Lovely, lovely autumn – darker nights, colder mornings, and bright, low sunshine – if you’re lucky. Alternatively, it’s grey skies and wet puddles everywhere! Any sane person would hate the later part of the year, but not me. It’s my favourite time! Even when fiery oranges give way to bare trees, I still find reasons to love winter. And there’s no better place to spend the colder months than here in Gothenburg. The Swedes know how to stay cosy! With a packed calendar of lovely warming events, Gothenburg is the place to be to ward off the winter chills. I want to convince you of this, so read on to find a selection of my favourite to do when the weather gets chillier and the days get shorter. And as a bonus, find my tips for visiting in winter at the end of the post!
Enjoy visual art in Alingsås
Every year in autumn, the nearby town of Alingsås lights up with a series of thoughtful and beautiful light installations suitable for all ages. Just before the weather gets a real chill to it, you can enjoy the short walking trail of installations, and maybe a hot drink or two along the way. As well as the lights, Alingsås is a city of cafes, so you’ll have loads of choice if you want to stop and rest. It is supposedly a world-class event, attracting students and lighting professionals to work on the prestigious project, with a different thought-provoking theme each year. If you don’t have time to duck into a cafe, you might be able to get a cup of coffee from a street stall, or the church, for free or a small price.
Getting there: You can get to the town very easily foom Gothenburg: all you will need to catch the train from Central Station is a Zone AB ticket! For all other information, including route, parking, theme and dates, visit the website.
Family fun at Hönö Klåva autumn festival
It’s always a good idea to check out what events are happening out on the islands; with their small community feel, yet citywide attraction, they’re a great location to host autumn and winter festivals. Hosted in early October each year, the autumn festivities include boat tours, family activities, fresh seafood, shopping and more. The inclusive atmosphere is cosy and warm, inviting anyone to join in and have a lovely time. You can visit the website for up-to-date information about next year’s fun: honoklava.se
Getting there: You’ll need to take the Röd bus to Lilla Varholmen and catch the ferry towards Hönö – I recommend the Västtrafik app to help you plan the journey, and check out my Gothenburg transport guide for more information on how to use it and how to get to the islands.
Take an autumn stroll through nature
Despite being Sweden’s second largest city, in Gothenburg, you never feel far from nature, even in the city centre. And as the colours start to change, what better place to spend autumn than out between the trees? In the city, you can enjoy the outdoors in the various parks such as Slottskogen, Kungsparken and Överåsparken. For bonus points, Nya Allén near Kungsparken has pavements lined with trees, making for the most beautiful views in autumn, and Slottskogen comes complete with a mini zoo of animals native to Scandinavia. And don’t forget the gorgeous Gothenburg Botanical Gardens, which is still wonderful in autumn since there are plants to enjoy all year round. Also, if you don’t mind venturing a little way out of the city, Safjällets nature reserve near Mölndal is just beautiful at this time of year, and popular with joggers and dog walkers.
Dodge the rain in one of Gothenburg’s many museums
I’ve had a lovely autumn here, and I think that’s down to having been very lucky with the weather. Even so, October was a very wet month, with grey skies and frequent downpours. Ducking into one of the city’s numerous museums is a great way to stay warm and dry, whilst learning something new. New for winter 2022 are the Aquarium and Maritiman, which I’m very excited to visit!
If you’re caught out by the weather whilst enjoying that autumn nature walk, I can recommend the Natural History museum in Slottskogen park – free entry, and fun for all ages! The collection is huge and can easily fill your day. Universeum – the science museum – and the World Culture museum often have temporary exhibitions or themes which would be particularly fun in autumn, especially for kids at Halloween!
Visit the Goteborg website (my go-to for all Gothenburg info) for a list of all museums in Gothenburg. You can also ask in the museum about a museum card, which gives you entry to several (not all) of Gothenburg’s museums for one calendar year for 120 SEK.
Celebrate Halloween or Christmas at Liseberg amusement park
I’m not a lover of rollercoasters myself, but I do love some festive decorations, and the best place for that in Gothenburg is Liseberg! Scandinavia’s favourite theme park, Liseberg is decked out in pumpkins and cobwebs for Halloween, while Nutcrackers and Santa’s elves visit at Christmas! It’s a great day out even if you don’t fancy the rides, with ice skating or spoooooky attractions depending on the season, great food and drink, and arcade games all year round. On cold days the coal grills are a hot (literally!) commodity as everyone wants to be warming their hands around them! Tickets may sell out fast at these times, so I recommend visiting Liseberg.se for more infomation and to book ahead.
How to get there: I recommend getting around Gothenburg by public transport. The nearest bus or tram stop to Liseberg’s northern entrance is Korsvägen, serviced by many lines, or you can catch a local train to Liseberg Station. The nearest tram stop to the Southern entrance is Liseberg Södra, serviced by the 2 and 4 trams. There is also a car park, Liseberg västra, on Södra Vägen. Click here for more information.
Spark your Christmas spirit with Gothenburg Christmas markets
Christmas markets in the archipelago
If you can brave a chilly ferry journey, you might find winter cheer on one of the islands of Gothenburg’s famous archipelago, where cosy Christmas markets are often held. This year in the first weekend of December there was one at Brännö and Hönö Klåva, with a distinctly artisan feel.
Haga Christmas market
Haga is Gothenburg’s must-visit district for all things cute and beautiful, so of course it has a great Christmas market! On weekends leading up to Christmas, the already-quaint Haga Nygata bursts into Christmas spirit with stalls lining the street, some selling warm glögg and cinnamon buns. As you wander down the street, you might find yourself staring at the steaming windows of the cafes in jealousy, but don’t rush inside and miss out on the lovely Christmas atmosphere!
Be careful! It closes nice and early at 16:00, just after dark, so make sure to get there in plenty of time. (P.S. – did you know the district of Haga has its own website? Now you do! Check it out here.)
Haven’t heard of Haga? Here’s my post of things to do in Gothenburg for more info.
Gothenburg’s oldest building, Kronhuset, started life as a military store and is today a craft centre and concert hall. When I visited the Christmas market here it was more of an artisan craft market, but I was no less in love. Workshops around the courtyard open their doors so you can see inside, there are sweets and handmade gifts galore, and the main hall is full of even more stalls.
Having said that, photos I’ve seen do show a more “traditional” looking Christmas market, so I can’t promise you exactly what you’ll find when you visit!
Be enthralled by a traditional Lucia concert
13th December is the day of St Lucia, saint of light, celebrated across Sweden. If you find youself visiting Gothenburg at this time, you’ll have the choice of a range of Lucia concerts around the city, in churches and elsewhere – even in the Nordstan shopping centre! School children also join in with the custom, getting dressed up with one child having the honour of being chosen as Lucia. I attended the concert at Vasakyrkan and I was on the verge of tears, it was so beautiful. I highly recommend this moving tradition to anyone, religious or otherwise! And to make it extra cosy and festive, be sure to follow it up with some Swedish Glögg and a lussekat – a figure-of-8 pastry with characteristic yellow dough from the saffron. More on that below! Note that these concerts are an incredibly popular cultural event and so they sell out quickly – get booked early if you want to go! I paid around 200 SEK.
Get festive with ice skating in the city
What is winter if you haven’t given yourself some bumps and bruises on the ice? In winter, there’s an ice rink you can use at Liseberg, for a busy but festive session! As well as at Liseberg, in Gothenburg you can ice skate at the various rinks around the city, which you can find here. You might even be able to skate at Öckerö ice hall, if you time it right! Most festive will be Liseberg, but the others might have better ice and more space. Just be sure to check opening times and skate hire availability, as some of the arenas may cater to sports skaters and not so much the general public.
Bonus: the cosiest things to eat and drink in Gothenburg
Warm up with fika or glögg and a lussekat saffron pastry
Fika is, of course, one of my favourite parts of life in Sweden, and it’s even better in the winter. When days are dark and cold and you need a boost, coffee with friends is definitely the way to go! As well as waking you up, it will warm you from the inside out and give you the much-needed energy for more sightseeing! Around Christmas you’ll notice shops and cafes start to fill up with lussekatter, also known as saffransbulle. They’re a soft, sweet bread treat, with a noticeable yellow colour from the saffron. They’re a staple of advent in Sweden and pair wonderfully with coffee or glögg, which is Swedish mulled wine. It’s sweeter and has more emphasis on the citrus flavour than the wine, and is often non-alcoholic so everyone can enjoy it.
Try some authentic Swedish dishes
In the Christmas markets or at Liseberg, you might find some wild game on the menu, including even reindeer. It’s more common in the north of the country, but not unheard of in Gothenburg. Some of Gothenburg’s various authentic pubs base their menu on traditional Swedish homecooking – it’s a whole thing. With this option, you could treat yourself to an authentic Swedish meal for not too much money. Ölstugan Tullen comes highly recommended. And if you head to the Saluhallen, the covered market hall, you can find cosy dishes, snacks, deli meats and cheeses from all around the world, or closer to home, if that’s what you want. Like the Ölstugan, Kåges in the Saluhallen focuses on traditional Swedish homecooked delicacies.
Enjoy Gothenburg’s famous seafood
Did you know Gothenburg is renowned for its fresh seafood? If that’s something for you, try one of the many seafood restaurants in the city to enjoy brilliant flavour in a lovely environment. Particularly popular is Sjöbaren, not only for its menu, friendly staff and lovely ambiance, but also its ideal location in Haga. If nothing else, you could try traditional Swedish shrimp sandwiches, räkmackor.
Tips for a winter trip to Gothenburg
Whatever you get up to in Gothenburg, rest assured that it’s the ideal location for an autumn or winter trip. It’s one of those cities that enjoys beauty all year round, no matter the season. I always use the city website for up to date information on pretty much anything I could ever want to know. Below, find my 3 top tips for visiting Gothenburg at this time of year!
1. Pack appropriately
With its location in southern Sweden, close to the coast, Gothenburg enjoys warm summers and fairly moderate winters, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get cold! This winter we got a particularly chilly spell, dropping well into minus figures, with icy pavements too. You’ll want clothes that you can easily layer – I’m talking baselayers, midlayers and warm jumpers or a fleece. Wool is your best friend! Don’t forget a hat, scarf and gloves, since just a few seconds outdoors in the coldest weather will have your ears and fingers stinging. You’ll want a decent coat, but it’s not really cold enough to be worrying about splurging on a new fancy one. Comfortable shoes are a must, and waterproof ones won’t hurt, just in case it rains or snows. In autumn, don’t underestimate the power of sunglasses – that low sun is blinding! Note that Gothenburg is quite a well-dressed city, and that by no means is to say that you have to fit in, but you might feel out of place in joggers!
2. Know how you’re planning to get around
There’s nothing worse than standing outside, wandering around until you’ve figured out where you need to go. In good weather, there’s nothing wrong with aimlessness, but in the cold, it’s the one thing that will turn your trip from festive to miserable. I recommend knowing ahead of time how you’re going to get around – whether that’s on foot, on bike or using public transport – and planning journeys in the warmth. That way, you can enjoy everything Gothenburg has to offer without your spirits being dampened by (potentially) chilly weather.
3. Unexpectedly, bring some cash
Sweden is a very cashless country, and I never expected I’d say this at all. I’d only needed cash once before, and that was when I bought something off Facebook marketplace. It’s been quite liberating not needing to carry it anywhere. But because of that, I was completely caught out when visiting the Christmas markets, as the smaller stalls and handcrafts areas accepted payments via Swish or cash, and Swish isn’t really possible to set up as a foreigner. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I’d only get caught by this in Sweden, as everywhere else I carry cash.
And there you have it, a guide to the best bits og Gothenburg during autumn and winter (in my opinion, anyway!). Don’t let the weather put you off; Gothenburg is beautiful come rain or shine, sleet or snow. Although, it does seem to skip sleet here, which is a relief. I won’t deny that the city is stunning in the summer, and the warmth and longer days definitely make sightseeing a lot easier, but if you’re in the mood for a winter city break, I promise Gothenburg makes cold weather a lot more enjoyable! Whenever you visit, I hope you absolutely love your time there.