Here’s an overview of inspirational new holiday ideas and travel news – from a festivity-filled break in Gothenburg to new walking trips in Dalsland’s lake district, hotel openings and plans to expand the famous Shellfish Journey
Gothenburg the Christmas city
Feel festivity levels soar with a winter break in Gothenburg, only a short two-hour flight from London. Mixing a warm sense of tradition with contemporary Swedish design, highlights of Gothenburg the Christmas city include…
Liseberg Christmas market
Decorated with five million twinkling lights and 700 Christmas trees, Liseberg Amusement Park’s Christmas market is Scandinavia’s biggest. It features 80 rustic market stalls selling arts and crafts, as well as seasonal foods such as traditional Swedish marinated herring, roasted reindeer served by Sami reindeer herders from Lapland, dressed in their fascinating and highly-decorated traditional costumes, marzipan pigs and traditional mulled and spiced wine, known as glögg. There’s also a sparkling ice skating rink for onlookers and participants alike to enjoy and Christmas sing-alongs to add to the festive vibe. Open from 16 to 25 November on weekends (Friday to Sunday) and then daily from 30 November to 23 December, entry into Liseberg Christmas Market costs 90 SEK (£8) pp.
Other Christmas markets in the city…
Gothenburg boasts many more Christmas markets, including the traditional market at the Crown-house building, dating from the 1600s. Step back in time as you browse Swedish handicrafts sold by artisans dressed in costumes from yester-year, and be sure to visit the old chocolate works next door too, offering the finest festive confectionary. Open from 1 to16 December (closed on Mondays).
Walk the Lane of Light (or hop on a vintage tram!)
Walk the unique 3 km illuminated trail through the heart of Gothenburg (from 7 December to 6 January). Set off on a magical meander from the central harbour all the way to Liseberg Amusement Park’s Christmas market. Combining innovative lighting design with a love of Christmas the old-fashioned way, the city architects and light designers have created this year’s Lane of Light around the theme of love. And, if you don’t fancy walking, why not take a ride on the beautiful Ringlinien vintage tram instead?
The tradition of St Lucia
Witness a delightful, candle-lit Swedish national tradition: every year (12 and 13 December 2012), towns across Sweden hold Lucia concerts – including, of course, Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, the capital of West Sweden. The city’s chosen Lucia (Queen of Light) is duly crowned with a halo of candles, and her coronation is marked by a majestic concert held in candle-lit churches across the city, including the incredibly atmospheric Vasa Church. Choral pieces sung by the Lucia troupe of seven girls bring divine enchantment to the packed churches and tears to the eyes of those enjoying the spectacle.
Cosy café culture
Gothenburg has a thriving independent café scene, priding itself on top-quality coffee and a myriad of tasty sweet treats, including the much-loved cinnamon bun. Winter is one of the best times of year to join the Swedes in sampling their favourite pastime, fika. It’s a coffee break that’s a national institution in Sweden, usually accompanied by friends and something sweet. There’s nothing better than to while away hours in cosy, candle-lit cafés, with local Gothenburg favourites including Da Matteo (a bakery, roastery and shop offering a shiny collection of home coffee-brewing equipment), Café Husaren (serving up the country’s biggest cinnamon buns) and SoHo Gbg (with its super-trendy décor and lots of space).
Sample festive break in Gothenburg:
Three nights’ B&B at the Hotel Elite Park Avenue costs from £527 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow) and private transfers. To book this festive package call Sunvil Discovery on 020 8758 4722 or visit http://www.sunvil.co.uk.
Or head to Sweden’s west coast…
Experience your most relaxing winter break yet at the traditional Swedish guesthouse, Villa Sjötorp, in Ljungskile (less than an hour’s drive north of Gothenburg). This cosy coastal retreat offers a taste of tradition, too – it’s a large gingerbread-style former family house, set amidst mature trees and lawns overlooking the sea and nearby islands. Guests can enjoy coffee, glögg and ginger snaps on arrival, perhaps followed by an exhilarating walk along the shoreline before tucking into a special nine-course feast at the Taste of West Sweden-accredited candle-lit restaurant. One night’s accommodation with breakfast costs from £159 pp (two sharing), including refreshments on arrival and the festive feast. Flights and car hire extra. Call 00 46 522 20174 or visit http://www.villasjotorp.se/eng
For further information about Gothenburg the Christmas city, visit: http://www.goteborg.com/en/Christmas-City/start/
For further information about Christmas breaks in West Sweden, visit: http://www.vastsverige.com/en/Christmas-in-West-Sweden/
Win a trip to Gothenburg the Christmas city this winter
Keep an eye on West Sweden’s Twitter feed (http://www.twitter.com/westswedentb) for the chance to win a festive break in Gothenburg.
Previewing 2013 – new holiday ideas, events and openings
Self-guided walking trip in Dalsland’s lake district – new for 2013
Dalsland is a hiker’s dream, with its accessible walking trails and spectacular landscape of glittering lakes and deep forests – all just an easy 2.5 hours’ drive north of Gothenburg on uncrowded roads. Discover this unspoilt region on a new self-guided walking trip, where guests can set off on a selection of mapped walks every day – choose from gentle 5 km walks to more challenging 20 km hikes. Base yourself at a lakeside guesthouse, offering top-notch local cuisine and canoes for adventures on the lake. Trips range from five to seven days – eg four nights’ B&B costs £300 pp (two sharing), including detailed maps of hiking trails and free canoe hire. Car hire and flights extra. Call Nature Travels on 01929 503 080 or visit http://www.naturetravels.co.uk.
Journey along Sweden’s west coast – new for 2013
Take in the highlights of West Sweden’s sublime coastline on a new nine-day holiday that explores Styrsö island, Ljungskile, Fjällbacka and Lysekil. Relax and dine at top-quality charming guest houses along the way, including two nights at the Taste of West Sweden-accredited Bryggan Hotel and restaurant, set by the pretty harbour in Fjällbacka (the Swedish equivalent of Midsommer Murders’ village setting). Guests can choose to substitute one of the nights in Fjällbacka for a stay on the Weather Islands, the rugged and beautiful westernmost part of Sweden, if preferred. The trip costs from £1,495 pp (two sharing), including eight nights’ B&B accommodation, flights (London) and car hire. Call Simply Sweden on 0845 8900300 or visit http://www.simplysweden.co.uk.
Captivating coastal cruise – new for 2013
Slow down on a new four-day cruise that journeys from Gothenburg to Fjällbacka – staying on land and dining in quality accommodation en route, and visiting the Royal island of Marstrand, Fiskebäckskil, Smögenbryggan and Fjällbacka. Four days of cruising, five nights’ B&B accommodation (including a stay at the Elite Plaza Hotel in Gothenburg before and after the cruise), four lunches, three dinners, a bus transfer back to Gothenburg from Fjällbacka and flights (London) are all included, from £1,095 pp (two sharing). Call Best Served Scandinavia on 020 7838 5956 (http://www.best-served.co.uk).
Radisson Blue Riverside Hotel to open in Gothenburg in March 2013
Gothenburg’s newest hotel, the Radisson Blue Riverside Hotel, will open its doors on 18 March 2013. Boasting an idyllic waterside location with harbour views on the banks of the Göta River at Lindholmen, the modern hotel features 265 stylish rooms and The Cuckoo’s Nest restaurant, offering both international and local dishes. It also features a spa and fitness centre with an indoor pool, sauna, gym and three Jacuzzis, one of which is outdoors, on the rooftop. One night’s B&B in a double room will cost from £45 pp (two sharing). Call 00 46 31 3834000 or visit http://www.radissonblu.com/riversidehotel-gothenburg.
The Shellfish Journey expands, from spring 2013
West Sweden’s famous Shellfish Journey will be bigger than ever in 2013, with more seafood safaris available throughout the year. The Shellfish Journey – offering visitors the chance to learn how to catch and cook lobster, mussels, oysters, crayfish and prawns – is usually limited to the autumn/fall period, kicking off at the start of the lobster season (the first Monday after 20 September every year). But, due to popular demand, still more educational and mouth-watering seafood safaris will be introduced, meaning trips will be available for a longer period from spring 2013. Further information, packages and prices to follow.
Gothia Towers hotel to add 59 new rooms, summer 2013
The four-star Gothia Towers hotel, located in the heart of Gothenburg directly opposite the Liseberg Amusement Park, will feature 59 additional luxurious rooms and suites in the summer of 2013. This will be in addition to its current 704 rooms, with plans to increase its room count to a total of 1,200 at the end of 2014, once a third tower is added to the complex. Guests can admire far-reaching views of the city from the hotel, as well as enjoying local cuisine at its two restaurants, Heaven 23 and Restaurant West Coast, which serve the finest seafood fresh from the Gothenburg coast. Call 00 46 31 750 8805 or visit http://www.gothiatowers.com.
Gothenburg to host World Food Travel Summit, September 2013
Building on its claim to fame as Culinary Capital of Sweden 2012, Gothenburg has been chosen as the host city for the World Food Travel Summit (21-24 September, 2013). To be held at the Clarion Hotel Post, 500 delegates from the food, beverage, travel and hospitality industries worldwide will gather to discuss the increasing consumer focus on food and the environment. Gothenburg is the perfect destination to host such an event, recognised as it is for the wealth and quality of its natural produce. Visit http://www.worldfoodtravel.org/world-summit-2013.
For an insider’s guide to events and experiences in West Sweden, follow the latest blogs at http://www.explorewestsweden.com
Holidays to West Sweden are available through numerous specialist tour operators, including Best Served Scandinavia, Black Tomato, Discover the World, Nature Travels, Off The Map Travel, Original Travel, Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, Seasoned Travel, Simply Sweden, Sunvil Discovery and Taber Holidays.
West Sweden can be reached by a short two-hour direct flight to Gothenburg with British Airways (Heathrow), Ryanair (Stansted and Edinburgh), SAS (Heathrow), Norwegian (Gatwick), plus British Airways/Sun-Air of Scandinavia (Manchester)
Ends – November 2012
Press: For more information on West Sweden, please contact Stephanie Reed at Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 (email@example.com).