Often underrated compared to Stockholm, Gothenburg is a hidden gem in West Sweden just waiting to be discovered. As the world’s most sustainable destination, and 2020’s European Capital of Smart tourism, Gothenburg really is making a name for itself. Hence my recent visit to experience the Gothenburg Christmas markets. During our three day city break, we explored multiple Christmas markets, shopped from local designers and embraced the Swedish fika culture. Here is my definitive guide to the Gothenburg Christmas markets, including other things to do in Gothenburg, how to get there, where to stay and where to eat.
Liseberg Christmas Markets in Gothenburg
The best place in Gothenburg to get into the Christmas spirit has to be Liseberg Amusement Park. Nearly 100 years old, it is home to the largest Christmas markets in Sweden and regularly pulls in half a million visitors. For Christmas, Liseberg is transformed into a winter wonderland. Not only can you ride the rollercoasters, but you can visit Santa in his workshop, see the festive ice skating show, enjoy a Swedish Christmas buffet and visit several of Gothenburg’s Christmas markets all in one place.
Christmas at Liseberg is made even more special by the five million Christmas lights that illuminate the theme park. Of course being based in Gothenburg, the worlds most sustainable city, means the Christmas lights are all powered by Liseberg’s very own wind turbine. Just one of the ways that the city of Gothenburg is setting an example for the rest of the world.
Christmas at Liseberg 2019 is open from November 15 – 17, 22 – 24 and 28 – 30 and December 1, 4 – 8, 10 – 23 and 26 – 30. Entrance to the park can be combined with ride tickets depending on what you want to experience.
Liseberg’s old fashioned Christmas market
Enjoy the Christmas atmosphere at Liseberg’s winter wonderland. Rows of Christmas market stalls fill the amusement park, selling everything from Christmas decorations and gifts to toffee apples, hot chocolate, churros, mulled wine and roasted nuts.
Liseberg’s designer Christmas market Sweden
Take the festively decorated escalator up to the indoor Liseberg’s designer market in Liseberg Tower. You’ll find beautiful Christmas presents including designer goods and handicrafts from well known Swedish brands as well as independent exhibitors.
Swedish Christmas Buffet at Liseberg
Once you’ve shopped till you drop, and ridden one rollercoaster after another, you’ll be ready to enjoy a Swedish Christmas buffet. The Stjärnornas Krog restaurant at Liseberg is a favourite, so make sure you book well in advance. Enjoy as many Swedish favourites as you like but don’t forget to leave space for the all important gottebord. It is the finale of any Swedish Christmas meal and includes a long table filled with sweet and chocolatey treats. The perfect place to live out your Charlie and the Chocolate factory dreams!
Ice Skating at Liseberg
Get into the festive spirit and join the crowds at Liseberg to watch the daily ice ballet show. Performed by Sweden’s leading ice skaters, this years performance is a rendition of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Don’t worry if your Swedish is a little rusty, as long as you know the storyline you’ll easily be able to follow along.
The show is included in the price of entrance to the park (120 SEK) but it is very popular so arrive early if you want to stake out the best spot. Performances are at 7pm on weekdays, 4.30pm and 7pm on Saturdays and 5pm on Sundays.
Before and after the ice skating show, the ice rink is open to visitors. Ice skating is included in the cost of admission, you just need to leave 50 SEK deposit for the skates.
INSIDE TIP: Visit Liseberg ice rink between Christmas and New Year as the cast of the show will be teaching ice skating lessons!
Liseberg Rides and Attractions
Wild rollercoasters, dizzying rides, and spinning carousels make up just some of the 30 rides and attractions at Liseberg. During the Christmas season there are special ride passes available, some include express passes that will help you skip the queue. These are definitely recommended if you want to save time, and minimise your time in the cold.
Liseberg includes everything from bumper cars, a haunted house, a ferris wheel and plenty of rides for children. Just remember to wrap up warm and don’t underestimate the weather. The night we visited hit -5 degrees but the speed of the rides coupled with the wind chill meant it felt a lot colder. I can highly recommend the fire pits found through out the amusement park, they are the quickest way to stay warm!
Ride recommendations: Balder & Valkyria. Both very different, faster than expected and lasted longer than anticipated.
Haga Christmas Market in Gothenburg
Haga Nygata is home to one of the most visited Gothenburg Christmas markets. The charming streets are decorated in spruces, and exhibitors sell unique products as well as delicious Christmas delicacies. The most unique offering is horse riding for children along the cobbled stone streets of Haga Nygata. The Christmas market is only open on the weekends between November 30th 2019 and December 22nd 2019.
Art and Design Christmas Fair
Open for one weekend only, the Art and Design Christmas Fair is based at the iconic Röda Sten Konsthall. Once a boiler house, it was saved from demolishment and is now a space for Swedish and international artists to exhibit their work and run creative workshops and lectures.
The Art and Design Christmas fair fills the cathedral space and offers plenty of decorative gifts. It is the most modern of the Gothenburg Christmas markets, and steers away from traditional items, instead opting for contemporary Christmas gifts created by local, national and international designers and artisans.
The Röda Sten Art centre is located under the Älvsborg bridge at the harbour entrance. The easiest way to reach it is by a 15 minute ferry from the city centre.
The Gothenburg Art and Design Christmas fair is open Friday 29 November 2019 5– 8pm, Saturday 30 November 2019 12 – 5pm, Sunday 1 December 2019 12 – 5pm
Entrance fee: 20 SEK. Free up to 26 years and for members of Röda Sten Cultural Association.
DON'T FORGET to bring SEK in cash. Card is often not accepted unless you have enabled the Swedish Swish mobile payment method.
Kronhuset Christmas Market in Gothenburg
Visit the traditional Gothenburg Christmas markets in Kronhuset, one of the cities oldest preserved buildings. The indoor market stalls sell traditional items from local craftsmen and it is the best place to enjoy a glass of glögg – Swedish mulled wine. Kronhuset Christmas market is open from 30th November to 21st December 2019.
TOP TIP: If you have a sweet tooth visit Choklad & Karamellfabrik. This shop is filled with unique chocolates, fudge, gingerbread and sweets.
5 more things to do in Gothenburg
Gothenburg city is filled with things to do. Here are five options that are easy to fit into your weekend winter city break in Gothenburg.
1. Join the Paddan tour
Running most of the year round, the Paddan sightseeing boats start from the city centre and allow visitors to explore the 17th century canals that run through Gothenburg. We joined the Paddan Christmas tour, which included mulled wine and gingerbread cookies. The journey lasted 40 minutes and took us on the scenic route from the city to Liseberg Christmas market.
TOP TIP: The Paddan sightseeing tour AND entry to Liseberg amusement park is FREE with The Gothenburg Pass
2. Visit the Gothenburg Palm House
Arguably one of the best free things to do in Gothenburg is the Palmhuset. Open daily from 10am – 4pm, this lush greenhouse is filled with natural beauty from all corners of the globe. Experiencing the warmth of this tropical hideaway, makes you feel a thousand miles away from winter in Sweden.
3. Visit the Fish Church
Just a stones throw away from Haga, is Feskekôrka, a mecca for fish and seafood lovers. The Feskekôrka, or Fish Church as its affectionately known, is an indoor fish market dating back to 1874. With fresh fish for sale and a popular restaurant, this canal side “church” is a must see in Gothenburg.
4. Shop at Magasinsgatan
Magasinsgatan is home to local Swedish fashion brands and interior shops like Acne, Velour, Grandpa, Heyday, Nudie Jeans and Artilleriet. It’s a great place to shop local for homeware and unique gifts, all year round especially if you visit outside of the Gothenburg Christmas markets. My favourite shop in this area has to be, Floramor och Krukatös, a flower shop hidden away in the backyard of Da Matteo.
5. Listen to the Singing Christmas tree
Another one to add to the list of free things to do in Gothenburg. Head down to Kungsportsplatsen, and listen to the Singing Christmas tree. Standing in tree formation, Gothenburg’s most talented choirs entertain passersby and ensure everyone gets into the Christmas spirit! This is not found near any of the Gothenburg Christmas markets so you need to do a special trip, but it’s totally worth it!
Performing from 29 November to 21 December 2019, check the timetable to see when.
Tours in Gothenburg
If you would prefer to join a sightseeing tour of this Christmas city, check out the links below for plenty of options in Gothenburg.
How to get to Gothenburg
Swedens second city is easily accessible via plane, train and bus.
You can fly into Gothenburgs Landvetter international airport (GOT), one of the worlds few carbon neutral airports. GOT can be reached directly from London in less than two hours/ In addition, the airport is located only 20km from the city centre, meaning a journey time of thirty minutes on the Flygbussarna shuttle bus.
Flights from London to Gothenburg Christmas Markets start from £20, and a return shuttle bus ticket costs 198 SEK if booked online.
If you prefer to travel by train, you can reach the Scandinavian capitals. The journey times are just under 4 hours from Oslo, 3 hours from Stockholm and 3.5 hours from Copenhagen.
Buses are also an option. Long distance and express bus companies like Flixbus, Nettbus and Bus4you, connect Gothenburg with the rest of Scandinavia. The journey time is 3.5 hours from Oslo, 6.5 hours from Stockholm, 3.5 hours from Malmö and 5 hours from Copenhagen.
In and around Gothenburg you can use trams or ferries, but most of the city including the Gothenburg Christmas markets can be reached on foot.
Where to stay for the Gothenburg Christmas Markets
Situated in the city centre and within walking distance of all the main attractions is Hotel Bellora. A boutique hotel with a stylish and bustling Italian restaurant. The decor is a unique mix of floral and dolce vita, that needs to be seen to be appreciated. The breakfast is a highlight, with plenty of choices. Everything from cereals, yoghurt, fruit, eggs, breads, cheese and cold and cooked meats.
TOP TIP: Even if you aren't hungry, try the "make your own" crispy waffle station at breakfast. Remember to add jam and cream, you won't regret it!
Where to eat in Gothenburg
Gothenburg in Sweden is a foodies paradise. Portions are just the right size, and you never feel like you’ve over done it. Gothenburg is also much more affordable that Stockholm, but encompasses the same high quality ingredients and flair that the Swedish capital is famous for. From fika to three course meals, the below are all great options to keep your hunger at bay.
Da Matteo – THE place for fika. You’ll find branches dotted all over Gothenburg. Da Matteo pride themselves on their coffee and run several masterclasses for visitors interested in learning.
Cafe Husaren – Found along the charming streets of Haga, this classic cafe is officially home to the largest cinnamon buns in Sweden. However, the secret is out, and this cafe is popular with tourists. Be prepared to wait for a table or visit during the week when its quieter.
Saluhullen market hall – The market hall has retained its old world charm since 1889. Centrally located, it is a great place to sample delicacies as well as tuck into an affordable lunch.
Restaurant Atelier – This beautifully decorated restaurant is found on the 4th floor of the Hotel Pigalle. During the week, there is a different daily lunch menu, including fish or vegetarian options. During the summer, the rooftop bar is one the best places to enjoy the weather.
Swedish Taste – The perfect place for brunch is located in the 18th century vaults of the Nordiska Kompaniet. Fresh and local produce makes this restaurant a hit.
Kafe Magasinet – An instagrammable orangery serving pizza and salads. Perfect for weekend lunches with friends.
Restaurant Gården – An ever changing menu that focuses on local ingredients and what’s in season. Try the three course meal here and let the waiter decide what to bring you.
Restaurant vRÅ – This newly renovated restaurant is found in the Clarion Hotel Post. This fusion restaurant combines Japanese flavours with Scandinavian ingredients, and is excellent value for money.
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I hope this covers everything you need to plan your trip to one of the best Scandinavian Christmas markets. Feel free to leave any comments or queries below!
Disclaimer: My Gothenburg Christmas markets trip was organised by the Goteborg tourism board however opinions as always are my own.