian. Hungarian is the official language of Hungary, and it belongs to the same family as Finnish and Estonian; the Uralic language family. However, throughout the 18th and 19th century there have often been debates on whether the language might be more related to the Turkic language. Today, Hungarian is part of the 24 official languages in the European Union.
In this Christmas video, you are able to see the lyrics, which might make things easier for you, but we will not promise anything. The band, T.N.T, is a pop band that gained a large popularity in Hungary in the 90s.
Merry Christmas: Boldog Karácsonyt!
Estonian is a Southern Finnic language and it’s the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million. The language is in the branch of the Uralic language family, closely related to Finnish, and the interesting thing is that they are not related to their nearest geographical neighbors and Indo-European language speakers; Swedish, Latvian and Russian. Estonian has borrowed up to one-third of its vocabulary from Germanic languages, even though they are not considered to be related from that origin, and from the Russian language. Estonian, Hungarian and Finland are three out of four official languages of European Union that aren’t from the Indo-European origin.
In this Christmas video, you’ll hear the wonderful song Jõuluingel, which mean Christmas Angel. It is a popular Christmas song in Estonia and has been performed by many artists.
Merry Christmas: Häid jõule!
Christmas is around the corner and many are planning where to be, what to eat and what to do during this wonderful holiday. If you are traveling to Europe, you should know that every country has their own Christmas traditions, especially when it comes to food. But there is one thing that all European countries have in common; friends and family get together and eat great food and enjoy each others company. Here we will introduce some of our destinations favorite food traditions and share with you their recipes. It’s the season to eat and be jolly!
Christmas, or Jul, is the main family event of the year and in Sweden, people travel all around the country to be with their loved ones. Over the last decades, Swedish Christmas traditions have been changing and become somewhat more modern, they have taken up foreign traditions and blended them in with old traditions.
A typical Swedish Christmas table is usually a gathering of; bread, potatoes, ham, meatballs, salmon, and herring. What makes their Christmas table different from others is their amazing Gravad Lax. This delicious raw salmon is a Nordic dish and it is cured in salt, sugar, dill and different spices. It is usually served as an appetizer and is accompanied by gravlaxsås (a dill, mustard sauce) on top of a bread or with boiled potatoes. Here is a recipe for Gravad Lax and the sauce:
The Fish (for 6):
Start by scaling the salmon and remove the small bones, but leave the skin on. Make a few cuts in the skin so the marinade will penetrate from below. Mix salt, sugar, and pepper and sprinkle it beneath and on top of the salmon filet along with plenty of dill. Place a weighted cutting board on top of the salmon filet and let it marinate at room temperature for 2–4 hours. Then refrigerate for 24−48 hours, turning the salmon filet a few times. Rinse the salmon in cold water. Cut into thin slices without getting too close to the skin, so the dark salmon is included.
Gravlax sauce is served alongside the dill-cured salmon. Mix the mustard, sugar and vinegar and season with salt and fresh-ground pepper. Stir vigorously, while pouring on the oil in a steady, thin stream. When the sauce has attained a mayonnaise-like consistency, stir in the chopped dill.
Just like in Sweden, many of their Austrian traditions have been influenced by the countries the countries around them, especially those they have borders with. Vienna is well-known for their beautiful Christmas markets and you will find so many great Christmas decorations being sold, yummy food and candy stalls and so much more. But, there is one thing that you must try, and it will be sold in so many stalls all around, and that is Glühwein. Although Glühwein is originally from Germany, it has really made its name in Austria and you will not be disappointed!
To get the drink right you need the right mixture of wine, cinnamon, sugar and spices and it is sold in Christmas markets all over Europe. We will give you a great recipe for Glühwein but remember that the recipes differ depending on family traditions and countries. Try this one out and add or take out ingredients depending on your taste-buds.
Glühwein (10 servings):
Put all ingredients in a pot and bring it close to boil. For additional taste, cut 2 oranges into bite-size pieces and add to the wine. Let simmer but not boil. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks before serving it into lightly pre-warmed glasses. Decorate glasses with an orange slice.
Enjoy and remember to drink responsibly!
Hungarians love food, they love to eat, and Christmas is just the season to do that. Their Christmas tables are decorated with green fir twigs, Christmas confectionery, oranges, and red apples. The red apples represent culture, health, and love. Although there are many dishes on the Christmas table there is one in particular that will NOT be absent on Hungarian tables; Halászlé. Halászlé, or Fisherman's soup, is a traditional Hungarian fish soup that was originally prepared by fishermen along the river of Danube and Tisza. However, every region in Hungary have their own fish soup recipe but the soup, in general, consists of a good amount of hot paprika and mixed river fish.
Halászlé (Serves 4):
Cut fish into 3 cm pieces and refrigerate. Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-low heat, add fish heads and bones and cook, turning once, for 2 minutes. Add 3 litres cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve lined with muslin, discarding solids.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and capsicum, and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 5 minutes. Add paprika and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant, then return strained stock to the pan. Simmer for 40 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add fish pieces and simmer for 10 minutes or until just cooked. Season again.
We recommend topping the soup with sour cream and parsley. Enjoy!
If you get a change to try these recipies, we would love to get your feedback on them. Were they tasty?
At first you may not think of Sweden as a vegan paradise, but it is. Around 10% of the Swedish population identify themselves as being vegan or vegetarian and the number of fantastic restaurants and supermarket products that have popped up because of this new-found identity and lifestyle are fantastic. Even if you eat at a restaurant that serves meat or fish, you’ll be surprised at the number of plant-based options that are available for you. In fact, meat in some ways seems less and less prominent on menus across the country as the locals opt for a more sustainable and cruelty free lifestyle. For those who still think of vegan food as stodgy vegetable mush, you’ll be thrilled to find out that modern vegan cuisine in Sweden is a far cry from this. It is delicious, with popping flavour combinations, incredible tastes and surprising ingredients that you may not have heard of before!
It’s not just the restaurants that cater for a plant-based palate. Most cafes and fika hot spots will have tasty vegan morsels on offer (try Husaren in Gothenburg, Bageri Leve in Malmö or Mahalo Hälsocafet in Stockholm) and all good cafes will happily switch in Oatly’s incredible and industry-changing iKaffe oat milk in your latte (we can’t go past Condeco’s Beet Me Ginger latte). If you’re in a rush and don’t feel like sitting down to eat, don’t ignore the korv (sausage) stands dotted around the city either: Pretty much every street corned korv and burger stand will also serve a delicious vegan option for a quick bite to sustain you as you explore the city! Equally, if you’re after Swedish fast food, do pop by Max’s, a burger chain that has a fantastic menu full of ‘green’ options, including their incredible vegan BBQ burger made from Pulled Oumph! (a Swedish vegan soy product that is taking the world by storm).
So, get ready to go on a taste adventure around Sweden and tuck in to the fantastically delicious and perfectly sustainable menu options at some of our favourite restaurants. Here we present to you our top five vegan (or at least vegan-heavy but vegetarian) restaurants in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö that we guarantee even non-vegans will adore!
The capital of Sweden is certainly embracing the plant-based lifestyle and in Stockholm you’ll find lots of options to captivate your tastebuds. STHLM RAW’s ‘Unbakery’ is a must-try for those of us with a sweet-tooth, and beautiful treats awaits you at this raw patisserie. Their café will also delight and offers up raw dishes which are truly awesome. If you feel like having a delicious Chinese meal, look no further than Lao Wai, a Chinese restaurant (with a emphasis on Tiawanese and Sichuan dishes) that is completely vegetarian (and heavy on the vegan options). We love their fresh ingredients and especially their variety of mushrooms. If you’re in the mood for a Middle Eastern flavour, look no further than Falafelbaren, which, according to the word on the street, serves up Stockholm’s best falafel. With everything vegetarian, and mostly vegan, you won’t be disappointed with the range of combinations you can choose here. The Plant is a fully vegan restaurant with all their produce being organic as well. Do not miss out on their incredible burgers, which ooze tastiness and satisfaction. We also love Mahalo, a haven for budget-friendly travelers in the mood for some seriously vibrant vegan dishes, smoothies or desserts. We highly recommend their Knivsöder glass noodle salad packed with peanut sauce, avocado, broccoli, mango salsa and a whole bunch of other tasty morsels!
The vegan food scene in Gothenburg is just awesome. So many and varied options, each as good as the last. A top pick is definitely Jinx Food Truck. This little van (which happens to be located in the hippest square in Gothenburg, surrounded by top-notch Scandi-design stores), only has three menu choices, one is vegan and it is mouthwatering. It's a panko coated deep fried piece of spongy tofu in a bao bun accompanied by spicy vegan mayo, with lashings of fresh coriander, cucumber and pickled carrots. En Deli in Haga has an amazing variety of mouthwatering dishes to choose from in a pseudo-buffet style. You can get their Lyx Deli plate which means you can try a little bit of everything and even come back for seconds – just make sure to ask for the vegan selection as some things contain dairy. Their stuffed vine leaves are a particular favourite. Andrum is one of the oldest vegetarian restaurants (with lots of vegan options) in Gothenburg and still does a roaring trade, especially at lunch where you will get a wonderful midday meal that will keep you full and warm. We recommend a bowl of their daal soup in particular. For dinner you can’t go past Blackbird or Folk. Blackbird is a fully vegan restaurant and everything on their menu is sure to impress. For us, we can’t go past their mushroom tortellini which is just a big bowl of happiness. Folk is a restaurant that is hard not to absolutely love. Occupying the lobby of Gothenburg’s Folkteatern, Folk is truly adventurous restaurant that we think deserves a Michelin Star. While it used to be fully vegetarian/vegan, now seafood is also on the menu. However usually over half the menu is still vegetarian and many dishes can be made vegan. Nothing is what you expect and the diversity and exotic flavour combinations will delight and astound. You can’t go past their tasting menu where you get to sample 3 of their dishes, with which you can even get a wine pairing menu.
Malmö has a vast selection of Vegan food and it’s fast becoming a hot spot for vegan travelers. So it’s probably unsurprising that we find it hard to make a top five! Sustainable eating has taken Malmö by storm and there are lots of options. In fact, the word on the street is that Malmö is fast becoming one of Europe’s vegan hot spots. If your after a quick lunch that is packed full of awesome flavour, head to Pink Head Noodle Bar. With fantastic vegan options and noodles that are made in front of you, this place is a win-win. Another must is The Vegan Bar, which probably has the best vegan burger in town, accompanied by the best chips. If you’re hungry, we highly recommend you try their ‘Wasted’ burger, which comes with mouthwatering avocado chili fries! If you’re after a pairing of plant-based food and wine, you can’t go past Mineral. This wine bar and restaurant does salad and soup for lunch and their recipes change regularly but from our experience it’s always delicious (think parsnip soup spiced up with forest chanterelle mushrooms and flakes of crisped Jerusalem artichoke…heavenly). Mineral also has live music events in the evening and for brunch so you can enjoy fantastic wine, food and music all at once. Mutantur is also right up there on our list. It is not exclusively a vegan restaurant but the head chef (who represented Sweden in the Bocuse d’Or!) clearly loves to put together dynamic dishes that cater to the vegan palate as much as he does to the traditional. Indeed, over a quarter of the menu is vegan and you’ll be delighted by every option (but make sure to leave room for their bergamot sorbet served with aquafaba meringue, rose and basil). Last but definitely not least is Sájvva, which is definitely the place to check out if you’re after vegan cocktails to accompany your spectacular meal. The food at Sájvva is jam-packed with flavour and takes inspiration from food around the world. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but at the moment probably the Autumn Garden Pho or the Korean Street Bowl, which will not fail to impress, even the pickiest customers.
Sweden is really truly a great choice for the vegan foodie traveller. You will easily be able to find something delicious on your adventures around this incredible country and your taste buds will not miss out on the joy of traveling! So, bon appétit, or as the Swedes say: Smaklig Måltid!
Christmas in Sweden is a truly magical time. Lights twinkle along the city streets, and it seems like every single household fondly embraces the tradition of lighting candles and hanging stars in their windows, to help guide travellers home after a long journey in the evening darkness. Everyone will make sure they enjoy a Lucia concert, and sprigs of pine will scent the frosty air. Saffranbullar (saffron buns) and Glögg (mulled wine) become standard in bakeries and street stalls, and every weekend from mid November until January you can find a Christmas market (julmarknad) to enjoy, and there are some markets that you can visit every day throughout the festive season. The Swedish Christmas Markets have a different vibe to, say, the famous German markets. There is less of a focus on tree decorations and typical ’Christmas fare’, and more of a focus on the wares and products of local producers. Think pots of jams and honey rather than decorated gingerbread cookies, and knitted mittens and beautiful candle holders rather than hand-blown glass ornaments. You’ll get to quickly recognise the fantastic Swedish traditions, and you should definitely buy yourself a straw Christmas goat or a beautiful fir wreath.
So which Christmas markets are best and where should you go to see the best Swedish Christmas Traditions? That’s a hard question! It’s so difficult to decide on a ‘favourite’ Christmas Market. They all offer something special and the wide range of artisans exhibiting at each means that all the markets are unique and special in their own right. Regardless of which you end up choosing to visit, what we can guarantee is that you’ll have a magical time in the cosy atmosphere that is typical of Swedish Christmas markets. But to help you make a choice, here are our top julmarknad picks in Sweden’s three largest cities. One thing to note is that you should always check which markets will be open during the days you’re visiting. Only a very few markets are open even day throughout the Christmas season, and most are only open for a weekend or over several weekends.
Our top Christmas Market picks in Sweden’s 3 largest cities!
To find out more about Christmas in Stockholm and the dates and times for all the markets, visit: https://www.visitstockholm.com/guides/christmas-in-stockholm/
Enjoying reading all about Gothenburg, the Christmas City here: https://www.goteborg.com/en/christmascity/
If you want more info on things to do and markets to visit in Malmö, visit https://www.malmocity.se/en/christmas-malmo-city/
On our blog you will find travel tips and inspiration across our destinations. You'll find anything from food and drink recommendations to must-see attractions, hidden gems and seasonal events.