When planning a Europe tour, most of us would only stick to popular cities. However, if you want more of an Eat, Pray, Love trip to Europe, you should consider visiting the Scandinavian region. These areas are perfect for those who want to take pleasure with city life but still enjoy the incredible beauty of nature. Honestly, incredible is an understatement! Earlier this year, I was able to visit Sweden. The country has the tag line “Visit Sweden”. Most of the time, I would hear others say “It’s so cold there. You won’t be able to do anything!” Luckily, I went there during springtime so it’s not as cold as it usually is but still cold for a girl from the tropics. Despite the cold weather, there are a lot of things you can do, sites to visit and things to enjoy. Here’s a little fun fact: Even though Sweden is overshadowed by many other European countries, it is definitely a powerhouse in many areas. It is the home of Volvo, Ikea and your favorite, Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) and popular stars such as Alicia Vikander and Alexander Skarsgård (new Tarzan). The iconic Abba and Avicci are also Swedes. I think it’s extremely important to know a thing or two about the place where you are headed and I like digging fun facts. When visiting Sweden, you will not be able to correctly read some of the names of the people places. You will sound ridiculous when you try to pronounce it but I guess you are forgiven if you are a first-timer! I visited my sister and her family in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden. Although it is sometimes left in the shade by Stockholm (Sweden’s capital), this place is remarkable on its own.
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1. Gothenburg Botanical Garden (Göteborgs botaniska trädgård)
This is one of Europe’s largest gardens with a land area of more than 17 hectares. It is the home of at least 16,000 species in its different areas and it features an award winning rock garden. Trust me; you will get enough exercise by walking around but you will never run out of a pretty view. The photo below doesn’t even give justice to its beauty! While walking, I would put on the song “Your Love” just to get a little dramatic moment under the sun with blooming flowers around me. Entrance is free. If you would like to donate any amount to the maintenance of the garden, you are free to do so.
2. Liseberg Amusement Park
This is one of the most visited amusement parks in Scandinavia and Europe. It features a lot of rides for all ages. Among the popular ones are AtmosFear which is the tallest free fall attraction in Europe. Try to find a video of it on Youtube to really appreciate the ride. Helix, the new generation of roller coaster is said to be one of the best roller coasters in the world. A lot of people line-up to try it. It all sounds super fun but the scaredy cat in me just chickened out! It was also a factor that my sister was more scared than I am and was not up for this. A part of me regrets for not trying these extreme rides but as they say, better luck next time! If you happen to be there during spring or summer then you should definitely experience this.
3. Gothia Towers
This is Europe’s largest fully integrated venue which means it can be a hotel (Upper house) and exhibition and congress center. It also houses a restaurant, bar, pool and spa. These towers are popular landmarks in the area since it among the most up to date structures in Gothenburg. Two of the must do things here are to try the famous Shrimp Sandwich in its restaurant, Heaven 23 and the Upper House Spa. From the tower, you will get a painting like view which is unbelievably breathtaking. I took this snap from a moving elevator. It looks too pretty – you won’t even believe it’s real!
4. Fish Church (Feskekôrka)
From the words fish church, it simply means a place that looks like a church but in fact it’s a fish market. It is a beautiful local architecture by the river bank. There are tables and chairs outside where you can eat and chill. It was sunny when I was there and Swedes celebrate the presence of the sun. They really go out, sit in the grass and enjoy the heat of the sun. At first, I was really amused about it. Some would go sunbathing. I mean they literally wear swimwear even if there was no pool or beach. It’s a sight you will mostly see as long as there is sun.
This is one of my favorite spots simply because all the good cafes are here. In Sweden, Fika is a big thing! It’s the most important meal of the day. Fika means “to have coffee” paired with pastries or sandwich. As someone who cannot live a day without coffee, this was heaven for me. Every dessert place there seems to call my name! I went to En Deli Haga which is said to be one of the best cafes that serves organic food. There are also many designer boutiques, vintage and themed shops and just a lovely place to walk around.
Don’t forget the zoo! If you hadn’t had enough of nature from the Botanical garden, you should head over to Slottsskogen. This is the place for the Nordic animals. We had to take a long walk to see Sweden’s national animal, the Elk. It belongs to one of the largest species of deer in the world but it was a bit shy that day. They have big green fields where people just soak under the sun if the weather is good. They literally worship the sun over there! As usual, I am amazed by all the walking I had to do.
7. Poseidon Statue
Poseidon, the Sea God is one of Gothenburg’s most well-known statues. The area where it is situated is a popular site for major concerts of international artists. When we went there, I was amused to see some Filipinos taking photos and selfies. Indeed, no matter where we go, Filipinos just make it more fun!
8. Barken Viking Hotel and Restaurant
So how cool is this ship turned hotel and restaurant? The hotel attracts many visitors due to its prime location in the heart of the city. Surprisingly, the accommodation and food are affordable. Seriously, it’s just awesome!
9. The Garden Society (Trädgårdsföreningen)
This is a popular destination for those who want to see exotic plants. It’s very family friendly as there are many play areas for the kids. These kids with blue eyes and blonde hair make me giddy (gigil!). If the sun shines brightly, people just sit outside the cafes and enjoy beer. Take note, this is one of the most beautifully preserved 19th century parks in Europe.
10. Masthugg Church (Masthuggskyrkan)
This is the church on the top of the hill. Like many European cities, Gothenburg has numerous picturesque, castle like and totally instagrammable churches. From there you can see the city and get a glimpse of the Sailor Tower where a woman stands and looks out to the direction of another island. She is said to be waiting for the return of the love of her life who is a sailor. She has become a symbol of women waiting for their lovers. How dramatic is that? I bet many women can relate to her.
There are still many other beautiful spots that didn’t make it to this list and it will probably take me another 2000 words or more to add it all! Other popular destinations would be the Volvo Museum, Southern Archipelago, Museum of Art, Universeum, etc…You can also shop like crazy at H&M because it has crazy cheap deals, satisfy your cravings for meatballs at Ikea and so much more. As mentioned, this city place offers the perfect fusion of laid back lifestyle with vigorous vibe! Are you all set to see Gothenburg? Oh and last but not the least, don’t forget to drop by the Expresso house. They have one in the Central station and I tell you, this Blueberry pie is the best I have ever had in my life!
About the Writer
Shaira is a writer by passion, a nurse by profession and a manager by occupation. When she is not busy hustling, she enjoys the beach, visiting cafes, reading books, writing her heart out , dancing and traveling. She loves history and enjoys learning about culture because she believes that this will make you understand people better. She is currently learning how to cook her favorite dishes, play the piano and speak a foreign language. You can get a glimpse of her colorful world at her Instagram account and read some of her random thoughts on her blog.