For some 'Swede harmony', head to Sweden's second largest city
WHY GO? The nickname for Sweden's second biggest city is 'Little London'; testimony to their fondness for our own capital. Although here, you could argue, the locals speak better English. Because as well as being one of Scandinavia's most affordable city break destinations, it's also one of its most friendly. Most people come here on budget flights (from £25 return with Ryanair), giving them more spending power. Forget any IKEA stereo-type, 'Göteborg' is cosmopolitan, down-to-earth, and they greet Brits like long lost friends, leaving you wondering if they're distant relatives. Post-Christmas, the city heads out of its winter hibernation of 24-hour darkness and warms up to life. On weekends head to Haga; 'Göteborg's' oldest suburb dates from the mid 19th century. Here, wooden houses nestle along the cobbled streets, and there's an abundance of second-hand shops and antique boutiques, and cafes to linger on an away-break Saturday. If you're on a brief time schedule and want to see the town in one go, head to the top of Gothia Towers. Heaven 23 is the sky bar at the Gothia Towers Hotel, 23 floors up. You get a dazzling view of Göteborg while sipping wine, or eating the speciality of the house: the gigantic prawn sandwich.
WHERE TO STAY… Gothenburg has sleeps that go from designer chic to humble and homely. The top-notch destination is The Avalon (doubles from £140), part of The Design Hotel, with views that stretch across the city. Alternatively, you can find bargains on Late Rooms, like £75 for the Grand Hotel Opera. Fjällbacka is worth an overnight stop, and the Stora Hotellet, often frequented by the A-list, has rooms themed around exotic countries, and is one of the most elegant in this part of the country.
WHERE TO SHOP… When in Haga, take a look inside the clog shop (Haga Trätoffelfabrik) for leather goods and clogs, buy spices at the Curry House, or stop off for coffee at one of the cosy cafés. You'll find Sweden's largest cinnamon buns at Kafé Husaren. For cheap eats head to Feskekörkan fish market hall, opened in 1874; Gothenburg is loved for its fish. Buy fresh prawns and enjoy them by the harbour or edge of the canal. Göteborg residents' own little secret, Linnégatan, and intersecting Långgatorna, is lined with bars, restaurants and shops. Drink Spanish beer at La Sombrita, try Greek food at Mykonos or jazz at Linnéterrassen.
WHERE TO PARTY... The best time to shake off that Swedish sensible nature is on Midsummer's Day, when celebrations involve dancing around May poles, and wearing outlandish costume. That's even before they'd downed the vodka shots. In August there's the city's answer to Glastonbury festival. Way Out West includes shows from Sweden and the international scene. The festival is held in Slottsskogen, a large beautiful park in the centre of Göteborg, and in 2008 saw acts like Nick Cave, Neil Young and The Flaming Lips. After closing, club nights are spread around the city, and your wristband gives you entry. At other times, Långgatorna is lined with bars and restaurants. Drink Spanish beer at La Sombrita, try Greek food at Mykonos or jazz at Linnéterrassen. ENJOY... The Swedes are a bunch of culture vultures, The Museum of World Culture is worth a visit for the 'Spanish staircase' inside the museum, which has since become one of the hottest meeting places in the city. The museum was opened in December 2004 and the ultra-modern building is already winning design awards. Best restaurants in the Goteburg area are, Bryggan in Fjallbacka, or Sea Lodge in the nearby town of Smogen, that comes to life at weekends. In the town itself, try Aveny 1, for a Swede-Italian fusion food.
GETTING THERE… Flights to Gothenburg go with Ryan Air from £25 return, or from £75 return with Fly BMI. You can also take the car ferry from £90 return from Newcastle. For more information, log onto www.westsweden.com.
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