After spending around 2 years travelling around Southeast Asia and Australia we found ourselves back in Europe to visit family over the Christmas period a few years back. It wasn’t just a reverse culture shock but it was also a shock to the system to acclimatise to not only winter in Europe but in famously cold Scandinavia. This was our second time in the region but the first in winter and despite having entirely inappropriate clothing, we thoroughly enjoyed exploring this ultra cool and understated Swedish city. What we found was a vibrant culture, an easily walkable city and a hipster vibe especially during the Gothenburg winter. Sweden might not be the obvious choice for a winter city break but it’s cosy Hygge feel makes it perfect for a short trip, we recommend a Weekend in Gothenburg.Here’s a guide to Gothenburg in Winter and a run down of our favourite Things to do in Gothenburg.
Why Visit Gothenburg In Winter
Scandinavia in the winter might not be the first place you would think of visiting for a city break but before you write it off just consider some of the reasons why you might want to visit Gothenburg in winter. Particularly Gothenburg in December is a lovely time to visit.
The Short Days Are A Fascinating Experience
The polar winter means the days in this region are short and the light is low. This might not seem like ideal holiday weather but it’s quite the experience and the light that hangs on the horizon all day offers unique lighting and the feeling of twilight throughout the day during the Gothenburg winter.
The City Is Magical At The Festive Season
Having shorter days means the city is often in the dark, but that doesn’t mean it’s down and dower during the Gothenburg winter. Instead the locals embrace this season and many of the buildings are decorated with bright and colourful lighting that brings the city to life. goteborg winter is a truly enchanting experience.
In the evenings especially in the run up to Christmas Gothenburg in December is enchanting. There are also several amazing Gothenburg Christmas market too and with a blanket of snow Gothenburg in winter becomes a winter wonderland!
It’s A Great Place To Indulge In Cosy Hygge Culture
Hygge culture, the feeling of being warm, cosy and content is key to life in winter in Scandinavia. Think wrapping up next to a fire with a cup of mulled wine! Winter is the season of Hygge and the district of Haga is a great place to indulge! You don’t get that in summer which is why Gothenburg in winter is the ideal time to visit!
Winter in this region is undoubtedly quieter than the warmer summer months, Gothenburg itself benefits from the fact that it’s the second city of Sweden too. With Gothenburg in winter you are much more likely to get a more authentic and local experience of the region.
Tips For Visiting Gothenburg In Winter
How To Get To Gothenburg
It’s easy to get to Gothenburg using a number of different transport methods and despite not being the capital of Sweden it is still very well connected.
The International airport, Landvetter (GOT), is located 20 km outside of the city centre.
The airport is the second largest in the country and covers mostly European and domestic destinations such as: France, UK, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Spain, Italy, Greece as well as some more destinations on the continent. Many of these are covered by low cost airlines
Outside of Europe destinations include Turkey, Thailand, Qatar and Cape Verde.
The city run an airport shuttle service called the “Flygbussarna” from outside the main terminal building that takes between 25-30 mins and terminates right in the centre of the city. This costs SEK119.00 / £10.46 / $13.93 one way.
The impressive Gothenburg Central Station is unsurprisingly situated right in the centre of town. The station dates back to 1858 and is the oldest in Sweden still in operation!
The train station is well connected to many of the popular and larger domestic destinations such as Stockholm and Malmo. The lines cover all areas of the country including a coastal line and the very north of the country.
Gothenburg’s train station also offers international travel to mostly to other Scandinavian states with lines running to Oslo and Copenhagen.
The Nils Ericssonterminalen Bus terminal is also well connected to the rest of Sweden and Scandinavia offering many long distance options.
Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Malmo are popular destinations and bus travel is the cheapest option for getting around this expensive region.
We actually arrived in Gothenburg on a bus from Oslo and left on a bus for Copenhagen!
Travelling Around Gothenburg
Gothenburg is a really walkable city but it also has a great public transport network that includes trams, buses and boats.
Tickets for public transport cover all methods available and can be bought at the Västtrafik’s sales outlets which are often in grocery or convenience stores (Recognisable from the blue flags) or in the app To Go. Tickets can also be bought onboard from all methods of transport apart from the buses.
Single, 1 day and 3 day tickets can be bought. The tourism centre at at Kungsportsplatsen is a great place to get good deals and multi day visitor tickets. For us two days in Gothenburg is ideal.
Find more info here: www.goteborg.com
You can also buy a Gothenburg Pass which includes hop on hop off buses and museum passes
Weather In Gothenburg In Winter/ Gothenburg Winter Temperatures
As might be imagined for Scandinavia the weather in Gothenburg in winter is cold. However being in the south of the country it is also not too extreme and it’s actually one of Sweden’s warmest cities! Gothenburg in December is generally one of the coldest months.
Expect temperatures during the Gothenburg winter to be between 4°C and -4°C.
Snow is also common and makes the city look even more enchanting, it is also less likely to rain the in winter so the Gothenburg winter temperatures aren’t too bad!
What To Pack For Gothenburg In Winter
Obviously with the cold Gothenburg winter temperatures packing well means preparing for the chilly temperatures. But with the climate not being extreme you don’t need to worry about bringing any specialised gear fit for an arctic expedition to survive the Gothenburg winter!!
Be sure to pack and dress in layers in the cold Gothenburg winter temperatures as it traps more warmth close to your body, it also means that you can de-shed layers according to temperatures indoor whether that’s a cosy cafe or a temperate market. Having a good time during winter in Gothenburg is all about layering well!
Base layers and long johns/ leggings are a great idea for layering, also coats like down jackets are idea for travelling light but keeping warm. You might also want to bring a waterproof jacket incase it does rain or snow to protect your jacket and to add to your layers. Heavier waterproof and warm boots or shoes are also a good idea for the snow. Don’t forget your scarf, hat and gloves too for Gothenburg in December!
Where To Stay In Gothenburg
Best Budget Backpacker: Göteborg Hostel
Scandinavia is an expensive region no matter where you stay but thankfully the Göteborg Hostel offers a great, fresh, clean and modern place for budget travellers to stay. Often expensive cities end up with awful hostel that cut corners, but not here! With wooden floors, bright rooms and a modern Swedish style as well as offering a kitchen, breakfast buffet and several lounges it’s a great backpacker place.
Best Mid Range Option: STF Göteborg City Hotel
This ultra modern and slick hotel offers great prices for basic, clean and comfortable rooms right in the centre of Gothenburg. For those wanting a relaxing and modern stay in an ideal location without blowing your budget then this is a great place to base yourself for a Weekend in Gothenburg.
Best Luxury: The Hotel Royal
Dating back to 1852 The Hotel Royal is the most elegant and historic hotel in the city. Sweden is expensive, so why not pay a touch more for pure luxury, culture and an unbeatable charming atmosphere. With Persian carpets, decorative curtains and old-style furniture a patterned stone floor as well as a painted ceiling and an Art Nouveau-style marble staircase it’s like stepping back into a different world. It’s also a lovely cosy place to come back to during winter in Gothenburg.
Find Other Gothenburg Winter Accommodation Options Here
Things To Do In Gothenburg In winter
Try Out The Local Food At Stora Saluhallen Food Market
The biggest market hall in Gothenburg, the Saluhallen is home to around forty stalls that specialise in both local delicacies and global cuisine! You can find the most amazing cheeses, Swedish meatballs, fresh fruit, spices and coffee all under one roof.
Opened in 1889 the large market hall has served the city for over 100 years and is even more popular today amongst the discerning tastes of both locals and visitors alike looking for something fresh, authentic and affordable to eat! It’s a must on any Gothenburg itinerary.
It also provides a great place to shelter from the harsh winter weather so it’s an ideal place to visit on a Gothenburg in winter trip! What is also great is that it’s not only cool for looking round and all the fresh produce, but they also have food to eat right away inside the hall on some of the tables set up inside!
Take A ‘Fika Break’ In Haga, The Home Of Hygge!
Gothenburg is all about Haga, the cool hipster area of an already cool and hipster city! Understated, cozy, traditional and yet on the cutting edge of modernity, Haga is the place to hang in Gothenburg. Well preserved wooden houses line the cobbled streets and often house independent cafes and coffee shops or tiny inviting boutiques. Any Gothenburg itinerary is incomplete without a visit.
The term “Hygge”, a Scandinavian word that describes a feeling of a charming cosiness through subtle worn pastel colours, wooden panelling, log fires and fluffy pillows is embodied effortlessly in Haga during the Gothenburg winter.
A must do whilst exploring the streets and shops of Haga is taking a “Fika Break”, a Swedish coffee break alongside a “Hagabullen” – a small cinnamon bun! On our list of what to see in Gothenburg, this has to be our favourite place in the city!
What better way to experience Gothenburg in winter than heading into a cosy cafe, getting comfy by and open log burning fire and indulging in some local delicacies and hot coffee!
Buy Fresh Seafood At The Feskekôrka Fish Market
What to see in Gothenburg? The Fish Church of course!!
Ok, so you might not be buying any fish if you’re on a weekend break in Gothenburg but the Fish Church is a Gothenburg landmark that just has to be visited just for the experience and the significance to the city.
Opening on 1 November 1874 it resembles a Neo Gothic church more than a market and houses one of the oldest trades in the history of the city; fishing! If you do like a good seafood meal then this is the place to get the freshest catch of the day, you can even eat right there in the market!
If not then it’s a great place to explore the history and traditions of this port town and rub shoulder to shoulder with locals. It’s also indoors which is why it’s one of the best things to do in Gothenburg in winter.
Explore The Old Streets Of This Historic City
Explore this magnificently walkable city on foot. Gothenburg by its nature is a lovely city to explore, it’s quite small and compact which makes it very walkable and pedestrian friendly, in fact a Weekend in Gothenburg is enough time to see most of the city.
It is also a beautiful old city with many wonderful examples of stunning Swedish architecture to marvel over. Our favourite areas to wander had to be around the main train station whose ornate facade dates back to 1858. Around this area there are many other stunning buildings to discover, the facing square is a great meeting place and the nearby canal a great spot for a stoll.
Enjoy The Markets At Liseberg Amusement Park
The city’s famous amusement park; Lisberg, is a must see spot. Opened in 1923 it is transformed into a magical winter wonderland during the colder months and is the perfect Gothenburg in winter activity.
During winter you might not be too keen to whizz through the cold air, but instead the park is lit up with some of Europe’s most enchanting Gothenburg Christmas market. There is also an ice rink and there are also several plays to watch as well as four different buffets on offer too.
Take In The City’s Alternative Culture
Gothenburg has a wonderful art and counter culture scene, numerous vegetarian restaurants and a thriving skate and graffiti scene… right up our alley. What is also great is that graffiti and art can be enjoyed in any season so it’s an ideal thing to do in Gothenburg in winter
The entire city is great for those of us who love this kind of culture but the beating heart of it all is just outside the city centre over at the harbour. The Roda Sten Art Centre is in the old boiler room and provides a unique space both inside and out for contemporary art in all its forms.
There are even some DIY skate ramps outside, performance areas and of course, its covered in graffiti! There is also a cafe here that serves great veggie food! Not what would be on most “What to see in Gothenburg” guides, but well worth a look at this other side to the city.
Have You Been To Gothenburg In winter, What Did You Get Up To, What Are Your Favourite Things to do in Gothenburg?
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